NEWBIE GAINS; HOW TO START YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY

 

When I first began weightlifting my biggest fear was getting injured. I knew I couldn’t lift heavy weights and thus didn’t think I had a place in the weight room. But eventually, I learned the basics and it picked up week by week. Here are the 6 things that every beginner should know before stepping into the weight room. 

Understanding training frequency 

Training frequency is how many days a week you plan to train, and will determine how fast you get to your goals. As a beginner endurance, strength, and muscle mass skyrocket, because your muscles have never been under such demand to perform.  To get the most out of weightlifting, prioritize two to three times a week at a minimum with at least one day in between for rest. This type of training frequency will allow for consistent results in strength and endurance, making going to the gym worth your while. 

What will increase my strength and size 

Begin to familiarize yourself with basic knowledge of the essential movement patterns. These include the squat, hinge, push, pull and carry exercises. Training these movement patterns requires the global recruitment of larger muscles. Using this as your foundation will increase strength and muscle size throughout the stages of weight lifting. Squats and hinging exercises will strengthen your legs, push and pull exercises will target your upper body and lastly, carries will aid in core stability and muscular endurance. All five work together to build a resilient body.

Training smarter with training splits 

Split training is dividing your training days to focus on the development of specific muscle groups or particular lifts. With this method, you can focus on training muscles that oppose action such as push and pull muscle groups like the chest and back. As well as muscles that accommodate each other like push and press muscle groups like the shoulders and chest. This method, will optimize your endurance and save time in the gym. This way you can train more muscles even if your frequency is low. Personally, I have used this method to increase my strength and muscle endurance throughout my training stages. The Training splits approach will allow for a fitness journey that is on a steady incline, adding size and muscle endurance to your catalog of results.

Below are examples of training splits to follow 

Classic Bodybuilding training splits

  • Chest + Back 
  • Legs/Calves + Abs/Forearms
  • Shoulders + Upper arms 

Powerlifting training splits 

  • Bench + Triceps 
  • Squats and deadlifts 
  • Back + Hamstrings/Quads

Proper rest blocks 

Rest periods when weight lifting are necessary to  enhance your performance set to set. This  allows for quality repetitions down the line slowly depleting your energy. Don’t beat yourself up if you reach failure a set earlier, keep in mind you’re still building a  tolerance to weight lifting. As a result, fatigue will kick in faster and there is more time needed to recover.

Here’s the facts 

  • Weight lifting for Maximal strength uses rest blocks of 2-3 minutes, these repetitions range from 1-6.
  • Weightlifting for muscle endurance and muscle mass uses rest blocks between 30-90 seconds, these repetitions range from 10-15.

What weights do i start with 

Exercise machines are the safest approach to moving resistance with little to no experience of lifting weights. Joint instability can make or break your form and therefore greatly impact getting results, exercise machines move this out of the equation  allowing the focus to be solely on gaining strength and size. 

Free Weights cover a wide variety of equipment like barbells and dumbells and are the most challenging form of resistance training. Joint stability is a huge necessity here and plays a big part when increasing weight or performing challenging exercises like a bench press.

Starting with exercise machines until you feel comfortable to advance to free weights is the right way to progress your skillset. So keep moving up the weight stack and soon enough you will feel ready for the barbell. 

Post-training protocols 

Keep in mind that the higher your training frequency,  the more days off you will need to rest. Recovery methods are very important and range from sleep to self-myofascial release techniques. Here are the best ways to recover from weight lifting.  

  • Sleeping 8-10 hours is an important part of the recovery process, promoting muscle recovery and growth.
  • Eating is a means to rejuvenate our body after breaking down muscle tissue when lifting weights.  Putting calories back in is important to recover from a training session where you can lose 100s of calories.  Do not skip meals after training because this will depreciate your success rate.
  • Stretching is more important post-training because it improves flexibility which allows you to train your muscles at their greatest length. Stretching is recommended in the cool-down segment of an exercise routine coupled with light cardio. This will diminish muscle soreness related to a hard weightlifting session. 
  • Self-myofascial release methods have become very popular due to the release of many Theraguns and massage tools. Although keeping it as simple as pinning a muscle against a lacrosse ball or using a foam roller to target trigger points are just as effective.

Exercise programming template  

Here is a  beginners template to get you through 1 day of training. With a structure like the one displayed you can create your own training circuit with 6 exercises varying muscle groups, incorporating appropriate rests, and doing a workout that makes sense. I have created an Upper and lower body split with an intended desire to build muscle and strength. Now all that is left is doing it. 

Exercises Exercise sets and repsResistance 
series A 
Push – DB Flat bench press3×10-15Moderate 
Legs – Pitshark Squats 3×10Moderate 
Core – Kettle Bell farmers carry 3×10-15Moderate 
series B 
Pull – Cable seated Lat pulldown3×10-15Moderate 
Core – Band resisted Palof press 3×10Moderate 
Legs – Dumbbell Romanian deadlifts 3×10-15Moderate 
Rest period30-90 seconds per set of 10-15 reps 

The best part of being a beginner is the process of learning the ins and outs of weight training. Lifting weights has never been a one size fits all. You can always apply your own creative approach and techniques to improve your skillset. I always look forward to helping beginners with their training goals and achieving a higher level of fitness. Contact me at [email protected] for more information on how you can take your weight training to the next level.