New to Lifting Weights? How to Start the Smart Way

Fitness professionals and members of the general public alike are getting on board with the fact that weightlifting or resistance training is important for overall health, fat loss, and attaining your performance goals. But if you have never done it before, how should you start?

Brock Armstrong
Photo of a woman listing wieghts

An effective way to start your weight lifting program is to perform two to three sets for each muscle group and complete 10 to 15 repetitions per set. After you do that for a while (and like the results you are seeing) you can increase the weight you are lifting and drop the reps to five to eight.

How Much Weight?

The amount of weight you choose will be determined by whether or not you can complete those 10 to 15 reps (or eventually the five to eight).

For example, if you find that you can do more than 15 reps of a bicep curl with a 10-pound dumbbell, then you will want to choose the 12- or 15-pound dumbbell instead and try again. On the other hand, if you can only lift it six times (when your goal is 10 to 15), you will want to try again with a lower weight. Make sure you write down the weight once you have it figured out so you can jump right in with the correct weight during your next workout. 

The amount of weight you choose will be determined by whether or not you can complete those 10 to 15 reps (or eventually the five to eight).

Pro Tip #1: Until you have a good idea of how much weight you can lift, start on the conservative side. I would rather have you lift too little the first few times and "waste" the workout rather than lift too much and end up hurt or discouraged. 

Pro Tip #2: Don't be afraid of soreness, but don't overdo it either. It is natural to be a little stiff and sore for 24 to 36 hours after a good lifting session, but if you have to take the majority of the week off to recover, that is counterproductive. 

Which Lifts to Perform?

When you are beginning a resistance training program, you can't go wrong with these basic bodyweight exercises:

When you are graduating to using weights, I would suggest that the foundation of your routine consist of these compound lifts: squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, pull-ups, rows, dips, snatches, power cleans, cleans, and jerks. You can slice and dice those exercises any way you like. Just keep in mind that you want to hit each of the five major muscle groups at least once a week and you will be posing in the full-length mirror in your undies in no time.

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About the Author

Brock Armstrong

Brock Armstrong is a certified AFLCA Group Fitness Leader with a designation in Portable Equipment, NCCP and CAC Triathlon Coach, and a TnT certified run coach. He is also on the board of advisors for the Primal Health Coach Institute and a guest faculty member of the Human Potential Institute. Do you have a fitness question? Leave a message on the Get-Fit Guy listener line. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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