So, you’ve decided to start weightlifting; well done! Weightlifting is the most beneficial thing you can do for your body besides eating healthily. If done safely and correctly, weightlifting helps you strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your joint and tendon health, help you lose weight and of course make you look better and improve self-esteem! There are some people that believe you should only perform cardio OR weight training, but here at Save Our Sofas, we truly believe you can only be your healthiest self if you do both.
There’s lots of information out there about how to start lifting, what routines you should do, machines Vs. free weights, how many reps, rest time, etc. etc. etc. And this can all be very confusing. What we’ve found is keeping it simple at first is always best, rather than taking in a notepad with 16 different exercises.
That’s why we suggest that everyone beginning weight training should start with the four main big compound movements: Bench Press, Squats, Shoulder Overhead Press and Deadlifts. This helps your body develop core strength, works out your entire body and promotes good hormone balances in your body by producing more Testosterone and less Cortisol. It also helps train you to respect weights and find your limits without pushing them.
We truly believe the best way for someone starting out is to follow Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength routine. This is because the program not only teaches the movements that come most naturally to our bodies, but also bring the biggest, safest shock to the body to bring about results quicker than any other program. It’s important to note that you’ll see the biggest changes in development within the first few weeks that you weight train. Changes will come by much harder after a few months or so of weight training, so it’s important to make the most of these first few months!
The program suggests that you start by using a routine that consists of 2 different workouts (B and O), performed 3 times a week, with 3 exercises each at a low rep range. It would look like this:
- Week 1: B, O, B
- Week 2: O, B, O
- Week 3: B, O, B
Each workout is:
- Workout B
- Bench Press 3 x 5
- Squat 3 x 5
- Deadlift 1 x 5
- Workout O
- Overhead Press 3 x 5
- Squat 3 x 5
- Deadlift 1 x 5
3 X 5 means that you have 3 sets of 5 reps. You’ll be lifting the weight 5 times, then taking a 2-5 minute rest (depending on effort), then lifting them again, until you’ve performed 3 sets of 5.
When first starting out, we suggest you workout with a gym instructor or personal trainer to help you develop and learn good form for each exercise. These movements performed safely are the best possible way to weight train for overall health, however, performed without good form, unsafely or by using momentum can injure you, so ensure that you develop good form habits from the first few workouts with a professional.
During the first workout, you’d start your first warm-up set with an empty bar, then keep increasing weight gradually until you start to feel yourself working hard. This will be the weight you begin the program with. You’ll then lift this weight for the working sets. Every workout, add more weight onto the bar, normally 5-7.5 Kilos for Squat and Deadlift, 2.5-5 Kilos for Bench Press and Overhead Press.
After following this for 2-3 weeks, you’ll be able to lift more during your deadlifts than your squat, and at this point, you’d replace the Deadlifts in Workout B with Power Cleans for 5 X 3 (again, ask a professional to go through form and technique with this for you). Then after 4-6 weeks, you’d add 3X5 Chin-ups/Pull-ups (alternating) to your Workout B! Then follow this plan for the next 4-6 months, at which point it’s worth looking into different routines depending on which goals you have (putting on muscle mass, leaning out & losing weight, or supplementing other activities).
Entering the gym for the first time can be daunting, there are a ton of machines in weird shapes, weights, exercise balls, kettlebells, and lots more besides and it seems like every knows what they’re doing. No-one likes being the new guy that doesn’t know what they’re doing, but remember, 90% of gym users are supportive, everyone started from where you are and most will remember that and answer any questions you have. Try not to be too self-conscious and if you have any questions, ask someone that looks like they know what they’re doing!