Strength training is just about the best thing you can do for your body and how you look. If you are already slim, it will give you muscle definition and make you look fuller and more powerful. If you are looking to lose weight, it will help you burn fat while also giving you some good muscle to reveal when your weight loss efforts are complete. It will, of course, also make you stronger, and can increase testosterone production making you generally healthier and increasing your sex drive.
Add to that the fact that hitting the gym can be a good stress buster, can make you feel motivated and confident, and can also make for a new addition to your social life, and the reasons to start lifting are actually pretty inarguable. However, before you rush out and buy a bunch of free weights or sign up at your nearest bodybuilding gym, it is worth checking you are in the right condition to start this kind of workout program – both physically, and in terms of your knowledge of what you’ll be doing.
Address Any Old Injuries or Nagging Pains
The first thing to think about is whether you have any pain from old injuries or any nagging pains in your body you’ve been putting up with. These could prevent you from using the right form and could also be made worse, or lead to further pain, if you train without knowing what’s going on. We are certainly not saying that people with mystery back pain or things like sciatica or pinched nerve shoulder pain should be able to do a strength training program – almost everyone over a certain age has the odd muscular or joint problem here and there – but you should go and talk to a pain specialist and find out what is actually causing your issues as this could affect how you should train.
In some cases, training may actually help fix problems, for instance when they are caused by a postural defect that has given you a muscular imbalance. However, you won’t know whether this is the case or how to approach it until your pain has been properly investigated.
In the case of old injuries that still give some pain, for instance ACL sprains, you are really just checking it is safe to train without re-injuring yourself and finding out if there are any specific types of work you should avoid at the gym.
When you have seen a doctor, talk to a trainer to get a program developed that takes into account any issues you have in your body.
Sort Out Your Diet
When you are looking to gain muscle, as most people know, diet is critical. What you eat is doubly important if you are also looking to lose fat as you train. Understanding about macronutrients and how they relate to your training is very important. You need to up your protein intake to support muscular growth, and may also need to look at how you time your meals around your workout sessions.
This is a whole area of things you need to study up on before beginning a new weight training program, and can be as important as getting the right lifting regimen in terms of supporting your results. Begin cleaning up your eating before you start your training, while you are still setting up the plan for what your program will be. Decide on the style of diet you want, whether you want to try something like a fat burning, muscle preserving ketogenic diet, or a more balanced diet that includes enough protein to help you make gains. Work out how many calories your diet needs to contain.
Don’t think that diet is only important if you want to lose weight – it is actually key to bulking up or making improvements to strength, too – which means even slim guys need to learn about it.
Check Your Heart
Having a low level of fitness shouldn’t prohibit you from starting a training program, but you do need to check your heart and other fitness elements are up to the job before you start lifting with the intensity required to make improvements. Get a physical that includes checking your cardio health. This is especially important if you are over 60, very overweight, or have a family history of heart disease.
It is important to make sure you are both in the right physical condition, and fueling yourself well, before you get stuck in to a muscle training program. After that, all you have to worry about is putting the work in!