If you’re new to lifting weights, here are five quick tips to help you work out smarter and harder…

01. Pick the right weights

If you’re unsure of the weight to use on a given exercise, err slightly on the low side and concentrate on good form. As an example, assume you’re aiming for 8-10 reps on shoulder press. If you hit 10 reps in your first set, increase the weight by around 5% at the next session.

If you can’t even get 8 reps in your first set, you’ve started too heavy; drop the weight by 5-10% for your remaining sets. If you’ve only got one set of weights, pick a number of reps that means you’re close to failure by the final move or slow the tempo.

02. Be flexible

If the gym’s busy or your kit of choice is being used by others, you’ll need a backup option. There are alternatives for every move – use a dumbbell for a kettlebell swing, for example, or the cable machine for the TRX biceps curl.

03. Log your lifts

At the very least, record the weights you’re using so you can aim to better them in your next workout. If you’ve got time, though, record how you felt during sessions, what extra activity you did and how you slept – it all helps.

04. Avoid distractions

If you’re training at home, take your phone off the hook or set your mobile to airplane mode and ring-fence the time you need to work out.

05. Push through

Everyone has bad days in the gym, but don’t get discouraged if you feel tired or can’t lift more weight than last time. Stick to your plan, push yourself and you’ll keep making progress.