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Training for the complete Beginner

17 March 2013
Written by: davejt.com

Image credit: tonobalaguer / 123RF Stock Photo

So you read my recent post: To Run Or Not To Run and have decided that jogging isn't all that it's cracked up to be so you're going to start weight training!

BUT you don't know where to start. Should you join a gym? Should you recruit a PT? Can you train at home?

Well here is the advice I give to people totally new to weight training, this introductory 5 or 6 week phase will give you a solid foundation in terms of movement, strength and strength endurance, that you can then build on over time and get real results that your hard work deserves.

Image credit: tonobalaguer / 123RF Stock Photo

Weeks 1/2 - Technique:

In terms of starting a training plan, the first thing I recommend to anyone these days is to watch this video by Bret Contreras: 3 most basic lower body movement patterns.

Bret is one of the leading trainers around and knows his stuff! In this video he describes in depth the correct form for 3 of the main exercises (Box Squat, Hip Hinge and Glute Bridge) that all beginners need to perfect.

So for the first couple of weeks practice these every day or every couple of days for about 15 minutes or so. Just practice getting your form right for starters, don't worry about reps/sets/weight/etc... Perfect your form then move on to weeks 3 to 5 below.

Weeks 3/5 - Progression:

After a couple of weeks of practicing the 3 core exercises above (you should be pretty good by now) then you may progress the exercises in the following way:

  • Box Squat and Hip Hinge - hold on to some weight as you perform the movement. Start with something light and increase over time.
  • Glute Bridge - rest some weight on your hips, using your hands to keep them in place
Tip: If you don't have any weights then make your own! Get a litre bottle and fill halfway with water and use this as your weight. Fill up more to increase the load.

Other exercises you could now start doing:

  • Pressups - Start by doing these from your knees like in the video and work up to doing full pressups: Pressup video.
  • Gym Ball Crunches - If you have a ball then you can start doing some crunches with it, however you can do normal crunches here instead if you don't have a ball: Gym Ball Crunches.

OK So how many do you do?

You've now got 5 exercises so we'll put these into a circuit, so what I want you to try is do 5 repetitions (reps) of each exercise in the following order:

  1. Pressups
  2. Squats
  3. Crunches
  4. Hip Hinge
  5. Glute Bridge

Set a timer for 5 minutes and just keep cycling through the 5 exercises doing 5 of each.

After 5 minutes stop and write down how many rounds you did on that particular day. This is important - as each time you do your session I want you to aim to do more rounds each time.

Start by doing the circuit once or twice a week then increase to more times if you feel ok.

This is getting too easy...

When this gets too easy increase the time, go for 10 minutes.

Then when that gets too easy increase the number of repetitions to 10.

When this gets too easy go to 15 minutes.

When that gets too easy go for 20 minutes.

When you can do 20 minute non-stop circuits then you will be getting pretty fit! Once you've mastered this you can then move onto more weighted sessions and think about joining a gym. If you are a beginner then give this a go, I promise you will see progress within 5 or 6 weeks.


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