The Essentials of a Good Strength Program for Beginners

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Ivan Dimitrijevic
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Ivan Dimitrijevic
Ivan Dimitrijevic
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The problem most people face when they decide to hit the gym is that they lack proper guidance. Their motivation and work ethics might be on point, although most people have a problem with these aspects as well, but they simply don’t know what it takes to make good progress. What usually ends up happening is that they do some online research and either go for a routine geared for more advanced lifters or they find interesting exercises and try to come up with their own routine. Some even just improvise workouts on the spot, which means they take their sweet time, do a bunch of random stuff and have no plan when it comes to progression. For a beginner, the focus should be placed on quickly packing on size and gaining a good strength base, and to do this, there are several things you need to consider when it comes to choosing the right program and making the necessary lifestyle changes.

1. Compound Lifts and Linear Progression

women in gym

There are a bunch of good beginner programs out there, Westside for Skinny Bastards and Jason Blaha’s 5×5 Novice Program to name a few, and they all have a few things in common:

  • They put the focus on big, heavy compound lifts, and balance out the accessory work
  • They tell you what weights to use (a percentage of your 1 rep max that you can calculate)
  • They have good linear progression built in
  • They get you to work with volumes you can handle
  • They give you enough time for recovery

Full body training or simple splits work best for beginners, as they cover all the muscle groups, and allow you to hit all the muscles 2-3 times a week, which is important for optimal growth.

2. Having Intensity and Focus in Training

When you’re on a good program, there is no wasting time pondering which exercise to do next or what weight to try – you know exactly what you will be doing, and you can attack the weights with full intensity without overthinking it. This is the most important part – leave the damn phone in the locker or in the car, avoid too much chit-chat, and be 100% focused on what you are doing.

3. Eating Healthy and Eating Enough

eating healthy

While you can lose quite a few pounds even if you don’t have the cleanest diet in the world as long as you keep your calories low enough, getting stronger requires a healthy body working at optimal levels. For this, you need proper nutrition, not just your 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight and a slight calorie surplus. We need the right nutrients to recover quickly form a workout, and there are some proven supplements that help aid recovery as well. Some people have problems eating more food, or less food depending on the case, and supplements can be a good way to give the body what it needs quickly, but you should make sure that you are eating right first and foremost.

4. Getting Plenty of Rest and Sleep

This is something a lot of new lifters mess up. It’s pointless to look for magic ingredients or special workout secrets to improve performance and size if you are missing out on the anabolic properties of 8-9 hours of sleep. That’s per night, every night. That’s why good programs have you training 3-4 times a week – you need all the rest you can get after a good workout.

5. Drinking Plenty of Water

drinking water

Our bodies can get water from food, especially fruit, but it’s important to keep it well hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day. You should always have a small bottle near you so you can take a sip when you start feeling thirsty. Of course, make sure your body has enough electrolytes, which you can get from different foods including milk, peanuts, almonds, tomatoes, oranges and anything you sprinkle a pinch of salt on. So it’s important to have small regular snacks throughout the day while drinking your water in between big meals.

6. Staying Consistent

The simplest and most important rule to follow is to view your training as an obligation. It may be fun, but it should be an obligation, and you can schedule around it. You will have busy days when you can only run in and do 4-5 big exercises before you rush out the door, you can switch to 3 sets of 10 to cut the workout down to 35-40 minutes, or you can move it one day, but just make sure you train several times a week, every single week.

There you have it folks, the basic things every beginner needs in order to create a good strength training program that will get them impressive results within the next year or two. Stick with a basic program until you’ve made all the progress you can make out of it and start stalling for several weeks, and remember all the points mentioned above.