Strength training 

Strength training involves exercises that aim to increase muscular strength, and improve bone density, endurance, and power. It typically utilizes resistance, such as free weights, machines, or body weight, to challenge the muscles. Examples include squats, deadlifts, push-ups, and lunges. Incorporating strength training into a fitness routine has numerous benefits, including increased metabolism, improved body composition, and reduced risk of injury.

Why Strength Training?

Strength training is important for a bunch of reasons. First off, it helps you get stronger and build endurance, making it easier to tackle whatever life throws your way, whether it's lugging groceries or dominating on the basketball court. Plus, it's like giving your bones a pep talk, keeping them strong, and warding off stuff like osteoporosis. Oh, and here's a bonus: it revs up your metabolism, helping you burn more calories even when you're chilling. And let's not forget about injury prevention, strong muscles and joints mean fewer aches and pains. Plus, it's not just about the physical stuff, hitting weights can seriously boost your mood and brainpower, making you feel like a superhero both in and out of the gym. So yeah, get lifting!

Do You Need Lots of Equipment?

You don't necessarily need lots of equipment for strength training. While some exercises do require specific equipment like dumbbells, barbells, or resistance bands, many can be done with minimal equipment too. Additionally, household items like water bottles, cans, or even furniture can be used as makeshift weights. So whether you have access to a fully-equipped gym or you're working out at home with limited resources, there are plenty of options for incorporating strength training into your routine.

Free Weights

A free-weight strength workout is a simple and effective way to build muscle and improve overall strength. It is where you use equipment like dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells to strengthen your muscles. Unlike machines, where the movement is guided, free weights allow you to move more naturally and engage stabilizing muscles. You can do a variety of exercises with free weights, such as bicep curls, shoulder presses, and squats. These exercises help to build muscle, improve strength, and increase bone density. Free weights workouts can be adapted for different fitness levels and goals, making them suitable for beginners and experienced exercisers alike. They're also great because you can do them at home or in a gym with minimal equipment. Plus, they're versatile, so you can target specific muscle groups or work your entire body in one session. Regular free weights workouts can lead to improvements in muscle tone, strength, and overall fitness levels. 

How Often Should You Train?

How often you should strength train depends on your fitness goals, experience level, and schedule. Generally, it's recommended to strength train at least 2-3 times per week for optimal results. This frequency allows for adequate muscle stimulation and recovery between sessions. Beginners may benefit from starting with 2 sessions per week to allow their bodies to adapt gradually. As you become more experienced and your fitness level improves, you can gradually increase the frequency to 3 or even 4 sessions per week if desired. However, it's essential to listen to your body and avoid overtraining, which can lead to injury and burnout. Incorporating rest days or cardio workouts between strength training sessions is crucial to allow your muscles to repair and grow stronger. Additionally, consider alternating between different muscle groups on different days to prevent overuse and promote balanced strength development. Ultimately, proper recovery is key to a sustainable strength training routine.

How to Choose a Starting Weight?

Choosing a starting weight for strength training is a crucial step in ensuring a safe and effective workout. Start by selecting a weight that is relatively easy to lift for the chosen exercise. This weight should allow you to perform the exercise with proper form while still providing some level of challenge to your muscles. Once you've chosen a weight, perform a trial set of 8-12 repetitions. Pay close attention to how it feels, and whether it provides an appropriate level of challenge. If it feels too light you could perform more than 12 repetitions with good form, and increase the weight slightly for the next set. On the other hand, if the weight feels too heavy and your form starts to deteriorate towards the end of the set, or if you're unable to complete the desired number of repetitions with proper form, the weight may be too heavy. It's essential to find a balance between a weight that challenges your muscles and one that allows you to maintain proper form throughout the exercise. As you become more experienced and your strength improves, gradually increase the weight to continue challenging your muscles and promoting progress. Always listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard, especially when starting out, to reduce the risk of injury and ensure a sustainable approach to strength training.

Add More Weight When You're Ready

When you're ready to add more weight during strength training, it's important to do so gradually and safely. Start by evaluating your current strength level and assessing if you're consistently able to complete your sets with proper form using the current weight. If the exercise feels relatively easy and you can perform the desired number of repetitions with good form, you may be ready to increase the resistance. Instead of making large jumps in weight, aim for incremental increases of around 5-10% at a time. This allows your muscles to adapt progressively without risking injury. Always prioritize maintaining proper form, and if adding more weight compromises your technique or causes discomfort beyond normal muscle fatigue, it's crucial to stop and reassess. Utilize spotters or safety equipment for exercises where needed, and regularly reassess your strength and progress to continue challenging your muscles effectively. By following these steps and listening to your body, you can safely progress in your strength training journey.

Warmup before Strength Training

Warming up before strength training is crucial to prepare your body for the upcoming workout and reduce the risk of injury. A good warm-up typically includes dynamic movements that increase blood flow to your muscles and joints while raising your heart rate. Examples of effective warm-up exercises include light cardio activities like jogging, jumping jacks, or cycling for 5-10 minutes. Additionally, incorporating dynamic stretches such as arm circles, leg swings, and torso twists helps to loosen up tight muscles and improve flexibility. Performing a few bodyweight and floor exercises targeting specific muscles you'll be working on during your strength training session, like bodyweight squats or lunges, can also help activate those muscles and mentally prepare you for the workout ahead. Aim to gradually increase the intensity of your warm-up to match the intensity of your strength training session, but remember not to overexert yourself during the warm-up. By taking the time to properly warm up your body, you'll enhance your performance, reduce the risk of injury, and get the most out of your strength training session. 

Stretching After Strength Training

Stretching after strength training is essential for promoting muscle recovery, flexibility, and range of motion. After completing your workout, when your muscles are warm and pliable, it's an ideal time to perform static stretches, which involve holding a position without moving for 15-30 seconds. Focus on stretching the major muscle groups targeted during your strength training session, including the chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs, and core. Common stretches include the chest stretch, standing hamstring stretch, quadriceps stretch, calf stretch, and triceps stretch. Remember to breathe deeply and relax into each stretch, avoiding bouncing or jerking movements. Stretching should feel comfortable and provide a gentle pull on the muscle, but it should not be painful. Hold each stretch for an adequate duration to allow the muscles to relax and lengthen. Incorporating stretching into your post-workout routine helps reduce muscle tension, alleviate soreness, and improve overall flexibility, which can enhance your performance in future workouts and reduce the risk of injury.


In conclusion, strength training offers a multitude of benefits for overall health and fitness. It helps increase muscular strength, improve bone density, enhance endurance, and boost metabolism. Incorporating strength training into a fitness routine can lead to improved body composition, reduced risk of injury, and better overall physical performance. Whether using free weights or machines, strength training can be adapted to various fitness levels and goals, making it accessible to everyone. It's not just about physical strength; it also has positive effects on mental well-being, mood, and cognitive function. To maximize the benefits of strength training, it's important to warm up properly before workouts, choose appropriate starting weights, progress gradually, and incorporate stretching into post-workout routines. By following these guidelines, individuals can safely and effectively embark on their strength training journey, reaping the numerous rewards it offers for both body and mind.

Authored By : Suha Zahid Warekar
Registered Dietitian & Certified Diabetes Educator.