TOTAL BEGINNER TO WORKING OUT? WHERE DO YOU START?
More often than not, training clients come in as total “newbies” to strength training. It isn’t very often that a seasoned gym-goer asks for a trainer, they don’t feel they need one….this may or may not be fact but that’s a whole other story. This new client may have dabbled in a group class or two, done a few Jillian Michaels style workouts in the privacy of their own home, or most likely have stuck to the safety of the cardio equipment at their gym. Most of the time the story goes….they have wanted to get in shape forever but it just hasn’t happened.
WHY BEGINNERS NEED STRENGTH
TRAINING IN THEIR ROUTINE
This should be captioned, “Why everyone needs strength training in their routine.” Every population should be trying to get stronger, regardless of age, gender, weight, goals, etc. Strength training increases muscle mass, improves bone strength, reduces difficulty in daily activities, lowers blood pressure, potentially increases metabolism….must I go on?
Many clients come in with the sole idea of losing weight and often will try to stay away from the benefits of strength training. While I may agree that the calories burned from a beginner lifter may be very small to negligible…I think the argument for long-term sustainable weight loss and getting stronger far outweighs the cons of the beginning stages. Beginners often just don’t have enough strength to make standard lifting much help toward their “weight loss goals”.
This is why we start slow. As a complete beginner, do not jump into an advanced bodybuilder split. This doesn’t lead anywhere good…what happens 9 times out of 10 is that beginner is either put through a grueling workout from an inexperienced trainer or they set up their own plan…not in line with their own level of fitness….that person is so sore that they can’t even sit on the toilet, the next 2-3 days are just terrible, possible injury occurs, they don’t want to ever feel that pain again or they think they can’t do it, and give up. Where in reality, they could do that workout, just NOT TODAY. It is so important to work up to that, build your strength up so your body can handle hard workouts without injury, use regressions, use bodyweight, use full body workouts instead of single muscle splits, etc.
Two major selling points in increasing strength and conditioning are 1) every-day life application. What are we and our clients doing every single day? Carrying 5 grocery bags per arm, climbing the stairs with a full laundry basket, getting holiday decorations out of the crawl space…all things that require strength and the more we utilize resistance training, the easier these activities become and simple tasks can be done with ease and without pain and discomfort. And 2) the long-term benefits of overall increased muscle mass. Part of muscle’s magic is found in the impact this tissue has on our metabolism. Muscle tissue demands more energy…meaning you will burn more calories throughout the day, and even at rest, the more muscle you have. Sign me up!
SOME MAY NOT NEED WEIGHTS RIGHT AWAY
Start sloooowwww. Remember, we want long term results and long-term means we have to be doing this for a long time. All too often, people end their journey long before their goals have been met from lack of direction. Committing to a simple routine for 4-6 weeks can show noticeable results in strength and minimal risk of injury.
Focus on the movement pattern (form) with little to no weight, depending on the exercise, and slowly increase. Write down your reps, sets, weights used, how you felt after, etc. so you can keep track of your progressions. Really pay attention to positive changes forward and less on the scale…this is the secret to long term results.
WHAT EXERCISES SHOULD A BEGINNER DO?
Great results start with quality movement. Movement affects joints, muscle growth, cardiovascular fitness, pain, sleep quality, stress management—you name it.
For beginners, focus on the fundamentals:
1️⃣Push- push-ups and presses
2️⃣Pull – pull-ups and rows
3️⃣Hinge – deadlifts and kettlebell swings
4️⃣Squat – goblet squats, front squats
5️⃣Loaded carries – farmers carry or just carry anything heavy for distance or time
WHAT IS THE BEST METHOD FOR BEGINNERS?
I have been using this method for years with new clients but it wasn’t until just recently I found there was a name for it! We all know there are benefits to strength and cardio training when it comes to losing weight and becoming healthier. What I have found to be helpful in getting a client away from drowning away hours on the treadmill or elliptical, either from fear of the weight area or hesitation in the benefits of strength training outweighing the cardio machines, is to try and combine the two in a fashion that a beginner can enjoy and handle. This method is called Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) Training. This method is similar to a regular circuit training method that keeps your client moving from one exercise to another with minimal to no rest between exercises. However, with PHA training, while you are moving from one exercise to another, you are focusing on alternating upper and lower body exercises. This method of training forces the blood to quickly circulate through the body, increasing caloric expenditure and theorized to decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass, while allowing some rest to the lower body while exercising the upper body and vice versa.
My biggest reason for implementing this method with beginner clients is that it is a method they can handle without severe muscle soreness. Another contributing factor is that I believe beginners to strength training should start slow and may only perform resistance training 1-3 times per week. With this style of training, we can still set up a program where they will hit the entire body and not create further imbalances than they may already have.
SAMPLE STRENGTH TRAINING ROUTINE
This is dependent on starting level, goals, determination, time, etc. but the above workout can be done by a novice lifter three times a week. It is best to put a day in between...so shoot for every other day or so. If you would like to workout more often than the three times, then just rotate some cardio or yoga days in to keep in pace with your level of fitness.