Strength Training for Beginners

Strength Training for Beginners

The word “Beginner” is defined by the Royal Spanish Academy (2018) as one “who begins to learn or practice a trade or profession, or to carry out an activity”. Here you have all the info about Strength Training for Beginners.

At the same time, we can find related synonyms, among which we highlight, “Apprentice”, “Novice”, “Novel” and “Initiate”.

All these elements contextualised within the scope of force training take on special relevance.

In this case, the aim of this article is to review and expose the methodology and planning of strength training for beginners (children, adolescents and adults)

Benefits of Strength Training

The world of strength training is full of myths, legends and half-truths, probably two of the most heard are (Balsalobre-Fernandez and Jimenez-Reyes, 2014):

  • Weight training is harmful to children because it slows their growth.
  • Strength training is not a 100% priority for adolescents and adults (illnesses, injuries, morbid obesity, among others).

In contrast to the above arguments, strength training properly managed and organised by qualified and competent staff will promote enormous benefits across all age ranges (Naclerio, 2011).

In fact, in Peña’s review, Heredia, Lloret, Martín and Da Silva-Grigoletto (2016), conclude that ‘there is no scientific evidence’ that strength training, properly supervised and prescribed, may be dangerous at early ages.

On the contrary, it can be a safe, healthy and effective form of training , provided that certain guidelines and safety criteria are respected.

Benefits of Strength Training for Older People

On the one hand, Gottlob (2007) shows the specific effects of strength training on older people:

Considerable improvement in the general state of health

Physical Effects

  • Increased strength and its maintenance.
  • Creation of a well-formed muscle mass.

Reduced risk of injury

  • Reduction of the incidence of injuries and multiple illnesses of the musculoskeletal system.
  • Maintenance of bones, and even achievement of a higher bone density. .
  • More stable articular cartilage.
  • Improved mobility and ability to move more quickly .

Positive Effects on Health

  • Stimulation of visceral activity
  • Reinforcement of the respiratory muscles.
  • Beneficial effects on cardiovascular parameters.
  •  Reduction of subcutaneous and intercellular fat tissue.
  • Improvement of sleep quality.

Cognitive Effects

  • Effective antidepressant in elderly people with depression.
  • Increased brain activity, self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Improved body perception.
  • Increased longevity.

Strength Training for Older People

Benefits of Strength Training for Children and Adolescents

On the other hand, the same author (Gottlob, 2007) presents the specific effects of strength training on children and adolescents:

  • Increase in body strength before puberty.
  • Beneficial effects on posture.
  • Compensatory effects of immobility and lack of load
    (School, computers, TV…).
  • Improved Joint stability.
  • Reduction of incidence of injuries when practising other sports.
  • Improvement of motor skills.
  • Improvement in body composition.
  • Improved body sensation.
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem.

Strength factors

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Strength training methodology for beginners

The Strength training methodology is based on the components surrounding the training load (Figure 1).

Specifically, this concept refers to the stress or stimulus to which an athlete is subjected during the training process (García-Manso, 1999, quoted in García and Serrano, 2014).

Figure 1 - Strength Training for Beginners

Figure 1. Training Load Variables. Source: García-Manso (1999), quoted in García and Serrano (2014)

These elements will come together and will be a precondition for the achievement of the success

Nature of the load

The nature of the load is directly influenced by the level of specificity and the training potential.

  • The first concept is defined as the greater or lesser similarity of the exercise to the manifestation of the movement itself during competition or daily life(García, 2014c).

The higher the level of athlete, the less sensitive they are to non-specific exercises, sometimes even to negative effects on their preparation (García, 2014c).

  • The second concept is defined as the way in which the load stimulates the condition of the athlete (García, 2014c).

Therefore, the training potential of the exercises is reduced by increasing the performance capacity (García, 2014c).

Table 1

Table 1. Practical applications of the nature of the load. Source: Own experiment based on García (2014c)

Finally, the table above details the possible practical applications that these two training load ingredients can offer in the context of beginner training

The contents of the training for children and adolescents

The correct selection of sport- and health-oriented training content for children and adolescents must respect the corresponding developmental stages.

Hohmann, Lames and Letzelter (2005) stated that long-term training planning, i.e. the ‘systematisation’ over several years of the training process, is referred to as ‘precondition training’.

Specifically, it refers to the need to create the necessary preconditions for increasing the special performance capacity. . Depending on the author consulted, we will find different terminologies and conceptual classifications regarding the stages of development or the periodisation of long-term training (Table 2).

Table 2-1

Table 2. Long-term structuring of development stages. Source: Own experiment from Pechtl et al. (1993) cited in Hohmann et al. (2005), Platonov (1994), Bompa (1995) and Gottlob (2003)

In accordance with the stages of development of the athlete, there are the so- called “Sensitive Phases”

These phases are defined as the period of time during which the organism is most receptive and has developmental rhythms that are different for different physical and coordinating qualities (Ruiz, 2013). On the other hand, Hohmann et al. (2005) determine that they”are the stages of life in which young athletes are able to learn and adjust to training stimuli, and at other stages they react more intensively”.

t the same time, sensitive phases play an important role for “Trainability”. This concept is defined by Weineck (2005) as the degree of adaptation to training loads, dependent on endogenous and exogenous factors

In the following tables (3 and 4), it is possible to see which age periods are more important from the point of view of the quantity and quality of training.

Table 3

Table 3. Sensitive Phases.Source: Own experimentation from García (2014a)

Table 4

Table 4. Sensitive Phases. Source: Own experimentation from García (2014b)

Single Load

However, the individual burden in training is one of the main requirements of contemporary training and refers to the fact that each athlete, regardless of performance level, should be treated individually, according to his ability background, potential, and the basis of previous strength training (Bompa, 1995).

In this case, the subjects are children and adolescents who are beginning to take their first steps in the world of strength

In order to apply correctly the training loads in children and adolescents, the stages of growth, development and the biological characteristics of each stage must be previously known and respected (Pancorbo and Blanco, 1990).

An organized, systematized training program with a specific progression will allow to eliminate the negative effects of the use of heavy loads at an early age, prevent injuries and achieve high and stable sports results (Navarro, 2004; Bompa, 1995).

Based on the above foundations, it is considered as key aspects for the correct development of the methodology and planning of the training in children and adolescents: the early determination of the sensitive phases and the logical application of the most decisive contents, means and methods in each stage.

Strength training young people

In addition, an adequate relationship and proximity is established with the elements that make up the internal logic of the sport practiced

Based on all this, Bompa (1995) offers us a systematic and logical progression of the contents to be applied when starting a strength training programme in Puberty, or slightly later (Table 5).

Table 5

Table 5. Temporary organization of the contents of strength training during Puberty or later stages Source: Own elaboration from Bompa (1995)

The contents of the training in adults

The contents of training oriented towards strength training in adults are related to the reaching or approach of maturity (Bompa, 1995)

This changes the methodology of force development, it becomes more complex since now the athlete seeks not only to develop the force in general, but rather trains for the maximum force or one of its components: muscle power or resistance (Bompa, 1995). However, the human species does not reach its own biological maturity before 20 years of age (Bosco, 2000).

Therefore, the different expressions of the different biological functions do not reach full functionality, efficiency and effectiveness before reaching biological maturity (Bosco, 2000)

Strength training lose fat

The sexual organs, which remain in a primitive state until pre-puberty, during the pubertal phase, which can last up to 18-20 years, develop and reach full maturity (Bosco, 2000)

These observations should suggest to coaches and training theory experts what are the most effective and biologically profitable periods in order to systematically and concretely programme training plans aimed at improving the various manifestations of strength (Bosco, 2000).

On the other hand, the contents to be trained will be those previously commented, although the planning, programming, periodization and prescription of the training will have other nuances due to the maturation and development of the adult individual.

Obviously, both from the point of view of health and performance training, the proportion of training or the priority of certain content over others will be an element to take into account due to the type of sport, its characteristics and the objectives sought by the athlete.

In a practical way, Bompa (1995) proposes (Table 6) a suggested periodization model for the force, in an annual plan for the first 2 years of post-puberty (early specialization), and for the final stage of post-puberty (late specialization) (Table 7).

Table 6

Table 6. . Suggested periodization model for strength, in an annual plan for the first 2 years of post-puberty (early specialization). Source: Bompa (1995)

Table 7

Table 7. Suggested periodization model for strength, for the final stage of post-puberty (late specialization). Source: Bompa (1995)

Volume, intensity and density of training

In order to apply correctly the training loads in children, adolescents and adults, the stages of growth, development and the biological characteristics of each stage must be previously known and respected (Pancorbo and Blanco, 1990).

In relation to this, Bompa (1995), in a more complete and visual way, offers us the characteristics that the training load must have during the development stages (Table 8).

Table 8

Table 8. Training load characteristics during the development stages Source: Bompa (1995)

Following the same logic, Gottlob (2003) established a set of parameters for the training of young people and children over 6 years old (Table 9)

Table 9

Table 9. Training parameters of youth and children over 6 years old. Source: Gottlob (2003)

Finally, in a more updated form, the review by Peña et al. (2016) proposed to summarize and update scientific knowledge on different topics and guidelines related to the prescription of strength training in young pre-pubertal and adolescent populations.

They then organise a proposed dose of strength training for children and adolescents according to experience level (Table 10).

Table 10

Table 10. Proposal of strength training doses for children and adolescents according to the level of experience Source: Peña et al. (2016)

With respect to the ‘stress’ of load for healthy adult targets, the proposal offered by Revive Stronger (2017) is interesting (Table 11). This figure shows the training load to be used according to the muscle group and the volume conceptualisations of Israetel (2017).

Table 11

Table 11. Guide to Hypertrophy Training. Source: Revive Stronger (2017)

Load orientation

Depending on the objectives to be achieved in the session, micro and meso cycle of the training, the orientation of the load can be selective or complex

Platanov (1988), cited in Manso, Valdivielso y Caballero (1996), explain it through orientation during training sessions:

  • Selective target sessions: are working sessions that focus on specific aspects of preparation.
  • Uniform loads maintained in the same orientation.
  • Uniform loads adapted to the same orientation.
  • Various loads of the same orientation.
  • Complex target sessions: refer to sessions that focus on the simultaneous development of several qualities.

Load distribution

This concept refers to the way in which the different loads are placed in the parts into which the training process is divided: session, day, microcycle, mesocycle and macrocycle (García, 2014c)

There are two types of load distribution:

  1. Diluted or regular loading: is implemented using the stepwise loading model which allows for progressive overloading interspersed with periods of unloading. The use of unloading periods or maintenance loads allows for regeneration, greater physiological adaptation and psychological recovery.
  2. Concentrated loads: are those loads that are concentrated in a certain direction, as they guarantee deeper functional modifications in the organism. Each period of time with a very concentrated and specific load was called a training block.

Load interconnection

A rational combination of loads of different orientation ensures that the cumulative effect of the training is obtained (Garcia, 2014c). To achieve this, the principles of optimal intra and inter- session sequencing must be respected.

As an example, a positive interconnection model applicable to group/individual sports or health-oriented training is shown (Table 12).

Table 12

Table 12. Optimal sequencing of training sessions on a micro cycle. Source: Own elaboration from Ozolín (1971) cited in García and Serrano (2014)

Specifically, for the concurrent or isolated development of Strength and Resistance, the Theoretical Model of Interference (Figure 2) will be a reference element (Docherty & Sporer, 2000).

Figure 2 - Strength Training for Beginners

Figure 2. Theoretical Model of Interference (Docherty & Sporer, 2000)

Concurrent Training

The combination of strength and endurance training in the same session (intra-session), on the same day (inter-session), or even on alternate days (intra-microcycle), is known as concurrent training, combined training, simultaneous training, concomitant training, or multi-component training.

This combination of training stimuli is intended to simultaneously stimulate adaptations associated with both types of training (Peña, Heredia, Aguilera, Da Silva, y Del Rosso, 2016a).

On the other hand, regarding narrative review by Peña et al., these authors sought to understand the interrelationship of the application of concurrent training stimuli on different physiological systems and to establish more effective and less incompatible strategies for integrating concurrent training to assist in decision making.

Effects of concurrent training on strength

Strength is the most impaired ability when training strength and endurance simultaneously (limitation in maximum strength development)

Strength training and development is more necessary and positive for the improvement of endurance than vice versa

Considerations of concurrent training

Endurance and strength training on separate days causes acute neuromuscular and endocrine responses and different recovery patterns which may in part explain the limitations in strength gains when both trainings are combined in the same session.

The order of the exercise sequence in concurrent training sessions does not seem to affect the adaptations generated on strength gains, hypertrophy and endurance in moderately active young subjects, older adults, or untrained subjects, at least when the frequency and volume of training is moderate.

The possible interference between the adaptations produced by the two types of training seems to occur with long training sessions or with high frequencies of training per micro cycle (>3 sessions per week).

The resistance exercise modality practiced concurrently can have different effects, with running being possibly the modality that interferes most significantly with lower limb strength gains and hypertrophy.

It seems that the effects of interference in concurrent training are specific to the body regions involved but not systemic

In summary (Peña et al., 2016b; Docherty & Sporer, 2000) and giving it a more practical and visual point of view, the following compatibility models are proposed (Table 13):

Table 13

Table 13. Practical model of compatibilities or conditional interconnections Source: own elaboration based on Peña et al. (2016b) and Docherty & Sporer (2000)

Bibliography Sources of Strength Training for Beginners

  1. Real Academia Española. (2018). Principiante. Diccionario de la lengua española (22.aed). Recuperado de
  2. Balsalobre-Fernández, C. y Jiménez-Reyes, P. (2014). Entrenamiento de Fuerza: nuevas perspectivas metodológicas.
  3. Naclerio, F. (2011). Entrenamiento Deportivo Fundamentos y Aplicaciones en diferentes deportes. Editorial Médica Panamericana.
  4. Peña, G., Heredia, J. R., Lloret, C., Martín, M., & Da Silva-Grigoletto, M. E. (2016b). Iniciación al entrenamiento de fuerza en edades tempranas: revisión. Revista Andaluza de medicina del deporte, 9(1), 41-49.
  5. Gottlob, A. (2007). Entrenamiento Muscular Diferenciado. Tronco y columna vertebral, (24). Editorial Paidotribo.
  6. García, O. y Serrano, V. (2014). Estructuras temporales en la periodización del entrenamiento y Diseño del plan de entrenamiento-competición. (Universidad de Vigo): Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación y del Deporte.
  7. Hohmann, A., Lames, l. y Letzelter, M. (2005). Introducción a la Ciencia de Entrenamiento. Barcelona: Paidotribo.
  8. Platonov, V. P. “I´ principi della preparazione a lungo termine”. (1994). SDS, 13(30).
  9. Bompa, T. O. (1995). Periodización de la Fuerza. Argentina: Biosystem Servicio Educativo.
  10. Ruiz, D. J. (2013). Crecimiento, maduración, desarrollo y fases sensibles de las capacidades físicas del Béisbol menor. Revista Digital Lecturas: Educación Física y Deportes, 17(177). Recuperado de
  11. Weineck, J. (2005). Entrenamiento Total. Barcelona: Paidotribo.
  12. García, O. (2014a). La Adaptación en el Deporte: El efecto del entrenamiento. (Universidad de Vigo). Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación y del Deporte.
  13. García, O. (2014b). Fundamentos y métodos del entrenamiento de la fuerza. (Universidad de Vigo). Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación y del Deporte.
  14. Pancorbo, A. y Blanco, J. (1990). Consideraciones sobre el entrenamiento deportivo en la niñez y adolescencia. Archivos de Medicina del Deporte, 7(27), 309-314.
  15. Navarro, F. (2004). Entrenamiento adaptado a los jóvenes. Revista de Educación, (335), 61-80
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  18. Revive Stronger (2017). Revive Stronger. Recuperado de:
  19. Manso, J. M. G., Valdivielso, M. N., & Caballero, J. A. R. (1996). Planificación del entrenamiento deportivo. Gymnos Editorial: Madrid.
  20. García, O. (2014c). La carga del entrenamiento. (Universidad de Vigo). Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación y del Deporte.
  21. Docherty, D. & Sporer, B. (2000). A Proposed Model for Examining the Interference Phenomenon between Concurrent Aerobic and Strength Training. Sports Medicine, 30(6), 385-394.
  22. Peña, G., Heredia, J., Aguilera, J., Da Silva, G., & Del Rosso, S. (2016a). Entrenamiento concurrente de fuerza y resistencia: una revisión narrativa. International Journal of Physical Exercise and Health Science, 1(1).
  23. Heredia, J. R., Isidro, F., Peña, G., Mata, F. & Da Silva-Grigoletto, M. E. (2012). Criterios básicos para el diseño de programas de acondicionamiento neuromuscular saludable en centros de fitness. EFDeportes, 17(170).
  24. González-Badillo, J. J. y Ribas-Serna, J. (2002). Bases de la Programación del Entrenamiento de Fuerza. INDE: Barcelona.
  25. Silva-Grigoletto, D., Viana-Montaner, B. H., Heredia, J., Mata Ordóñez, F., Peña, G., Brito, C. J., … & García Manso, J. M. (2013). Validación de la escala de valoración subjetiva del esfuerzo OMNI-GSE para el control de la intensidad global en sesiones de objetivos múltiples en personas mayores. Kronos, 12(1), 32-40.
  26. Zourdos, M. C., et al. (2016). Novel Resistance Training-Specific Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale Measuring Repetitions in Reserve. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(1), 267-275, Doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001049
  27. Lloid & Oliver (2012). The Youth Physical Development Model: A New Approach to Long-Term Athletic Development. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 34, 3.
  28. Schoenfeld, B., & Grgic, J. (2018). Evidence-based guidelines for resistance training volume to maximize muscle hypertrophy. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 40(4), 107-112.

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About Ivan Sotelo
Ivan Sotelo
Iván Sotelo is a specialist in Prevention and Physical-Sports Rehabilitation, with experience in professional football teams.
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