What Are the Basics of Weight Training?

Medically Reviewed on 8/10/2021
basics of weight training
Lifting weights with proper technique is key to avoiding injury. Learn the basics of weight training with these dos and don’ts

Whether your goal is to increase muscle mass, achieve a more toned physique, or lose weight, weight training can help get you there. But doing it correctly is important, since improper technique can result in injury.

For weight training to be effective, it should involve all the major muscle groups and be incorporated into your fitness routine at least 1-2 times a week. Before you begin, however, keep in mind the basic dos and don’ts to make sure you maximize your weight training program.

4 tips for proper weight training

1. Start with the right weights

You should start with a weight that you can lift comfortably, without pain, at least 10 times a set. Repeat each exercise for 3 sets. As your muscles become stronger, you can gradually increase the number of repetitions rather than increasing the weights.

2. Maintain proper form

Proper form ensures that your movement focuses only on the main muscles, without involving the secondary muscles. Move through the full range of motion in your joints while lifting and lowering the weights. Maintaining good form guarantees better results and lowers your chances of getting injured.

3. Keep breathing

Avoid holding your breath when lifting, as tempting as that may be. Instead, breathe in as you lower the weight and breathe as you lift it.

4. Rest your muscles

Don’t exercise the same muscle group 2 days in a row. Work all muscles or muscle groups in one session 2-3 times a week, or exercise different muscles or muscle groups daily. For example, you may do biceps on Monday, triceps on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, and so on.

4 weight training mistakes to avoid

1. Skipping the warm-up

Working out cold muscles increases your risk of developing sore muscles or even injuring yourself. Before you lift weights, do some warm-up exercises targeting specific muscles or do a quick cardio activity to get your blood pumping. 

2. Going too fast

Take it slow and don’t rush when you are moving weights. This way you can make sure to isolate key muscles instead of using momentum to lift.

3. Overdoing it

It’s important to know when to stop. Once you have completed a few sets to the point where your muscles are fatigued, stop. Doing more sets may lead to injury.

4. Ignoring the pain

Pain is different from fatigue. Stop the moment you feel the pain. Wait for a few days before trying the same exercise or use a lower weight.

How to ensure you’re weight training the right way

If you’re like most people, it can be tough to know whether you are safely performing weight lifting exercises, since you may now always be aware of whether or not you are following proper techniques to avoid sprains, strains, fractures, and other painful injuries.

For beginners, working with an experienced fitness expert or trainer can be a huge help. Let your trainer watch you, look for any mistakes, and guide you as you are lifting weights.

If you have been using weights for a while and run into training-related trouble, consider scheduling time with a physiatrist or rehabilitation specialist with expertise in sports medicine.


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Medically Reviewed on 8/10/2021
Mayo Clinic. Weight Training: Do's and Don'ts of Proper Technique. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/weight-training/art-20045842