So you subscribed to your first gym membership on a whim and now, you can’t wait to try your hands on the barbells, bench press, and other heavy equipment that your local gym has to offer and start weight training.
Hold your horses right there.
Not to spoil your excitement, but you might want to step back a little bit and read this weight training guide that we wrote specifically for newbies like you. In this piece, we’re going to show you the proper way of building your strength and toning up those muscles.
But before we get straight to the meat of this piece, let’s clear things up first.
Strength Training vs Weight Training
If you’re just a rookie in the game, it’s easy to mistake weight training for strength training, and vice versa. While there are a lot of similarities between the two, it’s crucial to know what sets them apart.
Weight training, in general, is working out using weights like dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and other heavier machines inside the gym.
If you’re not subscribed to a gym fitness plan yet, you can still pull off weight training exercises using your own body weight or other fitness equipment like resistance bands or stretch tubes.
Who should do weight training?
If your goal is just to lose body weight, shape up some muscles, and improve your overall health and fitness, you can’t go wrong with a weight training exercise.
Lifting some weights properly and consistently can definitely help you achieve a more defined physique. Not only that but targeting a fitter body will also encourage you to eat a healthier diet since it’s essentially one of the requirements of getting fit.
Can you do weight training by yourself?
Initially, you’ll need some guidance from professional coaches or gym employees regarding proper technique and how to work out safely, especially around heavier machines.
But if you plan to work out at home, you can find a plethora of online tutorials and learning materials that teach you how to do weight training with simpler equipment like dumbbells and kettlebells.
What’s important is you start everything slowly, especially if you’re a newbie, until you master the routine. Then from there, do the exercises consistently but don’t forget to rest your body properly.
Strength training is a complete and structured program of building your size, toning your muscles up from head to toe, and increasing your strength and endurance.
Simply put, strength training is a more advanced level compared to weight training. It involves a variety of exercises and routines (which also includes weight training) to ultimately achieve your goal.
Who should do strength training?
The goal of strength training is not just to build your muscles so you can flex them in the mirror or on Instagram. It goes way deeper than that. This type of training is meant to push your body to respond quickly and efficiently in different physical movements.
If you are into sports or you have very specific long term goals, strength training will ultimately benefit you.
Can you do strength training by yourself?
If we’re talking about a proper strength training program, you’ll definitely need a professional strength and conditioning coach. These coaches or trainers will help you build an extensive workout plan that is suitable for your body and your lifestyle.
They will guide you every step of the way. From the proper techniques to the right amount of reps, or how heavy should you be lifting and basic nutrition and diet. Practically everything.
Doing these by yourself is a pretty tall order, so you might want to hire a coach to achieve your desired results.
However, strength training is obviously not for everyone. Not because they can’t pull it off physically but because it requires more commitment since it’s a complete program. That’s why in this piece we’re focusing on weight training exercises that you can perfect at the gym or in the comfort of your own home.
Weight Training Exercises You Can Do at Home
Lifting weights in your home can be a fair bit easier than weight training at the gym. Since you’ll be using dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands mostly, anyone who desires to get buff can pull off any weightlifting exercise.
So, let’s get started with some of the moves you can try out for yourself at home.
1. You can either sit or stand as you hold a dumbbell with each hand. Steady your elbows at both sides.
2. Lift the dumbbells to your shoulders. Make sure to bend your elbows but keep them steady at your sides.
3. Go back to the starting position, then repeat.
1. You can also sit or stand for this exercise. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart.
2. Hold one dumbbell with both of your hands then lift it over your head. Make sure your arms are straight.
3. Lower your elbows to a 90-degree angle then bend them to the point that the dumbbell almost touches the back of your head.
4. Straighten your arms back, with the dumbbell over your head again, then repeat.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
1. Sit or stand, whichever you prefer. As you’re holding a dumbbell with each hand, put your hands up, with your both elbows forming a 90-degree angle.
2. Then push the dumbbells up until both of your arms are straight
3. Return them to the original slowly, then repeat.
Dumbbell Chest Press
1. If you have a bench, lie flat on it with your feet still on the floor.
2. Hold a dumbbell for each hand then slowly lift your arms until they’re directly above your shoulders.
3. Lower your arms back to the starting position. Just make sure that your elbows are a little lower than your shoulders. Then repeat.
Dumbbell Single-Arm Rows
1. Stand beside the bench. Then put your left knee over one end of your bench. Then apply pressure to the other end of the bench using your left palm.
2. Make sure your back is parallel to the floor. This leaves your right hand empty so grab one dumbbell.
3. Slowly bring the dumbbell closer to your chest by folding your elbows to your back. Then straighten your arm back to the starting position.
4. Accomplish 1 set then rest for a minute before doing another rep with your right knee on the bench and your left arm lifting the dumbbell.
1. With or without weights, it’s fine. But for a little challenge, bring out your kettlebell for this routine.
2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the dumbbell either by the handle or by the body and close to your chest.
3. Slowly bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Repeat.
For the reps of each workout, 10 to 15 is a good number to start with. Then do one or two sets. For the weights, it is totally up to you. Pick the doable weight but at the same time, still challenging for you.
As you start to get comfortable with the exercise, you can add extra sets or increase the weight to take you up to the next level.
Keep in mind that consistency is key here. If you’re trying to beef up, you will need to up the repetitions and the frequency of your workouts. On the other hand, if you want to get stronger but toned muscles are the least of your concerns, three weight training exercises per week are probably enough for your goals.
Now, on to the harder part.
Weight Training Exercises You Can Do at The Gym
For these routines, we’re talking barbells, bench presses, and other heavier machines. That’s why it would be better if you ask for some assistance from the gym staff or fellow gym rats.
If you’re a total beginner, you might want to take a step back and prepare your body first. Because not everyone is ready for the weights rack right away. Generally, beginners like you are allowed to take on the barbells if you can:
- do 30 push-ups in one set
- do pull-ups five times
- squat perfectly. Meaning, heels down, knees wide, and back flat
- jump explosively without a run-up
If you can pull these things off easily, it only means that your muscles are in the right shape and places to execute the routines well. However, you still have to warm up first before completing the exercises below to avoid any injuries. So, make sure you get some steps in and some stretching!
1. Take the barbell out of the rack by resting them on your rear shoulders.
2. Then take two big steps away from the rack, then position your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure to slightly point out your toes.
3. Keep your spine straight then lower your hips until it’s below your knee.
4. Lastly, return to the starting position. Make sure to keep your weight on the heels and straighten your spine.
1. Stand in front of the barbell with your shoulder width apart.
2. Bend your knees and lower your hips a little to grasp the bar with your hands placed just outside your legs.
3. Lift the weight by pushing your hips forward. Make sure to keep your back flat and straight.
4. Hold it for a few seconds then repeat. Once you get to your final rep, it’s okay to drop the barbell.
1. Lie flat on the bench.
2. Hold the bar with your hands that are about shoulder-width apart.
3. Slowly bring down the barbell to your chest. Time it with your breathing in. Ensure the correct position of your grips.
5. As you exhale, push the barbell up until your arms are straight.
6. Lower the bar down until your hands are directly above your elbows. Then repeat until your final rep.
1. Stand firmly with your feet shoulder-width apart and your body straight.
2. Engage your core muscles as you hold the barbell on your upper chest, with your two hands apart just a little wider than your shoulders.
3. Push the barbell up. Make sure your arms are straight and don’t tilt your hips forward during the push.
4. Lower the bar to your chest, then repeat.
A combination of these moves and their variations will give the most benefit to your body. You just have to do them properly and consistently. Below are some beginner-friendly weight training plans that use these routines:
Weight training three times a week.
- Back squats – 5 reps, 3 sets
- Bench Press – 5 reps, 3 sets
- Deadlift – 5 reps, 1 Set
When you’re already confident with your lifts, weight train twice a week.
- Bench Press – 3 sets, 5/3/1 reps
- Back Squat – 3 sets, 5/3/1 reps
More Weightlifting Tips for Beginners
Aside from making sure that your whole body can keep up to the gruelling workouts, or making sure that you get proper rest, below are some more tips and tricks to guarantee a successful weightlifting journey.
1. Start slow. Don’t force your way to the big ranks just to impress others. Or else, you might hurt yourself. Instead, make sure to start with the appropriate weight and pull off every little detail of your lifts.
2. Never underestimate water breaks. Staying hydrated throughout your workouts will help your body replenish the electrolytes that you lose during the exercise.
3. Master proper breathing. This is an integral part of lifting weights. The key here is to inhale before you lift then exhale during the lift. Holding your breath during the lifting exercise is a mortal sin.
4. Lifting weights without a spotter is a no-no. You should be fine if you’re just weight training with dumbbells or kettlebells. But if you’re gunning for the bench press or the deadlifts, always ask for a friend or a fellow gym bunny to spot you.
5. Know when to stop. While it can be helpful to push your muscles to the limit, the human body can only take so much beating. So when you feel stabbing pain throughout your body, it’s a tell-tale sign that you should stop.
Now that we’ve put those things out of the way, here’s the million-dollar question.
Should you hire a professional trainer?
Not to be biased, but you definitely should. Especially if you’re a beginner and you have long-term fitness goals. Our trainers here in Rec Xpress will help you every step of the way to achieve those goals.
If you are preparing for a specific competition, RecXpress trainers can devise a strength training strategy. From reps to sets, weights, and sometimes even some basic diet, we’ve got you covered. But if you just want to beef up and get stronger muscles with an appropriate weight training plan, our services are just as perfect.
If you end up not liking the way we do things here (which is impossible, for sure), you can always back out of the program and continue someplace else. That’s the convenience you get from our no lock-in contracts policy.
For just $11 per week, you can go drop by anytime in any of our 6 locations to kickstart and make some progress in your training.