How to Begin Weight Training

Three Parts:Getting Ready to TrainStarting Your Weight Training ProgramIncreasing How Much Weight You Lift

To possess a leaner, stronger physique, a progressive strength training regimen is integral. Building more muscles offer a host of health benefits, but for many people, getting started with weight training is a lot more intimidating than running on a treadmill or taking an aerobics class. Progression begins with setting fitness goals and meeting them with success starts with upholding proper techniques.

Part 1
Getting Ready to Train

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    Set your realistic goals. There are many misconceptions that beginners have about weight training. Here are some clarifications to keep your expectations realistic. Training a certain area of your body will not reduce fat in that area. Fat reduction happens when you burn more calories than you consume, and it happens in a pattern largely controlled by genetics.
    • For example, doing ab exercises will not reduce fat in your stomach area. It will help the ab muscles get bigger, which, if you're not pairing your weight training with healthy eating, might push out the existing fat and make you feel bigger.
    • Weight training does not make women "bulky". As a woman, the muscle gain you will experience is a part of the "toned look" that many women are after. For toning, you need to build muscle and reduce fat. To reduce fat, you'll need to consume fewer calories than you burn.
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    Choose a routine. Progress is the result of having a game plan and sticking to it. For a beginner, it’s advised to choose a full body routine that you do three times a week with a full day of rest in between.[1] The amount of sets and reps that you do in your routine effects the end result to your body.
    • To build super dense muscle and strength, do reps in the 1-5 range.[2]
    • To build equal amounts of muscular endurance and muscular strength, do reps in the 6-12 range.[3]
    • To build muscular size and endurance, do 12 reps and above.[4]
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    Optimize your progress as a beginner in weight training. Most strength programs that strive to do this have you doing 5 sets of 5 reps. To get stronger and put on muscle, do workout routines that have a traditional strength style workout.[5]
    • Traditional strength style workouts mean you complete one set of an exercise, rest, and then another set of the exercise, and then rest.[6]
    • For example, 3 sets of 10 squats would be: 10 squats, rest, 10 squats, rest, 10 squats, rest.
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    Eat a quality diet with plenty of water. How you eat is 80-90% of your success in weight training.[7] If you're trying to burn fat at the same time, you'll want to be careful to consume just enough calories to give you energy to make progress weight training. This can take some trial and error. Don't be scared to eat more if you feel fatigued or are not making progress. Focus on eating protein and vegetables as the bulk of your diet.

Part 2
Starting Your Weight Training Program

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    Warm your body up with cardio. Starting your weight training workout by doing some cardio is a great way to make sure your body is warm enough to perform some of the moves better. Do some cardio with a light jog on the treadmill or outside and stop when you are just starting to break a sweat. Follow up with some stretches before you weight lift.[8]
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    Find dumbbells that are light enough for you. When you are first starting your training, it’s important not to push yourself too hard. The size weights you lift in the beginning should be light enough that you can perform 2-3 sets of 12-17 reps.[9]
    • Stay away from the “go hard” mentality in the early days of training. Your muscles shouldn’t be pushed to the maximum early on.[10] During your first workout in the gym, do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps with the weights.
    • You should feel a burn, but not to the point of exhaustion where you can’t push yourself any further during your reps. After the 10-12 reps, there should be 2-5 reps left “in the tank” that you could perform after each set if you wanted to.[11]
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    Perform dumbbell exercises in a pattern. Doing weight training exercises in a pattern with reps between 2 of 12 and 3 of 10 helps you process the motions as their happening to your body. Muscles will also be able to learn to adapt to the weight you’re placing on them.[12]
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    Use your bodyweight when first learning to squat. Barbell squats are a very common way to weight train, but it’s best to start light so that your body can get accustomed to the technique. As you get stronger, incorporate dumbbells and then barbells.[13]
    • Squat by standing with feet slightly wider than your hips and toes pointed slightly outward at a 5-20 degree angle.[14] Look in front of you and find a spot on the wall to concentrate on as you squat down.
    • Put your arms outward in front of you, in line with the ground. Your spine should be in neutral position and kept straight as you lower into form.[15] Do 5 reps of 5 squats.
    • When you start to feel gains from your workouts, incorporate dumbbells instead of just your bodyweight. Week by week, you should be able to increase your weights by 2-5 percent.[16]
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    Focus on proper form. Squats and deadlifts are more complicated than bicep curls. When squatting, if you find that your form begins to suffer during the last few reps, try to perform fewer reps per set. It’s your body’s way of telling you it’s reached its limit. Work your way up to higher reps as you continue to train.[17]
    • Give yourself 1-2 minutes in between rep sets to make sure you are maintaining proper form while you exercise. Lighten your weight if you feel yourself struggling.[18]
    • Focusing on your form is a part of teaching your body proper technique. The earlier you do so, the better your weight training journey will be.
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    Be consistent with your training. Weight training works by progressively increasing the amount of weight that you move with your body. If you're inconsistent, you'll find that your progress stalls. Progress is something that happens over time. Make weight training a lifetime habit in order to see results gradually, all the time.[19]

Part 3
Increasing How Much Weight You Lift

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    Cut back on exercises that might be working a certain area too hard. You might find that you have reached a plateau in your gains, but would like to be able to lift more weight and increase your overall strength. What you might be experiencing is overtraining of certain muscles.[20]
    • Choose a muscle group that is central to your workout 2-3 times a week. Cut back on that muscle group to being worked out only once a week. Do that for 2 weeks.[21]
    • By doing this, you should be able to increase the amount of weights you lift by giving those muscles some breathing room to experience the gains.[22]
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    Switch the types of exercises you’re doing. When your body and muscles get too accustomed to doing the same exercises at the same rate on a routine basis, you will stop progressing in your workouts. Shock your body and wake your muscles up by changing your routine and/or lifting schedule.[23]
    • For example, if you work on your chest on Mondays, choose to do those workouts on a Tuesday or Thursday. Apply that format to all of your exercises and change things up every week.[24]
    • If you do that for a month, you should slowly be able to increase your weight again. Seeing improvement in your strength and body will follow.
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    Enhance your strength and power by changing your fuel. A lot of weightlifters rely on additional fuel to help them bulk up and increase their strength as they work out. Give your body the proper fuel by using trial and error to see what works best for you.[25]
    • After workouts, whey protein should be a staple in your dietary plan. Muscle building gets an extra boost with the regular consumption of a whey protein and carbohydrate combination post-workouts. [26]
    • An alternative to whey protein is consuming an 8 ounce glass of chocolate milk after a workout to help rebuild muscles, prevent muscle damage, and supply the body with a great source of protein.[27]
    • Foods like omega-3 eggs used to have a bad name due to its believed link to clogged arteries, but is actually great fuel for building muscle.
    • An ounce of almonds or cashews are great for anyone struggling to build muscle. It is a perfect blend of fiber, protein, and fats that gives all the benefits of calories without the expanding waistline.
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    Give your workouts balance. Increasing how much weight you weight lift will be challenging if you have a workout routine that favors certain muscle groups (biceps vs triceps, glutes vs legs). [28]
    • Vary your routine by increasing the number of sets or repetitions. Alternatively, you can also increase the weight you use and cut back on the number of sets and/or reps you do.[29]
    • You can vary your routine and bring balance to your workouts by switching between “heavy” days and “light” days. Heavy days would be the days designated for heavier weight with fewer reps/sets routines. Light days will be your default weight lifting routine.
    • Condition muscles that have the same power capability the same to ensure that your routine is always balanced properly. As you do, weights can be increased over time.


  • Your workout structure should be changing every 6-8 weeks to accommodate the increase in strength your muscles should be experiencing. As long as the structure is increasing periodically, progress is happening, and that’s important.
  • Getting stronger can be as simple as adding one more squat, lifting five more pounds, or completing a circuit 10 seconds faster during your strength training workout.
  • Resting is just as important as actually lifting weights and is an integral part of having an effective weight training routine in order to see results.
  • It's normal to feel very sore when you start (or restart) a weight training routine, but you once you are consistent, you won't feel sore after every workout.

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Categories: Weights for Strength Training