3 Basic Strength Workouts for Beginners
When you're fairly new to exercise it can become confusing to find the right workout routine. There's always some new fad trying to lure you in, promising they'll give you the best results. It's easy to become overwhelmed with so many choices.
But the one important base off which you can build everything else is a full-body strength program. Strength helps not only in your ability to perform your favorite activities while remaining injury and pain free, but it also improves the way your body moves. By learning how your body moves during exercise, you'll be able to focus on engaging the muscles you want to work. Developing this awareness will allow you to move on to more challenging routines as you become stronger.
Strength Training Basics
A basic strength-training program should include a push, pull, press, hip hinge, squat, and core. It's perfectly fine to stick with the same exercises for a few weeks. Give your body a chance to own the movements.
"Strength helps not only in your ability to perform your favorite activities while remaining injury and pain free, but it also improves the way your body moves."
Below are three different workouts. Train on whatever days work best for you. Leave one day between for walking, hiking, or some kind of cardio-based exercise. Stick with this format for at least six to eight weeks. After becoming comfortable and confident with the movements and learning the proper patterns, then you'll be ready to change things up again.
Be sure to warm up first by doing some simple dynamic movements (lunges, skipping) to get your heart rate and warm the muscles.
Perform each exercise once, back to back, before circuiting through again. 2 to 3 times, 12 to 15 reps of each exercise. Rest as needed.
Stand tall with feet shoulder width apart, toes angled out slightly. Holding on to a solid object in front of you, keep spine long and lower butt towards floor as far as is comfortable. Knees should track over toes. Keeping a proud chest, push through heels, and stand up.
B. TRX Row
Holding the handles of a TRX or jungle gym let your body angle back, keeping your arms straight. The closer your feet are to the anchor point, the more challenging the exercise, so find a spot that allows you to complete all your reps. Keep body straight from ankle to shoulder and pull your body towards handles by bending your elbows so hands end up by sides. Your body must remain straight the entire time.
C. One Arm Chest Press
Lay on the floor with knees bent so feet are flat on floor. Holding a weight in one hand press up towards ceiling keeping hand in line with shoulder at the top of the movement. Be sure your lower back stays pressed into floor.
D. Hip Hinge
With a hip hinge your hips stay higher than your knees but lower than your shoulders. Stand with your back a few inches away from a wall. Keeping spine long, take your hands (pinky side) and press them lightly into crease of hips pushing hips back until buttocks touches the wall. Have a slight bend in knees. Stand back up by driving hips forward so you're one straight line from ankle to shoulder at the top.
E. Shoulder Press
Standing tall with a weight in each hand, press right hand towards ceiling while keeping hand over shoulder at the top of the movement. Repeat with left hand.
F. Pallof Press
Anchor a resistance band to a solid object, hold the handle with both hands standing sideways to anchor point, far enough away so there's tension in the band. Start with hands at your solar plexus and push forward until arms are straight, resist letting the band pull you towards the anchor point side. Pull back to your solar plexus. Repeat other side.
Perform each two exercises (A1A2) back to back 2 to 3 times before moving on to the next two exercises. 12 to 15 reps. Rest as needed.
A1. Step Ups
Place a plyo box or bench 12" to 18.5" in front of you. Place right foot on box, push through your heel and stand up tall on top of box. Lower left leg to starting position. Keep your right foot on the box while completing all reps. Repeat other side.
A2. Band Hip Hinge
Anchor a resistance band to a solid object. With back facing the anchor point, grab the handle between your legs and walk forward far enough so there is plenty of tension in the band. Keeping back straight, upper arms squeezed into armpits and hands tight to your zipper, bend at the hips (hip hinge), keep hands high in your groan and let them reach behind you. There will be a slight bend in your knees. Stand tall by squeezing your butt and pushing hips forward, keeping hands tight to your zipper. Shoulders stay down and back.
B1. Lunge One Arm Row
Get into a lunge position, right leg back, left leg bent with knee tracking over toes, push your hips back, drop torso forward and rest left forearm on left thigh. Keep spine straight and front of shoulders pointed towards floor. With weight in your right hand pull bending at the elbow until hand reaches approximately to your hip. Repeat other side.
B2. Push Ups
Push up position with arms straight and under shoulders either on your knees or full push ups. You can also place hands on a counter so your body is at an angle. Stay straight from shoulder to ankles. Bring your chest to the counter and push away. Keep elbows close to body.
WATCH: Push Up Variations (Video)
C1. Tall Kneeling Biceps Curl Shoulder Press
Tall kneel with both knees on the floor holding a weight in each hand. Curl the weights to your shoulders, then press overhead. Bring the weights back down to shoulders before reversing the biceps curl. Keep tension in butt and core during the movements.
C2. Dead Bug
Lay down with your back on floor, arms straight and fingers pointing towards ceiling. Knees should be bent and over hips. Push one leg at a time away from you, straightening it out just above the floor, pushing through your heel while keeping the lower back down. As your right leg pushes away, your left arm drops down towards your head. Alternate sides.
Perform each exercise once, back to back, before circuiting through again. 3 to 4 times, 10 reps each. Rest as needed.
This is a hip hinge, but now you're pulling a weight. Start with feet approximately shoulder width apart and toes angles out slightly. With a kettlebell or dumbbell between your feet, drive hips back, keep spine straight, grab the weight with both hands and stand up tall by pushing hips forward and squeezing your butt. Return to starting position. Complete all reps before letting go of the weight. Shoulders stay down and back with armpits tight.
Forearms on the floor, elbows under shoulders, legs straight or knees on floor. Push your body up so you're one straight line, pressing forearms into the floor and shoulders away from ears. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds.
C. Reverse Lunge Press
Stand tall holding a weight in right hand at shoulder height. Reach left leg back while bending both knees ninety degrees. The back knee points toward the floor. Stand up tall driving through the front foot while pushing off the back foot and pressing the right arm over head. Keep hand lined up with shoulder at the top of the movement. Bring weight back to shoulder before lunging again. Repeat other side.
D. TRX Assisted Chin Up
Adjust the handles so you can hang under the TRX with arms straight, knees bent, butt almost on the floor. Hold handles, keeping your shoulders back and down pull yourself up until your hands are at shoulder height. Let your legs help you. Keep your shoulders packed during the movement.
Photo 1 courtesy of Shutterstock.