Strength training.   Something He-Man probably did, but Shaggy from Scooby-Doo most definitely didn’t. Mostly it is using some weight or resistance to build your fitness, muscle size, and strength. It is something that most certified personal trainers do and teaches. 

For guys and girls, building lean muscle is key to burning fat and becoming leaner – doing strength training doesn’t have to mean looking like you should be working the doors of a nightclub.  

But prepare for people to say things like, ‘hey, you’re looking well!’. Or ‘oh my God, that shirt looks amazing on you!’. Or even ‘you look like a new man/woman. What’s the secret to looking so utterly wonderful?’.  

The last one might be a bit optimistic, but you get the idea. Over the ten years of working as an ACE and NASM personal trainer, I have learned the best exercises for beginners. 

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The Best Beginner Strength Training Program in [year] 6
The Best Beginner Strength Training Program in [year] 7

The menu at the top of this page will answer any question related to your personal training. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment here (I’ll respond within 24 hours). Also, visit the home page for the most recent and popular articles.

The Best Beginner Strength Training Program in [year] 8

New to strength training?  Good.  Your life is about to get better.   In this, we’ll go over when and how to do it, what goals you should expect, and then my Top 5 strength training exercises for beginners.

How often should you strength train?  Consistently.  Twice a week over a year will work better in the long term than training five times weekly for just a few months.  Listen to what your body is telling you.

DO NOT OVERDO IT! If your body is feeling weak, if something is painful in the wrong way, if each session is making you feel worse and not better – you must rest.  

But be honest with yourself. Giving yourself a couple of weeks off and then a couple of weeks on means you won’t be transforming your body in the way you might want.

What to aim for? Well, that’s up to you. But realistic goals are essential.  Look to drop a dress size in a reasonable period.  Aim to be able to get into a shirt you’ve not dug out from the closet for a while.

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 When strength training, do not get obsessed with the scales – you are building muscle, so your weight may even go UP by a few pounds initially.

 Before and after pictures, body measurements, and just generally feeling better are far more accurate and vital ways of measuring progress.

Top 5 strength exercises for beginners

So much strength training uses compound movements.  That is an exercise that uses two or more muscles at once.  Firing up muscle groups rather than isolated muscles means creating lean muscle, burning fat, and saving time!  

Further down the line, you can start isolating muscles should you wish. But we will be doing more ‘all over’ exercises now.   

You are doing each exercise in three bursts (known as sets). If muscle size is your goal, do five reps for each on a heavyweight.  If you’re looking for muscle growth and a fitness mix, use a medium weight and do between 8 – 10 reps.

The key is to increase your weight each week, but about 5 lbs. 

The Best Beginner Strength Training Program in [year] 6
The Best Beginner Strength Training Program in [year] 7

NOTE: WARM UP!!!  Rocking up at the gym or getting straight into a session in your front room without warming up will end painfully.  You may even do some long-term damage.

5 minutes on a cross trainer, some jumping jacks – anything to get things moving. And then, when you start your strength training session, begin each exercise with a lightweight and take it very easy.  

This is so important, mainly as a strength training rookie.

Squat

Muscles used; thighs, buttocks, hamstrings.

How?; Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your back straight, and slowly drop your buttocks to the floor.  Come up again slowly. Keep your heels locked to the floor at all times.

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Basic; do it without any weights.  Your body weight is resistant enough.

More advanced, hold a dumbbell in each hand, or for the big licks, hold a barbell across your shoulders and neck.  Practice this action first with an unweighted bar.

Burpees

Muscles used; pretty much the ultimate all-body exercise

How; start laid flat on the floor face down, as if at the beginning of a push-up. Perform a push-up, and as your arms are nearly fully extended, jump your feet forward so you are now at the start of a squat.

Then with your feet flat on the floor, jump up straight with arms in the air before returning to the start position. It should be one fluid motion.

Easier; if initially too tricky, eliminate the jump.

More advanced; use a dumbbell in each hand, and rather than jump at the end, lift your arms above your head (as if your Mom is trying to put a sweater on you over your head).

Sitting cross crunches

Muscles used; abs, lower back, buttocks, chest.

How; do you know a sit up?  That but with a light dumbbell in each hand.  As you come up for the sit up, punch your left arm over your right knee.  

Alternate arms on each sit up. Keep your core tense and your knees bent.

Easier; do it without the weights

More advanced; go heavier!

Push-ups

Muscles used; chest, back, arms, abs.

How?;  Back straight, hands shoulder width apart, as you lower down, tuck your elbows into your side (don’t spread your elbows out like chicken wings)

Easier;  Do the push up usually but in a knelt stance rather than fully extended legs.  Your knees are your pivot, and you take less of your body weight through the arms and chest.

More advanced; Place your hands closer together and underneath your chest. Or raise your feet by resting them on the edge of the couch.

Pull-ups

Muscles used; triceps, biceps, shoulders, upper back, core

How; a lot of gyms have pull-up bars and frames.  And a lot also have ‘pull up machines’ that offer a little assistance to the pull-up.  Note with these machines, the more weight you add, the EASIER it is to perform the exercise!

Keep your back straight, latch on to the bar above your head (alternate your grip, so come with your palms facing towards you, and do some with your palms facing away), and pull your chin to the bar.

These are not easy! And it is unlikely you’ll be able to go straight into the unassisted version of these.  Even when you can start to do a few unassisted, still use the support of the machine so that you do a full complement of pull-ups.

Remember, start easy, seek advice not to hurt yourself, and train consistently.  Then combined with eating right, watch your body shape change!

Suppose you want to become a personal trainer and not just work out. In that case, I suggest you check out my category on personal training or maybe my review on the ISSA certification

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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