A beginner’s guide to strength training

A man training

There are lots and lots of reasons why so many people want to increase their body strength. Strength is basically the foundation of day to day activities and the reason why there are many products, strategies, lessons and companies all focused on building strength. However, with all the intimidation training exercises and painful reps, there are several simple things beginners should really know about strength training.

Keep it simple

There will be instructions and lessons to do certain numbers of reps within given timeframes. For beginners however, focus on keeping things simple and concentrate fully on completing your reps and sets. The advanced stuff will come at its own time once you have mastered strength training.

Master the ‘Four’

These are the big four exercises for strength training. They are the bench press, the dead-lift, the squat and the shoulder press. This will not just apply for your beginner training but throughout your strength building endeavors. All other exercises are also important but should only be complements to the four and should never take center stage.

Barbells barbells barbells

Yes, in strength training, the barbell is king. It comes with the unique advantages of balance, using both arms and the flexibility of adding weights as you progress. Your closest alternatives to barbells are dumbbells – good equipment but which you will probably outgrow very quickly-. However, for lighter strength exercises, you can switch dumbbells and other equipment.

Monitor yourself

Pretty simple actually, keep a log of all the exercises you do and how each turns out. Record your best sets, lifts, reps and presses and aim to surpass them. If your objective is muscle gain, weight gain, weight loss or maintenance, keep a record of your achievements in regards to your goal.

Moderate your training

Engaging in strength training for seven days a week will probably not be of much help. Keep it to thrice a week, on alternate days. This gives your body time to heal and repair muscles. Basically, you need a single main lift per workout with the four exercises, one assistance lift and the rest at the end of a workout.

Slow but consistent growth

Do not add weights to your training equipment too soon. Doing this would see you hitting a plateau very quickly. Instead ensure that your main lifts are about 90% of what you can actually lift and keep adding the weight by less than 10 pounds.


Balance implies doing the same thing to both sides of your body and not just one. This will help you avoid injuries and imbalances. Balance squats with dead-lifts, chest exercises with back exercises and so on. However, the exercises to balance should not necessarily be done in a single session but each must be balanced out within the same week.

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