Getting started with weight training is fantastic. You get to learn many things, watch your body change from week to week, and daydream of attaining your dream physique.
Plus, weight training is fantastic for building strength, improving your athleticism, and becoming more independent in your daily life.
The problem is, starting isn’t as simple as we might imagine. There are countless ideas and recommendations, so it can be challenging to know what to focus on.
With that in mind, here is a guide on how to get started with weight training today.
The Magic Number: Three
Start with three weekly workouts: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you can’t exercise on those days, train on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Three workouts are the perfect start because the frequency is enough for you to start making progress, but it isn’t too much that you feel overwhelmed. There is always at least one day of recovery before you have to train again.
On a similar note, start with three exercises per workout. Many people recommend learning all sorts of activities when you first begin training, but simplicity is key. Focus on the following compound movements:
- A squat variation (back, front, goblet, bodyweight, etc.)
- A deadlift variation (conventional, sumo, rack pull, Romanian, etc.)
- A barbell row
- Bench press (with a barbell or dumbbells)
- Overhead press (with a barbell or dumbbells)
- Pull-up or pull-down
Proper Technique Before Anything Else
Lifting weight is a skill that, like any other, improves with practice. More frequent training will help you get better at lifting weight, allowing you to progress more quickly.
Many beginners go about learning how to train from friends who aren’t always the best source of such information. As a result, beginners ingrain poor motor patterns, which hinder their training, preventing them from making optimal progress and increasing their risk of injuries.
So, one of the most important things you need to focus on is learning how to do each exercise correctly. Specifically, you need to understand three aspects of proper form:
- The set-up: how you prepare for each exercise and how you position yourself before you move the weight even one inch
- The brace: how you create whole body tension for maximum force output on every exercise
- The repetition: your range of motion and body’s position in relation to the external weight
One option is to go down the self-taught route: watching YouTube videos and reading instructions for each exercise. Then, you would go to the gym and apply what you’ve learned.
Alternatively, work with a solid coach for at least a few weeks, teaching you proper technique and monitoring you as the load you lift increases.
Avoid Pushing to Your Limits
Pushing yourself hard is a crucial part of weight training. You need to force your muscles to grow and get stronger. The problem is, most beginners take things too far and never leave any fuel in the tank.
The idea behind weight training is to walk in, do enough work to cause disruption, and go home to recover. So long as you don’t feel particularly tired or sore and can make good progress, you’re doing well.
Doing too much work causes more fatigue, which prolongs recovery and hinders your performance on subsequent sets and workouts. As a result, you might find yourself making slower progress. To make matters worse, you could increase your risk of injury due to poor technique and inadequate recovery.
Aside from sticking with three weekly workouts, you should always leave a repetition or two in the tank. In doing so, you work hard and make progress, but without exerting yourself too much.