Attila Madarasz fitness

How to start strength training classes

I would like to start this article with a question. Why is it important to do strength training?

  • Creating tight body mass?
  • Increasing your performance?
  • Preventing sarcopenia?
  • Prevention of existing back and joint problems?
  • Or just simply to look good and feel confident?

These are all very important and probably you already know the benefits listed above, so let me modify the question.

Why is it important to do strength training with a correct form?

First of all, to avoid injuries of course. If you visit a class in the gym you are there to achieve a fitter and healthier body, not to get more and more tapes (in different colour of course).

The second reason should be to provide you with the opportunity to improve faster.

Quality always comes first!

Probably not many of us think that the best way to teach someone how to swim is throwing him in the water and show him how to swim from the land. Or do you know anyone who started her/his studies in the University?

I think the answers are obvious, however it seems in group fitness this logic is not working. Anyone can join to a strength class which most of the time contains advanced movements such as clean, overhead press, etc. Professional athletes learn to perform the barbell based exercises correctly for hours, and in group fitness most of the time you get the instruction:

“No problem if you haven’t done any barbell based training before, welcome to the class, just follow the others.”

I do not agree with this approach, you need to learn the basics first. If you are new in the world of strength training classes, here is some advice you should consider:

General rules

  • Always lift the barbell up with straight back (place it on a step bench).
  • Always change the weights on the floor (never change weights if the barbell is in a vertical position, because you may injure yourself or others around you).
  • Keep the area around you nice and tidy, place the weight plates under the bench to avoid accidents.
  • Use correct shoes that let your feet work naturally and always perform the exercises on a stable surface.
  • And of course always use equipment in perfect condition (working out with curled, rubber bar is probably not the best idea).

Quality comes first

  • There is no point in talking about speed or resistance if your technique is not correct.
  • When you are working out with barbells or dumbbells, in most cases you should keep a neutral spine position.
  • Remember to check the correct alignment in your joint system (ankle – knee – hip – and so on).
  • Try to avoid pressing the weight above your head if you haven’t lifted weight before, because your heart may not be ready for this. Plus you need strong core muscles and proper shoulder mobility as well.

Clean structure

  • Don’t change the exercises randomly. I would recommend to start with movements that involve more muscle groups and then you can go to the smaller ones.
  • Don’t forget that your training routine should contain the primal movements.

So, now you are ready to start your strength training sessions. The next question…

How many, for how long, how heavy?

Optimally, by this time you should have done 12 weeks of athletic training, so probably your body is moving without “serious” limitations and your core and cardiovascular system are prepared for the next step.

In this case, I would recommend you to start with strength-endurance barbell based training. It means you should choose the weight that allows you to do an exercise for max. 2 minutes or 40-50 repetitions. If you can do more than that, the weight is probably not heavy enough to trigger the right adaptation process.

To allow your body (neurological system, muscular system, etc) to adapt to the new challenge, I would recommend to follow this method for 12 weeks before you go to the next level.

What’s next?

My answer is short and simple. Hypertrophy training.

Why? First of all because after 24 weeks of intelligent training your body should be ready for it, secondly because this type of training is really effective if you want to reduce your body fat percentage and tone up at the same time. Also remember the principle of periodization. Your body will get used to the training you do, so if you want to improve, you need to give a new stimulus to it.

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Attila Madarasz

With 25 years of experience in sport and fitness Attila has deep understanding of the challenges that athletes, instructors and managers must face in order to create a successful career.