Weight Training For Beginners

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This article will give you the exercise selection and reasoning to begin your own strength program. From my research and personal experience you don’t workout to lose weight. You eat less to lose weight. Fitness experts recommend eating at a deficit of 500 calories a day so at the end of the week you’ve eaten 3500 calories less. 1lb of fat = 3500 calories.

BUT…

What they don’t tell you is that loss of 3500 calories isn’t only coming from fat. Your body will pull calories from stored carbs, muscle protein, and stored fat.

THATS WHY…

You have to workout and tell your body you still need that muscle. By working out you will sustain muscle mass while you lose weight. Unless you’re a beginner lifter, then you will be able to actually gain muscle while cutting calories (Read this article here for more on that). For most people, though, you workout to sustain muscle mass.

But Billy, I don’t know how to lift weights!

Fear not, that’s what I am here for. This article will tell you how to build your own workout routine based on how many days you have available to lift. We in the fitness world call this a split. There are five main phases that you should concern yourself with, I’ll briefly touch on these below, but for more information you can check out NASM’s Website as they go over it in more depth here

Stabilization

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You see guys in the gym tossing heavy weight around in a slow and controlled fashion, but what you don’t see is all tiny neuromuscular recruitment of fibers being used to stop your legs or arms from wobbling like a newborn giraffe. When you start lifting your body won’t know how to balance weight as you hold it. So you must train it. This involves adding a sense of stability to each lift. Instead of a pushup on flat ground you do it on a bosu ball. Instead of a normal squat you would do a single leg TRX squat. By challenging your body you will force it to recruit more fibers and tell it to be better. If you’re completely new to lifting please reach out to me! I would love to give you a list of exercises that will get you ready for the next phase!

Muscular Endurance

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This is when you start challenging your body! Now that your body knows how to hold weight it’s ready to develop a base level of muscle. Here you will perform exercises in the 12 to 15 rep range. Hypertrophy happens in the 8-12 rep range, that’s when the weight becomes heavy enough to really break down the muscle. You’re just starting to develop muscle, though, so in this phase you can start with machines for 2 to 4 weeks then move on to free when you feel comfortable enough to hold it.

Hypertrophy

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This is the phase of training this article will mostly target. If you’re someone with experience in exercise and have no series injuries this is where you’ll start. Here we’re strictly trying to lift heavy weights to tell our bodies to grow. Ideally you will shoot for 8-12 reps, 3-5 sets, 75-85% of your one rep max, and rest for 1 minute. If you find yourself here then you will benefit most from this article.

Strength

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This phase is when you hit the 6 rep range. I don’t recommend it for the average person looking to get into shape because this is where injury can happen if form is not careful. Like stated though, you will perform 6 reps here focussing on the eccentric phase and having longer rest periods (up to two minutes). If you have dropped below 20% body fat and have a new goal of becoming an absolute animal in the gym let me know. I will gladly help put together a plan for you!

Power

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This is the last phase of training and I would recommend it for athletes or someone with a specific goal like improving your vertical jump. Here you will focus on not only how much you’re lifting but how efficiently and quickly you can move it. If you have goals outside of general fitness let me know and I can go into further detail!

I’m ready to get huge, now what Billy?

Well slow down there friend… we need to make sure you know how to properly warm up and cool down before you start tossing some weight around. A proper warm up is crucial to prevent injury and ensure a good lift. We call this the RAMP method and here’s what it’ll look like:

R – Raise the heart rate

A – Activate the muscle groups going to be used

M – Mobilize the Joints being used

P – Potentiate (increase effect of) by doing moves that simulate the lifts

This should take about 10 minutes at most, and 5 minutes at least. So before you start lifting heavy weights you will need to raise your heart rate. This will allow more blood to be pumped through your body and deliver oxygen more efficiently to your muscles. You will then need to activate the muscles that are going to be used. If you’re going to be lifting back, activate the muscles by bodyweight back extensions and cable face pulls. Think of this as lubricating your muscles before you start using them. You will then mobilize the joints being used. For back day I would recommend performing a cat cow yoga pose. This will loosen the spine and help mobilize it. The last step is to Potentiate the body and prepare it for the lifts you will be doing. Do this by simulating the motions of the lift you will be doing.

Now that you are properly warmed up, you will need to know how to cool down

Cooling down should take about 10 minutes and can be done with static stretching and foam rolling. Hold a static stretch for 30 seconds on each muscle you worked. Timing here is the key for effectiveness. Holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds will allow the muscle fibers to relax and that’s how you prevent injuries. When you workout muscle becomes tight and will stay that way unless stretched out.

Okay, now how do I get huge?

Well thank you for asking! Now we decide how many days a week you have to commit. I will give you a general split routine for the amount of days a week you can dedicate to lifting. Please note that the exercises I provide are for people with no injuries and have knowledge of basic form. They are meant purely for overall strength and efficiency of time. The more time and days available the more you can target each muscle specifically. Here is an example workout plan for you (keep in mind that each workout can be done using a machine, dumbbell or barbell):

The 3 Days a Week Program:

Limited on time or just starting out with weight lifting? This is where you will start. Here you will hit the full body with each workout. Listen to your body. If you aren’t recovering in time for your next day of exercise then shoot for the higher rep range of 12. If you’re a genetic freak and aren’t getting sore shoot for the low rep range of 8. If you’re brand new to lifting start with a machine. Once you have a base level of muscle you can move on to free weights.

Monday

Bench Press: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Tricep Extensions: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Bent over Row: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Bicep curls: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Squats: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Lunges: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Wednesday

Incline bench press: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Dumbbells tricep press overhead: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Lat Pull down: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Hammer Curls: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Leg press: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Straight leg deadlift: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Friday

Decline bench press: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Dumbbell tricep kickback: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Seated cable row: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Seated bicep curl: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Knee extensions: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

Knee curls: 8-12 reps, 3 sets, 1 minute rest

This is as simple as it gets. These are the main lifts used for building muscle. If you can only workout three times a week then these lifts are your bread and butter. Each week try to add a little more weight or perform one more rep. This workout should take you an hour at most, and that includes the warm up and cool down. You’ll notice I left out some important muscles like traps, calves, and core. These muscles will be less of a priority for now. Given the time a week you have to give to exercise focus on the main muscles of the body and develop some strength!

Okay, what if I have, like, a lot of time to lift? Like six days?

Then you will be in the same boat as me and can do the same lifts as I do! I myself do a three day split. Workout for three days, rest one day, workout for three days again. This means I have three separate workouts: a push day (chest, shoulders, triceps), pull day (Back, traps, biceps), and legs with abs day (quads, hamstrings, glutes, and abs). Then your workouts will look something like this:

The Six Day a Week Program:

Push Day:

Bench press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Chest Flies: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Shoulder press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Lateral Shoulder Raise: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Tricep Skull Crusher: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Tricep extensions: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Pull Day:

Deadlift: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Lat Pull Down: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Bicep Barbell Curl: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Bicep Hammer Curl: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Barbell Shrugs: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Farmers Carry: 3 sets, 1 minute (for me), 1 minute rest

Legs and Abs

Squats: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Knee Extension: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Knee Curls: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Hanging Leg Lifts: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Ab Roll Outs: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

V-ups: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Rest Day:

It’s hard for me to rest so I usually just run 3-5 miles… You can just rest though.

Push Day :

Incline Bench press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Incline Chest Flies: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Dumbbell Shoulder press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Cable Upright Row: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted Dips: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Tricep extensions Overhead: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Pull Day:

Weighted Back Extension: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Barbell Row: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Barbell Curl: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Overhand Bicep Curl: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Barbell Reverse Shrugs: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Farmers Carry: 3 sets, 1 minute (for me), 1 minute rest

Legs and Abs

Front Squats: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Lunges: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted Calf Raise: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted Crunches: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Dumbbell Side Dips: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted Plank: 3 sets, 1 minute (find max time and then do 75% of that), 1 minute rest

 

This is the same exact split and exercise selection I use. You’ll notice that the lifts seem simple and old school. This is because they target the muscles best. I rely on my diet to keep me lean and I rely on working out to sustain my muscle mass.

 

Oh, well actually I can only workout four days a week…

 

No worries I got a split that will workout for you! This plan will be two days of Upper Body and two days of Lower Body with Abs. Here’s what that would look like:

Upper Body:

Bench Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Deadlift: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Tricep Extensions: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Bicep Curls: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Shrugs: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Lower Body:

Squats: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Straight Leg Deadlift: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Lunges: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Ab roll out: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Plank: 3 sets, 1 minute (find your max time, then do 75% of that), 1 minute rest

Upper Body:

Incline Bench Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Lat Pull Down: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Lateral Shoulder Raise: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Skull Crushers: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Hammer Curls: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Farmer Carry: 3 sets, 1 minute (find your max time, then do 75% of that), 1 minute rest

Lower Body:

Leg Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Knee Extensions: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Knee Curls: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted Crunches: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Dumbbell Side Crunches: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted V-up: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Okay, Billy, I want to workout like all those shredded bodybuilders… so every single day!

That’s pretty ambitious my dude. This is the way I used to workout because I saw people online do it. I figured if I worked out each muscle once a week and just absolutely trashed it that day I would be fine. The truth for most people is unless you’re on some kind of drugs or just blessed with genetics of the fitness gods this will not work out for you. Your body will recover well before the week ends and you will be missing out on potential gains. If you still insist on pursing this than you can try this split out:

Chest Day:

Bench press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Chest Flies: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Incline Bench Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Cable Chest Flies : 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Push ups : 3 sets, Find your max reps and do 75% of your max, reps, 1 minute rest

Back Day:

Deadlift: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Barbell Row: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Cable Rows: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Lat Pull Down: 3 sets, 1 minute (for me), 1 minute rest

Back Extension: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Pull ups: 3 sets, 75% of your max amount of pull ups, 1 minute rest

Shoulders:

Barbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Lateral Shoulder Raise: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Frontal Shoulder Raise: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Upright Row: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Seated Reverse Fly: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Arms:

Barbell Curls: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Close Grip Bench Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Dumbbell Hammer Curls: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted Tricep Dips: 3 sets, 1 minute (for me), 1 minute rest

Reverse Bicep Curls : 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Tricep Cable Extensions: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

The Forgotten Muscles (forearms, traps, Rotator Cuff):

Barbell Shrugs: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Farmers Carry: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Barbell Forearm Curl: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Dumbbell Wrist Curls: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Cable Face Pulls: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Stability Ball Dumbbell Rotations: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Legs:

Squats: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Leg Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Knee Extension: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Knee Curls: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted Calf Raise: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Abs:

Hanging Leg Raise: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted Crunch: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted Side Dip: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighed V-Up: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Cable Wood Chopper: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Weighted Russian Twist: 3 sets, 8-12 reps, 1 minute rest

 

My closing Statement

So, you’ve made it this far. I hope you decided which split works best for you by now. This should give you a solid foundation to build upon. If you are healthy and without limitations these workouts will workout fine for you! Don’t concern yourself with the crazy workouts you see on the internet. These are meant to captivate attention. If you have any injuries or are even just bored of your current lifts. This is when you can add some modifications to the traditional lifts. So go on now and start your workout routine and build upon mine if you’d like. Find a routine that fits you and incorporate it into my 5 steps for sustained weight loss program. If you haven’t downloaded my program yet you need to! 5 easy steps to change your life for the better. Reload my webpage and join my email list and join the Realistically Fit movement!

-Billy Bosco

 

 

 

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