Weight lifting is a great way to tone your body, build muscles and improve your overall health. Plus, if you're looking to lose weight, building muscle by lifting weights can increase your metabolism to burn more calories throughout your daily activities. It doesn't take a lot of equipment to get started. You can find everything from simple resistance tubing to versatile exercise machines at many online stores, including Bodylastics and Bowflex. Just remember, if you haven't exercised in a while, you should make an appointment with your doctor for a checkup before starting any serious fitness regimen.

The Big Picture

Your first instinct may be to do only those exercises that target your problem areas, like your hips and thighs, abdomen or back side. In reality, a total body workout involves choosing exercises that get your heart rate up and keep it there, while working every muscle group. That way you get the aerobic benefit that builds a stronger heart and lungs, too. Weight lifting also strengthens your body's core, improving your posture and balance. Moreover, weight lifting is a good exercise at any age, from the very young to the very old.

Getting Started

Beginners should plan on working out for at least 30 minutes three times a week. There are at least two schools of thought as to how much weight and how many repetitions you should do of each exercise movement. The first is to choose the heaviest weight you can lift for a complete set of five to eight repetitions each. On the other hand, it is just as effective to choose a lighter weight if you also increase the number of repetitions, usually about 12 to 15 for each movement. As an alternative, especially when using resistance bands, do as many reps as it takes to max out one muscle group. Rest for 10 to 20 seconds and then repeat. Do five to eight sets of this before moving to a different set of muscles, repeating the entire process. Also remember to include rest days and proper nutrition so your muscles can recover and grow.

The Right Equipment

Available equipment includes time-honored favorites, like exercise bikes and treadmills, which focus more on aerobic activity. Another traditional weight lifting method is using free weights. However, proper form is essential for making the most of this method, and completing an exercise incorrectly can cause serious damage to your joints. In many gyms, free weights have been superseded by more modern weight-lifting systems, commonly referred to as home gyms. These offer a multitude of exercises in one machine and feature adjustable weight levels and flexible stations that keep your body properly aligned, while reducing the stress on your joints.

Moving On

The key to getting the most out of your weight lifting routine is to keep increasing the weights and repetitions as you progress. Keep pushing your body to its limits. If you make weight lifting a lifelong routine, the benefits will be even more important as you grow older.