A Beginner’s Strength Training Routine


There is no such thing as a beginner’s exercise because an exercise can always be made harder in order to perform it.  Most exercises serve some purpose.  The value of an exercise is dependent on the goals you set for yourself.  One interesting note:  A beginner’s strength training routine for women is not necessarily different than a man’s workout.

An exercise plan for beginners begins with first acclimating your muscles and central nervous system to resistance training.  This is best done first with bodyweight exercises.  The main reasons for this are:

  • You are more familiar with moving around your bodyweight than external weights.
  • There are usually less injuries with bodyweight exercises (but not always—you still need to use great form).
  • You should try out strength training with your bodyweight before you invest in a exercise equipment or a gym membership.
  • Bodyweight training teaches you the basics of getting started toning all the major muscle groups.

The Right Mindset

You will not achieve your strength and or bodybuilding goals if you do not commit yourself to a plan of action on a regular basis.  Find some time during the day when you can fit in your workouts.  Put in the effort and you will see results.  It involves commitment, determination, a work ethic, and all the rest of that good stuff.

Nutrition

Proper nutrition makes up over half of an effective strength training program.  Eat a healthy well balanced diet with plenty of protein and get plenty of rest for faster results.  If you can’t get enough protein from food then consider buying protein supplements such as whey and/or casein.  Whey protein enters the blood stream faster and is used up faster. Casein is a slower acting protein.  Because of this, whey protein should be taken after a workout.  Casein protein is best consumed at bedtime.

Strength training for mass and showing more pounds on the scale is usually achieved by going on a bulking workout routine by eating a lot of food and lifting heavy compounds.  Barbell Exercises such as bench presses, squats, deadlifts, presses and rowing are compound (multi joint) exercises.  Barbell curls and calf lifts are what are called isolation (single joint) exercises and don’t contribute much to overall mass.  You get more bang for your buck with compounds.

Beginner Strength Training Workouts

There is no certain number of repetitions given because with bodyweight exercises it’s very difficult to do as many reps as you want.  If for instance, you were instructed to do 10 chins, you might be able to do only 4 or 5 which is just fine.  Train to near failure not to total failure.  Rest about 1 or 2 minutes in between sets. When you first perform an exercise, expect being sore within 48 hours

 Week 1:

For Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Pushups 3 sets

Inverted rows 3 sets (putting a broomstick or bar across two supports or chairs)

Reverse lunges 3 sets

Week 2:

Monday:

Pushups 3 sets

Inverted rows 3 sets

Reverse lunges 3 sets

Wednesday:

Dips 2 sets

Chins 2 sets

Step ups onto a high platform or stool (mid thigh) 3 sets

Friday

Monday:

Pushups 3 sets

Inverted rows 3 sets

Reverse lunges 3 sets

Week 3:

Monday:

Pushups 2 sets

Incline pushups 2 sets

Chins 2 sets

Forward lunges 3 sets

Hyper extensions 1 set

Wednesday

Dips 3 sets

Pull ups 3 sets

High Step ups 3 sets

Friday

Incline pushups 2 sets

Dips 2 sets

Chins 3 sets

Hyperextensions 1 set

After 3 weeks of bodyweight only training, rest for one whole week and then start training with weights the following Monday.  Here is a sample of what a beginner’s strength training routine with weights would look like.  Again, when you first perform an exercise, expect your muscles to be sore within 48 hours

Monday:

Squats 3 sets of 5 repetitions

Bench 3 sets of 5

Bent rows 3 sets of 5

Chins 1 set

Tuesday:

Squats 3 sets of 5

Press (overhead) 3 sets of 5

Bent rows 3 sets of 5

Friday

Squats 2 sets of 5

Bench 3 sets of 5

Chins

Deadlift 1 set of 5

Do this workout for a couple months.  Find the weight for each exercise that you would be going to failure if you did 7 reps.  Always try to add more weight to every exercise every workout, except for chins.  After a couple months you should have a pretty good idea where your strengths and weaknesses are.  Work on those lifts for which you are the weakest by doing an extra set or two once in awhile.

Give this program about 12 weeks.  During that time you may want to add exercises here and there such as barbell curls for the biceps and calf lifts.

Warm Up First

If you are doing any exercises involving the shoulders, be sure to warm up thoroughly.  It is during warming up when you are checking for proper form and blood flow.  You should not start a working set for the shoulders (or for that matter for any body part) if you feel any twinge.  You warm up by doing a couple sets of an exercise with half the weight.

A Few Words About Best Exercises and Some Tips and Strength Classifications

Barbell rows and pull ups are the two best back exercises.  Bench Presses and Dips are the best exercises for the chest.  When doing pushing exercises, do not extend your arms all the way; do not lock your elbows.

Some beginners do not want to do squats or deadlifts because they develop the glutes.  There’s only one thing to say about this:  Do your squats and deadlifts and don’t worry about it.

People who weight train are typically classified as beginner, intermediate or elite as to how strong they are on certain lifts.  For instance, the elite level of powerlifting might start at squatting 400 lbs., benching 300 lbs, and deadlifting 500 lbs.

Cardiovascular exercise and losing weight

Be aware that if you are eating less calories to lose weight, your strength gains may not be as much as expected.  If you wish to lose body fat, you must take in fewer calories than you expend.  It is that simple.  You also might also want to include some kind of cardiovascular regimen on your non-weight training days.  If you train quite hard, walking may be the best choice.  Your cardiovascular session should last somewhere between 20-45 minutes.  Wear comfortable shoes that protect your feet—no flip flops.

Another variation would be to not train in between workouts but in the workout itself by doing a type of interval training:   Run in place or jump rope in between your sets.

As was said in the beginning, you will not achieve anything without the proper mindset.  Tell yourself you will commit to this, visualize it and then do it.  There is nothing you cannot do if you have confidence and determination.

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