Strength Training for Beginners
If you’re new to strength training or you’ve never lifted a weight or set foot in a gym before, it can feel a little overwhelming. So we asked Russel Lee from the leading personal trainers in Sydney Ultimate Performance for some tips.
Ultimate Performance also offer online personal training to ensure clients can achieve the maximum results in the minimum time no matter their location.
But starting off as a beginner gives you an incredible opportunity to see incredible gains right from the start, if you have the right plan and guidance in place.
As a beginner, you are effectively a ‘blank canvas’ to rapidly establish good training habits, build a base of strength, and add real muscle mass.
With a few simple fundamentals in place and some strength training rules to follow, you can start getting bigger and stronger, fast.
Follow these 5 fundamental tenets of strength training and follow the two workouts provided and you will start seeing the results in the gym you always wanted.
1. Focus on One Goal
If your goal is to get stronger, make that your sole focus with your training and nutrition.
Set up your structured training plan and follow it to the letter.
One fundamental principle in strength and conditioning it the SAID Principle – it stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand.
In a nutshell, this means that the body will improve the most optimally when focusing on a specific goal or training type, rather than multiple types of training all at once for different goals.
You cannot expect to build strength if your weekly training program sees you lifting heavy one day, marathon training the next and then doing three sessions of swimming a week.
The goals that you set for yourself have to match your workouts and diet.
2. Progressive Overload
If you want to get stronger, you have to follow the principle of progressive overload.
This process means continually increasing the stress or demands on your body in order to keep making gains in muscle size and strength.
Progressive overload is the key muscle building training principle you must know in order to grow.
If you want to get stronger, you have to constantly overload the muscle at every training opportunity.
Whether that is an increase in volume, intensity or frequency over time, you have to constantly challenge and stimulate the body.
If you are doing lifting the same load or doing the same workout session after session your body will adapt to it and it won’t have the fresh stimulus it needs to grow and get stronger.
The progressive overload principle involves continually manipulating many strength training variables to promote hypertrophy (muscle growth). There are three mechanisms of hypertrophy that must be used and applied in order to build muscle, these are:
• Mechanical tension
• Metabolic stress
• Muscle damage
3. Select The Right Weight
Strength training is all about progression – incrementally building up your strength session by session and week by week.
So selecting the right weight for a set is important to enable you to progress.
If the weight you select is too light, it won’t challenge the muscle and you won’t stimulate the muscle growth and adaptations you need for strength. If you can do 20 reps on an exercise with no sweat, you’re probably lifting too light.
Equally, if you’re lifting too heavy, with terrible form, you will struggle to feel the muscle you’re intending to hit working.
Weight selection determines almost everything you do in a set. Get it wrong and you won’t be able to follow the prescribed sets, reps, tempo or rest in your strength training program.
4.Technique is Paramount
Getting stronger is a slow and methodical process. The more structure and science you add to it, the better results you will see week to week with your numbers going up.
Technique is a critical part of this process. If you want to optimize your ability to build muscle and get stronger then ensuring you’re using the correct technique and executing the exercises correctly is a must.
Going into the gym and simply throwing big weights around with scant regard for form and technique isn’t going to get you anywhere…and will likely result in injury which will set your progress back even further.
It’s important to be able to feel the muscle working during the exercise – if you can’t then it’s likely that your technique needs addressing.
When you learn how to train with correct technique, you can feel the muscle working, then you stand the best chance of growing and getting stronger.
5. Pick Your Exercises – Compound vs Isolation
When it comes to building strength, the type of exercises you perform will determine the results you get.
You must stress your body and force an adaptation in order for it to change.
Multi-joint compound exercises like squats, dead-lifts, split squats and lunges, chin-ups, dips, and chest and shoulder presses will help build more muscle and therefore more strength than say a lateral dumbbell raise.
This big compound exercises challenge the muscular and nervous system, and help stimulate the production of testosterone far more than isolation exercises like bicep curls.
The big lifts like squats, dead-lift and bench press should form the bedrock of your training program and should also be prioritized at the start of your workout when you are strongest.
The majority of the exercises selected should be compound free-weight exercises. Compound free-weight exercises force lifters to stabilise their body and the resistance, improving coordination while stimulating the most muscle mass.
But there are also a few machines that are valuable to have in your toolbox. Gym Direct have a fantastic range of high quality strength equipment at fantastic prices. From a starter set of dumbbells to a top of the range commercial multi gym, Gym Direct have the knowledge and experience to support you with the right equipment from a beginner to a pro!
Try This Beginners’ Strength Program:
This beginners’ strength program is based on the German Body Composition method of training, utilizing super sets to get more work done in less time.
There are two workouts – one upper body-focused, and the second lower body-focused – which should be performed twice a week.
The aim is to get stronger in the ‘A’ series exercises followed by more ‘pump’-focused exercises in the ‘B’ and ‘C’ series exercises.
The bigger compound exercises and prioritized in these workouts, with the isolation exercises programmed at the end of the sessions.
SESSION 1: UPPER BODY
A1) Flat BB Bench Press 4 x 8 rest 90s into
A2) Neutral Grip Shoulder Width Pull Down 4 x 8 rest 90s.
B1) 30º Incline DB Press 3 x 10 rest 60s into
B2) Chest Supported Cable Row 3 x 10 rest 60s
C1) Lying Flat DB Tricep Extension 3 x 12 rest 30s into
C2) Seated DB Curl 3 x 12 rest 60s
SESSION 2: LOWER BODY
A1) Trap Bar Deadlift 4 x 8 rest 90s into
A2) Lying / Seated Leg Curl 4 x 8 rest 90s.
B1) Leg Press 3 x 10 rest 60s into
B2) Incline Back Extension 3 x 10 rest 60s
C1) Leg Extension 3 x 12 rest 30s into
C2) Seated Hip Adduction 3 x 12 rest 60s