If you missed our first article in the Beginner’s Guide to Diet and Exercise, check it out here: I’m confused about exercise. Where do I start?. It discusses the first step in getting on the exercise bandwagon and starting your transformational journey.
Since we discussed cardio training in the first article, we’ll discuss how to effectively and safely start a resistance training program in this article.
Step 1 – Where are you
If you’re brand new to resistance training, start with the machines. We recommend them because:
- they’re easy to learn
- Since they’re cables, they don’t require the small stabilizer muscles so they’re not as hard.
- they’re still effective, especially when done in a quick, total body circuit fashion.
- the weights can easily be adjusted so you can easily progress from week to week.
On each machine there’s a description of the exercises you can perform on it, the muscles it works, and how to adjust the weights. If that doesn’t help, don’t hesitate to ask us. We’ll gladly show you how to use them.
Common question: I want to lose weight. Lifting weights won’t help, will it?
Yes. Although I could probably write 30-40 pages on the benefits of resistance training for people who just want to lose weight as well as cite hundreds of research articles on it, I’ll give you 3 bullet points to think about:
- Your body is an amazing machine. Eventually, it will learn how to run as efficiently as possible so it burns as few as calories as possible. When it does that, what will you do?
- Muscles burn calories. Fat doesn’t. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn every day. Don’t worry about getting bulky. you won’t. It’s almost impossible for women to gain enough muscle mass to look “manly.” The female athletes I train actually lose weight and appear thinner because muscle is more tone than fat.
- Insulin sensitivity is the key to losing weight. If you are extremely insulin sensitive, you’ll have an easier time losing weight. The more muscle you have, the more insulin sensitive you are.
Step 2 – How many days can you work out
Look at your schedule and see how many days you can workout per week. Once again, be conservative. Start small, create a habit, and slowly progress.
Also, when you’re creating your weekly schedule, set the day and time. The more specific you are with your plan, the more likely you are to stick to it.
Eventually, we’d like you to perform 3-4 sessions of resistance training training per week. However, work up to that.
Common question: Can I perform weights on the same day I run?
Yes. In fact, it’s much easier to combine the two into the same training session. As far as which one to do first, it’s up to you. If you start with resistance training, just perform 5 minutes of cardio to warm the muscles up.
Step 3 – What do I do?
Now that you have your schedule complete, you need to decide what you’re going to do once you get to the gym. It’s ALWAYS best to have a plan prior to entering the gym. We’ll gladly help you create a plan not just for your current workout, but also for your next 14 workouts. We’ll even help you make it specific for your goal, even though most beginners should be doing the same thing initially.
For beginners, we recommend total body workouts (selecting exercises that work your entire body each workout) as opposed to body part splits (working 1 or 2 muscle groups like chest and back per workout, similar to most bodybuilding-type of training). Beginners will get superior results with total body workouts. They’ll typically burn more calories, learn the exercises quicker, and see visible changes sooner.
Common question: How long should my resistance training workout last?
No more than 30 minutes. Lift weights for 30 minutes and perform cardio for 20-30 minutes. We favor intensity over duration. In fact, once you become familiar with lifting weights, we have a few extremely effective workouts that can be completed in 15 minutes or less.
What exercises? How many repetitions? How many sets?
Since we recommend total body workouts and machines initially, your exercises will be selected based on the machines we have available. We have enough machines that every muscle group can be worked. All you need to do is perform a circuit. We’ll show you the circuit. Just stop at the front desk.
As far as sets and repetitions are concerned, once again, be conservative. Set initial goals you know you will accomplish. Create that snowball effect, and soon you’ll be running your first 5k and lifting 100lbs over your head.
Since we recommend circuit-style training (perform an exercise on one machine, rest, move to another machine, rest, move to a different machine, rest, and repeat until you’ve done every exercise in the circuit), the goal is to complete “x” of circuits within the allotted time frame. It might be just 1 time through the circuit the first week. Eventually, we hope that it’s 3-5 times through the circuit within the 30 minute training session. We’ll help you progress as you get better and better.
As far as repetitions are concerned, the first few weeks perform 12-15 repetitions for each exercise in the circuit. DON’T go to failure. Select a weight that you can perform 17-19 solid repetitions for, and just perform 15. That doesn’t mean you can take it easy. Challenge yourself.
Each week we’ll either add another round of the circuit, increase the weight for the exercises, or both. We constantly want to challenge the body, and make the workout tougher.
Common question: Should my workouts be the same during the week? How do I progress?
Yes, for beginners, we recommend you perform the same workout at each of your training sessions. Although this isn’t ideal for intermediates, we prefer it for beginners because:
- you’ll learn the exercises faster and thus progress faster
- it’s less confusing so you won’t get frustrated learning 40 new exercises
Once you hit a wall (either you can’t increase the weight from week to week or can’t increase the number of circuits you perform in the session), we will create a new resistance training program for you that’s slightly more challenging. There’s a hundred different ways to do it, so we won’t bore you with the details here. Just ask us when you’re ready to take the next step.
And that’s it. As always if you need help, just ask us. We’ll gladly get you on the right track and create a program to help you reach your goals.
If you’re still confused, try out our FREE Small Group Training sessions. They’re just like personal training, but free. You can read more about them here: Small Group Training Sessions at Ageless.
Or you can try one of our bootcamps. Our CORE bootcamps are 30 minutes long and run on Monday and Thursday nights from 7-7:30. Our cardio bootcamps are also 30 minutes long and run on Tuesdays from 7-7:30 and Saturday morning from 9-9:30.