#1) Warm-up before exercising – don’t walk into a gym, slap 45-pound plates on the bar, and then start your routine.
Get your heart rate up and muscles warm first by doing a dynamic warm-up of jumping jacks, lunges, bodyweight squats, hip raises, push-ups, leg swings, jumps, etc.
After that, always start with doing a set or two of lifting JUST THE BAR. Only then should you start adding weight for some warm-up sets before moving into your real sets.
#2) Have a focused form – if you’re doing a bodyweight squat incorrectly, you might develop bad habits.
However, if you do a barbell squat incorrectly with 405 pounds on your shoulders, you could do some serious damage. If you’re just starting out, check your ego at the door: start with a VERY light weight and make sure you are doing the exercise properly.
There is NO SHAME in starting with just the bar. You can always add more weight next week if this week is too easy.
#3) Stimulate, don’t annihilate – I try to always have one more rep left when I finish a set.
Some trainers will preach working your muscles to annihilation, but I think that’s just asking for an injury, poor form, and beyond-sore muscles.
Your muscles get built while resting, not in the gym, so don’t worry about destroying them completely each day you step in the gym – it’s not worth it.
#4) Change up the time between sets – if you’re doing 3 sets of 5 reps of a really heavy weight, it’s okay to wait 3-5 minutes between sets – you’re focusing on pure strength here.
If you’re doing sets in the 8-12 range, try to keep the time between sets around a minute or so. This will affect your muscles in different ways.
Learn all about sets and rep ranges.
Just be consistent between sets and when doing the same workout between weeks to track your progress.
#5) Don’t overdo it – More does not mean better in weightlifting. You don’t need to spend two hours in the gym, you don’t need to do 15 different kinds of chest exercises.
My routines last no longer than 45 minutes, I only do three or four sets (after warm up sets) for each exercise, and it’s enough to stimulate muscle growth.
Three routines a week is plenty too – you shouldn’t lift every day, as you need to give your muscles time to regrow bigger – remember muscles are made in the kitchen!
Less is often more – just make your routines really intense and exhausting.
#6) Write down everything – Keep a training journal, and write down exactly how many sets and reps you did for every exercise.
That way, you can compare how you did this time with how you did last time. You’ll know how much more you need to lift this week to make sure you’re stronger than last week.
#7) Follow a routine, have a plan. The best thing you can do is have a plan to follow and stick with it! We provide a free bodyweight routine, and a comprehensive gym training routine to get you started with strength training in our free guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know.