General recommendations to get started:
– 2-3 times per week ( <180minutes/week)
– 5 or 6 exercises per workout
– 3-5 sets per exercise
– 8-10 reps per set
If you’re just starting out weight lifting it can be difficult figuring out where to begin or what to do. There’s no shortage of information out there for you to read – unfortunately, a lot of it is contradictory.
So what should you do?
Well, as the great Michael Scott once said – keep it simple stupid.
Unless you’re a competitive athlete there isn’t much reason for you to put too much time into creating a program for yourself. Most professionals agree that a simple, safe program performed consistently will get you the exact results you’re looking for.
With that said, let’s go over what you should think about when coming up with your program.
Where do you stand – what’s your situation?
What you’re able to do in the gym depends on what you’re typical day to day schedule is. Evaluate where you stand and how much time you’re able to commit over the course of a typical week. Be honest with yourself – just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you don’t have the time. Even if it’s only thirty minutes, heck let’s say fifteen minutes, you have the time to get a workout in.
After you’ve determined how much time you have – it’s time to evaluate what kind of shape you’re in. Again, be honest with yourself. Working out five days a week isn’t a bad idea if you’re already in decent shape. But if you’re coming off an exercise hiatus, that many days a week probably isn’t the best idea.
What exercises should you do?
The options are endless. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of exercise options for you to choose from.
So how do you decide which to do?
To start – take these factors into consideration:
– What are you goals?
– Do you have any previous experience?
– Are there certain exercises you enjoy or feel good when you do them?
There’s no reason to make this process more difficult than it needs to be. As long as the exercises you choose use all your muscles in a balanced way, your program will get the job done.
When you’re creating your program its extremely important not to over or under work certain muscles.
To start off on the right foot – select one workout for each major muscle group. Keep each session at only 5 or 6 different workouts.
Starting with full body workouts just a few times a week is a great way to gain experience and set a solid foundation of balanced strength.
How many sets –
Each exercise should be performed for 3-5 sets for a session total of 15-30 sets. Where your workouts fall within this range will depend on your goals of the session.
Typically, endurance workouts have fewer sets but a high number of reps per set while strength workouts have a larger number of sets but a low number of reps.
How many reps –
As you become more experienced, you’ll learn what rep ranges you enjoy and which you respond to the most. Until that point, follow these general guidelines:
1-5 reps: This range will help you develop strength and power.
6-11 reps: This range will promote muscle growth and improve your strength
12+ reps: This range will create muscular endurance and a small degree of growth.
If you’re a beginner try and stick to higher rep ranges with lower weights to reduce your risk of injury.
How much rest –
This might the most neglected aspect of a beginners plan. When most people start they’re highly motivated and tend to overwork themselves. This can result is injury and lack of results. Without enough time to recovery after a workout your body wont adapt as well as it could, seriously limiting your gains.
To start – try not to exceed ~180 minutes of weekly activity. As you become more experienced and better trained you can start adding more time.