Author Topic: Strength training for beginners?  (Read 5564 times)

Rimu05

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Strength training for beginners?
« on: September 02, 2017, 04:45:33 PM »
Hi all,

I am getting into a workout habit, but other than running, I really don't know anything about strength training. I go to my local community gym cause I don't want to pay for a membership but I don't lift because I'm worried about doing it wrong and incurring an injury. I want my workouts to be cardio focused hence the 2 mile run/walk when I workout but I also want to build muscle. Like I want my thighs to be toned and sculpted. Just, muscles are beautiful no matter what gender.

Is there a way to learn or should I just get a one month gym membership and pay a trainer for a few sessions to learn the form?

LDoon

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2017, 05:00:37 PM »
If you want/need the personalized feedback, then a few training sessions is your best bet.  Also see if the community gym has group instruction/classes for beginners. 

If you want just general knowledge about different exercises and correct form, then I suggest spending some time watching YouTube videos.  There are thousands of channels that provide such information.  Just do a search and find a person you like.  Don't go with any type of extreme, "secret", or "cutting-edge" program or person promoting such a program.  The basics haven't changed in decades, so find some general exercise programs that seem repeated and try that.

MrSal

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2017, 05:29:17 PM »
Hi all,

I am getting into a workout habit, but other than running, I really don't know anything about strength training. I go to my local community gym cause I don't want to pay for a membership but I don't lift because I'm worried about doing it wrong and incurring an injury. I want my workouts to be cardio focused hence the 2 mile run/walk when I workout but I also want to build muscle. Like I want my thighs to be toned and sculpted. Just, muscles are beautiful no matter what gender.

Is there a way to learn or should I just get a one month gym membership and pay a trainer for a few sessions to learn the form?

Strentgh training comes usually to a few core exercises, namely Squat, Bench Press, Row, Military Press, Deadlift, and overhead...

Use a 5x5 approach and increase the weight after every session. If you are lifting more weight you are improving.

IF you are just starting, start LIGHT. Get the technique down which isn't hard.

A good place to start is this:

https://stronglifts.com/5x5/

Its been online for more than 10 years and it's nothing new really - the author even says he didnt invent anything.

Just read through it which is very good content actually and start applying it. You will develop strength and muscle in no time.

I follow that type of regime for many years and so has my dad... when I went to gym on a regular basis, 3x a week and following the program, I was squatting 400 lbs  and my weight was 165 lbs.

Most people think that by lifting they get superbig but that is not true. I didn't get massive in anyway but I was in very good shape. I used to love breaking the records and previous weights ...

But it sure was funny to be a guy that these huge guys mostly with steroids looking at me, and then I would be able to lift more than them :D
« Last Edit: September 02, 2017, 05:31:43 PM by MrSal »

newton

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2017, 06:09:40 PM »
If you haven't lifted at all, I would suggest you start with some basic body weight exercises for a few weeks.  Start doing push ups, bench tricep dips, dips, and pull ups.  For your lower body focus on air squats, lunges, and calf raises.  Start with very low reps...lower than you think and slowly and gradually build up.  If you can't do push ups or pull ups just focus on the down motion for push ups.  Get in a plank and just lower your body to the ground slowly.  Then get back to plank and repeat.  Same thing if you can't do a pull up.  Get a chair or bench and start with your chin at the bar and slowly lower yourself...get back on the chair or bench and do it again.  Do these type of activities for 6-8 weeks.

You will get an idea of watching people in the gym what weight exercises to do.  Start with the basics, bench press, overhead press, pull downs, curls, tricep press down, squat, and calf raises.  That hits your whole body if you work core as well.  Start with 2 sets of 15 reps 3 days a week.  After one month go to 3 sets of 10.  After another month go to 4 sets of 8.  By then you can decide if you want to change it up and start focusing on specific muscle groups each work out.

Again, start slow and easy.  Just my thoughts.

MBot

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2017, 06:29:26 PM »
Does your local gym have a basic class on weight lifting? Often that's  a good place to start.

Caveat: I train for strength and bone building, slow and heavy, not explosive Olympic-style/Crossfit. I advocate the slow and heavy style of lifting as the safest and most appropriate for all ages of women.

If you are interested in specific routines or order of exercises feel free to reply or PM; I'll share if this is the style you're looking for.

So with that,  the most important principles I have found  are

- with our low testosterone, even very heavy weights won't make us bulky (unless you want to eat basically zero carbs and supplement snd train like crazy). So don't be afraid of getting bulky!

- you can learn and get your muscles used to lifting on gym machines, but using barbells or Dumbbells will be better for stability and balance and fully training helper muscles (not over-isolating certain muscless). But if you have a "20 minute circuit" area where they suggest you do a dozen machines in a row, that can be a great transition into learning how to lift

Eg you can learn to feel the burn and lift slow and heavy with a leg press, but later on doing weighted squats and lunges will work many more muscles and be more functional

- for functional movement, find a program/instructor that encourages you to lift SLOW and HEAVY.

Slow = 3-5  seconds to lift the weight and 3-5  seconds to lower it down. This train your muscles in both eccentric and concentric motion.
Heavy = a weight you can lift that way for at least 8 repetitions, but not more than 12. If you can't do it with good form go lighter. If you can do 12 and feel like more you need to up the weight.

- Two sets is ideal. So for each exercise, do your 8-12 reps, wait thirty seconds to a minute and then do another 8-12 reps. Repeating one set your of exercises is good, doing two sets will give you optimum results, three or more won't help and is actually more risky for injury.

- If you lift three times a week or less and you like cardio, don't worry about "leg day" or "back day" or any of that. Just find a routine of 8-10 exercises that hit all the major muscle groups. In three months, you can find a second routine of different exercises to do (that also hit the major muscles) if you're bored or seeing a plateau. Then just switch back and forth every once in a while, or if you like designing new routines find new stuff.

- always warm up with 5 minutes of rowing or treadmill or similar, don't lift from cold muscles. And stretch out after. It's also nice to do swimming or yoga or flexibility once a week to help stretch out.

I hope that helps!

Eucalyptus

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2017, 06:45:13 PM »
An excellent book, worth reading, is "Power to the people" by Pavel Tsatsouline.

Its quite entertaining. It also breaks down strength training into the essential purities of what most people need. You won't need a gym, just some old second hand weights. Two moves to learn.

Another good moustachian option for strength training is kettlebells. For that I also recommend reading something by Pavel Tsatsouline; he's credited with bringing the Kettlebell to North America. Kettlebells are cheap and simple, and highly effective. You only need to learn two moves to start with (Swing, Turkish Getup).

Hotstreak

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2017, 08:29:01 PM »
startingstrength.com is a great beginner book and website.  You want to keep things simple when starting, so, picking and choosing from different youtube videos or suggestions from friends is not a good idea, you will develop imbalances and injuries will follow.  Do a comprehensive beginner program until you're comfortable with all the lifts and fairly strong, then feel free to branch out and experiment a little.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2017, 08:25:43 AM »
Everyone has preferences, their own "secret sauce".  lift heavy, lift light, etc....it's a cocktail (cardio and weights) you can experiment with...

I will just add/reiterate:

Form is critical.  If you are doing an exercise wrong, you are wasting time and worse, you are risking injury.  If you irritate a tendon, guess what:  It's not going to heal in a day...If you load up the weights, then blow your knee out, you are in serious trouble...

Almost EVERYONE I see in the gym doing squats do them WRONG, risking injury to their back, knees and numerous tendons.

However you do it (trainer, youtube book, yada...), get the form down first and don't worry about the weight so much at first (you can always do more reps...).

I would not attempt deadlifts at first, if at all (too many people injure themselves, in my opinion, do something else...I don't do them.)

EmFrugal

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2017, 07:13:20 PM »
I'm a trainer so I'm biased, but before I was a trainer I was just like you. I did cardio. Then I took a weight lifting class called Body Pump at my gym and fell in love with weights. I also realized how important strength training is for longevity.

Long story short, I loved it so much I wanted to help other people get into it. As others have mentioned form is critical. Also, beginning in a phase that corrects muscle imbalances (we all have them from sitting too much and other postural issues) is critical. That way as you increase your weight load you are less likely to get injured. This phase has you doing things like single leg squats, single leg deadlifts, using TRX straps and resistance bands, and foam rolling to correct overactive muscles.

If you can find anything through National Academy of Sports Medicine online (videos, articles, etc) they know their stuff. Search for the stabilization phase. They are also affiliated with UNC Chapel Hill, which I appreciated since I'm an alum ;) 

Also, if you do work with a trainer, check their certification. Some of them are certified via weekend courses (not always a good thing). Others go through intensive programs like NASM. Others also have degrees in biomechanics and kinesiology (which is great). I am biased, but again, I researched the credentials heavily and felt the NASM cert was the best give their affiliation with a well-known university and how respected they are among the fitness profession.



Rimu05

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2017, 08:45:11 AM »
Hi all,

I am getting into a workout habit, but other than running, I really don't know anything about strength training. I go to my local community gym cause I don't want to pay for a membership but I don't lift because I'm worried about doing it wrong and incurring an injury. I want my workouts to be cardio focused hence the 2 mile run/walk when I workout but I also want to build muscle. Like I want my thighs to be toned and sculpted. Just, muscles are beautiful no matter what gender.

Is there a way to learn or should I just get a one month gym membership and pay a trainer for a few sessions to learn the form?

Strentgh training comes usually to a few core exercises, namely Squat, Bench Press, Row, Military Press, Deadlift, and overhead...

Use a 5x5 approach and increase the weight after every session. If you are lifting more weight you are improving.

IF you are just starting, start LIGHT. Get the technique down which isn't hard.

A good place to start is this:

https://stronglifts.com/5x5/

Its been online for more than 10 years and it's nothing new really - the author even says he didnt invent anything.

Just read through it which is very good content actually and start applying it. You will develop strength and muscle in no time.

I follow that type of regime for many years and so has my dad... when I went to gym on a regular basis, 3x a week and following the program, I was squatting 400 lbs  and my weight was 165 lbs.

Most people think that by lifting they get superbig but that is not true. I didn't get massive in anyway but I was in very good shape. I used to love breaking the records and previous weights ...

But it sure was funny to be a guy that these huge guys mostly with steroids looking at me, and then I would be able to lift more than them :D

Thanks for this information. I did check out the website, but it seems inevitable that I might need to get a coach for some sessions because I simply have no way of telling if I'm doing it right as I can't really see my form, but very helpful page and it's guided me on how to create a work out routine.

https://startingstrength.org/site/coaches

Failing finding a coach, have a look at these videos,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXZ46_-uwss&list=PLNhFKPjedRnQ0fZAf1v_K6uCPICapzzJc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmsdDloWuwQ&list=PLNhFKPjedRnSwMPtgfpIXG87iyx0eWrb1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se39rjOK-TQ&list=PLNhFKPjedRnQEfE1fHH0XP1y9RuRcKL9T

The only coach in my state is at least in the same city as me. I'll try and email him.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2017, 03:10:13 PM »
I am a big fan of the books New Rules of Lifting Supercharged and Strong, by the same authors. They start you out with exercises like goblet squats that make it easier to get the form right. They've really worked for me. I'm 4'11" tall and weigh just under 130; I can do like 3 chin-ups and deadlift about 170.

I have never worked with a trainer but I did use to do Body Pump, so I was maybe a little more confident about my form.

Laura33

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2017, 05:57:47 PM »
Form form form!  So, so critical!  I agree with the recommendations to just suck it up and hire a trainer for a few sessions, with then maybe a tuneup once in a while (especially as you advance and are ready to take on new exercises).

I started Crossfit not quite a year ago, and my gym is very focused on proper form (they make you do a 3x/wk class for a month before you're even allowed to start, just to teach you the exercises and the form).  The miracle to me is that I can deadlift over 200 lbs -- I know it's not huge as weightlifting goes,* but I have always, always had back problems, so I had been scared to even try it, and here I can do it just fine and with no pain or injury at all -- and it's my favorite lift!  Who knew?  I certainly never would have had I not had people taking the time to teach me how to do it properly.

Tl;dr:  learning how to lift is not the area to cheap out on.  Absolutely start with videos and books and instructionals and body weight exercises to get a sense of what is involved and to try different things out.  But also invest in some periodic coaching to check your form -- the same way you wear your seat belt even if you drive carefully and hope to never need it.

*But I am an out-of-shape 50+-yr-old woman, so I'm damn proud of it anyway.

one piece at a time

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2017, 06:09:44 PM »
The training philosophy of "convict conditioning" by "coach paul wade" is worth spending the time reading about. Your local library should have a copy. The training guide is based on body weight exercises, but the principles of slow gains are very sound.

bugbaby

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2017, 07:32:57 AM »
Also a beginner. I do FitnessBlender on YouTube. Amazing strength workouts with or without weights.

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ooeei

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2017, 07:38:28 AM »
https://aasgaardco.com/store/books/starting-strength-basic-barbell-training-413-414

The book is on super sale because a new edition came out. I bought this one and it's great.

Starting strength is really the gold standard for beginner strength training. Search around on any forum where experienced and knowledgeable lifters are, and you'll see it recommended to beginners (and some experienced) constantly. I've yet to find anyone who actively dislikes it or thinks it's dangerous, although there are a few people out there who think there are better programs. It's rare to find something that has so few dissenters.

Stronglifts is fine, but it's made by a random guy and is basically a copy of Starting Strength without the proper form coaching. It has a nicer app, but doesn't have the backing of a professional strength coach with years of experience teaching all levels of lifters.

edit: Be careful hiring a trainer to coach your form, I've seen all sorts of "trainers" who had terrible form, and coached terrible form. Many of them are more worried about having you do something wacky and weird so that you think they have some kind of insider info that justifies you paying them. I was a "trainer" in college at our rec center, and had no idea what good form was. Again, the starting strength website has a list of their approved trainers who I'd bet are pretty solid. Just videoing yourself on your phone and posting it on various forums (or even watching it yourself) will get you most of the way to good form, and will be better than many trainers (and it's free).
« Last Edit: September 08, 2017, 07:43:29 AM by ooeei »

GuitarStv

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2017, 07:43:19 AM »
+1 for the suggestion to pick up a copy of 'Starting Strength' by Mark Rippetoe.  It is an excellent introduction to strength training and explains the most efficient way that I know of to gain strength.  It will walk you through how to perform exercises correctly and explain why certain actions are safe/dangerous.

While the advice to go to a local gym is well meaning . . . my experience has been that few commercial gyms actually have people who know correct form for doing basic strength training exercises.  I'd personally trust the SS book over anything you're told by someone in a gym.

ooeei

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Re: Strength training for beginners?
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2017, 08:02:13 AM »
And just to give you an idea of the Starting Strength program, it's the following:

Workout A:
3 sets of 5 Squats
3 sets of 5 Bench Press
1 set of 5 Deadlift

Workout B:
3 sets of 5 Squats
3 sets of 5 Press (overhead)
1 set of 5 Deadlift

You alternate these two workouts 3 days a week with at least a day between them. Rest as long as you need in between sets to be back at full strength, at first you'll only need a minute or two, after awhile you'll be resting 5-10 minutes between sets.  Early on your workouts will be very fast.  Warm up with 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps going from super light up to about 80% of your working weight.

You increase the exercises 5 lbs every workout, until you can't do all 3 sets. Once you hit that point you sometimes backtrack a bit, but it talks in more detail in the book. You won't hit that point for a while. I use the Strength Club app to track progress.

It doesn't get much more simple than that, and there's no need to make it more complicated. After a few weeks of this once you are at the point where deadlifting 3x a week isn't doable, you change to doing powercleans and/or pullups on Workout B. No need to worry about that at first. Buy the book and learn the form as soon as possible.