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Weight Training Exercises and Benefits

Weight Training Exercises and Benefits

Strength in our muscles and bones are very important, especially as we grow older. Weight training is an essential part of strength training where you work against gravity to lift weights. It can be done with various pieces of equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and weighted plates. While our fitness goals may differ from each other's as we have different expectations from our respective bodies, it is equally important for each one of us to follow a fitness routine.
Maintaining your levels of strength and fitness, however, isn't an easy task. For many, the idea of lifting weights to remain fit can be daunting or just not exciting enough. But whether you like it or not, a steady routine of exercising becomes more and more important as you grow older, and all those years of not being active enough returns to haunt you.
Weight training has various exercises that help develop various muscle groups like the chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, core and the legs. When you perform a weight training routine on a regular basis, your bones and connective tissues strengthen as well. This helps develop lean muscle mass.
Lean muscle tissues help accelerate various internal functions of the body, like metabolism much better than heavier ones, which means even when you’re not working out, your body is still burning calories. 
People prefer cardio exercises over weight training, especially women, due to a fear of gaining too much muscle by lifting weights. Those fears have been dismissed to be untrue besides the many other benefits of weight training that can bring a renewed zest for life.
Here are some of the tangible benefits of weight training:
  • Strengthens the bones: Bones and joints become fully developed by the time one reaches adulthood, and begin to weaken between the ages of 30 and 50, making it extremely important to train with weights. It becomes even more important for women, as they are more prone to degenerative bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
  • Strengthens connective tissues: Much like our bones, even the muscles, tendons and ligaments also wear over time. As we age, our body’s tendons and ligaments get weakened which requires regular physical activity to keep them in good health.
  • Builds strength: Stronger muscles do not necessarily mean bulking up. Your muscles grow as you increase the intensity of the workout, which makes it easier on the body to perform daily tasks.
  • Reduces injuries: Injuries are a part and parcel of life, but strength training ensures that your body is well-equipped and strong enough to prevent chances of injuring yourself.
  • Boosts confidence: Negative body issues that people may have festering inside is negated by regular physical activity. Regular exercise produces endorphins in the body which helps deal with negative thoughts, stress as well as confidence issues.
  • Improves coordination: Weight training helps build a natural balance in the body as we are predisposed to preferring or relying on one side of the body more to stabilize or balance ourselves. Exercise, on the other hand, helps build strength on the weaker side of your body, thus helping with your overall balance and coordination.

Training with weights has a few fundamental rules one can greatly benefit from. Before you begin any form of fitness activity, you always educate yourself about how it is going to help you with your fitness goals. Here are some of the main tenets of weight training and how it can help you achieve your fitness goals more effectively:
Overload
To gain lean muscle mass first, start lifting slightly heavier weights than what you did last week. This is important because lifting heavier weights helps build lean muscle tissue. Lift the amount of weights that allow you to produce an adequate amount of repetitions rather than stopping midway. Weight should be sufficient enough to experience complexity in your last reps but should be achievable. This helps you avoid overload, which can do more harm than good to the body.
Gradually increase the intensity
If you're lifting the same set of weights you were last month, you aren't training right. Increase the amount of weight and reps according to your experience and strength. Do not intensify the workout so quickly either as it increase the risk of workout injuries.
  • Progressively increase the amount of weight you lift.
  • Modify the sets and reps with time. Instead of doing 10-15 reps in each set, go for super sets or drop-down sets.
  • Keep changing the style of your workout by performing different exercises for the same muscle group.
  • Mix up your workout routine by trying different forms of training methods, not just weight training. Try HIIT, Crossfit, bodyweight training or circuit training.
Include these methods into your workout regime by switching things around every month or week as per your needs.
Train as per your requirement
It is important to know or have a fitness goal in mind before you begin working out, as that keeps you on track. If you’re desiring to gain some strength, you should choose a workout routine as per your goals. If you want to lose weight, then go for different workout methods as it needs a different routine. If you want to build stamina and strength opt for another training method.
Rest and recovery
While regular exercise is key to keep the muscles engaged pretty much every day of the week, it is also important to give the body the much-needed break or rest it deserves, especially after a hard workout. Resting after a workout day helps your muscles grow and recover to go again. Thus, make sure that your body and muscles are getting sufficient amount of rest. Do not train any body part (chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, core and legs) for more than two days in a week.
Warm-up and stretch
The benefits of warming up before exercise or stretching before and after a workout cannot be emphasised any less. Before you begin your weight training routine, it is important the muscles in your body are relaxed and ready to perform more intense movements. The same exercises performed at lower intensities or without heavy weights helps condition the body before taking on heavier loads. It is important not to stretch cold muscles, but vital to stretch after a workout as it helps cool the body down after some vigorous physical activity.

A weight training exercise routine, much like any other fitness routine, can be split over five to six days, depending on your frequency, workload and fitness goals. One can train individual body parts on each day, or combine two or three different parts of the body on the same day if you prefer to train three to four days in a week.
Combinations are based on the movements, for instance chest, shoulders and tricep workouts can be done in a single day, or split between the chest and triceps in a day as they involve pushing movements. Back and bicep workouts can be combined in a single day as they involve pulling movements, while legs as well as the abs or stomach exercises can be done on the other days of the week.
You may need various equipment and space to perform each exercise, hence choose the exercises according to the availability of equipment and the particular exercise you are going to perform.
Chest exercises
It is the most significant muscle group of the upper body. People tend to begin their exercise routine of the week by training their chest muscles on the first day of the week. While there are several exercises that can be performed to train the chest muscles, here is a selection of five of them to give you an idea:
  1. Push-ups: A simple bodyweight exercise that is extremely useful even as a warm-up exercise.
  2. Bench press: The standard chest exercise that can be performed on a flat, incline or decline bench.
  3. Chest fly: Opening and closing the arms above the chest makes for an intense exercise which can be either performed on a machine or with free weights like dumbbells.
  4. Cable crossover: A unique exercise that requires an elaborate machine that requires you to bring cables from both sides across your chest simultaneously.
  5. Pull-over: Laying across a flat bench and bringing a heavy weight up to the chest from the ground level makes for another intense chest exercise.
Back
The back consists of multiple muscles ranging from just below to shoulders all the way down to the hips. Training these muscles can be a tough task for anyone, but with the right technique and exercise you may see positive results.
  1. Pull-ups: Another superb bodyweight exercise that engages the back muscles as you pull your entire bodyweight clean off the floor.
  2. One-arm row: The single-arm movement helps build the muscles in the upper back that flank the spine from both sides.
  3. Lat pulldown: Pulling a wide bar down against resistance in the machine is another superb exercise for the upper back muscles.
  4. Reverse fly: Sitting on the chest fly machine in the reverse position and performing the same movement backwards helps in contracting the muscles in the back.
  5. Hyperextension: Can be done yoga style by pressing your upper body upwards while your lower body is on the floor, or anchoring the lower body on a roman chair, another name for the hyperextension machine, and lifting the upper body with or without weights in your hands.
Shoulders
Different bodies react to exercise differently. It requires a lot of dedication and patience to train different parts of the body. Our shoulders contain vital muscles that help during several movements involving the arms, back or even the chest.
  1. Shoulder press: Lifting weights directly above your shoulders makes it a tough exercise, whether you're standing up or are seated.
  2. Lateral raises: Lifting weights towards the front or sides of the body without bending the elbows makes for another intense workout.
  3. Upright row: Attacking the muscles behind your neck that help the shoulders rotate and move, this is a movement unique to shoulder day.
  4. Shrugs: Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like, but performed with the help of weights.
  5. Arnold press: The same shoulder press but performed with a twist from the Terminator himself, the Arnold press requires you to twist the wrists while pushing the weight up overhead.
Biceps
Biceps are the muscles you feel in the upper arms when you close your elbow. To train this part you may not need huge machines but it requires a lot of upper body strength to lift weights.
  1. Standing dumbbell curl: One of the standard bicep movements is the dumbbell curl performed while standing up, either alternatively or together.
  2. Hammer curls: Instead of keeping the hands faced up, the palms are facing each other while you lifting the dumbbell up towards you.
  3. Concentration curl: Seated on a bench, anchoring your elbow and watching yourself lift a dumbbell makes you look like a picture of concentration, hence the name.
  4. EZ bar preacher curl: Perform the traditional bicep curls with a purpose built bar that keeps the grip somewhat neutral.
  5. Reverse barbell curl: Instead of holding the bar with your hands underneath, hold it with your palms facing down and perform the same movement. This variation greatly benefits the wrists as well as the forearm muscles to go with the biceps.
Triceps
Stretch your arm out fully and hyperextend from the elbow, you will feel the tricep muscles behind your upper arm. The triceps consist of three muscle heads: long, lateral, and medial. These muscles help in the extension of the forearm, elbow joint and hands.
  1. Skull crusher: Lying down on a bench and holding an EZ bar straight above you, just bend the elbows to bring it closer to your face and lift it back again.
  2. Seated overhead tricep extension: Holding a dumbbell with both hands over your head, bend the elbows behind your neck and bring it back up.
  3. Tricep dips: Another strong bodyweight exercise, lifting your body up and down on a pair of parallel bars or on a park bench makes for a great workout for the triceps.
  4. Pulley push-down: Using either a rope or a short bar attachment, keep your upper arms close to your body and only move arms from the elbow down.
  5. Close-grip bench press: Performing the same bench press movement as you would for your chest, grip the bar further inside shoulder's width and perform the same exercise for greater benefits for the triceps.
Legs
Working hard on your upper body and expecting only walking to take care of your legs is not the right approach for fitness. People skip leg workouts frequently for different reasons, but the lower body contains some of the largest muscles in the body, and must be suitably trained as well.
  1. Leg extension: Seated on a leg extension machine and extending the lower limb upwards against resistance helps attack the quadriceps or the front thigh muscles.
  2. Leg curl: The reverse movement of the leg extension, leg curls involve you lying down on your belly over the machine, and lifting the lower limbs up from .
  3. Squats: Just stand upright and squat down on your knees and stand back up again, either with or without weights.
  4. Deadlifts: Another strong lower body workout that is borrowed from compound lifts, this exercise allows you to lift heavier, but must be performed with extra caution and a straight back.
  5. Curtsy lunges: A variation of the classic lunges exercise, the curtsy lunge is the traditional greeting which has evolved into an effective exercise.
Core or abs
Core muscles are at the front and back of our midsection of the body, and differ from abdominal muscles as they are located further inside. Getting six-pack abs can be difficult as it requires you to lay off certain foods like carbohydrates, and doesn't necessarily signify core strength. However, with time and correct exercises, you can easily forge your abs as well.
  1. Ball crunches: Performing the traditional crunches but while seated on a Swiss ball makes for an excellent alternative.
  2. Plank: Holding your body up straight with just the help of your arms and feet against gravity makes for one of the toughest core workouts.
  3. Crunches: Lie down over your back, tuck your feet in and raise the knees, and prop your upper body up towards your knees for multiple repetitions.
  4. Leg raises: The reverse of the crunches, leg raises make you stretch your legs out flat while lying down, and lifting them up straight upwards while keeping the upper body firm and planted onto the floor.
  5. Mountain climbers: Another superb core and ab exercise, prop yourself up on your arms and feet, and while staying stationary, start moving your legs in alternatively, as if pushing the ground while running. The hands stay planted while the lower body works hard during this movement to burn the excess fat in the stomach region.
If your goal is to lose fat from a particular part of the body like the stomach or hips, it is still necessary to train all the muscle groups as it promotes calorie burn across the body. Crunches alone do not help you achieve the six-pack abs you have been working for. Training the entire body is the key to achieve all kinds of fitness goals.
Most of the experts recommend that you should train your bigger muscle parts early in the week and gradually move onto the smaller ones. However, you can always shuffle your workout routine as this will allow you to challenge yourself.

You can create a simple format for your weight training programme like this:
Choose your sets and reps wisely
According to The American College of Sports Medicine, to gain strength only 4-6 repetitions are sufficient, to strengthen the muscles 8-12 reps and to increase muscle endurance about 10-15 reps are a must. Generally, you should follow this pattern for sets and reps of an exercise:
  • For fat loss: In each set, compile 10-12 reps. The weight should be according to your strength through which you can achieve the desired amount of reps and sets.
  • To gain muscle mass: Perform three or more sets with reps between 6-8 while lifting heavier weights. Beginners should not opt for this and look towards gaining strength before moving onto more specific training routines.
  • For overall fitness: Try to produce 10-15 reps in each set of exercise. Lift the weight to achieve the specified amount of reps.
Rest between sets
The second level of training is not intensifying the workout, but it is the rest between sets. This comes with experience; the more the number of reps the lesser will be the rest. If you’re generating 15 reps then the rest amount should be 30 to 60 seconds. If you generate 4-6 reps in a set then the rest adequate amount of rest will be more than a minute (this implies only on heavy weightlifting).
Rest after a workout
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends training each muscle group no more than twice a week. However, it depends on the workout programme you’re following and the number of days you lift weights each week. For muscle growth and recovery, you should rest for 48 hours before training the same muscle group again. If you opt for a HIIT programme, then you might require more rest.
Choosing the right weight
Lifting weight usually depends on the number of sets and reps. According to gym-norms, you should lift weights sufficient enough to experience some strain in the last reps but somehow manage it. Though if you’re new to weight training or have an underlying health problem then you should train yourself until exhaustion. Other than that, choose the weight which you can stabilise in your last rep as well.
How to choose the right weight for weight training
Depending on your experience level of strength training, fitness trainers design a workout plan based on your needs. It is always beneficial to train under the supervision of a trainer as some exercises require assistance in assuming the starting position as well. But what amount of weight is right for you? That usually depends on several factors:
Bigger muscles, heavier weights: We can lift heavier weights on our thighs, hips, chest and back as compared to smaller muscle groups like biceps, triceps and shoulders. For example, you can lift heavier while performing squats and deadlifts rather than bench presses.
Lift more weight with machines: Assisted workout machines sometimes provide valuable assistance to a trainee as working with free weights, especially when starting out, can be daunting. But machines serve their own purpose in letting a person learn the correct movement, as well as building confidence towards lifting heavier weights.
Correct form is key: If you’re new to a weight training programme, then instead of focusing on reps, sets or the weight you're lifting, focus on the correct form and technique.
Be patient: Patience is key in allowing your body to respond to the fitness activity you're performing. Do not be daunted by heavy weights being hoisted up by seasoned fitness professionals in your gym. Instead, focus on your own body and methods and trust the process.

Weight training might be highly beneficial for people but it also has its own side effects or drawbacks, if you will. Every exercise has various safety precautions one must follow. Here's a basic safety list for you which you should keep in mind while performing any kind of exercise.
Water: It is really important to keep yourself hydrated while sweating it out in the gym. Take two-three sips between the sets whenever you feel out of breath or have a dry throat.
Warm-up: Our body requires warm-up exercises before proceeding to lift heavy weights. An adequate amount of warm-up can be beneficial in the overall development of the body. High-knees, jumping jacks, windmills, burpees, chest-expansion, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, and a treadmill run can be great warm-up exercises.

Choose the right weight: Do not lift heavier than your strength would allow, as unstable momentum can cause many types of workout injuries. Choose the right weight or else take help from a spotter or a trainer.

Inhale-exhale: Breathing is a key factor in getting the best results with more repetitions and sets. Exhale when you need to lift the weight with explosive strength, and inhale while returning to the original position. It may take time to understand the rhythm of the body but do not stop practicing. This will also help in lifting heavier weights with time.

Try everything: Challenge yourself and do not let your body become comfortable with just one routine. When you train with the same exercise for a very long time, your body gets used to the movement and stops showing results. It can cause muscle drain. Try various movements each week to train a particular muscle group.

Weight training is an essential part of keeping oneself fit in the age of junk food, increased workloads and poor quality of lives. It keeps individuals from falling into bad habits, maintains and regulates body weight and keeps the muscles and bones in the body in good health for the long run.
Weight training can be of several types with the use of multiple different techniques and equipment that can have the desired results you are looking for. It is important that one has a fitness goal in mind before proceeding with a particular workout.