It can be a daunting time when you are new to weight training. You walk into a gym full of machines and people throwing weights around in every direction and it all seems too much – but congratulations, you have made the first step. Now it is time to get smart!
Ok, now that we have the right mindset, it is time to begin. Weight training for beginners needs to be basic, controlled and educational. Instead of walking into the gym and just doing a few sets on random machines and making the mistakes most people make lets do it right. In order for you to progress your body, either visually or strength wise, you need to begin with a good solid base. To build this base you should start with the 4 main exercises. These are:
With these 4 exercises you will build a good foundation in which you can then later advance and add different exercises. They will target all your muscles in your body and will really develop physique.
Educate yourself to begin. It is important that you first learn and execute good form on all your exercises. If you start with bad form this will just turn into a habit and this can lead to injury. Your first week or so should be spent practicing the movement involved in each exercise until you are comfortable performing them. It doesn’t matter if you are lifting a barbell with no weight – just perfect the movement and form – the weight will come later.
How Do I Do These Exercises?
Lie down on a bench, with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on the barbell (preferably with no weight to begin with) just slightly wider than your shoulder width. Lift the bar of the stand/hooks and then begin to slowly lower the bar down to your chest (just to about where your nipples are). Then in a controlled manner, push the weight back up. DO NOT bounce the weight off your chest. Note: when at your chest, your forearms should be as vertical as possible so that the force is going upwards. If they are at an angle adjust your hand position until the forearms are as upright as possible.
The Squat is arguably one of the best exercises that you can do due to the fact it works such a wide area of your body. It is also one of the exercises which you really need to watch your form. To begin with, place the barbell (again preferably with no weight to begin with) on your traps. Look at the image for reference of bar position. You need to make sure you keep your back straight throughout this whole movement so you do not damage your back. Your feet usually should be wider than your shoulder and toes slightly pointed outwards. How wide you place your feet apart depends on how you prefer it, which you will find out yourself when you become more experienced. Now slowly and controlled, slightly stick your bum out and then descend. Make sure your knees do not come inwards, and make sure they do not go past your toes. You should aim to get parallel to the floor (so that your upper legs are horizontal with the floor), deeper if you have the flexibility. You need to also make sure that you are placing the weight on the heel of your feet, and do not go up onto your toes. Once you reach the bottom of your descend it is time to drive up. Keeping your back straight, power through your heels and return back to the starting point.
The squat does take some time to perfect. If you take my advice and start with little or no weight – making slow and controlled movements – you will master the form and can begin to progress.
The deadlift is another one of these great exercises that hits a lot of muscle groups. It basically requires you lifting the weight off the ground and standing up straight with it – form is very important for this exercise. To begin with the bar should be on the ground (You can maybe start with a small amount of weight for this). Now grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder width, and bend your knees. With your back straight drive through your heels whilst almost leaning back as if you were going to sit on a chair. The next step is to use your glutes and quads to explode upwards until standing upright. You can then return the weight slowly back to the starting point. Remember to keep your back straight throughout this movement. If your back is rounding at all you are lifting too much weight.
The Military Press is great for building good strong shoulders and it can be performed standing up or sitting down (I recommend standing to begin with). It also helps to develop your abs and obliques as they are required to stabilize your upper body. To begin with, have a barbell on a stand/hooks at about your chest height. Lift the barbell of the stand/hooks with your hands about shoulder width apart and begin with the bar at your upper chest area. Now with your core tight, push the bar about your head until your arms are nearly fully extended (do not fully lockout your elbows as this can cause injury). Make sure your back is not overly bending backwards. Now slowly and controlled, lower the bar back down to your upper chest and repeat.
So remember when starting out at weight training the main points are: Basic Compound Exercises – Perfect your form – Do not try and lift too heavy – Slow and controlled movements. If you follow this guide you will build the perfect base to then further advance in the weight training world. For further visual reference I would recommend looking up videos of each of the exercises so you can get a better idea how to perform them.
Get Smart, Train Smart, Achieve Goals!