Weight Training for Beginners

Weight Training for Beginners

We are going to analyse the essential points to consider for Weight Training for Beginners

If you’re just getting started in the world of weight lifting and feeling a little lost, take note!

First of all, it’s important to realise that this is a sport, and one with a certain psychological element since as soon as the results start coming in, some people can start to become “obsessed”.

But, of course, you need to get the first steps right to reap the full benefits of your work

Why Lift Weights?

Starting exercising might be one of the best decisions you make in your life

Weight training will help you:

  • Acquire good physical condition,
  • Improve how your body looks, and above all,
  • You’ll improve your health and quality of life.

Better quality of life through training

But like I said before, always bear in mind that it is a sport

I recommend reading our Training Principles

Benefits of Weight Training

Whatever your reason for signing up, you should know the benefits of weight training for beginners

Not only in terms of “aesthetics”, but there are many other important points related to your health, both physiologically and emotionally. Among many others, some of the most important include:

  • Improving Body Composition (maintenance of lean mass and a low fat profile…)
  • Improving Muscular Strength and Resistance (training you for daily activities)
  • Reducing the Risk of Injury (if you suffer accidents…)
  • Increasing Bone Mineral Density (strengthening your bones, fighting sarcopenia…)
  • Greater Self-Esteem and Confidence (being stronger, “liking yourself” in front of the mirror, motivation, planning and order…)
  • Motivation, Greater Sense of Well-Being (reaching goals, proving to yourself that you are capable of achieving what you want…)

Benefits of weight training

When you first start training, you often have doubts about the most appropriate diet. If you want to learn the key concepts in this regard, I suggest reading our Beginners Nutrition Guide

What is the Goal of Weight Training for Beginners?

In terms of the sports aspect, when planning out a training programme it’s important to consider both the level and condition of the person

Goals can be divided into 4 potential goals:

Muscle Resistance

That’s to say, increasing Strength-Resistance, which is being able to sustain the same submaximal effort for a longer period of time…


This is what is colloquially known as Muscle Volume, meaning greater muscle tone, increasing lean mass…


This is usually the number 1 goal of those who go to the gym

Muscle Strength

This literally means To Get Stronger, which means being able to lift heavier loads. This isn’t really a priority for beginners, but nevertheless, it is closely related to the previous point.

The 5x5 Strength Routine is quite an effective method to increase your strength, once you’re able to perform the exercises correctly, and after an initial period of training acclimatisation


For advanced weight lifters or athletes looking to perform specific exercises and movements with adequate loads, which they can then transfer to their main sports discipline and enhance their performance.

Power Training

Teething Problems for Beginners in the Gym

Logically, just like starting any activity in any facet of life, you’re not born knowing how to do it

And it’s no different with weight lifting. If you’re presented with machines, bars and discs, but have never used them before and were simply given “your routine”, how on earth do you get started?

Personal Trainers

One of the biggest issues is understanding how to train (or rather, how to perform and execute the exercises correctly), and this should be taught to you by someone who can correct you (generally the person in charge of the gym), or at least supervise you. Otherwise, the only solution is to find your own way.

Personal Trainer

Personal trainers are almost essential when first getting started. From my point of view, if you’re just starting out, it’s best to have someone with experience and know-how guide you at the beginning

Preliminary Health Status Assessment

Before we start “pumping iron”, we need to know whether our weight training is even feasible for us.

This is something that 99% of people overlook, simply throwing themselves ‘into the ring’ from day 1…

Health Review

By the way, if you go to your doctor and ask about supplements and related products, it’s likely they’ll answer like this

How do I know if I can train?

The objective of this “phase” is to evaluate and identify any conditions or risk factors that might mean we shouldn’t be training.

“…But I’m healthy…”, apparently.

It’s often the case that when starting new activities, especially those of an intense nature, the person in question can get a bit of a fright. That’s why it’s good to speak to a specialised doctor or to work following the guidelines of qualified professionals that we can trust, and to carry out the necessary tests beforehand (stress test, knowledge of health markers, hereditary risks…).

Designing the Programme

If all of the above is fine, and if you’ve taken heed of my guidelines, at least in the second point, it’s time to get started with training…

But wait a minute… Not so fast. Before we begin we need to establish our plan, our first routine.


The following tips will help you learn and understand the basic principles of weight training

Basic Tips for a Gym Beginner

Training Frequency.

That is, the number of sessions that we carry out during the week. It’s difficult to specify an exact or optimal number, as this is linked to a person’s condition and level (which we assume is low). A frequency of 2-3 times a week, always prioritising recovery, is the general recommendation.

Weights training

My advice, without a doubt, is to start with a Full Body Routine for beginners

Do you have enough Range of Movement?

It’s a good idea to analyse our pattern of movement and make sure there’s no movement restriction, or the range of possible exercises will be reduced.

In certain cases, while we may not be able to perform a squat due to lack of joint mobility, we can always do a leg press, although our goal will be to work on improving mobility
Flexibility is an essential quality that, of course, many gym users (including veterans) ignore, and the same goes for stretching (either before -> dynamic, or separately from the training -> static; in order to gain mobility)

Exercise Selection

As you may have noticed, there’s an infinity of exercises (as well as machines…) that you can use. But in the beginning, you won’t need to work with even a third of them. Focus on those that “move” a large number of muscles at once…

  • Within the different exercise categories, we’re going to opt for the so-called core exercises. This is due to their effectiveness and the results they produce (as long as the technique isn’t compromised due to poor mobility), which is a result of them being Multi-Joint Exercises: activating and recruiting a greater amount of muscle mass, and the potential that this generates in turn. Among this list of exercises are: Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Presses…
  • Adding Auxiliary or Mono-Joint Exercises is less of a priority, but should of course be a consideration for the training program.

Exercises Not-Recommended

Something to bear in mind if you’re thinking about introducing them into your routine later…

How many Sets and Repetitions do I have to do?

First, let’s look at some definitions:

  • Repetitions: a simple execution of the movement in question.
  • Sets: the combination of a number of repetitions of an exercise. As a beginner, you should perform about 2 warm-up set, and about 3-4 effective sets.
  • Training load volume: the product of Reps X Sets
TargetLoad (over 1RM)RepetitionsSets
Muscle Resistance<65%10-151-3
PowerNot recommended

Training volume chart for beginners

Which weight should I use?

When we talk about weight, we mean the load.

For multi-joint exercises, we would ideally know our approximate RM, so we know what percentage to work on. Do you know yours?

On the other hand, the estimation should be made according to a scale of effort required to perform the number of repetitions we set (according to the range for hypertrophy, resistance…) while maintaining the technique, and with an intensity that limits us without reaching muscle failure (this is the reps in reserve).

Bar Curl

A trick for working out the correct weight:

If you find it difficult to do 8 reps, the weight is too high, but if you can go “over” in 12, it’s too light. In terms of percentages, we would be loading around 75% of your maximum weight to “lift” 12 reps.

A little further down the line, you could experiment with new rep ranges:

  • High ranges for muscle endurance.
  • Mid ranges for building muscle mass.
  • Low ranges for increasing strength and power.

Rest between Sets 

Generally, you should rest for long enough to allow yourself to be able to execute the next set. Sets that involve large muscles require more rest time. Depending on the objective, this period will vary:

Strength-Resistance<o= 30s
Hypertrophy30 to 90s
Muscle StrengthFrom 2 to 5 min
PowerFrom 2 to 5 min
If you want to learn more about the factors involved in programming longer or shorter rest times, check out this link

Increasing the load

One option is to progressively increase your load

When doing so, it’s a good idea to keep a record with a training diary.

Training diary

The 2-2 rule: achieving your target reps in each training session

If you’re able to perform two extra reps in your final set, on top of the initial amount planned, and can do so in two consecutive training sessions, you can increase the load in the following training session.

Movement execution

Make sure you concentrate on every phase of the movement, feeling every part of it and keeping up a consistent rhythm. Focussed movement, for muscle building purposes, will give you the best results. Very fast, explosive movements without a good base can be harmful to connective tissues.


Many people don’t place enough importance on this factor

  • First of all, it should be natural, there’s no need to hyperventilate.
  • Begin each set with a deep breath in.
  • Exhale at the moment of the “push”, in the difficult part of the movement (such as when you finish raising the bar in a bench press.
  • Inhale during the “easy” part.

How to breathe when working out

Gym Beginners Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I have to train every day?

    The body generally recovers from a training session in around 48h, although sometimes more time is needed. Physiological processes at the cellular level that occur as a result of training require adequate rest and nutrients before you can train the same muscle group again.

    If you’re a more experienced gym user and divide your training so that one day is a lower body workout and the next day is upper, you can train on censecutive days. However, when you’re just getting started out it’s recommended you don’t leave more than 4 days between training the same muscle group.

    As a beginner, you should be aiming to train around 3 times a week. A good scheme would be: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • How long should my training last?

    The best way to get the greatest muscle gains is to not exceed the 60 minute workout mark. This is an estimated value but close to what a beginner should be doing and should be able to endure, although this will of course also depend on the goal, subject characteristics, intensity levels, condition…

    And remember, it’s about the intensity — the quality of the training — not the duration
  • What about cardio?

    Cardio, from my point of view, is (and should be) linked to strength or weight training. Your body will benefit from both the aforementioned training and cardiovascular fitness stimuli, which will generate significant positive adaptations in your body and, of course, also contribute to your calorie expenditure…

    My recommendation is to alternate cardio sessions between HIIT (high intensity interval training, like sprints), MISS (continuous medium intensity, like cycling) and LISS (prolonged low intensity, like walking)
  • When will my abs appear?

    Another top priority for beginners. When you reach this goal, it’s like getting to the top of Everest. Getting a “6-Pack” requires two elements: hypertrophy for your rectus abdominis and lowering your fat percentage.

    If you want to find out our top tips for this, click here
  • When should I start taking supplements?

    Sports supplementation and dietary nutrition can provide great support to athletes. And for anyone looking to improve their current condition, increase their muscle mass, lower their fat percentage, or improve their recovery — anything’s possible!

    But before reaching for our protein shakes, it’s essential you realise the importance of establishing good eating habits. And if you don’t know how to do so, you can always go to a professional for help
  • How long can I consider myself a beginner?

    After around 6 months of hard work and correct technique, you’ll be well on your way to advancing!

Of course, this might not be the case for you, and sometimes it’s simply a matter of using common sense… However, New Gym Goers FAQ

First Day at the Gym

The first time you go to the weights room, you might feel a little self-conscious, as on top of all the machinery, weights, bars and discs… there will be a ton of men, some quite “developed”, others even stronger, some shouting, and women, sweating out every last drop, lifting kilos upon kilos of iron, as if there were no tomorrow…

First Day in the Gym

And here you are with your towel over your shoulder and your half-litre bottle of water, which you’ll refill more than once during the session… And there you stand with your super routine you’ve been given straight out the photocopier, ready to go… But you already know what to do before reaching this point…

It’s your first day, and I’m sure the stiffness will be with you all week… But hey, it’s what you need to do when starting a new activity, and at least now you know the key points to consider, so that you’re not caught out, and have a good idea of what it actually means to work out in the gym.


  1. Jared W. Coburn, Moh H. Malek. Manual NSCA – Fundamentos del Entrenamiento Personal

Related Entries

  • Common Mistakes Beginners Make in the Gym
  • Nutritional Guide and Tips for Beginners in the Gym
  • Supplements for Beginners at the Gym
Review of Weight Training for Beginners

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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
"Knowledge Makes Stronger", Javier Colomer's motto, sets out his clearest statement of intentions expressing his knowledge and fitness experience.
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