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The Beginner’s Guide to Weight Lifting

Weight Lifting Program for Beginners

So whether you’re just beginning and starting out or a seasoned pro who’s been working out for years, the important thing is that you start out somewhere and then progress from there.

Weight lifting programs especially for beginners is not always about what you lift but how you lift and the frequency and intensity of the work out.

Beginning the Journey

Black and white photo of woman lifting weights
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'” – Eleanor Roosevelt

When you make a quality decision to start lifting weights, the first thing you should consider more than anything is your overall health, I remember when I first began working out with my personal trainer, because I was 70 pounds overweight, I couldn’t necessary run for long distances.

I had to build up my fitness and cardio in order to not damage my knees and hips’ and other areas as a result of putting too much stress on my joints due to being too heavy.

The Home Gym Scenario

Home Gym

As I began my weight lifting journey working out at home, I didn’t have access to all the gym equipment like the stand still bike or elliptical strider and the numerous amounts of equipment that is available within a gym.

I also realized that I didn’t need a lot of equipment to start out with, I bought myself a bench press which had an incline and decline option including leg extensions and hammy curls, plus some free weights and eventually an exercise bike and a heart rate monitor to track my success and keep me motivated.

As I enjoyed doing cardio, I would build up my endurance and distance every week and run further and longer getting fitter and stronger.

I realized there where other options as well, but I enjoyed running outside with fresh air and the elements, not just staring at the four walls.

How many days do you train?

Another important decision you will have to make when starting out is how many days you will train for in the week.

What is recommended and what you can achieve are two didn’t things.

So depending on your schedule and commitment levels will determine your results meaning the speed and time it will take to achieve your goal.

Most people have 3 days that they can begin with which is a great start then eventually progress to a four-day program.

So depending on your goals and schedule the fourth day would be ideal especially if you want to sculpt and build lean muscle as mentioned in another post.

It is also recommended working the same muscle areas at least 2 times a week with adequate rest between.

Some people are naturally motivated and can work out at home and not need to work out at a gym, I am naturally like that.

I enjoyed working out at home but the time came and I joined a gym as the variety of equipment is vast and it brought my training to a whole new level.

But for those individuals that need to join a gym and work out with there friends that’s ok as well, you may need someone to spot you to push out those extra reps.

Weight Training Programs

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Victoria Dean, 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron unit fitness program manager, lifts a 70 pound barbell during a strength workout at the Warrior Fitness Center Aug. 2, 2013, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

As mentioned before when starting out everybody’s goals will be different below are some examples of reps and training methods you can use when beginning your weight training program.

Different types of weight lifting workouts

  • 1 – 3 reps for maximum Strength training (4-5 minute rest)
  • 4 – 6 reps Strength and Power training (2-3 minutes rest)
  • 8 – 12 reps for Hypertrophy training (1-2 minutes rest)
  • 15 + reps for Endurance and fat burning (1 minute or less rest)

For example when starting out if your goal is to drop a lot of weight, then you could do the following endurance and fat burning workout with max reps 3 times a week.

  • 4 sets at 15 reps Squats ( 1 minute or less rest)
  • 4 sets at 15 reps stand still lunges ( 1 minute or less rest)
  • 4 sets at 15 reps bench press ( 1 minute or less rest)
  • 4 sets at 15 reps push-ups ( 1 minute or less rest)
  • 4 sets at 15 reps deadlifts ( 1 minute or less rest)
  • 4 sets at 15 reps chin ups ( 1 minute or less rest)
  • 4 sets at 15 reps bent over row ( 1 minute or less rest)

Technique and Form

Squats

Tavin Alford successfully squats 350 pounds on his first of three attempts in the squat during the powerlifting competition May 8, 2015, at the Fitness Center on Dover Air Force Base, Del.

SIn order to get this technique right you should,

  • Start out with your own body weight
  • Feet at about shoulder width apart
  • Push your bottom out first
  • Bend at the knees and straighten your back
  • keep your head up and eyes looking straight ahead
  • Knees should not go past your toes when going down.
  • Squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor
  • Do not lock the knees out when you stand up or bounce

Once you get the technique right you can progress to the 45lb bar, then add light weights on either side.

Lunges

Woman in green sports bra and black leggings doing a lunge
  • Start out with body weight
  • keep your head straight, eyes looking forward
  • One leg goes forward as the other legs bends
  • Don’t allow the leg that is moving to go past your toe that is forward.
  • The leg that is bending should almost touch the ground
  • Hold the position for a second then push up repeating the move

Bench Press

Ana Shockey, 50th Security Forces Squadron, bench presses 135 pounds during the annual Bench Press and Deadlift competition at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Jan. 26, 2018.

Depending on your equipment that you have, if you have a flat bench you can start out with a straight barbell with no weight, or dumb bells with a lightweight.

  • Lay on the bench and set your hands just outside of your shoulder width
  • Feet should be flat on the ground with a slight arch in your lower back
  • Your chest raised up with your shoulder blades digging into the bench.
  • Take a deep breath in as you bring the bar down just touching your chest in line with your sternum
  • Then breath out as you push the bar up not hyper extending your elbows at the finish point.

Push ups

Woman and girl doing push ups

This is pretty straight forward, but technique is still important,

  • keep your back straight but slightly tilted upwards from your head down
  • Chest should go all the way down to the floor
  • Don’t over extend locking out the elbows.

Deadlifts

Man doing a deadlift

  • Bring the bar close to your shines
  • Placing the bar over the top of your shoes
  • Feet should be at a hips’ width distance
  • Hands right next to your legs on the bar
  • Bend your legs then push your hips’ back and hinge forward until your torso is nearly parallel with the floor.
  • Ensure your spine is neutral, shin is vertical, and your hips’ are roughly the same height as your shoulders.
  • Feet flat as you drive through and focus on pushing the floor away.
  • Make sure the bar tracks in a straight line as you extend the knees and hips’.
  • Once you have locked out the hips’, reverse the movement by pushing the hips’ back and hinging forward.
  • Return the bar to the floor, reset, and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Chin Ups

Man performing a chin up

This can be done with either a straight bar on a door way or on an isolated row machine

  • Start with hands outside of your shoulder width
  • Back straight and eyes looking forward
  • Breath in and drop down not locking out your elbows
  • Breath in as you pull up through your back as though you want to bend the bar
  • Pull up until your chin is just over the bar
  • Then slowly go down keeping a slight bend in the arms and repeat

Bent Over Row

Sgt. Jason Haden, Air Education and Training Command NCO in charge of instructor and support assignments, does a bent over barbell row at the Rambler Fitness Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Oct. 24, 2016.
  • Stand with feet about shoulder width apart
  • Bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward
  • Bending at the waist, keep your back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor
  • Hands on the bar bell just next to your legs palms facing down
  • Keep your head up and eyes looking forward
  • The barbell should be directly in front of you as your arms hang at a 90° angle to the floor and your torso. This is your starting position.
  • Now while keeping the torso stationary, breathe out and lift and pull the barbell to you.
  • Keep your elbows close to the body and only use the forearms to hold the weight.
  • When you’re at the point of contracting, squeeze your back muscles and pause and hold for a moment.
  • Then inhale and slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Conclusion

So let’s say you start doing the work out above on Monday, you would then do this work out again on Wednesday, and then Friday, then rest to begin with.

It’s very important to rest in between; when you rest your body it goes to work and re-builds the scar tissue that you damaged when you tore it doing weights.

So rest is very important, and necessary to the success of your overall success, so again if your not sure where to start I hope this weight lifting program for beginners guide will help you start and remain focused to achieve your goals.