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Beginner's Strength Training Program

If you join a gym, they usually give you one free personal training session so you can learn proper form. Pay close attention during this session so you’ll be able to do it on your own.

If you read this carefully before you go, you’ll already know basically what each exercise is for.

  • Warm up for at least 5 minutes on a treadmill, stairmaster or bike before strength training.
  • Exhale on the exertion (the push) and inhale on the release to keep your blood pressure down.
  • Keep your spine straight, head up and abs tight for each exercise. Rule of thumb for proper form in most exercises.
  • Focus on the muscle group you’re working.
  • Don’t lift heavier weights than you’re ready for just because someone you want to impress is watching. Lighter is better while developing proper form.
  • Expect to feel a slight soreness within the next 2 days.
  • Be sure and do all of these exercises, not just the ones you feel you need. Spot reducing does not work. This workout will give you a balanced fitness base.
  • Plan rest days - don't work out the same muscle groups two days in a row.

Weights Workout
do one set of 15 repetitions for each exercise.

hamstring curl/pelvic tilt - (glutes and hamstrings). With one ankle crossed over the opposite knee, dig your heel into the floor and push. Focus on squeezing your glutes and hamstrings as you push your heel into the ground and make a straight line from your knee to your shoulders. Control the movement slowly on the way down. Repeat with your other leg.

weighted lunge – (glutes, quads) Keeping your front knee directly over your ankle at all times, lower your back knee almost to the ground. Push back up, keeping your back straight and your front heel on the ground. Switch sides.

step ups – Works same muscles as the lunge. Protect your knee by keeping it over your ankle. This also makes the exercise adequately intense. Stay on the same leg for the full exercise, then switch sides.

hamstring curl – (hamstrings) Works the back of your thighs. Keep the non-working parts of your body relaxed. Use a bench for a wider range of motion.

calf raise – (calves) Be sure to work through the full range of motion. Go up as far as you can and then lower your heel as far as it will go. Use a bench or a thick book for a wider range of motion.

Pullovers – (pecs, triceps) Lying on your back, pull the weight up over your head, keeping your arms straight. Relax your shoulders. All of the work should come from your chest, not your arms. (Feline optional).

bench press – (pecs) Lengthen your spine and flatten your belly by pulling your navel in towards your spine and up towards your ribcage to ensure proper form. Push the weight away from you concentrating on using your chest muscles and control it back slowly.

pec flye – (pecs) Same as the bench press, but with the arms out wide when at chest level and your palms face toward each other. Prop up one end of the bench for a different angle.

one-arm dumbbell row - (back). Supported by a chair or bench, make sure your back is straight and parallel to the floor. Pull the weight to chest level, keeping your elbow close to your side. Tighten the muscles in your back at the top and then slowly lower the weight.

lateral raise – (deltoids) This exercise will strengthen and shape your shoulders and upper arms. Keep your neck and the muscles right around the back of your neck (trapezoids) relaxed. The focus should be on the muscles covering the curve of your shoulder (middle deltoids). Lean forward slightly from your hips to make the middle part of the muscle parallel to the ground for proper isolation.

You can also perform this while lying sideways on an inclined bench.

overhead triceps extension – (triceps) Hold one dumbbell with both hands, palms up, behind your head. As you work the muscle by extending and flexing your arm, be sure to keep your elbows still. Your forearm should be the only part of you that moves. Squeeze and hold the position for a couple of counts when your elbows are hyperextended. Lower slowly.

biceps curl – The only thing that should move in this exercise is your biceps muscle, not your shoulders. No rocking. In a seated position, set your elbow in the middle of your inner thigh for biceps isolation. Curl the weight up, squeeze it at the top, and then control it back to the original position – arm fully lengthened.

crunches – (abs) Before you start crunching make sure you’re getting the proper contraction in your stomach. Do this by focusing on how your abdominal muscles feel when you cough. The only way to do this is to cough, so do it. See how you feel your abs draw in? After you cough, try to keep that same contraction. Curl your chest toward your knees lifting your back slightly off the ground and controlling it back down. Exhale up, inhale down.

back extensions – (lower back). Lie on your stomach with your arms extended overhead. Lift one arm up over your head at the same time you lift the opposite thigh off the ground. Movements should be slow and smooth. Alternate to the other side after each repetition.

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