It sure isn’t easy being new into the world of bodybuilding, specifically weight lifting. If you’re being honest, you’d admit that all those highly-specialized exercises, fancy equipment tools and costly supplements can be a highly confusing picture to a newcomer. On top of that, it’s getting harder and harder to use the Web for a decent research, as there are more and more websites that would say anything in order to make profit or sell a product.
Are you one of the guys who are constantly on the verge between getting back to the couch and watching another episode of your GoT marathon and putting some shoes on and sprinting to the nearest gym before your motivation runs dry? You know and deeply believe that you should get stronger and/or leaner and have tried to get there, but somehow, once you got overwhelmed by the initial horror of beginning a whole new way of working out (or working out at all!), you lost the zeal. This is, by the way, the simplest explanation to why so many people stick to their old habits even after coming to a conscious realization that they need to kick them out.
… Recognized yourself there for a bit?
Don’t worry, there’s plenty of people in the club. Which is why we’ve created this easy-to-follow workout for weight lifting beginners that will help you cut right through the BS and get on the right road to amazing strength and muscularity. No more hours wasted on steady state cardio, no more wandering through the gym pretending you know exactly what you’re doing – you want to get the best start possible and build the body you want faster? Let’s roll.
Why Strength Training?
Strength training has an undisputable good record for providing benefits such as increased muscle fiber size, increased muscle contractile strength, increased tendon strength and increased ligament strength, in people who train consistently (more than twice per week) for 12 weeks. And that’s just the tip of the ice-berg. Strength training also has the ability to help you keep the unwanted weight off for good and develop better body mechanics, protect bone health and prevent various chronic diseases and ailments.
What Do You Want?
So, naturally, the first thing you’d want to figure out is what kind of training you want to be doing. Get a precise list of the equipment you have available and make your goals as specific as possible, then write them down (yes, it would be great if you could keep a training log). If you don’t know what you want, you will end up achieving a little bit of everything but not much overall.
On the other side, realistically speaking, the best form of strength training is the one that you will actually perform regularly. If you are already aware that you won’t be able to keep up for a long time with the program you’ve chosen due to schedule issues, difficulty, boredom, etc., be straight with yourself and better craft a different plan. Choose a routine that you know you will follow, even if it contains technical flaws and setbacks.
So, to get the best program possible, tailored just for you, you’d need to make a good balance between three forces: resources availability, longer-term goals and probability of following through.
How would that look like? You can check out our sample program below to get the idea.
But before we go there, there are a few things that are worth mentioning before you enter the weight room. First of all, you need to check if you know the 4 basic rules of lifting etiquette:
- Always bring your own towel and wipe off the equipment you’ve used after finishing.
- Rerack all the weight and replace all the dumbbells or barbells that you’ve used.
- Don’t – DON’T ever rest for extended periods of time on a machine that someone else is waiting for. If possible, offer them to work in with you.
- Leave your cell phone in your locker and don’t use it during your session.
If you want to have a fairly positive experience and have effective workouts while you’re in a gym, sooner or later, you’ll realize that you need to follow those principles. Better be sooner, right?
COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID
1. Using Too Much Weight – There’s a golden rule that you should always start lower than your expected ability and work your way up through the workout. One major indicator of using too much weight is when your form breaks apart and you start swinging the weight, which reduces the effectiveness of the movement and creates a potential for injury.
2. Not Using Enough Weight – This one is the easiest to solve: if you can perform 30 reps with a certain weight, you’re way too easy on yourself. Begin by selecting weights that you can complete no more (but absolutely no more) than 10 reps with.
3. Short Range of Motion – Not going through a complete range of motion will eliminate the possibility of activating different groups of muscle fibers from another angle, which is an important precursor for growth. Bonus tip: don’t increase the weight more than about 5% at a time.
4. Going Too Fast – Why would you do that? No matter what any quasi-fitness guru tells you, there are no gains to be made by rushing through your workouts. You must learn to lift in a slow and maximally controlled manner, which produces more total muscle tension and force and increase muscle fiber activation. It should take four to five seconds to complete one repetition through a full range of motion.
5. Resting Too Long – The most commonly used (and with that, the one you’ll need at the beginning of your training) rest period between sets is 30-90 seconds. Rest 1-2 minutes between each exercise. Of course, you can make your own tweaks at times, but don’t go over 3 minutes.
BEGINNER WEIGHT TRAINING WORKOUT
Enter the glory-waiting-to-happen world of weight training on a healthy foot with the following workout.
|Lying Leg Curls||1-2||8-12|
|Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown||1-2||8-12|
|Triceps Pushdown (rope attachment)||1-2||8-12|
|Machine Bicep Curl||1-2||8-12|
|Machine Shoulder Press||1-2||8-12|
|Ab Crunch Machine||1-2||8-12|
Perform the workout at least two times per week and make sure to take one day off weight training between each workout.
If this workout seems too machine-based, that’s because as a very inexperienced lifter, you would have less integrity in the joints and less stability in the core, which significantly increases your risk of injury if you attempt to lift free weight. Since machines provide support for the weaker areas, it is much smarter starting there, as this gives you an opportunity to strengthen the target muscle before moving on to free weight.
Don’t forget that maintaining an adequate diet is a crucial part of muscle growth. Eat a small high-protein, high-carb meal 30-60 minutes before each workout and one within 60 minutes after finishing the training. Also, make sure to stay hydrated before, during and after the workout.