Strength Training for Beginners Orientation

Strength training for beginners is an excellent way to improve your health, perhaps significantly.

Moreover, the training we recommend is particularly effective. You'll soon look better and feel better!

The training is free and suitable for beginners or more advanced trainees.

This page is the orientation for beginners. Getting warmed up well and properly executing reps are important.

This orientation page and the two pages we recommend that you read next will provide you with helpful specifics that you can apply to any weight training program.

If you have not yet read the first strength training page, you might want to do so. (Its link awaits you near the bottom of this page.) Beginners should read that page as well as this page. If you are an intermediate strength trainee or an expert, we encourage you at least to scan the pages, if only to learn the terminology.

Okay, so let's get started and find out more.

Key terms used in training

As part of the orientation in strength training for beginners, we would like to clarify some key terms.


A strength or weight training exercise is one kind of movement against resistance such as squats (deep knee bends) or standing barbell curls.

Rep or Repetition

A rep or repetition is one movement of an exercise. For example, if you were doing standing barbell curls, one rep would be moving the barbell once by curling it from the starting position, which is standing with your arms straight down holding the bar in front of your thighs, raising it to in front of your chest, and lowering it to the starting position.

Even without using momentum, reps can be performed relatively quickly or slowly.


What is more important than the number of reps is the time under load, called 'TUL.' This is the number of seconds that a muscle group is under tension.

If the TUL for one rep is 5 seconds and there are ten reps, the TUL is 50 seconds. Usually, the TUL should be at least 30 seconds. Set

A set is a measured sequence of reps. A set could consist of any number of reps from one to dozens.

Continuing the same example, if you were to curl the barbell ten times, rest briefly, and curl it another ten times, you would have done two sets of ten reps for that exercise. That would be written '2 x 10.'


A routine is a measured sequence of different sets of different exercises for a single major muscle group.

For example, your shoulder routine might consist of 2 x 8 seated barbell presses, 2 x 10 standing dumbbell laterals, and 2 x 10 seated bent-over dumbbell laterals.

Workout or Training Session

A workout or training session is two or more routines done consecutively.

For example, in addition to doing a shoulder routine during a given workout, you might also do routines for your upper arms, forearms, and calves.

(Since it is possible to have a whole workout consist of a single set of a single exercise, such as 1 x 20 breathing squats, sometimes 'routine' or 'set' may be correctly used to mean the same as 'workout' or 'training session.')

Beginners and intermediate strength trainees should neither do more than one training session in a single day nor more than three in a single week. Two training sessions each work probably will work very well for you.

Typically, training sessions are planned weeks or months in advance.


The whole set of training sessions is called a program.

The free training program presented here on our website consists of 2 or 3 brief intense fitness (cardio) training sessions each week in addition to (usually) 2 weight training sessions.

That's less than 2 hours of exercise per week. If you want more, simply add it thirty to sixty minutes of mild fitness training such as a brisk walk.

You will direct links to all our free exercise plans listed on our site map/index.

It's an excellent idea to do some flexibility training after each weight training session. There's an excellent program of stretches for weight training in the McRobert book listed below.

Double Resistance

Our strength training for beginners and intermediates is based on double resistance training in which stress is deliberately increased over time in two different ways.

Here's an example of how it works:

Suppose that today I do 1 x 10 standing barbell curls using a 100 pound barbell as part of my upper arm routine. Since I should be slightly stronger, let's imagine that during my next workout I am able to do 11 reps and then 12 reps during the workout after that. It is not as effective as possible to keep increasing the reps indefinitely.

So, instead, let's increase the resistance. In the workout after I get 12 reps with 100 pounds, let's increase the load to 105 pounds and imagine that I am able to get only 8 reps. I'll keep using 105 pounds during subsequent workouts until I hit 12 reps, and then I'll again increase the load dropping the number of reps. This is written as '1 x 8-12.'

The purpose of strength training for fat loss is to challenge your body to overcompensate for the stress of resistance training by increasing lean muscle mass. Your body will not add more muscle until more is necessary.

Lean muscle is your body's metabolic furnace.

That's why it is critical to resolve that during each workout you'll do your best to increase either your reps or your poundage on each exercise.

Focus on this idea. It's the key to success.

Other training considerations

If you train intensely with perfect form as well as eat well and get sufficient rest and recovery, you will get stronger. This will result in increasing your percentage of lean muscle mass, which will enable you to burn many more calories than otherwise.

Because they have such a high percentage of lean muscle mass, master bodybuilders and strength athletes typically consume 3,000 to 4,000 calories daily. (Some consume 5,000 to 8,000 calories daily!)

Even if you consume nutritious food, if you are on a semi-starvation diet of, say, 1500 to 1800 calories daily, let us assure you that you'll feel a lot better as well as be healthier if you were to consume, say, 2400 to 3000 calories daily.

Furthermore, you'll really, really appreciate your improved body composition.

You will be trimmer while being able to eat more food

Once you move on from strength training for beginners and start to train intensely you will discover for yourself that it is hard physical labor.

However, because it's intense, it is also brief. It will be interesting to discover what works best for you. If your working life involves mental work, you'll find pumping iron a terrific change of pace.

We find it much easier to skip a fitness training session than a weight training session. Fitness training, especially mild cardio, can be boring. We usually prefer to listen to an audio or television program to keep our minds productively engaged. However, during a weight training session, it's easy simply to be thinking solely about one's training. Neither audio programs nor music are necessary. Each weight training exercise is a new and interesting challenge.

Doing it well really is fun!

Protein Shakes

To add you your weight training orientation, take a look at the protein shakes page.

Protein shakes will maximize the benefits from your training.

Click on the first link listed below to go to our page on protein shakes.

To the protein shakes page.

In addition, for the web pages related to this page, or for our recommended reading list for this subject, see the pages below.

Warming up, executing reps, workouts

This page is for beginners, so before presenting some effective workouts, let's focus on the following two pages on warming up correctly and executing reps perfectly.

If you do these two things well, you'll be able to use the workouts to make significant progress safely and effectively.

So, start psyching up!

Other web pages to help you further

This completes the stength training orientation page.

To help you further, in this the section of our website we have the following pages:

  • 1. Strength/Weight Training main page
  • 2. Strength Training Orientation (this page)
  • 3. Weightlifting Exercises main page
  • 4. Weightlifting Program Beginners
  • 5. Weightlifting Tips, Part 1
  • 6. Weightlifting Tips, Part 2
  • 7. Exercising Safely
  • 8. Workout Protein Shakes
  • 9. Weightlifting Routines Intermediates

You will find the direct links to those pages on our site map/index.

Meanwhile, here are three of those links:

Weight Lifting Beginners

Weightlifting Tips, Part 1 and Part 2

Alternatively, use the link at the bottom of this page to return to the Strength Training main page, which is the first page in this section of our website.

Learning to squat with perfect form

This is a terrific way to begin to do squats if you have never done them before. Squatting with perfect form can be learned very easily with this exercise.

Beginner strength training exercise routine

Recommended books for this subject

Here are our initial book suggestions:

  • McRobert's Build Muscle Lose Fat Look Great
  • Lauren & Clark's You Are Your Own Gym
  • Wendler's 5/3/1
  • Poliquin's German Body Comp Program

› Training for Beginners

In you are now looking for more about this subject, here you can search our website or the World Wide Web.


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