Los Angeles-based personal trainer Gayle Etcheverry provides these weight-lifting tips for beginners:

  • Try to lift weights two to three days a week when starting.
  • Find a friend to train with who can spot you and assist with awkward positions. She can make sure you are doing the exercise correctly, which is especially important as you begin using machines or free weights.
  • Improvise with gallons of water or cans of food if you don't have weights at home.
  • Control the weight throughout the entire repetition. Never let the dumbbell, or soup can, drop to its starting position. Lower weight slowly for maximum benefit.