Weight Lifting Workouts: Secrets to Success (cont.)

"It increases your metabolic activity for the entire day -- not only when you are challenging your muscles, but also during the repair process that occurs when you stop working out," says Alex Schroeder, an exercise physiologist and trainer at Form and Fitness, a Milwaukee, Wis., gym and rehabilitation center.

Of course, a successful weight lifting workout does involve a bit more than just moving those soup cans from the kitchen counter to the cabinet a few times a week. To help put you on the path to success, WebMD asked Bryant, Schroeder, and Mike Ryan, a weight expert from the Gold's Gym Fitness Institute for some tips on how to start a weight lifting workout and stick with it until you meet your goals.

Weight Lifting Workout Rule No. 1: Define Your Goals

For any exercise program, it's important to start with a realistic goal in mind. But for weight training, experts say, it's essential. Why?

"Setting a goal that's attainable is important to not only give you a sense that you are accomplishing something, but, in the case of weight lifting, to insure that you don't overdo it when you first begin," says Schroeder.

Because successful weight training involves small steps, having short-term goals will keep you from giving up too soon, he says.

Ryan agrees with this strategy. "It's extremely important to set realistic, achievable goals so that you don't get discouraged, and so that you don't try to do too much too soon and increase your risk of injury," he says.

What's more, he cautions that this advice is as important for seasoned athletes as well as fitness newbies.

"No matter how much you've accomplished in another sport, if you haven't done weight lifting, you're still a beginner, so don't expect too much too soon," says Ryan.

Weight Lifting Workout Rule No. 2: Choose the Right Equipment

One of the best things about weight training is that your muscles don't know the difference between a $2,500 machine and $25 resistance band. So you don't have to spend a lot to get a lot of results. All you have to do is to challenge your muscles.

"The really nice part about that is if you are on a tight budget, you don't have to feel you are getting a compromised weight training workout because you can accomplish your goals without spending a lot of money," says Bryant.

Whether you're using hand weights, barbells, or resistance bands, Ryan says, look for whatever size allows you to do 12-16 repetitions. If you can't, they're too heavy.

But if you can do more than 15 with good form, then the weight load is probably not quite challenging enough, Bryant says. "So look for something a bit heavier or add on more resistance," he says.

Weight Lifting Workout Rule No. 3: Don't Go It Alone

When it comes to weight lifting, how you do the exercises can be as important as which ones you do. That's why having even one session with a personal trainer can definitely get your weight training program going in the right direction, experts say.

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