Author Topic: New Beginner Strength Training Thread - Equipment question!  (Read 1895 times)

annamal instinct

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Starting a new thread, since the last thread on this hasn't had traffic in 6+ months. I read that thread, though, and there are lots of great posts in there!

I just read the New Rules of Lifting for Women, and as a lifelong skinnyfat person who is now 35, I am ALL IN. We eat mostly paleo and I'd guess close to the recommended 30-30-40 balance. I need to up my BMI, so I'm upping my caloric intake by adding 2 meals a day, plus a protein shake after workouts.

Any advice on low/no-cost lifting equipment? I want to minimize spending, or not spend at all if possible. I do not have a gym membership. We have 4 dumbbells: 2 are 5 lbs. (so I gather these are worthless), 1 is 20 lbs, and 1 is 30 lbs. I figure I can start by focusing on bodyweight and the 2 heaviest dumbbells...but how do I add weight over time?
« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 05:00:56 AM by annamal instinct »


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Re: New Beginner Strength Training Thread - Equipment question!
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2017, 06:14:31 PM »
Ive found body weight exercises to be pretty great.

Check out Mark Sisson (Mark's Daily Apple) or for decent bodyweight exercises or training using household/playground items.

If you really want free weights, garage sales and summer clearing out is a great time to pick them up... people who failed their resolutions 3 years ago and are now looking for basement space... ;)

Bird In Hand

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Re: New Beginner Strength Training Thread - Equipment question!
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2017, 06:46:58 PM »
Even if you're skinnyfat with low BMI, your bodyweight is going to be more than enough to challenge you for a while -- perhaps indefinitely, depending on your goals.  The only equipment you need to buy is a pullup bar or gymnastics rings (especially versatile), and either of those can be had for ~$30.

If you can master pullups/chinups, pushups, and handstands with proper form, your entire upper body is going to be quite strong.  Add in bodyweight squats (add intensity by holding your dumbbells or gallon jugs, or progress to pistol squats) and lunges, and your legs and glutes are going to get strong.  Add in some sprints or whatever other cardio you like, and you'll have a solid foundation of strength and fitness.  You will also lose some fat and add some muscle, assuming proper nutrition and rest.

There are so many blogs and free videos on bodyweight training that it's hard to know where to start.  When I started bodyweight work I got a lot out of Al Kavadlo's blogs and videos.


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Re: New Beginner Strength Training Thread - Equipment question!
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2017, 06:25:01 AM »
The 20 and 30 lb dumbbells will be useful for goblet squats and "kettlebell" swings, too.  Those are easy to do with only one dumbbell of a certain weight, since the weight is held in both hands in the center of the body. 

I'm going to third the bodyweight exercise recommendations, especially  They have a great forum community as well.


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Re: New Beginner Strength Training Thread - Equipment question!
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2017, 07:16:55 AM »
Personally I see far better results with a barbell and progressively increasing weights than I ever have from bodyweight.  It really depends on your personal body composition and hormones.  Some people I know get strong just from looking at weights, other people really struggle and have to do everything right. Herschel Walker the NFL running back is somewhat famous for getting most of his strength from bodyweight workouts.  Then again he's a genetic 1%er (or .01%er), and if you were at that level you'd already be in shape.

For those of us who have a harder time gaining muscle and strength, progressive increases with barbell exercises done properly is the most efficient way to go.  The problem with bodyweight, similar to crossfit, is it's hard to scale the exercises for long periods of time.  Barbells provide an obvious way to make the exercise slightly harder every time (add weight).  I highly recommend the Starting Strength book, if anything to show you how to lift properly.  The 3rd edition hardback is currently $12 on their website (they recently made some edits to the 3rd edition, this is the older version but is still great).

You could get a cheap barbell, squat rack, and weights for well under $500 if you look used and aren't too picky.  Having a rack with a safety bar will be the expensive part, as you don't want to bail on a squat as a beginner without them.  I got mine for around $200 on craigslist which was a great deal.  Then I got a nice barbell and bumper plates and built a platform so my gym costs skyrocketed, but it could be done cheaply, especially if you expect to stay at relatively light weights (<200lbs) for awhile.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 07:19:34 AM by ooeei »


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Re: New Beginner Strength Training Thread - Equipment question!
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2017, 08:59:31 AM »
Here's a word of caution from a recent strength training beginner.

I had always done cardio (running, cycling) and decided to get into weight lifting after reading about its benefits and wanting to push myself further.  I was really excited about it and felt pretty fit to start with, so just jumped right in with weights.   Here's the thing - I (evidently) had poor form and was likely starting off with weights that were too heavy.  5 weeks in I injured my knees and lower back to the point I had to take 6 weeks off from weightlifting entirely (doctor's orders).  I did some PT and gentle exercise (walking - no running allowed, gentle cycling - was advised to avoid high gears or aggressive hill climbing) during that time.  Now I'm worse off than when I started.

This is not a tale to tell you to avoid weight lifting / strength training, but rather to start slow if you are truly a beginner.  I've started back up with strength this week, but I've learned a few valuable lessons.  Form is everything - I bit the bullet and joined a gym and plan to go for at least a few months where I can get some feedback on form and safety to avoid what happened. I'm also starting with bodyweight exercises (even those these seemed too easy) to get form down with decreased risk of serious injury since I'm not adding additional weight.  I plan to add weights once I can consistently have good form.  And lastly, if an exercise doesn't feel right, I stop - I've learned the difference between discomfort and pain - the latter being a sign that I'm doing something wrong.

tl;dr - If you are truly a complete beginner, I would recommend starting w/ bodyweight exercises w/ a focus on perfecting form before adding weights to reduce risk of injury.