How and Where to Start When You Want to Lift Weights

The hardest step is almost always the first one. Let’s outline a plan on how to begin with your lifting journey.

With all the information out there regarding fitness regimes, it can be a daunting task gathering the motivation to begin working out, let alone understanding what exercises to do, how many to do in a single session, how much of each, and how often. Today’s article aims to give a good starting point for each of these criteria for a general needs type individual. This would resemble a fat loss/muscle gain program and should be used in conjunction with a solid dietary approach and healthy lifestyle choices.

The first item that needs to be in place with an exercise program is the exercises themselves; without them, there is nothing but meaningless numbers for sets and reps. When starting out, it’s important to consider your experience level with a certain movement (such as a squat) and determine the appropriate progressions/regressions to ensure that the specific exercise being used is safe and effective. As such, we recommend to train 5 main movements at the beginning of one’s exercise career: squat, upper body push, upper body pull, hinge, and core. some examples of each are as follows:

  • Squat: split squat, goblet squat, kettlebell front squat, barbell front squat, barbell back squat.
  • UB Push: band assisted pushup, pushup, dumbbell bench press, barbell bench press, half kneeling dumbbell overhead press, landmine press, barbell overhead press.
  • UB Pull: inverted row, chest supported dumbbell row, band assisted chin-up/pull-up, chin-up/pull-up, seated cable row, bent over barbell row.
  • Hinge: dumbbell Romanian deadlift, kettlebell romanian deadlift, kettlebell deadlift, block pull, barbell deadlift, kettlebell swing.
  • Core: planks, RKC planks, ab roller, Pallof press, Swiss ball roll-out, stir-the-pot.

As you can see, there are many options for each exercise category, and as such, you should choose ones that cause no pain, and you are able to execute with proper form and a full range of motion. Generally speaking, training one movement from each of these categories per session will be sufficient to achieve your goals.

Once we have established the exercises themselves, we must consider how much of each to do. As a beginner, one is able to progress with a relatively small stimulus. Over time, this stimulus will need to be increased incrementally so that the individual continues to progress but that is out of the scope of today’s article. 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps is a great starting point as it will keep the volume low enough so as to prevent excessive soreness and technique breakdown. For movements such as planks, 0:15 to 1:00 is a good range to work with.

The final portion (and one that most often varies from person to person), is the question of how often one should repeat the same exercises. Here at StrongerYou PT, we recommend building 2 workouts to begin with and alternating them in an ABAB fashion going with either an every other day or 3 days a week frequency.

In conclusion, in order to effectively design your own exercise program, there are no hard and fast rules, but rather a set of guidelines to follow to get started; choose your exercises, set the reps to something that is doable but won’t make you overly sore, and then repeat 3-4 days per week.

Having trouble piecing all this information together? Want a more customized approach suited to your individual needs? Contact us to start with your personal training today and get to your dream body faster!