As a beginner looking for information on how to start weight training, you will come across people trying to sell you BS and people trying to over-complicate what you need to do. In reality, beginning weight training is very simple and there are 3 things you need to focus on.
There are 6 primary movement patterns that are important to learn. These are exercises that will activate a large number of muscle groups, require a good amount of coordination, and lay the foundation for movement pattern variations and more complex movement patterns. These types of exercises are also easy to apply progressive overload to, which as the name suggests, is important for progression.
All of these characteristics and the benefits of them are very important for laying a strong foundation that you can progress from later in your training career when training is more difficult and demanding.
The fundamental movement patterns are:
Squat Based Exercises (Back Squats or Goblet Squats)
Hip Hinge Exercises (Deadlift Movements)
Horizontal Push Exercices (Bench Press & Dumbbell Bench Press)
Vertical Push Exercises (Barbell & Dumbbell Shoulder Press)
Horizontal Pull Exercises (Barbell & Cable Rows)
Vertical Pull Exercises (Pull-Ups & Lat-Pulldowns)
All exercises mentioned are examples and are not the only options. However, they are primary and quality examples.
Now, I am not saying that you should ONLY do these foundational exercise types. They should be your focus, BUT there will be some muscle groups that aren’t activated quite enough from these exercises. These are mainly smaller muscle groups that can be worked via isolation based exercises.
You may want to incorporate some curls and tricep extensions for the arms. Lateral raises and face-pulls for the lateral and rear delts. Spinal flexion and core stability work to more specifically develop the core. As well as calf raises to develop the calves.
Following this guideline will utilize exercises that are easy to progress with and work all the muscles needed while developing key movement patterns and skills that will be vital to progression as you go on in your lifting career.
We have a good idea of what to do, but we need to know how to do it. Before you even think about the weights you’ll use or how you will progress, it is very (VERY) important to learn and work on executing these movements with the proper technique and control.
This is important for not only safe lifting (proper alignment and stability of muscles and joints), but effective lifting, too. At the current moment, you could lift more if you allow your technique to breakdown. But, as you need to progress the volume and weights you are using, being able to execute and maintain proper technique during a set will be FAR more beneficial and important than short term technique breakdown to boost short term performance.
When you start, no matter how good you think your technique is, it WILL NOT be optimal right out of the gate. Technically, it is never optimal because there is always room for improvement. One of the few clichés that is actually the truth.
Using proper technique will also ensure the proper muscle groups are contributing to each exercise. For hypertrophy, this is important so the proper stimulus is being applied to the muscle groups you want. For strength training, having the proper muscle groups contributing to the lift is important to maximize the strength and stability you have to best execute a movement.
All of this is particularly important for the foundational 6 movement patterns as these will lay the foundation for our training. However, the same applies to our isolation based exercises.
Another part of proper technique and something that helps with achieving proper technique is controlling the exercises. You don’t want to let the wright freefall on the eccentric, followed by a less than coordinated effort on the concentric. Control on the eccentric and concentric will help with proper muscle activation, technique, and the overall safety of the lift.
When you are a beginner, your body adapts and progresses so quickly that you have an advantage for progression over more experienced trainees. Sure, you might not be able to lift as much or do as much volume as a more advanced trainee, but, you will be able to progress from YOUR previous best efforts much more quickly (while doing so properly), than a more advanced trainee can
So, progression as a beginner is really simple. Once you have your exercises picked out and you are confident in your technique when doing them, simply adding a rep to your sets or a small increment of weight (2.5 to 5 pounds) to the bar each week for those exercises is possible and a highly effective way to progress.
This will build your ability to handle volume, and more importantly in my opinion, it will help improve your strength levels. Of course, you need to ensure that you are still executing all your lifts with proper technique and control, too.
See? Starting out with weight training isn’t so complicated!
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Thanks for reading and take care!
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Until Next Time,
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