Bodybuilding isn’t just for budding Arnolds; it’s also a great thing to incorporate into any fitness regimen no matter a person’s age or current fitness level. Most people aren’t sure what to do in the weight section of the gym. They might try a few machines or lift a few dumbbells. However, if you’re not lifting right, you’re not doing anything at all (and you might even be damaging your body).

Lifting routines are broken into body parts. Beginners shouldn’t lift more than three times per week. This means that your body parts are pone lower and two upper sections. Anyone from a recent retiree to a former athlete looking to regain strength lost to sarcopenia can build muscle with minimal extra gym time.

Prepping for Lifting

It’s important to warm up your muscles before lifting. You can use this time to get in your cardio workout, or simply indulge in a ten-minute warm up if you don’t want to lose weight. However, most people don’t realize that it’s also important to do cardio after lifting in order to help your metabolism.

An ideal lifting day for weight loss and muscle gain is 30 – 60 minutes of cardio (which can include light cardio such as walking or an aqua fitness class), and 30 minutes of lifting followed by a 10 minute low-intensity cardio workout. The amount of time you spend lifting will vary depending on how much rest you need between sets. However, you should only do two or three sets with no more than 12 reps. This means if you’re spending much more than 30 minutes lifting, you’re not doing it right.

Quality, Not Quantity

You should be lifting enough to make it challenging to finish 12 reps. Ideally, you’ll even be failing on the release aspect of your rep. If you blow through an exercise easily, the weights aren’t heavy enough and you’re not building any muscle. Challenge yourself, grunt if necessary, and expect to sweat through your lifting routine if you’re an “easy sweater.”

Your upper body can be split in multiple ways. Work on your chest, back, shoulders and various arm muscles. You should always be sore (in a good way) the day after a lifting session. If you’re not, you might be doing the exercise incorrectly or the weights aren’t heavy enough.

Why Bother?

You begin to lose muscle in your mid-twenties, and it gets harder to reclaim them with every decade. For many retirees who haven’t prioritized building and sustaining muscle throughout their lives, starting a strengthening routine can be intimidating. It doesn’t need to be. All ages benefit from building muscles. Strong muscles help nearly every aspect of your health from your bones to your endurance. Strong back muscles help with posture and can even prevent osteoporosis. You don’t have to be huge to be a well-trained bodybuilder.

An ideal fitness routine includes cardio, strengthening, and working on balance and flexibility. Don’t waste your time sampling the weight section. Commit to making it just as important as your cardio exercises. After all, you only need to commit to three days per week in the beginning.