Weight Training For Dummies
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People carry a variety of items in their gym bags. Even if you never set foot in a health club, these weight-lifting accessories can make your workouts more comfortable and safe.

  • Belts: The controversy in the fitness community rages on: to wear a belt or not to wear a belt? Proponents of weight-lifting belts maintain that belts protect your lower back. Opponents counter that a belt is like a crutch: If the belt does all the work to keep your body stable, then your abdominal and back muscles won’t develop to their fullest potential, and you may end up with back problems down the line.

    Although many casual lifters swear by them, you don’t need a belt unless you’re a serious power lifter. Your abdominal and lower-back muscles benefit from the work they do to support you during a lift.

  • Clothing: Wear tight shorts (or at least long ones) for weight training as some of the machines can be awkward with baggy shorts. On your top, wear a T-shirt or tank top. Heavy clothing only traps your sweat and leads to dehydration; layers can also impede your movement and hide mistakes in your posture that you’d be able to see if you weren’t overly dressed.

  • Gloves: Weight-lifting gloves have padded palms, and the tops of the fingers are cut off. Gloves prevent your hands from callusing and slipping off a bar. Wearing hand protection also increases comfort when working with bands or tubing and if you have latex allergies, gloves keep your hands from breaking out.

    One alternative to gloves that you may want to use is weight-lifting pads — spongy rubber squares or circles (like potholders) that you place in the palms of your hands while you lift. Pads can offer better control than gloves because more of your hand is in contact with the weight. However, lifting pads aren’t as convenient as gloves because you have to carry them around as you work out. (Some pads come with clips so you can hook them to your shorts.)

  • Shoes: Wear athletic shoes that have plenty of cushioning and ankle support to protect your feet, your joints, and your balance.

    If you drop a weight when you’re wearing sandals, your toes have no protection. And if you wear shoes without rubber soles, your footing won’t be secure enough. Some gyms also have policies that prohibit you from training in inappropriate shoes, because it’s an accident waiting to happen.

  • Towel: Do you want to lie down in a pool of someone else’s sweat? Be courteous. Use a towel frequently to wipe off your body and the equipment you use.

  • Water bottle: Every gym has a drinking fountain, but you’ll drink more water while weight lifting if you have a bottle by your side. If you exercise at home, a water bottle is a must.

  • Weight-training log: Recording your workouts in a journal keeps you motivated and helps you assess your fitness goals.

About This Article

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LaReine Chabut is a distinguished lifestyle and fitness expert, bestselling author, model, and mom. As the on-camera host of MSN’s hit web series Focus on Feeling Better, LaReine helped everyday people across America fit in exercise daily. She is most recognized as the lead instructor of The Firm, a series of popular workout videos and her blog losethatbabyfat.com.

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