Muslim woman with weights

Weight training is great for your health. Incorporating it into your workout routine not only builds muscle, but it also supports the growth of bone tissue. In fact, it can even help lower the risk and symptoms of chronic illnesses.

The Y’s expert instructors love to help members learn about the benefits of weight training. “You’re literally building stronger bones,” says Margaret Maddox Y group exercise coordinator Jenny Gray. “Strength training is really functional. [It supports] what you do in your daily life. You might squat down to pick up your kids, or you might need to reach overhead and put something in a bin on an airplane.”

Personal trainer Reece Royster at the Downtown Nashville Y also teaches members about the importance of using weights, like dumbbells, to reach their health goals. Here are a few tips that he shares for those ready to expand their routine:

1. Heavy weights aren't always best.

Find a weight with which you feel comfortable doing two sets of 10 exercise repetitions (reps). If you can make it to the end of your sets easily, you may want to go a little heavier. If you find yourself struggling to reach that mark, go down a few pounds. As your strength improves, you can move up in weight.

2. Go for muscular endurance.

If you're new to the weights world, Reece recommends a goal of building muscular endurance, not strength. When your focus is on endurance, you'll be using lighter weights but doing more reps. On the flip side—building strength requires heavier weights for less reps.

3. Control, control, control

It's easy to let weights drop after you've done an overhead press or a hammer curl—but you're cheating yourself out of the benefits. Control your dumbbells on the way down to resist gravity's pull. Reece recommends counting to three to make sure you're taking your time.

4. Quality reps over quantity

Some people make the mistake of using "ego weight," Reece says, which refers to using too much weight and then compromising on technique. No impressive-looking weight is worth an injury. Another common mistake Reece sees on the wellness floor is fatigue overcoming form. If you feel your muscles wearing out and you're starting to hunch your shoulders or you're losing the correct form of the exercise, take a break. It's more important to have quality reps with the right movements.

Once you’ve got the technique down, try out one of Reece’s easy dumbbell routines, like this arm workout for beginners, or one of our group exercise classes focused on strength training, like Boot Camp. And, fuel your body for your new weight routine with some healthy tips from Registered Dietitian Brittany Dillon.