Certain safety tips apply for all strength training, say experts. If you're over 30, consult your doctor before starting. Always wear shoes with good support and traction, and keep your training area tidy so you don't trip.
Also, seek guidance from a certified personal trainer or how-to books, such as Westcott's Building Strength and Stamina, Human Kinetics, 1996). For a list of recommended trainers in your area, call the American Council on Exercise at 800-529-8227.
Here are some other tips to remember:
- Begin each session with a warm-up of more than five minutes walking, followed by five minutes of stretching. End with another five to 10 minutes of stretches.
- Start with small weights you can easily control, perhaps 2- to 10-pound dumbbells. You should be able to do 12 repetitions before becoming too tired to lift them with proper form.
- Imbalance leads to injury, so always exercise each of the body's major muscle groups: front of the thigh, rear thigh, lower back, abdominals, chest, upper back, shoulders, and front and back of the upper arms.
- Don't work the same muscles two days in a row. Body parts need a day off to recover since muscles are strengthened by being torn down and then repaired.
- Strong muscles are less likely to get injured, but if you hurt, stop. Ice the throbbing muscle, elevate it, and take a few days to rest it.