Strength Training For Beginners – Tips To Help You Get Started
With so many benefits it’s silly to overlook adding strength training into your routine. However, it can be overwhelming to get started. Use these tips to ease your mind about strength training for beginners and learn the best way to get started. Read more about what types of strength training workouts to start with, how to prevent injuries, and where to place your focus as a beginner.
If you’re new to working out, getting started with strength training or hitting the gym seems extremely intimidating! And while I do believe that the majority of people should be doing some kind of resistance training, randomly picking weights up without a plan or proper execution isn’t the way to go.
However, before we delve into the tips of strength training for beginners, know that strength training doesn’t have to be done in the gym.
There are a lot of great ways to rock resistance training at home with either Resistance Bands, Trx Suspension Straps or even a few dumbbells (check out the best pieces of at-home workout equipment to get started!).
That said, this particular blog posts about getting started with strength training, in particular with lifting weights. So keep that in mind.
And of course, you can learn more about technique, tips, and tricks from the “get fit” area on this blog.
Strength Training For Beginners
I am a firm believer that having a plan is the way to go: so have a plan! When it comes to strength training for beginners, most people fail because they’re literally not sure what to do.
While the tips below will help you get started, having a workout, something to follow will make a huge difference.
Remember, the strength training tips below are to help you get started. One thing to note with strength training is that there’s no perfect system!
There are countless ways, systems, and routines that can help you achieve your goals. So if you’re not going to chat with a Certified Personal Trainer, be open to doing a bit of trial and error.
Beginner Tip: Master Form First
I promise that not everyone is watching you perform the exercises to see if you’re doing them correctly. However, because you are now adding an external load to your movements, not performing the exercises correctly is an easy way to injure yourself or create imbalances.
YouTube is a great source for exercises but you’ll need to practice mimicking the movements and really engaging the muscles instead of just going through the motions. If it’s possible, have someone help you so you know you’re doing them right.
My advice to anyone is to master the bodyweight version first. Loading up a squat with dumbbells is utterly pointless if your knees cave in or you feel your low back while performing them.
Take the time to nail down form, engagements, and corrections before weight gets added to anything.
Full Body Workouts To Start
This isn’t a rule so much as experience and preference. If you’re new to strength training, start with full body workouts. You may just be getting into the routine of working out and this gives you the best bang for your buck.
In fact, twelve years into lifting and I still prefer full-body workouts.
They’re ideal for people who are only working out 2-3 times per week and will help reduce the chance of extreme soreness in the early days of strength training.
Always Have A Plan
I already mentioned this but it’s worth going into a bit more detail!
Don’t be that person who aimlessly walks around the dumbbells, does some curls, walks some more, does a row etc. Not only is this beyond ineffective but it’s a waste of time – and time is something moms can’t afford to throw away!
I’m not going to go into details about programs but get one. Walk into the gym with a specific plan of exercises to execute. Not only does this make better use of your time but it also gives you a purpose and will make you feel more comfortable through your workout.
Give Yourself Rest Days
One of the most overlooked areas of strength training for beginners is that you need rest days! especially as you gradually increase your weights.
Some people hate working out and others, once they get into it jump all in and can’t stop. When you’re loading up your body (this applies even more so the heavier weights you get to) it needs to recover.
Both your muscles and your central nervous system need time to recoup so they can perform optimally. Without this rest, progress will be minimal.
A great split for a beginner would be:
Monday: strength training
Wednesday: strength training
Thursday: mobility workout
Saturday: strength training
The workouts you perform will be more effective with strategic rest days.
Strength Training For Beginners: Take It Slow
If you’ve never lifted weights before, just like anything else, you need to wean in. Starting off with even thirty-pound squats may not seem like much but it is to your muscles!
Just to reiterate, your form should be spot on before you load up. And once you do load up, be gradual. For beginners, you’ll be able to progress your weights far faster than a seasoned lifter. Your central nervous system improves greatly in the first few months.
The more into strength training you get, the slower your weights will increase (which is okay!). Even so, take it slow and judge on your ability to maintain form as well as your muscle recovery.
Tip:You’ll be sore the first few weeks as your body adjusts to the new stimulus. After that though, the goal isn’t to cripple yourself each workout! Causing extreme muscle soreness isn’t beneficial to your muscles.
Switch It Up Every 6 Ish Weeks
Your body is a miraculous thing. When it’s given a challenge it rises to it and adapts. Unfortunately, this means that in order to keep stimulating it you’ve got to constantly change your methods.
Sticking with the same strength training program multiple times per week for more than six weeks (ish) will eventually stagnate your progress.
You need to progress and improve your intensity in some way. This can be done by:
- adding weight to your exercises
- changing the exercise variations
- adding strategic pauses to certain spots in the exercises
- using different training methods (isometrics, eccentrics etc)
Regardless though, you’ll want to alter your program or at least the way you perform it every few weeks.
Pull more Than You Push
Most people are familiar with bench pressing and push ups. And while those are amazing strength training exercises, you need to place more focus on the back of the body (the posterior chain).
It’s the back of the body that improves posture, sports performance, and reduces pain. Thus, instead of rocking a million presses, add in more pulling movements (any kind of row like in this strong back workout).
With my beginners, I like to have three pulling exercises for every pushing exercise in their program.
The Basic Exercises Don’t Change
I saved the biggest tip for last. One of the problems with strength training for beginners is that they start with the wrong exercises.
Bicep curls, leg extensions, cable kickbacks are all great but you need to be rocking the main exercises every single session. Your primary lifts (below) should be the bulk of your training and the other stuff (curls, triceps etc) is accessory work.
The exercises that should always be rotated into your programs are:
- A squat variation (think goblet squats, front squats, back squats etc)
- Pull variations (bentover rows, lat pulldown, pull-ups, inverted rows etc)
- A hinge or glute based movement (deadlift, Romanian deadlift, loaded bridges, and thrusts)
- Pushed & presses (bench press, incline press, shoulder presses)
You could argue that lunges or single-leg variation should be in there also (lunges, split squats, step-ups). But those are the basics that you should be working on every single week.
Don’t forget to pin these tips for strength training for beginners!
Strength training for beginners can be overwhelming. But never think twice about asking for help or reaching out. Below are a few great workouts to give you an idea of how your gym day could look. However, keep in mind that they’re basic workouts.
Here is a great workout template you can use to get started with strength training also.
Adding weights, or resistance, to your workouts is a whole other kind of training. There’s a lot to think about, consider, and plan for. Make sure you focus on safety and practicality and not just random movement. Results come from being consistent with both workouts as well as execution. And if you’re ever unsure of something – ask!