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Strength Training


3 Tips for Beginners looking to build Muscle & Strength


As a Beginner you may have made the decision to start training at a gym for various reasons. Whether it is Athletic performance, gaining weight, losing weight, muscle, strength or just maintaining a healthier lifestyle the list goes on. Everybody has to start somewhere and even if you know any experienced lifters who look great and know what they’re doing right now, they at some point were a beginner aswell. Unless you are lucky enough to have friends that know what they’re talking about or a coach you probably will find yourself spinning your wheels for a couple of months, not fully confident in what exercises are the best, the technique for those exercises, and what kind of routine to follow. Having gone through this phase myself during college I find it funny now how much time I probably wasted for about a year before properly making real progress and feeling in control of my workouts. The tips I’m about to make not only apply to beginners but the advanced trainee too, so here are the most important things to keep in mind when starting out!


1. Progressive Overload


Now this may sound slightly strange to a newbie, all this means is that we are doing MORE in our workouts over time. So many newcomers at the gym will go months with no structure to what they are about to do. I’ve seen it countless times where an individual will walk up to the bench, put on more than they can actually lift and get their friend/spotter to curl every rep up, week in, week out for up to a year and look exactly the same as when they started. You need to approach exercises with a goal in mind, slowly increasing the weight/reps/sets overtime will get you the best results. For example say you can hit 60kg for 3x5 on the squat, next time you come in your goal should be to do MORE than your previous session, this could be as simple as doing more reps, so 3x8, or even more sets (5x5) or adding more weight (62.5kg for 3x5). This is called progressive overload, as you are gradually increasing the stress your body is under every session to force your muscles to break down and rebuild itself bigger and stronger than last time to cope with the new stress. Of course if you stop and stick to the same weights your muscles have no reason to change so you have to keep giving them a reason to get better a.k.a progressive overload.


2. Finding a GOOD training programme to follow


A lot of beginners will go to their favourite bodybuilders for advice or follow a routine in a fitness magazine that was probably made in 5 minutes, in hopes to get the same physique as the guy/girl in the picture next to the article. A big problem with parts of the fitness industry is that they take advantage of the novice lifter who has no understanding of what a good programme is. A lot of guys will be doing the classic training split – Monday Chest, Tuesday Back, Wednesday Legs, Thursday Shoulders, Friday Arms and get smashed on the weekends. Now I’m not saying this won’t get you results, as a beginner if you come in and train hard you can make progress off of almost anything, the issue here is that it doesn’t work long term most cases, reason being the bodybuilder they are following this programme from is being assisted through anabolic steroids. It’s well understood in exercise science that a muscle group after being trained is fully recovered after around 48 hours. In short this means most people will find the best results in training the muscle group 2-3 times per week. If you train chest on Monday, it’s ready to be hit again as early as Wednesday, when you leave it a whole week before you target that muscle again that’s potentially 2 days of extra progress lost in a week. That’s 8 workouts a month, 96 workouts in a year lost. Sounds like a lot when you say it like that doesn’t it? That’s why anybody with half a brain will advise you run something like an upper/lower split, full body or push/pull. These routines will have you hit the muscles 2-3 times a week meaning faster progress overall. Good programmes will have some sort of progressive overload in there for you to follow. For the beginner gains can be made fairly quickly and more weight can be added week to week in a linear fashion. Below are some links to routines I advise beginners to use to start with to get the best results the quickest when looking for size and strength.


Starting Strength:


Jason Blaha 5x5:


Candito Training (Linear Programme):


3. Technique


This is probably the most important one. If you aren’t doing the exercise efficiently with proper form and technique it may result in injuries, stopping you from progressing altogether. Not only that but it makes it impossible to know if you are truly getting better if your technique is inconsistent, don’t be that guy that is trying to impress someone by trying to lift more weight than he can do properly, and starts doing half reps. Not only is that dangerous but it is impressing no one. Leave your ego at the door when you come to the gym and lift weights you can maintain proper form with. I must admit this seems to be more of a trend amongst male lifters, but this is relevant to both genders. We are looking for full range of motion on every exercise we do, not only is this safer but allows us to work our muscles more effectively, leading to better results. Things to be aiming for is doing exercises like squats to full depth, bringing the bar to contact with your chest in the bench press, not bouncing, or using momentum to lift the weights. Cheating is subject to debate amongst more advanced trainees and this can actually produce better results with ‘controlled cheating’, for beginners though you should be striving to achieve textbook form, as you are learning new motor patterns and techniques that need to be enforced by completing them properly over and over again. Think of every rep you do as practice, the more reps you do with good technique, the more efficient you will be at the lift over time. Sometimes you may feel one thing, but look another, that’s why getting a friend to look at you or recording yourself can be really helpful when trying to pick apart your technique, recording your exercises can show things that you may not have picked up on as you lift the weights. If you aren’t planning on hiring a coach or personal trainer I’d recommend starting with some video tutorials to get a basic understanding of the exercises you will be doing. I will link some videos below of tutorials for the most common exercises that will usually be found in all good programmes, but a simple YouTube search will usually provide you with what you need for any exercise.


How to Squat:


How to Bench Press:


How to Deadlift :


This concludes my top 3 tips on helping you get started at the gym the right way, now you are much better equipped to make the best progress possible in the first year or two of your training career, lift safe and have fun!



Article by Brandon Hawksley

Instagram: Brandonskwaats


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