Starting out at a gym or beginning a new exercise routine can be a daunting task for a lot of people. Some questions I’m frequently asked are:
- Where do I begin?
- What exercises should I be doing?
- How much weight should I be lifting?
These questions, plus a heap more, are very hard to answer for most people.
So let’s try and clear that up a little.
Where Do I Start As A Beginner To Weight Training?
First and foremost, the question you need to ask yourself is, “what do I want to get out of training?”
Are you looking to improve health? Increase strength? Lose weight?
These objectives will have an influence on what you need to be doing as you progress.
The other part of this stage is accessing what exercises your body/mobility will allow you to do. This is where a training session can be a good first step, as they can run you through some screening. Ultimately, this assists training to suit your body type and achieve results in a shorter period of time.
If you don’t go down the route of getting a trainer, it’s important to extensively research training techniques, and also to listen to what your body is telling you when you try an exercise.
Which Weight Exercises Should Beginners Do?
Assuming you’ve found you mobility to be extensive, the number one thing all beginners (and long term users, for that matter) to resistance training should be doing are compound movements. A compound movement is an exercise that recruits multiple muscle groups. Squats, overhead presses and bent over rows are examples of these.
Movements like these will give you far more bang for your buck than isolation exercises such as bicep curls, as you’re training more muscles in a shorter period of time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to throw some isolation exercises in at the end of a workout, but the main focus should be compound movements.
The other thing to remember is to train what is hard, don’t avoid it. People tend to find an exercise they’re good at, and overtrain that muscle it as a result. This lets other areas slip behind. Train everything regularly.
How Much Weight Should Beginners Lift?
This is something that is completely different for everyone. Pay no attention to how much someone else can lift, because lifting too much too early can cause injury.
They best way to find your weight is to start light and work your way up.
I use the following steps when I’m working with people who are new to weight training:
- Start with a weight you can do an easy 15 reps on
- Next set, increase the weight and do 12, which should be a bit tougher.
- Then, go up slightly and aim for 10-12 reps with the last 4 being fairly intense.
Just remember, you DON’T have to be the strongest person in the gym on your first session. Start light and work your way up.