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Starting weight training

Woman doing shoulder press exerciseWeight training is not only an excellent way for athletes to improve performance but it is also a great way to lose weight and tone up. Regular weight training workouts increase total muscle mass which helps to raise metabolism.

Below we take you through the main weight training exercises and then provide a simple starters workout and also a more complex 5 week weight training program which is also designed for beginners.


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Weight training is also suitable for both men and women. Although it still has a masculine image (the photo here does not help!) weight training is certainly something women should do to keep in shape. Cardiovascular exercise is great at burning fat but it does not help to tone and shape. A regular weight training workout can give a women slender legs and a toned butt without leading to unwanted bulky muscles.

Upper Body Exercises

Bench Press

The bench press is the main exercise for building a stronger chest. It is also the exercise which most people associate with weight training. To perform a basic bench press you just need to lie down flat on a solid bench and lift a barbell straight up from your chest until your arms are straight, and then lower. Grasp the barbell so that your forearms are vertical when in the lowest position.

You should always use a spotter or supports for safety. Read our full instructions on how to bench press which also provide several variations on the basic barbell bench press.

Bicep Curls

Bicep curls are possibly the second most popular weight training exercise after bench press. You can perform bicep curls with a barbell, an EZ-bar which is designed to give a better grip position, or dumbbells. Simple grasp a bar or dumbbells with palms facing outwards and curl up towards your shoulders. If you wish to workout using just dumbbells take a look at our page on dumbbell workouts.

There are many variations that you can perform, such as hammer curls where you hold the dumbbells vertically, concentration curls where you rest your arm on your leg, or preacher curls where you use a special bench to rest the backs of your arms to focus the work on the peak of bicep (an isolation exercise). Take a look at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Five Tips For Bigger Biceps for some more tips on bicep training.

Flyes

Dumbbell Flyes

Chest flyes are done by lying on a flat bench with 2 dumbbells. Hold them out to your sides with slightly bent arms and then lift them up in an arc until they meet directly above your chest.


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Many gyms also have Pec Deck machines where you sit upright to perform the same movement while under resistance.

To target different areas of the chest, then perform incline flyes to target the upper pectorals, and decline flyes to target the lower pectorals.

Lateral Raises

Dumbbell Lateral RaiseLateral raises are best done standing up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Start by holding the dumbbells by your sides and then lift them both upwards and outwards until your arms a parallel to the floor or your hands just above the height of your shoulders, then lower again. Keep your elbows slightly bent.

An alternative exercise of the deltoids is a front raise done with a barbell. This just involves lifting a barbell from your hip in an arc with straight arms until it is directly in front of you.

You can exercise the rear deltoids by performing a bent over raise. Bend forward, keep your back straight and then lift the dumbbells out to each side.

Pushdowns

Cable Machine PushdownThis is an isolation exercise for the triceps. It is performed by using a cable machine / pushdown machine.

The bar should start at shoulder height, then while gripping the bar with the palms facing down, pull the bar downwards, keeping the elbows still and straightening the arms. An excellent triceps workout.

An alternative is the triceps extension that can be done by holding a triceps bar above your head and then lowering behind. Another method is to lie on a flat bench and grasp a dumbbell with both hands and lower it behind your head.


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Read Triceps Training – the Key to Bigger Arms.


Shoulder Press / Military Press

Shoulder Press Machine Exercise

The shoulder press (or military press) is best performed while seated with a back support to ensure that the pectorals are not engaged by leaning back.

They can be done with a barbell, dumbbells or using a shoulder press machine or Smith machine. Free weights provide the most natural movement.

Simply lift the weight from the shoulders straight upwards, then lower it down again. To isolate further it can be performed one arm at a time with a dumbbell. This compound exercise also involves the trapezius and the triceps. The Arnold Press is a variation of the shoulder press.

Triceps Extension / French Curl

Dumbbell Triceps ExtensionThe triceps extension can be done while standing, sitting or laying down on a flat bench. A weight is held above the head (keeping the upper arms motionless), then lowered behind the head, and then raised to the starting position.

This is an isolation exercise for the triceps. It can be performed either with both arms or one arm at a time. This is also known as the French curl.


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These can also be done with cable machines. Another variation to target the triceps with a dumbbell is the triceps kickback.

Upright Rows

Cable Machine Upright RowThe upright row is performed while standing upright and pulling a weight from the waist to upper chest in a straight line up the torso.

It is a compound exercise that also involves the trapezius and the biceps. The narrower the grip the more the trapezius muscles are exercised.

It can be done with a barbell, dumbbells or using a resistance machine (pulley machine) as shown in the photo.

Lower Body Exercises

Leg Curl

Lying Leg Curl Machine ExerciseThe leg curl is performed while lying face down on a leg curling bench by raising a weight with the feet towards the buttocks. This is an isolation exercise for the hamstrings.

This type of exercise requires the use of a specific piece of apparatus. It is very difficult to perform a leg curl using free weights at home.

Leg Extension

Leg Extension Machine ExerciseThe leg extension is performed while seated on a leg extension machine. The feet are tucked under a weight (or pulley system) and then the weight is raised out in front of the body with the feet. It is an isolation exercise for the quadriceps.

You should not overtrain on this exercise. Ensure that you are training you legs in a balanced way. Many people make the mistake of overtraining this exercise in a gym because the machine is free and as it is a sitting down exercise it seems like less work! Work the legs with squats, lunges and calf raises to keep the muscles well
balanced.

Leg Press

Leg Press Machine ExerciseThe leg press is performed while seated on a leg press machine. A weight is pushed away from the body with the feet. It is a compound exercise that also involves the glutes and, to a lesser extent, the hamstrings and the calves.

This works the same muscles as the barbell squat. However, the leg press machine allows you to isolate the muscles further as you are not engaging the stabilizing muscles. The range of motion is less than that of a squat, but it is a safer way if you are working out alone.

Calf Raises

Standing Calf Raises

Standing Dumbbell Calf RaiseCalf raises are the only way to develop the calf muscles that run down the back of the lower leg. The two muscles of the calf are called the gastrocnemius and soleus, which form the upper and lower calf muscles. This is an isolation exercise for the calves, and particularly emphasises the gastrocnemius muscle.

Calves are often neglected by amateur athletes and bodybuilders. Arnold Schwarzzeneger famously failed to train his calf muscles in his early bodybuilding days, resulting in many amusing photos of him standing up to his knees in water to disguise his disproportionately developed calves.

Without a calf resistance machine, the easiest way to work the calf muscles is to simply raise your body up on to your toes, squeeze the calf muscles (important to remember the squeeze) and drop back to a stand.

Resistance can be added by either holding two dumbbells at your side, or as you progress by supporting a barbell across your shoulders, as you would in a squat. To work the calves more stand with your toes and balls of your feet on a small step to increase the range of movement when you rise and fall.

When lifting heavier weights, then a two legged calf raise has to be done, but while lifting lighter weights one legged calf raise is ideal, as it ensures that you work both calves equally.

The leg muscles (gastrocnemius, soleus, tibialis anterior and posterior, fibularis longus and brevis) are made up of the slow twitch fiber muscles and therefore it is generally thought that higher rep ranges should be performed to help build more leg muscle. However, there is still a big debate over what works best, higher or lower reps. Two sets of 8 reps should be sufficient to make good progress so long as the weight is such that the final raises are hard work. Just experiment until you find which rep range gives you maximum gains.

Seated Calf Raises

Seated Calf Raise Machine Exercise

If you wish to isolate the calves further, then the seated calf raise does this.

Unlike the standing calf raise it requires a specific piece of equipment.

The seated calf raise is performed by flexing the feet to lift a weight held on the knees.

This is an isolation exercise for the calves, and particularly emphasizes the soleus muscle.

Squats

Squats are possibly the most important weight training exercise. They work the largest muscles of the body and are important in sports, athletics and martial arts. They are also the muscles which tone the backside, so a very good exercise for women to do. There are many variations on squats so they have their own article here: How to Squat.

Back Exercises

Back Extensions

Roman Chair Back Extension

Back extensions are done while lying face down partway along a flat or angled bench, so that the hips are supported and the heels secured by bending down at the waist and then straightening up again.

It is a compound exercise that strengthens the core and also works the glutes.

It can be done on the floor with your hands held either side of your head (not touching your head). For the greatest range of motion use a dedicated back extension bench like the one shown in the photo.

Bent Over Row

To perform this, support yourself on a workout bench with one knee and one hand. With the other hand lift a dumbbell from the floor to your side, until your upper arm is just beyond horizontal or at the height of your back. This is then lowered until your arm is extended and shoulder stretched forward.

A variation of this exercise can be performed using a barbell, by bending forward and pulling the barbell towards the chest. Keep your knees slightly bent and look forwards during lifting to ensure good form.

Deadlift

Deadlifts are one of the most important exercises and as a result require a whole article on the subject. Basically a deadlift is performed by lifting a weight from the floor to your hips, keeping your arms straight and legs just slightly bent. The lift is from the lower back and is powered through the hips initially. Read the article on How to Deadlift to learn more.

Pulldown

Pulldown Machine Exercise

The pulldown is a compound exercise that works the upper chest, biceps and rear deltoids.

It works the same muscles as chin-ups / pullups, but uses a resistance machine (cable machine or pulldown machine) to allow you to work with weights lighter or much heavier than your bodyweight.

The pulldown is performed while seated by pulling a wide bar down towards the upper chest. Your knees should be tucked in under the supports so that you are not lifting yourself off the bench.

The exercise can be varied to work the lower lats harder (close grip pull downs) or the biceps (reverse grip pull downs).

Core Exercises

Crunches

The Abdominal Crunch

This is the classic abdominal exercise. It is performed while lying face up on the floor with knees bent and curling the shoulders up towards the pelvis.

This is an isolation exercise for the abs. For extra resistance and to build stronger abdominals use some weight, either by holding a weight disc or dumbbell to your chest or by using a crunch machine. Also a cable machine can be used by kneeling, facing away from the machine.

To work different areas of the abs perform the twisting crunches – this targets the obliques. Bicycle crunches are considered to be one of the best abdominal workouts.

Leg Raises

Seated Leg RaiseLeg raises are done by sitting on the edge of a weight lifting bench with your legs straight out in front of you. Lean back slightly to balance, then draw your knees to your shoulders.

These work the hip flexors and lower abs. They can also be performed by laying on the floor, holding onto a support behind your head (a partners ankles is ideal) and then lifting your legs up to a vertical position. If you wish to work the lower abs harder then lift your hips off the floor when your feet are at their highest point. The video below shows the basic leg raise.

To take the exercise further, perform hanging leg raises. Hang from a high horizontal bar (such as a pull up bar) and then raise your knees to your chest. Use ankle weights to increase resistance.

Putting the Exercises Together

You do not have to perform the exercises in this order. However, generally the large muscles of the lower body are trained before the smaller muscles of the upper body, because these exercises require more mental and physical energy. The core muscles of the torso are trained before the shoulder and arm muscles that assist them.

Exercises often alternate between “pushing” and “pulling” movements to allow their specific supporting muscles time to recover. The stabilising muscles in the waist should be trained last. Review the muscle diagrams to learn which muscles are worked with each exercise.

Although you could go through all these exercises in one gym session it really would be better to focus on just a few. There are many ways to put together a workout of your own.

One way would be to take 2 upper body exercises, 2 lower body exercises, a back exercise and a core exercise. Then for each of these 6 exercises perform 3 sets of 8 – 10 repetitions. You could do this twice a week, changing the exercises each session and also aiming to increase the weights every 2-3 weeks to build strength.

Another way would be to work on each body section separately with an upper body exercise day, then a lower body day and finally a back and core day. You could then add some cardio exercise into each workout and have 3 workouts a week with a cardio warm up and resistance training for the main workout. This workout is based on this principal: Full Body Weight Training Workout.

Once you learn the basic weight training exercises you really can just create your own routines based on your personal preferences. For general fitness and weight loss you do not need advanced training schedules.

Simple Beginners Weight Training Routine

This routine provides a good basic foundation for both men and women who wish to start building some all round strength. There are eight different exercises, but none are done intensively. The warm up set should not be difficult for you to do, it is purely to ensure the relevant muscles are warmed up and the blood is flowing a little. The work reps should be more challenging, but to start with aim to be able to do two sets of 10 reps. Ideally you should be finding it difficult to complete the last set, but still have some reserves.

Ensure that you rest between each set, and rest a little longer between each set of exercises. Generally two minutes rest between is recommended, and then a few minutes more between sets of exercises.

This beginners routine concentrates on compound weight training exercises, i.e. exercises that work more than one muscle at a time. These types of exercise produce athletic, functional muscle tissue, and are also a great way to boost the metabolism and reduce body-fat.

Warm
up reps
Work
Reps
Barbell Squat 20 2 sets of 10
Barbell dead-lift 10 2 sets of 10
Barbell shrugs 10 1 set of 10
Shoulder press 10 2 sets of 10
Bench press 10 2 sets of 10
Bent over rows 10 1 set of 10
Barbell curls 10 2 sets of 10
Triceps extensions 10 2 sets of 10

Once you have been doing this routine for a while, you should start to recognize your weaknesses, or identify some new goals. It is good to set mini goals when weight training, as it is important that your goals are attainable over a short period of time, as well as challenging.

Beginners Weight Training Plan – 5 Week Cycle

There are many ways to lift weights for fitness and strength and almost every bodybuilder and athlete has a different opinion on how to lift for the best results.

Some sensible bodybuilders will suggest that beginners keep their workouts simple. No split workouts, no pyramiding or high intensity training. Just a simple workout that is easy to follow but still challenges you each time.

You can perform this beginners workout for a long time, some people follow this type of strategy for over a year before deciding to adopt some new technique. It is a volume approach to training, which is good for several reasons:

  1. You will be lifting lighter weights than some people may suggest, this should reduce risk of muscle injury.
  2. Each week you will perform the same set of weight training exercises 3 times.
  3. For each workout in a single week you perform the same number of reps (individual lifts) but reduce the weight. So you start with the heaviest workout on a Monday, then get lighter through the week with the lightest on a Friday.
  4. Each week you increase the reps of each set by 1, so you are lifting 4 more reps in each set on the final week.
  5. Every 5 weeks you will increase the weights that you are lifting then return to the starting rep limit.

It may be better to explain it like this:

Each week you will ideally lift on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In week 1 you will perform each set of a single weight training exercise 4 times, and in each set you will lift the weight 8 times. You will also perform a warm up before each of these sets.

The warmup should use about 1/4 of the work weight and lift double the reps. So in the first week, a warm up for squats would be 12.5 kg lifted 16 times.

For each subsequent workout during a week you reduce the weight, first by 10% then by 20%, for example (see below) if you start week 1 by squatting 50kg on a Monday, then you will reduce it to 45 kg on Wednesday and then 40kg of Friday.

In the second week you repeat the same workout with the same weights (same for work sets and warm up sets). The only difference is that you perform one more rep in each set, so lift the weight 9 times each set instead of 8. This means that each week you are actually lifting the weights 28 more times, as you will be doing 7 exercises in each session.

Here is a table of the first week to help explain it better:

Week 1 Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Exercise Sets Reps Weight Weight Weight
Squats 4 8 50.0 45.0 40.0
Bench Press 4 8 50.0 45.0 40.0
Bent-Over Rows 4 8 30.0 25.0 20.0
Overhead Barbell Presses 4 8 25.0 20.0 20.0
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts 4 8 50.0 45.0 40.0
Barbell Curls 4 8 20.0 15.0 15.0
Calf Raises 4 8 50.0 45.0 40.0

So Day 1 is generally Monday, Day 2 Wednesday, Day 3 Friday. You can of course start on any day you like, so long as you do not do the workout on 2 consecutive days you will be OK. So you could exercise Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday if you preferred.

In the week 2, you will do the same workout as above, only you will perform 9 reps in each of the 4 sets. The warm up will be 18 reps at 1/4 of the weight.

This is a volume training. It builds muscular endurance as well as helping to grow bigger muscles. It also burns a lot of fat as you are working more – 50 kg lifted 32 times burns more energy than 80kg lifted 16 times (many standard weight training workouts suggest 2 sets of 8 reps for beginners).

The final week should look like this:

Week 5 Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Exercise Sets Reps Weight Weight Weight
Squats 4 12 50.0 45.0 40.0
Bench Press 4 12 50.0 45.0 40.0
Bent-Over Rows 4 12 30.0 25.0 20.0
Overhead Barbell Presses 4 12 25.0 20.0 20.0
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts 4 12 50.0 45.0 40.0
Barbell Curls 4 12 20.0 15.0 15.0
Calf Raises 4 12 50.0 45.0 40.0

As you can see, the routine is the same, with same exercises and same weight used on each of the workouts. The only difference is that the reps have progressed from 8 per set to 12 per set.

Week 6 starts with a heavier weigh (unless you struggled to manage all the reps in the first 5 weeks). Weight should be increased by 10%, so in this example the next round will involve squatting 55 kg.

This does not sound much to start with, but by the time you get to the 10th cycle (completing 1 year of the beginners bodybuilding workout) the 50 kg squat will increase to 117.5 kg.

Here is the progression for squats, using a start weight of 50 kg (each time the weights are rounded down to the nearest 2.5 kg:

1 50.0 kg
2 55.0 kg
3 60.0 kg
4 65.0 kg
5 72.5 kg
6 80.0 kg
7 87.5 kg
8 97.5 kg
9 107.5 kg
10 117.5 kg

Of course, this is really just a guide, a target to try to achieve. If you are not gaining enough strength to lift 10% more after 5 weeks (failing to complete the 4 sets of 8 at the new weight will show this) then you reduce the weight to find a level that you can work at. In an ideal world though you will make a 10% strength gain every 5 weeks.

Remember that in addition to lifting, diet and rest are both absolutely vital. You have to eat well to get adequate protein to help muscle repair and growth. You will also need more healthy carbohydrate as you progress to fuel the muscles. Sleep really is vital too, try to get a minimum of 8 hours sleep every night, ideally a little more.

Final Points on Starting Weight Training

If you set you goals too high, you may soon become frustrated at your perceived slow progress. Some simple goals to set early on can include: aiming to perform a 10 set bench press at your current 1RM (one rep maximum) or to squat your own body weight, if you cannot already. It is good to set some targets, but don’t set them too high or you will only disappoint yourself. It is also good to supplement your weight training with other exercises such as triceps dips, press ups and sit ups which ensure you develop good core body strength.

If you are a martial artist or do circuit training then you probably already do these exercises each week, but if not they are great exercises to add to your weekly routine. Once you build up your strength, and if your objectives are for bigger muscles (bodybuilding) then you can start concentrating on specific body parts.

One final point – while you can learn much from a website, book or video, it can sometimes pay to receive some personal instruction so that you learn proper weight lifting techniques – good form prevents injury and increases muscular development.

Useful weight resources:

More like this in the Strength Training section

  64 comments for “Starting weight training

  1. janet
    December 28, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I am a resident of kenya 57 years old and l would like to lose belly fat, kindly help

  2. MotleyHealth
    December 28, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Hi Janet. Do you have some weight training equipment, or access to some? You are never too old to start weight training, so long as you start easy (rule applies to all ages actually). Start with the big movements, such as squats, shoulder press, chest press and rows. Start with a light weight and get used to the exercises and allow your body a few weeks to become more accustomed to them before lifting heavier weights.

    Really to lose belly fat diet is vital. Follow a healthy diet plan while also lifting weights 3 times a week.

  3. kumar
    February 15, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Hi am resident of India i would like to loose my belly fat and i want fit n healthy body..
    please help me

  4. MotleyHealth
    February 15, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Kumar, do you have access to a gym or weight training equipment? Are you willing to change your diet?

  5. Bhim Gurung
    March 15, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Hi I am from Nepal i would like to request you about my belly fat, it is day by day i have to doing Gym but its not correct way which i did, so can you teach me how do i need….

    Thanks..

  6. MotleyHealth
    March 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Hi Bhim, please describe what exercises you are doing, how many times a week, and also describe your usual daily diet.

  7. david hodgdon
    April 3, 2011 at 2:56 am

    is the program the same for men over 74? I walk 2 hours on days when I can’t run or trot a 10 k route that I’ve used all my life. I have gained 25 pounds as a result of undiagnosed hypothyroid, widowerhood etc. Before the major life change my wt was 165 and is now close to 190 even though I continue to walk/trot daily.

  8. MotleyHealth
    April 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    You should be able to do program at any age if you are fit and relatively healthy. You may want to check with a doctor first, especially for blood pressure etc. and see what their advice is.

    Start easy (i.e. light) and work your way up slowly. Get plenty of rest and lean proteins.

    For building muscle diet and rest are equally important for all age groups. One problem than many people have as they get older is that they generally eat a little less, and quality of nutrition falls as most energy comes from energy dense food.

    You may have to change your diet, eat more fresh vegetables, beans, salads, plus proteins such as eggs, chicken, fish.

    If you are able to walk 2 hours a day then you should be fit enough to have a go.

    There are much simpler workouts you could try though: http://www.motleyhealth.com/strength/weight-training-push-pull-split-routine

  9. waqas
    April 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    hi i want to build my body up .my body is just normal not fat not too skinny and my weight is 60 kg can u make a full exercise plan to get my body in shape i am willing to do any diets and exersice
    kind regards
    was

  10. MotleyHealth
    April 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Hi Was, we cannot provide tailored exercise plans, however, these are two very good options: The Truth About Six Pack Abs and Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence Training. Also, No Nonsense Muscle Building is a good option too. All provide workout plans that will get you in great shape.

  11. MotleyHealth
    April 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I think that most people that are weight training to keep in shape are actually better off doing a standard full body workout. If you need to make big athletic gains and combine weight training with a variety of other types training of training then splitting a routine is a good idea, but for people going to the gym a couple of times a week and doing relatively moderate workouts, a full body workout works well.

  12. Juma brian mburu
    August 5, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Hi. I am Juma from Kenya n would like to be muscular n pose a big body.

  13. MotleyHealth
    August 5, 2011 at 11:46 am

    In that case you need to start weight training. Bodyweight exercises will get you fit and lean, but if muscle is your goal then you need to be lifting weights. Take a look at your beginners advice in the strength section.

  14. Toni
    August 7, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    I can agree with all of the exercises you suggest except two: the bench press and basic crunch. Crunches have never done much for me except strain my neck and back. I perform the plank instead and have gotten way better results. I do like reverse crunches though. And the bench press, as a woman, I do not wish to get any broader in the chest. I want to be smaller like a woman should be in that area. Isn’t a bench press and how much weight you can bench press primarily a guy thing? Also, genetics play a big part in how much muscle you build in my experience. I’m an ectomorph and I can lift all the weights I want but I will never look like a woman wrestler. That’s just not my build. Yet I will agree that everyone regardless of their body type can benefit from lifting weights because cardio just shreds fat, it doesn’t shape or tone, as you stated previously.

  15. MotleyHealth
    August 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    That is right really, bench press and shoulder press are not much liked by women, but this is intended to be a universal weight training article. Maybe we will do a “weight training for women” article too ….

    Crunches – not sure how they should hurt your neck, unless you are holding your head. When doing a crunch you should not be using your hands to support / pull your head, keep your hands level with your head but not touching. However, if you are getting good results from plank, keep doing that. Hanging leg raises are another great abs exercises.

  16. david
    August 14, 2011 at 11:55 am

    post me comment on how to reduce my weight.tank u

  17. MotleyHealth
    August 14, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Diet and exercise!

  18. Toni
    September 22, 2011 at 1:39 am

    I was wondering how long would it take you to see visible results from weight training? The reason I ask this is because I recently have shifted my focus from cardio to strength training. I am also lifting heavier free weights and increasing my caloric intake with more protein on the days that I lift, 3 times a week. I really want to build about 5 lbs. of muscle if possible. I know it won’t happen overnight but wanted to know a realistic time frame when I would expect to see some results from my hard work. Thanks.

  19. MotleyHealth
    September 22, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Hi Toni, you should start to see some results quite soon as you are already pretty lean by the sounds of things. I wouldn’t like to put a timeframe on it as that may only lead to disappointment if it does not happen in that time!

  20. Toni
    September 28, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Hey Jon,

    Well…you were right, lol. I’ve been weight training for about four weeks now and the other day, I noticed that I have an actual bicep! Imagine that?!? I was shocked that I was seeing some progress so early in. Anyway, I also noticed that things like taking a heavy pan or pot one-handed from the stove is much easier too – my arm doesn’t shake like it used to due to the weight of it. And can I tell you that I’m banging out ‘real’ pushups like nobody’s business? My arms aren’t tired or shaking like they used to be when I tried to do a set of them. The scale hasn’t moved but everyone is telling me that I look different and/or better which is kind of odd considering my weight has remained steady. My only regret is that I didn’t take up weight lifting years ago. I let my own fears and insecurities along with lots of misinformation stop me.

  21. MotleyHealth
    September 28, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Great news Toni. If your weight has remained the same and you are stronger that can only mean one thing – more healthy muscle and less fat. OK, maybe that is 2 things.

  22. shamsi
    October 11, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Hi, I am 25 years old and have started GYM from last month. It’s almost one month passed and I don’t see much effect on my body.

    I used to do chest, back, biceps, shoulders triceps and some crunches for losing some weight every alternative days.

    Even I am not able to lift much heavy weights. Hence can handle only small amount of weights and too not taking any supplements.

    Please suggest how can I make my body in a good shape (I am 6.2 ft in height and 83 by weight with a broad muscles)

  23. MotleyHealth
    October 11, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Hi Shamsi, it takes time. How many sets / reps are you lifting for each exercise? Are you looking to just gain muscle or lose fat too? If you are looking to lose some fat then also do some cardio each day. If just gain muscle, follow a plan to lift more over time. If you cannot lift much weight at the moment increase reps or sets. Take a look at this article that explains how to increase the weight you lift and the reps you perform progressively over 5 weeks to help build muscle and strength: Basic Beginners Weight Training Plan – 5 Week Cycle. Basically, you start by performing 4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise in the first week, then each week for 5 weeks increase reps by 1 until you are doing 4 sets of 12 reps. Then on the 6th week you increase the weight and repeat the cycle.

    As for diet, nothing wrong with taking no supplements if you are just trying to get in shape, but you do need to make sure that your diet is well balanced and healthy with some additional protein, such as eggs, chicken, pork, fish or red meat as week as plenty of pulses, vegetables and fruits.

  24. shamsi
    October 11, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I am doing for every excercises 3 sets/10 reps each.

    I dont have much fat but wants to decease that too and need to gain muscle.

    One more thing : After performing the excercises specifically for chest/shoulders/back, i dont feel pain at required joints like e.g if i do chest, i dont feel any pain.

    Please suggest and thanks for sharing your thought

    Also can i take supplements for handling heavy weights . If it is suitable and taking supplements is good, then which one to prefer

  25. MotleyHealth
    October 11, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Hi Shamsi, by pain do you mean aching? You should not feel any pain. Are the 3 sets of 10 reps difficult? If not, then you need to increase the weight. Also make sure that you eat a balanced meal (carbs and proteins) after the workout to help your muscles grow. As for supplements, take whey protein after you exercise. Any brand, just follow the instructions on the label.

  26. shamsi
    October 11, 2011 at 11:19 am

    By pain i meant to say like suppose if on a particular day i am doing back so after completetion of all excercises for back , one should have some pain/aching on his back. That i am not facing in case of chest/shoulder/back exercises.
    For some particular excercises like flat bench/incline bench etc, 3 sets of 10 reps are difficult
    Too can you provide me the schedule like in which way we should do exercises with no. of sets and reps.

  27. MotleyHealth
    October 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I see. It sounds like you are not lifting heavy enough weights then. There is an important difference between pain and aching (DOMS). As for a schedule, the 5 week cycle that I linked in an earlier comment is a good place to start. Try that for at least 10 weeks.

  28. shamsi
    October 12, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Hey …..

    One more thing i need to ask is that can we build up muscles by lifting only light weights

    or is it necessary to lift heavy weights

  29. MotleyHealth
    October 12, 2011 at 11:54 am

    You can certainly build some muscle with light weights, although how light becomes an issue. In fact, lifting a slightly lighter weight more times builds larger muscles than lifting heavier weights fewer times. Compare professional bodybuilders to Olympic powerlifters – powerlifters are stronger but look weaker – their muscles are a different size and shape because they train differently. More on this subject here: How To Train for Muscular Strength, Size and Power.

    Certainly start with light, in time you may naturally want to add more weight for each exercise.

  30. lorraine
    November 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    hi im gonna start the maple syrup detox diet tomoro, but will start of with a seasalt water flush then diet the maple syrup. now the thing is i really need to drop a dress size so wat else can i do to lose the weight fast and also my belly fat within 2wks.

  31. MotleyHealth
    November 23, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Lorraine, you cannot beat a lot of cardio, bodyweight workouts and low calories / high nutrition dieting really.

  32. Sabine
    December 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Hi!

    I am underweight and have been most of my life. I’m tired of buying children’s clothing because the women’s clothing are too big. I can’t seem to be able to gain weight no matter what I eat. Any exercise routines you would suggest for someone like me? How about diet?

  33. MotleyHealth
    December 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Hi Sabine, well, bodybuidling and more food will go hand in hand at making your bigger. Join a gym and do the exercises here, start simple by performing 1 or 2 sets of 10 exercises on a light weight and just build it up over the forthcoming months. For diet you need plenty of healthy vegetables and fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats (eggs, chicken, fish etc.). Take a look at the other articles here, if you search you should find all the information you need.

  34. FuriousFat
    January 30, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Hi, im a 31 year old male who works in a kitchen. I used to be in decent shape in my teens and into my early 20s. I was an athlete, i played a lot of hockey and as a result of that and being on my feet all day my legs are quite large and muscular. The problem is my chest and belly which seem to be growing rapidly. Now i smoke and am a chef and my weight is 240 pounds and my height is 5-11. I am a bad eater, i dont eat a lot during the day and i eat before bed…especially heavy carbs and beer. What are some exercises and a diet that will get rid of my gut…i hate it!

  35. MotleyHealth
    January 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Hi Furious, well the obvious answer is to cut back on the amount of food you eat and the beer too. Any exercise is going to help, ideally exercise every day. The best thing you can do for your body is probably quit smoking and go running every day.

  36. Dajuan Webb
    February 5, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Hey, Im a sophomore in high school and i play football (full back). Im 16 And way 215 but it’s muscle. I want to get ripped and toned up and I dont Know How To Properly do it. . .Should I be Using supplements to get bigger and ripped? But Most Importantly I need a work-out plan that’ll get me to that ripped and toned stage by this summer. . .Can you Help?

  37. MotleyHealth
    February 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Dajuan, getting ripped is as much about diet and cardio fitness as weight training. You need to be prepared to do cardio every day, follow a structured weight lifting plan, such as a 3 day split, and eat a lean and healthy diet – meaning lots of nutritionally rich foods and no junk.

  38. lindsney
    February 9, 2012 at 12:13 am

    it didnt help me at all so i wont come here any more.

  39. MotleyHealth
    February 9, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Hi Lindsney, what did not help you? What help are you looking for?

  40. anita
    February 11, 2012 at 11:34 am

    hihi!
    i m starting a diet plan to lose my baby weight(maybe about 10kg)
    i m taking herbafile and with a very low calorie plan to exercise right now…
    my question is,do u think i should get some kg off first and then start exercising,or start right away? is it rong to lose weight like that?
    because i will be home with my baby for the next month,can i lose some kg in about 1 month and start in gym after i will start working…
    do you think i should lift weights or the machines in the gym are enough?
    i m taking lots of protein now,100-125gr a day…do i need some of the sports suplement before of after my workout?
    i m 1,70m and 80kg at the moment hom many calories e need to take per day when i will start in gym? can i go just twice a week?
    last time i was i gym i was felling pain i my knees i think was the machines for the legs,because i stop running,i was more doing steps and the other machines during my cardio…i was felling disy,maybe not eating enought…
    i want to make it right this time…there is some suplements with creatine,should i but something like that?what to take after my workout?
    thanks love your site,just fell is difficult to put everithing in practise when i have so litle knowlege in exercise… :))

  41. MotleyHealth
    February 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Anita, if you are just starting to exercise again I suggest that you focus on cardio and make use of the resistance machines. You probably do not need to take any supplements. If your goal is fat loss then you really need to be working on getting fitter, eating healthy and restricting calories. Taking protein shakes makes this hard – remember, people take protein supplements to gain weight (muscle) not to lose it. If you do decide to take a protein supplement you should take it after weight training. As for when to start exercising, start now.

  42. Elizabeth
    February 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Hi, i need to lose about 30 pounds. I have started going to a gym two months ago but am losing very slowly. About a pound a week. My diet is good. And Ive been going to the gym 3times a week. Mixing 40 mins of cardio and 30 mins of lower body work. I didnt want to over do it. This week i plan on going up to 5-6 days a week to the gym until i lose the 30 lbs then i will go back to 3x a week for maintainance. Im 44 yrs old and my trouble areas are my belly(too much sugar) and my butt and thighs. I used to work out alot and run every day 6 yrs ago and the weight just melted off. But now at 140lbs and only 5 feet tall I am the fattest I have ever been and it really bothers me that i cant lose it faster. Some weeks i dont lose at all. I also suffer from severe pms and on that week i am very bloated and emotional and the cravings are brutal. I usually carry about 4-5 lbs in bloat during that time. I hate it. Im also not losing my belly fat fast enough. I just dont know if Im doing this right. I dont mind going to the gym 5 days a week but I refuse to be there for hrs. or all day. I need to get it all done in under an hour and a half. Any more time and I will in time just give up. This has to fit into my lifestyle. Im not some young kid who has all day to spend in a gym. Any suggestions.?

  43. MotleyHealth
    February 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Hi Elizabeth, sounds like you are doing OK really. 1 pound a week weight loss is steady progress. Just focus on getting fitter, so working harder each week. That way you do not need to do more minutes in the gym, just more intensive exercise.

  44. D W
    February 29, 2012 at 6:23 am

    Hi!

    Im just starting out working out, just tired of the overweight issue. im 27 , 6 foot 1 and 331 lbs. I have never ate vegtables or fruits( at least very very few of them) my whole life due to a phobia how i was raised. i started out at a gym last week and figured… If i just work out and not change my diet i could still lose some weight , and feel healthier… is this correct? i do know i must change my diet, but im hoping if i start somewhere and see results, that would happen naturally… is ther anything you would recommend for a workout or if you could just answer my question that would be great. thank you. DW

  45. MotleyHealth
    February 29, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Hi DW, exercising will lead to some improvements in health and weight, but it is unlikely to be enough by itself if you do not improve your diet. I suggest that you focus on getting fitter to start with. Aim to exercise for 60 minutes a day. Maybe this can be split into two 30 minute sessions. Split cardio and weight training too, you need to do both.

  46. 0sumah
    March 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

    its great i like the exercise.

  47. MotleyHealth
    March 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Glad to hear it Osumah.

  48. John
    March 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Hi – I’ve been going to the gym for the last 5 months and feel so much fitter. I still have a bit of body fat to lose but want to bulk up a bit and have been told I need to eat more to do so. I’m worried that I’ll start putting on the fat again; should I just eat when I’m hungry or should I be trying to consume more? I do about 20 mins cardio and 40 mins on weights 3 x a week – if I did, say, 20 mins jogging on another 2 days am i going to use up all my energy and not build as much muscle? I want to keep getting fitter but not lose muscle :-)
    John

  49. MotleyHealth
    March 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Hi John, you may need more protein. You should only take extra calories on the days when you are working out hard though. Maybe start with an extra high protein meal or shake after your weight training sessions. Do not just start eating more without thinking about why or what you are eating. Eat to grow, but do not eat too much that you put on more fat. Only by monitoring your personal progress and tweaking your diet and workouts can you learn what works best for you.

  50. John
    March 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Thank you :-)
    I’m a vegetarian so will increase stuff like eggs, tofu, quorn etc as I don’t think I was getting enough protein. Most sites I’ve seen seem to suggest I need to eat like a horse, but your advice makes more sense – especially about the resting days.

  51. furaha temba
    July 12, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    hi, im furaha from temzania,i want to loose belly fat but i do no have those exercising tools hiw can i do it?

  52. MotleyHealth
    July 12, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Furaha, the first step is to change your diet – look at our diet section for advice. For exercise, anything will help – go running, do bodyweight circuits, swim, cycle, walk (lots) – see our fitness section for more on this.

  53. Avishek
    July 19, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Hey I am very new to weight lifting and I want to start doing this but the problem is that I do not know what weight should I lift? My weight is 58 kgs and my height is 5ft 7 inches. please help.!

  54. MotleyHealth
    July 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Hi Avishek. Start light and experiment to find out what you can lift. For the first workouts lifts a weight that allows you to perform around 12-20 repetitions slowly and steadily. Get used to handling the weights, lifting with good form. Perform a few sets for each exercise. Take some notes as you go – write down the weight used and how many sets / reps you performed, and note if it was easy, quite hard, very hard etc. Then in the next session adjust accordingly, and aim to lift each weight 10-12 times (reps) with a good form. Just make a judgement based on the last session. Take notes again. Soon you will know what you are currently lift comfortably (well, not too comfortably!) and then start working on slowly increasing the amount you lift. Always keep a note of your last workouts.

  55. Reo
    January 23, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Hi,I like the look of this routine, just a technical question. Do I do the warmup exercises all at the start, or do I do a warmup for each exercise just before I do the excercise? As well I am wondering how long it should take to complete the full workout in the 5 week plan per day.

  56. MotleyHealth
    January 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Reo, yes, do the specific warm-up set immediately before the main workout. You should also do a general warm up for a few minutes befire, such as rowing, cross trainer etc. The workout should take about an hour, maybe a little longer. Depends on the speed you lift and the rest between sets. Allow at least an hour. If it takes a lot longer report back.

  57. chantel
    February 26, 2013 at 3:23 am

    how can i lose weight when im a stay at home mom is there anyway or anything i can use as weights just at home stuff i really need help i wanna be the hot mom i never was

  58. MotleyHealth
    February 27, 2013 at 12:31 am

    Hi Chantel, there are many options. Body weight exercises and circuit training routine will get you in shape. Controlling your eating is vitally important too. Take a look at these options:

    Strength Training For Women – you will need some dumbbells
    20 Minute Home Workout
    Circuit Training Workouts

  59. D. Jiles
    March 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    First of all I want to say the program up top looks really cool. I am 6’1 mmm about 280lbs medium. last year I was about 240… so I managed to pack on 40lbs.. some say because my wife got pregnant I say because some reason I just wanted to eat bad. I finished the P90x program to lose the weight but now I don’t have the room to do it again.. so I recently got gym membership. My question is.. is this a good program for good for me? I never had to workout at the gym before.. actually I am a little scared because I don’t know where to start when I go there. My goals are to build muscles and burn off this fat simultaneously.. I would like to drop 80lbs Fyi.. I always started cleaning up my diet. :) Thanks in advance for your help.
    D. Jiles

  60. MotleyHealth
    March 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Hi D. Jiles,

    The best way to build muscle and burn off fat is to do a combination of strength training and cardio, while also eating sensibly. This workout is certainly a good place to start. But also do some high intensity interval training, some longer cardio sessions and some combination workouts, like a kettlebell workout, BodyPump or other intensive, high rep form of resistance training.

    Remember, building muscles requires you to feed those muscles with plenty of protein and carbs. This is not the quickest route to losing fat when done alone. Basically, mix it up, do not rely on just one type of exercise. Use cardio and HIIT to burn fat and weight lifting the build muscle, keep the diet lean. Focus on getting fitter and stronger – log your workouts and make sure each week you are lifting more, going further.

  61. Stacey
    May 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Hi,

    I was wondering if the weights mentioned in the 5 week programme (eg 50kg for squats) would be suitable for women or whether I should lower them. I’m not sure I could lift 50kg over my head in order to do the squats.

  62. MotleyHealth
    May 17, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Stacey. By all means start with a much lighter weight to learn what you are currently capable of. Ideally squats should be done in a squat rack where the bar is supported at shoulder height so that you do not need to lift it into position. If you have access to a gym then there should be a squat rack there, or alternatively you could use a leg press machine instead.

  63. Xin
    July 9, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Hi, i’m 18 this year. I have never been to gym or lift weights before. I do not know how to start ths fitness journey as there’s no one to guide me and do it with me. Going to gym is intimidating, to add on I do not know how to use the equipments. I really want to be fit and tone. I have tried doing cardio at home and I will stop halfway.

  64. MotleyHealth
    July 11, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Hi Xin, most equipment in a gym is easy to use, and a good gym will have instructions on machines. Also, try not to be intimidated by the others in the gym – if you ask somebody (when they are not lifting) how a machine works, they will probably be happy to show you.

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