There Is Only One Way: That Is Up
If you are new to the whole weightlifting game, your first question is probably always, ‘Where do I start?’ This is a sensible question. There is so much information out there; it can be difficult for you to track down the stuff you actually need to be paying attention to. This becomes especially important if you are starting out. After all, you are new to all this and the worst thing you can do at this stage, is to get started on the wrong path.
When it comes to your first few days in the gym, getting the right training plan together is crucial. If you don’t, then there is going to be a lot of untapped potential wasted. As a weightlifter, the early stages of your journey will be the most crucial. If you are in this for the long-term, then you definitely need to get this part right! Your success depends on it!
If You Forget Your Foundation, You Will Topple Over
When it comes to starting out, building a foundation will be your key to success. How strong that foundation is, will depend on how you start your weightlifting journey. The stronger you build your foundation, the less chance you will topple over, and the further you will be able go. The logical question now becomes, what kind of foundation do you actually need? Well, you definitely need two! Something I like to call a knowledge foundation, and a physical foundation. Although many fitness gurus will tell you ‘ you just need a foundation’, very few have actually gone as far as to characterise exactly what type of foundation. By knowing the type of foundation that you need to build up, you can better focus and tailor your efforts where it matters most.
“The stronger you build your foundation, the less chance you will topple over, and the further you will be able go”.
So, you have your knowledge and physical foundations. When it comes to the knowledge foundation, I simply mean; learning what stuff to do, how to do it, and why. Although it sounds simple, many people can go through the entire initial stages of weightlifting without the why, or the how! This can leave you forever going around in circles. When it comes to starting your weightlifting journey, you need to know a few things. If you are a beginner, then you need to utilize compound movements (those of the squat, deadlift, row, bench and overhead press forms).
I have seen many new people come with plans that include an array of weird and adventurous exercises! But they often forget these basic compound movements. Whatever scheme or plan you initially follow, if you want size and strength, then you need to learn to utilize these exercises! There really is no way around it. A scheme based primarily around these compounds, will ensure that every muscle of your body is taxed, and that you reap all the size and strength gains possible during this early stage. Another benefit is that many variations of exercises stem from these basics compounds. Which means later, when you need to vary your program, you will already have the knowledge and execution proficiency at hand, to successfully utilize these variations from the get-go. That’s pretty smart, right?
“I have seen many new people come with plans that include an array of weird and adventurous exercises!”.
You now know which exercises to utilize during this stage, what sort of scheme should you be following? Honestly, there are lots of beginner schemes out there, so this can vary quite a lot! The good thing is, at this early stage of weightlifting, your scheme can be very simple. Whatever scheme you follow at this stage, you need to look for two things: based around the simple, compound movements, and, progress measured through ‘more weight over time’ (progressive overload). If you don’t see these two things, then keep searching! You only need these two at this stage, to reap the maximum size and strength benefits.
For me, I always go with the trusty 3 times per week ‘full-body workouts’. Each workout consists of doing squat, bench, deadlift, rows and overhead press with a low number of reps and sets for each exercise (probably 5×5, something along the lines of strong lifts, but doesn’t have to be!). At this stage, it’s always best to keep the sets/reps pretty low (in other words, the volume). Your only aim at this point (and probably for the next 4/5 months) will be to add more weight to the exercises each time you walk into the gym.
That is of course, until it no longer wants to budge further upwards! If your volume is too high (using too many sets/reps), then your recovery time between training sessions will increase, and you will struggle to increase the weight the next time you are at the gym. A 3-day full body workout will provide both the necessary stimulation to make optimal size and strength gains during this period, while providing you with sufficient recovery time between workouts. So, really, that’s it! In terms of your training setup, it can be this easy and doesn’t have to get anymore complicated. Simplicity at this point in time, happens to be on your side! No extra work needs to be done.
“Many beginners jump into the deep end too early, only to be unable to swim back out”.
By now, you probably have a good idea of your knowledge foundation. At this early stage of the weightlifting game, it’s so important that you choose a simple (progressive overload-based scheme), you base your training on learning and utilizing the fundamental compound movements and, you focus on increasing the weight until it says, ‘no can do’. If you do this, then you are successfully utilizing your body’s full growth and strength potential at this point of the game. But hang on! I also mentioned something earlier known as building the ‘physical foundation’. Simply put, this is preparing and building your body up for the later stages of weightlifting.
As you become more advanced, you will be utilizing more weight, more volume, and more exercise variations. Essentially, you will be taxing and challenging your body a heck of a lot more! It needs to prepare for this; otherwise it might get a little moody! Trust me, I have seen this happening, a lot. Many beginners jump into the deep end too early, only to be unable to swim back out. They try too much high volume stuff, try to budge too much weight or, hammer their body with too much isolation work. They look at the advanced weightlifters and think, ‘I got to be doing this ASAP!’ Unfortunately, what happens is; injuries creep up, progress is non-existent, demotivation sets in and, they miss out on that all-important foundation stuff that sets them up for later.
“It only takes a simple amount of planning to elicit the biggest positive changes possible”.
The fact is, during your early weightlifting period, this will be the best time to enable your body to avoid all the complications of above. Ultimately, this will allow your body to further excel in the later stages of your weightlifting journey. Here, you will be working on a few things to enable this: building up your overall body strength, improving work capacity, strengthening joints, bones, ligaments and connective tissue and, getting your body accustomed to simple, natural movement patterns. The good thing is, at this stage, your body is not used to any of this! Therefore, it only takes a simple amount of planning to elicit the biggest positive changes possible. I recommend you really take advantage of this at this beginning stage!
Your Body Has Potential: Use It To The Best Of Your Ability
Whatever you do in life, making the first step is the hardest! You don’t know what to expect, or how to approach it. I think this also applies to the beginning stage of weightlifting. People get ready to pursue it, but end up from the get-go, getting lost and tongue-tied in a sea of information. It can therefore, be difficult pulling out the relevant and best information to use.
As a result, a lot of people end up starting weightlifting on a sub-optimal path. Not through their own fault, but because a lot of stuff out there is made more complicated than it has to be. Sometimes, simple doesn’t sound cool or sell! This is a shame, because the initial stages of your weightlifting path can make or break your progress in the long run. This stage is the stage where the magic actually happens! This is the part where you build and prime your body for future weightlifting success. It would be frustrating to fall down this early in the game!
“Making the first step is the hardest! You don’t know what to expect, or how to approach it”.
The most encouraging thing for you is to realize that your body, at this stage, gives you complete control. In fact, your body will not fight with you on this. It will just keep encouraging you! If you are new, the chances are, your body has never endured any of this weightlifting stuff before. It will be massive shock to your body. That means, as soon as that iron hits your body, it will change and adapt, and fast! Strength skyrockets and size goes up. Utilizing simple and effective weightlifting protocols at this stage will ensure that you maximize all your bodies’ natural potential at this point of the game. Building the best foundation you can during this stage will put you in a more optimal position to make even bigger gains in the later stages of your weightlifting career. Be simple, be patient andbe prepared. This will be reflected in the awesome long-term gains in size and strength that you will later achieve.
If you have any questions about the article or would like to discuss further some of the topics mentioned, then please feel free to leave comments down below. How did you approach your training when you first began?