‘I’ve just joined a gym and I’m ready to get strong, but I don’t know where to start!’
How do I build muscle?
Muscles grow and get stronger as they react to the stresses we put on them. That means the exercise needs to heavy/difficult and it needs to make us tired.
If your goal is to get stronger, then you want to be lifting a weight that tires your muscle out after 8-15 repetitions. That means that your muscle is struggling to complete the exercise after this number of reps. Typically, you should be able to perform 3 sets of 8-15 repetitions, where between each set you rest for 1-2 minutes.
A general rule of thumb is keep repetitions slow. A count of 2 seconds up and a count of 2 seconds down will ensure consistent speed. If you give the muscle enough time under tension, it will get the challenge it needs and will allow you to focus on technique/form.
If you are exercising at the above weight levels, you will improve faster if you give your body appropriate rest. Typically you want a days rest in between gym sessions where you work the same muscle groups. This will allow you to perform at your best when you train, so your muscles get a better workout.
What else should I know?
If you are just starting, it is better to begin slowly with slightly lighter weights and more time to rest. You want to focus on your technique, and you may find it easier to start with ‘compound’ lifts (exercises that involve multiple muscle groups).
If you have an existing/prior injury, these guidelines, as well as your chosen exercises may need to be modified.
If you have any questions, please contact one of our physios or exercise physiologists.