Strength Training for Beginners: How do I start lifting?

If you're curious about strength training, this will show you how to get started!
Lifting is awesome.

Not only does picking up heavy stuff makes me feel powerful and more confident, it can also do wonders for your body – it can help you build some awesome muscles, make you stronger, improve your posture, help you lose weight – and help you improve your health in many ways. Do I even have to mention more benefits?

This is another example of an old-but-gold post I’ve found in my old notes, previously published on an old and forgotten blog. But it’s full of information that’s still worth sharing!

I mainly lift because it makes me feel good and helps me reach my fitness related goals. Even if your goals primarily revolves around running or some other sport, lifting will usually be a really good supplement to your training. And today I’ll share some of my best tips for beginner lifters!

How do I start lifting?

First of all, men and women can do the same workouts perfectly fine (if you are worried about getting bulky, read the next question). If you want results from lifting, you should be lifting heavy. And when I say heavy, I mean challenging – for one exercise heavy may be 50 kg, but for another it can 6 kg.

Using the machines at the gym can be good, especially for beginners, but in the long run you should strive towards learning free-weight, mainly compound movements (deadlifts, squats etc). Remember to learn the correct form before you start adding more weight. Sites like exrx.net and bodybuilding.com are good resources when it comes to learning new exercises.

If you feel intimidated by the weights room at the gym, I’ve got you covered with this post >> How to be more confident in the gym.

For a beginner, it’s best to do a full body workout every time (targeting all parts of your body each workout), or a split between lower and upper body for 2-3 workouts a week – or more, depending on how used you are to working out and whether you do other types of exercise on the side, like running. Not to forget how much time you have, as that’s important too.

If you're curious about strength training, this will show you how to get started!

Rep ranges

  • 1-5 reps for strength (1-10 sets)
  • 8-12 reps for hypertrophy = building muscle (3-4 sets)
  • 15+ reps for endurance and low-mid intensity cardio (8-12 reps builds endurance just as well)

Use weights you find challenging, while still being able to perform the exercise with proper form.

Remember rest days are as important as workout days. Especially when you are starting out, because you will get sore at first.  Being sore after a workout doesn’t necessarily mean it was a good workout – No pain no gain is a lie.

If you want to gain muscle, you also need to be eating right; adequate protein intake + good fats, carbs for energy, and a calorie surplus. Beginners gain muscle easily, but as you get used to lifting, you can’t expect to continue to gain muscle at the same rate.

When it comes to workouts, there are so many different ways to create a good workout. What a makes a workout good, however, depends on your goals, your experience, what you like to do and so on. I have a few lifting workouts you can use as inspiration here.

Is lifting part of your workout routine?

If you lift, what are your best tips for someone just starting out?

I hope you find this helpful – remember, safety first. Lifting is supposed to be challenging, but never painful. Good luck!


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If you're curious about strength training, this will show you how to get started!
If you're curious about strength training, this will show you how to get started!

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