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Strength Training for beginners

Want to get stronger? When you think of strength training, it is likely that your mind wanders towards red-faced individuals in tight-fitting garments attempting to lift ludicrous weights and grunting a lot. Or is that just me. No, I don't think it's just me, but this is the scene for many gym-goers. However, strength training need not be about getting 'swole', 'hench' or 'totally ripped', because it also forms the very basis of any workout routine that is based around progress, and let's face it just for moving effectively through this life.

In order to build muscle, change your body shape or increase the amount of weight you can shift, you must first challenge your muscle fibres, pushing them to tear and, if you are eating correctly, build healthier and stronger mass overall.

"Training to develop your strength is a great way to ensure that you continue to get results in the long term. It means you’re continually boosting your ability to challenge your body with heavier weights and makes it much more likely to build muscle," says Russell Jolley, MSc ASCC and Director of TeamCC Strength and Conditioning Training gyms, and mentor at Strength And Conditioning Education.

"That said, you need to be patient and get the technique right from the beginning in order to get the best results. The key is increasing the load in regular small steps, a little extra weight each week will add up to big improvements in strength and muscle a lot quicker than you’d think," he adds.

Take a look at the simple but hugely effective strength training guide for beginners below, which has been designed for those poking a tentative toe into the world of lifting weights.

Before you start the strength training for beginners workout:

When you’re starting out, the best kind of programme for all-round strength and muscle gain includes three full-body sessions per week. That gives your muscles plenty of training to challenge them to develop, while also giving your body enough time to recover and actually do the building to achieve the growth and progression you desire.

In other words, don't overdo it. Many people throw themselves into a new workout with vigour, lifting weights that are far too heavy and not allowing enough rest days in between.

This is hugely counter-productive, as it is highly likely you will cause an injury or you will simply burn out and not have enough energy for the next session. This can also be due to a poor diet or not getting enough of the key nutrients required for repair and muscle building.

Ensure you are eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein and good carbohydrates (whole carbohydrates from natural foods, rather than sugar and refined carbs), while looking towards protein powders and fitness supplements can also help bulk up a balanced diet.

So what do you need for this workout?

This workout is based on the "Easy Strength" program by Dan John. You'll need three different sized kettlebells, men: 12kg, 16kg, 20kg; and women: 8kg, 12kg, and 16kg. In a few weeks, you may find you need to get the next bell size up, but more on that later.

Now warm-up

This workout is best performed in a local gym, as it will probably have the kettlebell sizes you require, and a suitable area to place said set-up when you are not using them.

All of this can be purchased for the home and if you've got enough space, it can be very beneficial to create a little home gym area with a basic rack and barbell combination as well. You won't have to look at or listen to other grunting gym-goers, for a start.

When it is time to begin, ensure you raise the heart rate and body temperature with 5-10 minutes on the static bike or rowing machine. If this equipment isn't available, grab a skipping rope or perform a dynamic warm-up by incorporating star jumps, jogging on the spot and shadow boxing, for example.

Following that, perform these three simple bodyweight exercises for three rounds of five repetitions.

Bodyweight Squat

Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms resting by your sides. Lower the torso by hinging at the hips, sticking your butt out and keeping the back nice and flat.

Try and pinch the shoulder blades back and down towards your back pockets throughout the movement. When entering the lower portion of the exercise, bring your arms out in front of you for balance but try not to round the shoulders.

Pause at the bottom of the move for five seconds, keeping everything tight, before driving through the heels to the start of the movement.

Avoid the knees hovering over the toes at the lowest portion of the move (this means you aren't hinging at the hips properly) and keep the chin high to promote good posture.


Again, start feet hip-width apart. Step forward with your right leg and simultaneously lower the knee of the back leg towards the floor. As in the demonstration above, the lead thigh is parallel to the ground, and the rear leg forms a perfect right angle with the floor and the knee of his leading leg isn't hovering over the toes.

For a better stretch, keep the lowered knee on the ground and reach high with your arms, pausing in this position for a few seconds before returning to the start and swapping legs.


This is one of the oldest exercises in the book, but it is amazing at how many people get it wrong. We've got a rather extensive guide here that looks at almost every press-up/push-up variation, so take a look if you are unsure.

The Workout

  1. Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings: Light - 15 swings

Bird dogs: 10 each side

Kettlebell swings: Medium - 30 swings

Bird dogs: 10 each side

Kettlebell swings: Heavy - 15 swings

Bird dogs: 10 each side

2. Kettlebell Half kneeling press

Kettlebell half kneeling press single arm: Light - 5 reps

Spiderman Lunge - 5 each side

Kettlebell half kneeling press single arm: Medium - 10 reps

Spiderman Lunge - 5 each side

Kettlebell half kneeling press single arm: Heavy - 5 reps

Spiderman Lunge - 5 each side

3. Kettlebell Goble Squat

Kettlebell Goblet Squat: light - 5 reps

Threading the needle - 5 reps each side

Kettlebell Goblet Squat: Medium - 10 reps

Threading the needle - 5 reps each side

Kettlebell Goblet Squat: heavy - 5 reps

Threading the needle - 5 reps each side

4. Kettlebell Single arm Bent over row

Kettlebell Single arm Bent over row: light - 5 reps each side

Half kneeling hip flexor stretch and rainbow

Kettlebell Single arm Bent over row: light - 5 reps each side

Half kneeling hip flexor stretch and rainbow

Kettlebell Single arm Bent over row: light - 5 reps each side

Half kneeling hip flexor stretch and rainbow

5. Plank Series

Front Plank: 20 sec

Left Plank: 20 sec

Back/Reverse Plank: 20 sec

Right Plank: 20 sec

6. Getups

Alternating Getups (with or without weight): 2 mins

7. Loaded carry

Loaded Farmers walk: 20m out and back.

Aim to do this workout 3 times a week.

Remember this is just the start of your journey. Your progress can be greatly improved by dialling in on your nutrition and recovery, and also by getting a personal trainer.

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