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Teen Health

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Build Muscle With Strengthening Exercises

Should I Use Weight Machines or Free Weights?

Weight machines and free weights each have advantages and disadvantages. Machines help you do the movement with proper form. You can also get a pro to show you how to use the machine correctly.

Machines also isolate specific muscle groups, letting you target your biceps, triceps, leg muscles, abdominal muscles, chest, shoulders, back, or other area.

Free weights can be more convenient. You can use them anywhere. Although free weights require strong hands and wrists, they let you do more types of exercises and give you a greater range of motion than machines do.

Because the risk of injury is higher with free weights, it's best to exercise with someone when using heavy weights. This way, you can "spot" for each other and keep each other safe

Get trained in how to lift properly using free weights, so you don't get hurt.

How Do I Start Strengthening Exercises?

Start strengthening exercise with light resistance or weights at first. Add more weight very gradually as you get stronger. Start slowly, and allow your body time to adjust.

Never hold your breath during the exercise. Follow this pattern:

  • Exhale when pushing against the weight or resistance.
  • Inhale when there is little or no resistance.

How Quickly Do Resistance Exercises Work?

It takes about 2 weeks for your muscles to get used to resistance exercise. During this time, allow for a day or two off for rest after training.

Your muscles need that rest period to get stronger. If you work out daily, you will end up exhausted and sore, making injury, strains, and sprains more likely.

If you stick with your strengthening program, within a few weeks you'll start to feel stronger, have better posture, and have noticeable muscle definition.

Listen to Your Body

Only you know how much weight or resistance you can handle during exercise.

You need to choose weights and exercises that fit your size and ability.

If the weight or movement feels like it's too much, then it's too much. Stop, and let your body rest. The next time you work out, start with a lower weight (or no weight). You should feel like you're challenging yourself without causing too much stress on your body.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on February 06, 2014
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