Weightlifting: How to get started

Jul 30, 2014
Tagged with: Weightlifting: How to get started

From an early age we are told that exercising with resistance training, and cardiovascular activity will help us live longer and healthier lives. However, people with disabilities may see this as an oxymoron since many may already have secondary health issues such as heart and lung problems. If a person with a disability has secondary health issues how can they exercise effectively?

I do understand people who have chronic and secondary health issues. I’ve grown up with a father who has had, and still suffers from multiple health conditions including angina, muscular fibrosis, respiratory problems and severe lung problems.

As a child it was not uncommon for me to spend many nights a week  visiting him in a hospital following surgery. During my teenage years, our house was fitted with oxygen tanks downstairs, with pipes running through the house. My Father had to use this throughout the day, and when sleeping.

My Dad now attends the gym on a weekly basis, and while he still struggles with his breathing, he is more active than ever.

Granted the workouts that he performs are completely different to the bodybuilding workout routines I perform. That is why it’s important to remember, not everyone who lift weights or trains in a gym is there to be a bodybuilder.

Bodybuilding is a lifestyle, for some its a profession. Sure a bodybuilder may only spend 45 minutes to an hour and a half working out each day, but they spend 24 hours of the day monitoring their diet. Its a critical that they are using the right supplements, such as protein, creatine, amino acids and joint aid supplements. It is just as important for someone like myself to plan my meals in advance, so that I am able to consume the right protein, carbohydrate and fat sources, at the right times.

However this is the ‘extreme’. For those who would like to get more active, it is 100% not necessary to try and mimick the lifestyle of a bodybuilder. If you want to start exercising for health, or even just as a hobby to take your mind off things, but have concerns or feel nervous about it due to any existing conditions, here are some steps you should follow to help you get started.

First Step to Exercising

1 Visit your Dr or GP.

If you haven’t been referred to a gym class or resistance training program by your doctor, but would like to start working out, a visit to your Doctor will be first on your list. This will allow your Doctor to advise you of any limitations you may have when training.

2 Apply what your Doctor has said to your own experience.

No body knows your body better than yourself. You may find that your Doctor has said it should be ok to do a particular movement, for example overhead pressing, however if you struggle with mobility when lifting your arms above your head from general day to day tasks, you’ll know to avoid these movements.

Taking these considerations on board, it will allow you to move onto step 3.

3 Consult a physician

After getting the information from your Doctor, and applying it to your own position, consult a physical therapist, explaining your restrictions, advice from your Doctor, and your own thoughts.

A physician will be able to help you come up with an exercise plan, and will give you tips to improve mobility in specific areas of your body, increasing the efficiency from each of your workouts. Likewise, you’ll also be able to receive recommendations for alternative exercise, to replace ones that you may not otherwise be able to carry out.

4 Start light and get heavier over time

Exercising for health is not about lifting the maximum weight you can. You’re not training to be a powerlifter, and you shouldn’t think like that. When starting out, use weights that you can lift comfortably. This will get your body used to the movement patterns of each exercise, and your body will be able to adapt to the strain of lifting, without you becoming fatigued too quickly.

5 Keep it fun, keep it consistent

In order to reap the benefits of exercise, you need to be consistent with your training routine. Thinking of it as work, or a chore, will make it harder to get motivated, or stick to a routine. You should aim to train 3 times a week, with at least 1 rest day in between sessions. For example Monday, Wednesday and Friday will work. If you’re able to get into this routine, your day won’t feel complete without performing your work out.

By setting yourself mini goals, for example increasing your time spent on the treadmill, the number of reps you can perform when bicep curling, or increasing the amount of weight you can lift on a shoulder press will help make things fun and fresh.

6 You don’t need a gym

I couldn’t get on stage without training in a full kitted gym. The amount of weight and machinery I need to train with just wouldn’t fit in my home. However your training routine may only involve dumbbells. You might be following a kettle bell only workout. Your training routine may only require resistance bands or even bodyweight.

If the idea of stepping in a gym is too daunting, or not feasible for you, then you can get a great workout from home. Work with your Doctor or Physician to find out what workout will be best for you.

Over To You

I hope these pointers have at least given you something to think about, and will help you get started with whatever exercise you’d like to start doing.

In my next article I’ll be talking about how I keep motivated to train, along with offering some helpful tips for how you can keep motivated.

What is the biggest thing preventing you, a loved one, or friend from exercising?


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Author: Adam Foster

  • bobl07

    Now, I know what my workout will be tonight. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Shreddy Brek

    Hope it helps!