If I had my 16th birthday again I would have changed one thing and that is the way I was training at that time! As an out and out beginner with little in the way of strength (I was bench pressing 22kg!!) or size I followed a plan which set me up for injuries and didn’t focus on building strength enough. Today, I am talking to the beginners, those who can benefit from my mistakes and make a more informed start to their lifting careers. If you are a beginner might I suggest you listen up! Get strong, get big and stay healthy.
To get the body strong means to add size, it is pretty much a guaranteed side effect of increasing your strength. To get strong you need to utilise something called ‘’progressive overload’’ which in layman terms means – gradually increase the weight you can lift within a given rep range (typically 4-6 for strength).
To ensure your strength gains are sustainable you need to ensure you are building strength across your body and where you have antagonistic (opposite) muscle groups, make sure the strength of each muscle is equal. Why? If there are imbalances between one side to the other you are waiting for injuries to occur in your joints due to bad posture. If you don’t maintain balance your strength growth will also diminish pretty quickly. If you can bench 100kg for 4 reps make sure you can do chins with 100kg hanging off you (minus your body weight). It’s that simple.
Doing the above will allow you to get strong, stay strong, injury free and above all else stay in a place where you can continue to progress which many others fail to do. It is no coincidence that people hit brick walls frequently.
Implementing this into a training program isn’t all that difficult as a beginner, I would keep it very simple with the following criteria!
- 3 workouts across the week. First session focusses on upper body strength, the second session focuses on lower body strength and the third workout all over hypertrophy.
- Strength workouts are purely compound based with multi-joint movements like the bench press, chin up, deadlift, squat and military press.
- Rep ranges for strength workouts are between 3-6 usually with 4-5 working sets per exercise and a total of 4-5 exercises used.
- Focus on increasing your lifts in the strength workouts every 4 weeks even if it is by 1-2kg!
- The hypertrophy workouts focus on blood volumisation rather than ‘’weight lifted’’ therefore focus on 12-15 reps per exercise, 3-4 working sets per body part and keeping the rest periods short
As you can see the principles are simple! That is usually the best way to keep your training. As a beginner I am confident you will see great progress with these rules.