“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
People who know me know that I have transformed myself with weight training. I have always talked about the benefits of resistance training and advised people to take the first step towards it to experience the magic.
I do not undermine the benefits of yoga or cardio or any other form of workout but this article is specifically for people who want to give weight training a shot but do not know how to.
If you are a woman wanting to start weight training, don’t be bungled down by the innumerable myths and unsolicited advice from inexperience well wishers and trainers. Read WOMEN AND WEIGHT TRAINING: MYTH VS FACT to clear the air and get things straight.
If you’ve been doing hours of walking, running, jogging and swimming and yet do not see equivalent results, or are confused as to whether you should spend more time doing cardio or weights, read CARDIO VS WEIGHT TRAINING: WHICH IS BETTER? for clarity.
I have been requested by many to devise a simple workable plan that can help them start training with weights.
Some points to set the right tone.
- It’s never too late to start. Strength training can be started, with zero prior experience, by both men and women, at any age or fitness level.
- You don’t need to spend hours doing weights to see results. A 45 – 60minute session is good enough.
- You don’t need to lift heavy from the start. That’s a progression that comes with time and experience.
- You don’t need to have a gym membership. You can use your body weight, resistance bands, props available at home or some basic home fitness equipment.
- If you don’t have access to cannot afford a personal trainer don’t be disheartened. You can adopt a simple doable plan and follow videos available on YouTube to check for form and the right way to do an exercise. But, yes, a certified trainer can help you level up the game.
- You don’t need to consume health supplements.
- A bad diet cannot outdo a good workout. You may do the best possible workout with the world’s best trainer, but if you don’t eat right, you’ll fail. Spoiler: Yes. It’s true, the best bodies are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.
Now coming to a so-called “beginners guide” to weight training. Let’s start with some tips for a beginner friendly “starting point”.
- Warm up: A 5-min warm up can go a long way prepping your body for a good workout.
- Form is king: Doing a workout in the right form is more important than the reps and sets. A bad form will not only not yield results but may also cause injury.
- Start with lighter weights: Start with a weight that you can lift 10 to 15 times with proper form.
- Start with less sets: Begin with 1 or 2 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions, and slowly progress to 3 sets when you’re more comfortable.
- Rest: To prevent muscle fatigue take 60-90 seconds rest in between sets.
- Duration: To avoid the risk of burnout and muscle fatigue limit your workout to no longer than 45 minutes in the first 6-8 weeks.
- Stretch: To ease muscle tension, and reduce your risk of injury gently stretch your muscles for at least 5 mins after your workout.
- Recovery: In the first 6-8 weeks take at least 2-3 days of active rest in a week to help your muscles recovery and replenish. Listen to your body.
Basic equipment that I suggest you invest in if you’re serious about weight training and want to begin, be consistent and level up from here on.
- Dumbbells: 2kg, 3 kg, 5 kg pairs (You’ll find at your local sports store or Amazon)
- Basic Resistance bands (You’ll find at your local sports store or Amazon)
- A pair of good quality comfortable sport shoe
- Comfortable dry fit active wear
Here’s a doable 5-day split “beginners plan” that covers all major muscle groups and body parts: Chest, Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps, Back, Abdominals, Glutes and Legs.
Day 1 & 3 (Abdominal, Back and Biceps)
|Chair Squats||2-3||12-15||Body weight||None|
|One-arm rows||2-3||12-15||Dumbbells||2-5 kg|
|Face Pulls||2-3||12-15||Resistance Band||Light|
|Bicep curls||2-3||12-15||Dumbbells||2 kg|
|Hammer curs||2-3||12-15||Dumbbells||2 kg|
|Good Morning||2-3||12-15||Resistance Band||Light|
|Wood chops||2-3||12-15||Body weight||None|
|Leg raises||2-3||12-15||Body weight||None|
Day 2 & 4 (Chest, Shoulders and Triceps)
|Overhead press||2-3||12-15||Dumbbells||2 kg|
|Front raise||2-3||12-15||Dumbbells||2 kg|
|Dumbbell Fly (lay on the floor)||2-3||12-15||Dumbbells||2 kg|
|Tricep dips||2-3||12-15||Body weight||None|
|Triceps extensions||2-3||12-15||Dumbbells||2 kg|
|Half Push-ups||2-3||12-15||Body weight||None|
|Chest press (lay on the floor)||2-3||12-15||Dumbbells||2 kg|
Day 5 (Abdominal, Glutes and Legs)
|Forward Lunges||2||10-12||Body weight||None|
|Reverse Lunges||2||10-12||Body weight||None|
|Stiff leg deadlifts||2-3||12-15||Dumbbells||2 kg|
|Calf raises||2-3||12-15||Body weight||None|
|Glute Bridge||2-3||12-15||Body weight||None|
|Wood chops||2-3||12-15||Body weight||None|
|Plank||3||30-40 secs||Body weight||None|
You may follow this plan for 8-10 or 12 weeks, by when you should have developed good strength, see noticeable change in terms of inches and most importantly should have incorporated weight training as a matter of habit and as part of your daily routine.
After 8-12 weeks you may progress with weights depending on your ability and comfort level.
Now that you’ve the will, a plan, what are you waiting for? I wish you all the luck and hope to see you progress in your strength training journey, to become a stronger and leaner version of yourself, that you’ll be proud of.
You’ll be glad to have started!