Why Do you want to start Strength Training?
If you are reading this then you wondering where to start when you’re a beginner…If you would prefer to watch the video you can below.
And congrats because you are one step closer to hitting your fitness and fat loss goals.
However, there is no plan in the world that will get you in shape if you have no idea why you want to start training in the first place. People talk a lot about smart goals and although the absolutely have a place in goal setting, a lot of people fail to recognise the importance of why the hell they want to do it in the first place.
You might be thinking we;; it’s obvious…i want to lose my spare tyre or get bigger arms, and that’s fine, but why do you want those things?
If you start out by thinking “i have no idea” then I can guarantee that you will fall off the wagon as soon as things get hard, or another shiny object grabs your attention. They key to success in this training game is to have a clearly defined why.
The best way to do this is to write down your why’s multiple times.
Write in the top of a sheet of paper your goal.
I want to lose weight.!
Why is it important:: Because I can’t fit into my jeans, dress, suit…….
Why is that important: Because I dislike the way it makes me feel
Why is that important: Because I feel like people stare at me and it rocks my confidence
Why is that important: Because it makes me feel useless.
You will soon hit an emotional reason as to why you want to lose weight. That reason will keep you motivated as long as you remind yourself of it often.
For me it was so painful to stay the same and battle with the yo yo diet and the emotional stress that came with it completely changed me. THis was something I must do…it was more than a should or a maybe.
What are your goals?
So now you have your why goals, what is it exactly you want to achieve? Weight-loss, bigger muscles, more strength or endurance, for a sport?
These are really important, because it will pretty much decide on how you’ll train.
This is where the SMART Goals come into play. You have to lay out your goals in measurable ways simply because when you hit a goal you are able to see progress. This will give you a dopamine hit, (feel good hormone) and these little wins will keep you motivated, plus it’s addictive, meaning you will crave the feeling.
I’ll use fat loss as an example.
If you want to lose 20 kgs of body fat then don’t just try and lose 20 kgs and expect to do it in 8 weeks.
The best way (more for your mental health) and sustainable way is to lose fat is at a rate of about 1kg a week.
So be conservative and say it will be 0.5 kgs.
If you aim too high to start then you will be disappointed when you don’t hit that number.
So 20kgs divided by 0.5 = 40weeks. That might seem a long time but I urge you to think about your goal long term. Don’t get impatient and try and do it super quick…you’ll just fail.
SMART is an acronym for the following:
Specific. Measureable. Attainable. Realistic.Timely
S – Be specific (20kg body fat)
M – Make it measurable (0.5Kg per week of fat)
A – Make it attainable (They are, attainable)
R – Make it realistic (40 weeks is realistic)
T – Make it timely (and its timely)
So by breaking this down into manageable goals, plan it, then you set to work on how you will do it.
Where to start at home or the gym?
So when I started out training properly, all I had was a cheap set of dumbbells, a cheap chin up bar and a really small space.
By using a combination of body weight exercises and dumbbells I got into peak shape. It was the fittest I had ever been and I did it in 6 months!
You don’t need a huge amount of equipment as long as you have structure, a plan and use enough weight to help your body adapt.
No people rave about body weight exercise as being superior but for beginners. But body-weight workouts are bloody hard. Some body weight exercises are completely out of range for beginners.
Try doing a pull up or press up if you are 20 kgs overweight. If you can do one, you won’t make it to 10. Same with push ups, the amount of people I meet as potential clients in the gym that can’t do a push up is heavily out numbers to the ones that can.
I was that guy, 10 push ups was my max, and zero pull ups.
But because my plan was structured and I was able to get stronger using dumbbells and modifying exercises. I managed to hit 5 pull ups at the end 6 months (probably due to the 20kg I had lost).
So if you have some dumbbells or resistance bands, then you will have everything you need.
Don’t be put off by exercising at home. You can get amazing results.
If you have access to a gym, go and use it. Having a place to go is sometimes better than a home environment. People associate home for relaxing and find it difficult to workout there.
If you go to the gym, you’ll have more variety of machines and equipment to keep you interested, you’ll get to meet people who are like minded and you you can learn a lot from more experienced gym goers. This can give you a huge leg up to being successful long term.
If a gym sounds too intimidating then just do it at home. I worked out at home for a couple of years before I went to the gym.
If you you have the luxury of both, you can mix it up and use both. Depending on how busy you are or what’s going on in your life. This is my preferred model.
What experience do you have?
When I started to do things properly, I had a lot of experience working out, but not training. Working out is just going through the motions, paying lip service to the gym. But I just didn’t get results this way because of:
- Poor consistency.
- Poor exercise structure – Always body part splits. (Arm day, Leg day etc)
When you train, you go workout with purpose, the why is what fuels you. This means you are more consistent & more focused.
I had been training on and off for about 12 years – 18 – 30 years old. So I had experience in the gym, around basic exercises. But things like barbell squats and deadlifts were out.
But you don’t need those exercises yet. Certainly if you are inexperienced and training without a PT. A bad deadlift or barbell squat can cause you a serious injury. So don’t worry about what you see on youtube or crossfit. Approach this with longevity in mind.
As your strength and experience build so can your lifts.
Full Body split or Body Parts.
This is something i’m really passionate about. Everywhere you look there is an arm day, or leg day. And I see it all the time, People doing 10 sets of arms. When I talked about poor structure…I believe for beginners who want to lose weight, get fitter and stronger and be more durable, then you need to start following a full body programme split. Meaning you workout all the muscles of your body per workout.
It makes sense in real life. We don’t just work out legs, or our arms. We use our whole body, all the time every day.
- Standing up from the couch or chair is a squat.
- Lifting up something from the floor is a deadlift.
- Pushing open a heavy door is a upper push.
- Carrying a suitcase is a farmers carry.
We transition all day long from one exercise to the other, we use our whole body. It makes sense to workout that way in the gym. Training in the gym to get stronger and fitter will prepare you in the real world for any exertion you may face.
This kind of split is great for busy people, if you can’t dedicate 5 -6 hours per week to get through all the muscles in your whole body, then a full body split is more time economical, meaning you can get a full body workout done 2-3 times per week and reep the benefits.
It’s about working smarter not harder.
If you have the time and want to hit each body part daily, that’s fine, I do it occasionally to mix things up, but I used to find that I would start the week off well with chest day, then come thurs – sunday, i would never make it, meaning my legs, shoulders and abs never got worked out.
This was more common than i’d like to admit. Had I done a full body workout, I would have got better results because I was training everything on one day. So if I missed the later workouts, I would still get an even distribution of exercise.
However, whatever you decide to do, the workout structure will be the same.
Beginner Workout Structure
There are two types of exercises, Isolation exercises and compound exercises.
Isolation is a single joint movement, like a bicep curl. You work the bicep muscle only by moving the elbow joint. This only works one muscle at a time.
A compound exercise is an exercise that works 2 or more joints at a time. A push up is a great example. You get the chest, and triceps working together and to a degree the from deltoids (shoulder muscles).
You essentially workout three muscles groups at the same time, the prime mover or main muscle group is the chest and the secondary movers are the triceps. Meaning the triceps get a workout but the emphasis is not on those muscles.
So with regards to structure, the first exercises that you do should be compound exercises. This is so you can exhaust the big muscles first not the supporting muscles.
Followed by any isolation exercises you like.
If you did an isolation tricep exercise before a compound chest exercise, triceps would get fatigued. If which means if you then did a chest press afterward you triceps would fail before your chest and your chest muscles would not get a full benefit.
A full body workout doesn’t need to be much more that 8 exercises.
An example Full body workout would be All compound exercises.
Body weight Squat – Compound exercise, quad dominant and glutes and hamstrings secondary.
Hip Bucks – Glutes and hamstrings dominant.
Lateral pull down – Lats dominant, biceps, secondary
1 Arm row – Lats, traps rhomboids, lower traps, biceps secondary
Push up – Chest dominant, triceps secondary
Shoulder Press – Deltoids dominant, triceps secondary
Plank – Core stabilisation
Reverse crunch – Lower abs
So this workout has hit pretty every muscle in the body. The arms have had a good workout by default because the compound exercises are utilising them.
So a Body part split workout looks like this…
Chest compound and Isolation
Push up – Pec dominant, triceps secondary, core stabilisation
Bench Press – Pec dominant, triceps secondary
Incline Press – Upper Pec dominant Triceps secondary
Fly – Pec only
You can do the same for any other body part.
As a beginner Rep ranges are important, but not as much as you think….Failure is the most important factor, or at least near failure. That means if you are doing a workout where it has 12 reps for a set. Only stop if at the 12 reps you are struggling or failing. The purpose ofma specific rep range is to force a specific adaptation within the muscle.
3 to 5 reps for strength
5-12 reps muscle building
BUT if you aren’t struggling at the end of those rep ranges you won’t get the desired adaptation.
So don’t just stop at 12 because the plan says so.
See my failure video here for more.
I tend to pick a 12 -15 rep range for my clients because repeating the movement with a relatively lighter weight teaches you form, it burns calories, and you will build strength. It’s a perfect start point for any beginner.
As you get more experienced and your goals align then absolutely mix it up with heavier reps. But be careful and don’t get injured.
Rest periods and Tempo
These are important because the idea is to let your muscles rest, before hitting them again, the whole idea is to create an adaptation in the muscle by over loading it. So 3 sets of 12 force your muscle to work harder than normal to create a change.
So I like to use a 30-45 second rest period when because it keeps your heart rate elevated to help burn more calories, and requires your body to work hard.
If you need more rest then take it. It’s all good.
Tempo – this is a factor that is often overlooked. The tempo is simply the speed in which you lift and lower the weight. A lot of people lift as fast as they can. Meaning the one rep is about 2 seconds long (1 up 1 down) but if you show down the rep and go for seconds up and 2 seconds down, you will be working the muscle twice as long as normal.
This will force adaptation and get you faster results.
Think about it, on a 12 rep workout at 2 seconds per rep, you only workout for 24 seconds. Now double it, you then workout for 48 seconds.
It’s obvious where you get better results.
Our bodies move together as a whole. So why train body parts individually. If you are beginner this blue print will serve you well.
If you would like a full workout builder to use to help you build the perfect workout then you can download it here.
Some other reading for you 😉
Start Afresh, if you don’t make a change today how will tomorrow be any different