beginners weight training
Most people I talk to have no idea where to begin when trying to create a strength training program.  So many people waste tons of time doing too many single joint lifts and crunches and get minimal to no results.  Following this beginners strength training program will help you maximize your time in the gym and ensure your fitness foundation is a good one.

There are two workouts that you will follow.  One will be called Workout A and the other will be Workout B.  Both are full body workouts, but each has a different focus.

Workout A focuses on horizontal pushes and pulls while Workout B focuses on vertical pushes and pulls.  This balance allows you to become functional in all of the multi-joint motions of the upper body.  It also allows for adequate rest times between workouts.

Both workouts also contain a multi-joint lower body movement.   These movements will train the nervous system and promote proper recruitment patterns. This will promote efficient movement and allow you to advance to more complex workouts.

Core work has also been added to the program.  Planks are the main focus of your core program because stabilization of the body is going to be most crucial.  Crunches (spinal flexion) and V sit and twist (spinal rotation) are also added to give your core workout balance. This creates a well rounded core routine that will lead to functional, efficient movement patterns.


Let’s take a look at the program break down…

Workout A

Multi-joint Lower Body Movement: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Horizontal Push: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Horizontal Pull: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Crunches: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Planks: 2-3 sets of up to 30 seconds


Workout B

Multi-joint Lower Body Movement: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Vertical Push: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Vertical Pull: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

V sit and Twist: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Planks: 2-3 sets of up to 30 seconds


What Exercises Should I Choose?

Well, that depends on your fitness level and how well your body moves.  Ideally you want to perform movements that are the least stable version of the motion.  This means you are performing the movement variation that forces you to support your own body without the help of a bench or a machine.


To explain this further, let’s break it down like Rerun when a hot jam kicks on the juke box at Shirley’s…


Each exercise for each movement pattern is listed from most stable to least stable.

Lower Body: Leg Press Machine, Hack Squat Machine, Standing Body Weight Squats with your arms out parallel to the floor, Standing Body Weight Squats with your hands on your hips, Barbell Squats, Lunges, Front Squat, Front Rack Lunges, Deadlift

Horizontal Push
: Chest Press Machine, Seated Cable Chest Press, Barbell Bench Press, Dumbbell  Bench Press, Push up

Horizontal Pull: Machine Row, T Bar Row with a chest pad, Bent Over Single Arm Dumbbell Row While Kneeling on a Bench, Bent Over Barbell Row, Bent Over Dumbbell Row

Vertical Push: Machine Overhead Press, Seated Cable Overhead Press, Seated Barbell Overhead Press, Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press, Standing Barbell Overhead Press, Standing Dumbbell Overhead Press

Vertical Pull: Seated Machine Pull Down With Chest Pad, Seated Cable Lat Pull Down, Standing Cable Lat Pull Down, Pull ups

Start with the version you perform well and gradually move toward the least stable versions of each movement. Here is an example of the program you want to move toward:

Workout A

Multi-joint Lower Body Movement: Barbell Squat or lunge 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Horizontal Push: Barbell or Dumbbell Bench press 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Horizontal Pull: Bent Over Barbell or Dumbbell Row 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Crunches: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Planks: 2-3 sets of up to 30 seconds


Workout B

Multi-joint Lower Body Movement: Sumo or Conventional Deadlift 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Vertical Push: Standing Overhead Barbell Press2-3 sets of 10 reps

Vertical Pull: Pull ups or Lat Pull downs 2-3 sets of 10 reps

V sit and Twist: 2-3 sets of 10 reps

Planks: 2-3 sets of up to 30 seconds

Once you are able to complete this routine successfully, you can increase the volume by increasing the sets. You can also increase the weight, drop the reps, and increase your rest between sets. This will allow you to focus more on strength. I would suggest going though different focuses or periodization throughout the year to maximize your results. (More on periodization HERE)

Video Tutorials is not one of my favorite websites for many reasons, but they do have an excellent video library of exercises. If you are unsure what these exercises are, I would suggest going there to check out some of the tutorial videos. You can do so by clicking HERE.

How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

Ideally you want to rest between 60 and 90 seconds, but work up to that.  When you first begin, rest as long as you need to.  Remember, this is not a race or a sprint.  Shaping yourself takes time. Don’t be in a rush to get your workout finished and do not be in a rush to advance to the next level of stability.  This mindset will only lead to injury.  You did not get this way in just a few weeks, so to think you can change in such a short time span would not be logical.

How Often Should I Workout?

Begin the program with a two day split.  On Monday complete Workout A and on Thursday complete Workout B.  On days you are not resistance training do some light cardio and stretch.  Go for a walk, use an elliptical machine, or ride a bike.

You can also take a day completely off.  Listen to your body.  It will tell you if you need a day off.

After a few weeks switch to a three day split.  Ideally Monday, Wednesday Friday.  With this routine you will alternate workouts.

Week 1

Mon: Workout A

Wed: Workout B

Fri: Workout A


Week 2

 Mon: Workout B

Wed: Workout A

Fri: Workout B


Repeat accordingly.


How Much Weight Should I Use and When Should I Increase the Weight? 

Start with a weight that makes it difficult to complete 10 reps with good form. If you find yourself not able to complete 10 reps, or feel you cannot control the weight then the weight is too heavy.

If you feel you can complete more than 10 reps easily then the weight is too light. You have to gauge it. It will take some trial and error at first, and that is okay.

You can increase the weight when you feel that 10 reps is easy to complete.  Writing down your exercises and the weights you use would be suggested.  This template will help you: Click Here for a Workout Template.

If you do not have gym access, these links will help you stay fit at home:

Foundation Home Workout Exercise Tutorial: Phase 1

Phase 1 Foundation Home Workout Templates

Foundation Calisthenic Home Workout Phase 2