beginner strength training routine, fitness blog

Beginner Strength Training Routine

Recently a friend approached me about helping him get in better shape.  After looking at him for a second I yelled with the fury of 1,000 stampeding horses “NO WAY! You need WAY more help than I can provide….”….. Not really, but that is probably the response a lot of people fear and prevents them from asking for help.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help.  Pay a professional if you have too.  Your health is a gift you should nourish, and excuse me for rhyming but you should also see it flourish!  Be careful when selecting a person to ask for help.  Make sure they have a background in fitness, they know what they are doing, and have your well being in their best interest.  The wrong person will get you hurt….get you hurt fast….very fast….be careful!

So after he’d been trampled with my response of “Yes I’d be glad to help”, we talked about some of his goals, and more directly:

  • Why they are his goals
  • When he could workout
  • The types of equipment available to him
  • How much time he could allot for each workout
  • His current and past level of activity
  • Amongst various things.

These are all important questions to ask yourself before beginning any exercise program. In my friends particular case, I selected a beginner strength training routine, because it matched his overall goal of looking more fit.  After compiling all the information we discussed, I found it best to lay a foundation for him in a 4 week phase.  Hence the title “beginner strength training routine”.  This routine will not only gauge his interest in staying committed, but will help me gauge his current level of fitness to build the next phase from. If followed correctly this routine should help him add strength, develop more defined muscle tone, aid in weight loss, and the most important part, lay the foundation for the rest of his fitness goals.

I plan to have descriptive guides about how to perform each exercise.  So if you are unsure which exercise I am referring to by name, or are curious how to perform it, bookmark this page or visit back soon.  One thing I would like to point out, is the warm up and stretch order.  A lot of misconceptions are out there about stretching, and it will be the first thing people do without warming their body up first.  DO NOT stretch before warming up.  Think of muscles like the candy called taffy.  Cold taffy will break if you try to bend it, warm taffy is very flexible, and has a wide range of motion.

*DISCLAIMER - Before stretching, or attempting and beginning any workout or exercise program, please consult a professional*

4 Week Beginner Strength Training Routine

Week 1

Day 1  –  Monday

CHEST AND TRICEPS

  • Warm Up 3-5 minutes on stationary bike or treadmill.  Start with slow tempo and increase tempo every 45 seconds – 1 minute.
  • Stretch the upper body muscles, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
  • Dumbell Bench Press – 2 sets of 12 reps, with light load, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Cable Machine Chest Fly – 2 sets of 12 reps, very light load, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Cable Machine Tricep Extension – 2 sets of 12 reps, with medium load, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Dumbell Tricep Kick Backs – 2 sets of 12 reps, with very light load, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Cool Down – Repeat Stretches

Think of muscles like taffy, cold taffy will break if you try to bend it, warm taffy is very flexible, and has a wide range of motion.

 

Day 2 –   Tuesday

LEGS

  • Warm Up 3-5 minutes on stationary bike or treadmill. Start with slow tempo and increase tempo every 45 seconds – 1 minute.
  • Stretch the muscles of the legs, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds.  *Lower Body Stretching Guide Coming Soon*
  • Squats – without weight 2 sets of 12-20 reps, body weight only, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Lunges – 2 sets of 12-20 reps, body weight only, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Straight Leg Deadlift – 2 sets of 12, very light weight, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Any version of Calf raises – 1 set of 15-20 reps
  • Cardio – 3-5 minutes Stationary bike or treadmill at low intensity pace.
  • Abs – Broom Handle Twists, Stomach Vacuum
  • Cool Down – repeat stretches

 

Day 3 – Thursday

BACK AND BICEPS

  • Warm Up 3-5 minutes  on stationary bike or treadmill. Starting with slow tempo and increase tempo every 45 seconds – 1 minute.
  • Stretch the upper body muscles.
  • Lat Pull Downs –  2 sets of 12, light weight, rest 15-30 seconds between sets
  • Dumbell Shrugs – 2 sets of 12, light-medium weight, 15-30 seconds between sets
  • Cable Shoulder Rotation – 1 set of 12, very light weight
  • Dumbell Bicep Curls – 2 sets of 12, light weight, 15-30 seconds between sets
  • Cable Curls – 2 sets of 12, light weight, 15-30 seconds between sets

 

Day 4 – Friday or Saturday

CARDIO

  • Warm Up  for 3-5 minutes by walking, stationary bike, or treadmill.  Starting with slow tempo and increase tempo every 45 seconds – 1 minute.
  • Stretch the legs muscles.
  • 30 minute jog or treadmill run.  Starting with slow pace for first few minutes and working up to a steady pace that you can maintain for the duration of the run.
  • Cool Down – Repeat stretching

 

Week 2

Day 1 – Repeat Week 1 Day 1 adding 1 set to each exercise.  Adjust weight accordingly

Day 2 – Repeat Week 1 Day 2 adding 1 set to each exercise.  Adjust weight accordingly

Day 3 – Repeat Week 1 Day 3 adding 1 set to each exercise.  Adjust weight accordingly

Day 4 – Repeat Week 1 Day 4

 

Week 3

Day 1

CHEST AND TRICEPS

  • Warm Up  4-6 minutes on stationary bike or treadmill.  Start with slow tempo and increase tempo every 45 seconds – 1 minute.
  • Stretch the upper body muscles, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds.  *Upper Body Stretching Guide Coming Soon*
  • Dumbell Bench Press –  2 sets of 12 reps, with medium load, rest 30-45 seconds between sets.
  • Dumbell Incline Bench Press – 1 set of 12 reps, with light load
  • Cable Machine Chest Fly – 2 sets of 12 reps, very light load, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Close Grip Push Ups – 1 set of 12-20 reps, use a variation that allows you to reach the set amount of repetitions.
  • Cable Machine Tricep Extension – 2 sets of 12 reps, with medium load, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Cool Down – Repeat Stretches

 

Day 2

LEGS

  • Warm Up 4-6 minutes on stationary bike or treadmill. Start with slow tempo and increase tempo every 45 seconds – 1 minute.
  • Stretch the muscles of the legs, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds.  *Lower Body Stretching Guide Coming Soon*
  • Squats – 2 sets of 12-20 reps, using kettlebell or dumbbell, light load, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Lunges – 2 sets of 12-20 reps, kettlebell or dumbell, light load, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Straight Leg Deadlift –  2 sets of 12,  light weight, rest 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Any version of Calf raises –  1 set of 15-20 reps
  • Cardio – 4-6 minutes Stationary bike or treadmill progressing from low to medium intensity.
  • Abs – Kettlebell Figure 8, Broom Handle Twists
  • Cool Down – repeat stretches

 

Day 3

BACK AND BICEPS

  • Warm Up 4-6 minutes  on stationary bike or treadmill. Starting with slow tempo and increase tempo every 45 seconds – 1 minute.
  • Stretch the upper body muscles.
  • Lat Pull Downs – 2 sets of 12, medium weight, rest 30-45 seconds between sets
  • Dumbell Shrugs – 2 sets of 12, medium-heavy weight, 30-45 seconds between sets
  • Cable Shoulders – 2 sets of 12, very light weight, 15-30 seconds between sets.
  • Dumbell Bicep Curls – 2 sets of 12, medium weight, 30-45 seconds between sets
  • Cable Straight Bar Curls – 2 sets of 12, light-medium weight, 15-30 seconds between sets
  • Cable Flex Curls – 1 set of 12 reps, very light weight

 

Day 4

CARDIO

  • Warm Up  for 3-5 minutes by walking, stationary bike, or treadmill.  Starting with slow tempo and increase tempo every 45 seconds – 1 minute.
  • Stretch the legs muscles.
  • 30 minute jog or treadmill run.  Starting with slow pace for first few minutes and working up to a steady pace that you can maintain for the duration of the run.
  • Ab Planks – 1 set of each position, try to hold for at least 30 seconds each.
  • Cool Down – Repeat stretching

..this 4 week strength training routine is building a foundation for your strength. NOT a magical workout that will turn you into the Hulk. 

 

Week 4

Day 1 – Repeat Week 3 Day 1 adding 1 set to each exercise.  Adjust weight accordingly

Day 2 – Repeat Week 3 Day 2 adding 1 set to each exercise.  Adjust weight accordingly

Day 3 – Repeat Week 3 Day 3 adding 1 set to each exercise.  Adjust weight accordingly

Day 4 – Repeat Week 3 Day 4 adding 15 seconds to each set of planks.

If my friend stays committed to this plan, after 4 weeks he will have just built a foundation for strength training and be ready to progress to the next stage.  He should remember that these exercises might seem easy while performing them..but that’s ok..he should resist the temptation to increase the weight by too much, this will lead to injury.  He needs to remember he is a beginner and this 4 week strength training routine is building a foundation for his strength. NOT a magical workout that will turn you into the Hulk.  Everything must have a foundation to build on.  Think about modifying a sports car.  You buy it stock from the dealership and the first thing you do is put a turbo on the engine, which will add massive amounts of horsepower.  You then take it out for a drive and accelerate hard and everything goes POW!  That’s because the foundation for the increased horsepower and torque was not in place.  Your clutch, transmission, and drivetrain were not able to handle the increased amount of torque and horsepower the engine was sending to them, so they failed.  The same applies to your body.  Make sure you upgrade each muscle group before applying a lot of horsepower (work load) to them, or things will go POW.