How to Start Lifting Weights

Janis

By Janis | Updated January 8, 2024

Starting a weightlifting journey can be both exciting and intimidating. As a beginner, you might wonder where to begin, how weights can benefit you, and which exercises to focus on. 

Fear not; this article will provide guidance on how to start lifting weights safely and effectively to achieve your fitness goals.

You’ll explore how to establish a solid foundation with training programs that suit your needs. You’ll also learn about choosing the right weights, mastering form, and progressively increasing intensity to see consistent progress in your weightlifting journey.

Advantages of Lifting Weights

Below, we look at compelling reasons why incorporating weight training into your fitness routine is not only beneficial, but essential, for achieving your health and wellness goals.

Builds Muscles and Increases Strength

Lifting weights helps you build muscle mass and increase your overall strength. As you train, you’ll notice improved muscle tone, giving your body a more defined appearance.

Your enhanced strength will make daily tasks easier and aid in injury prevention.

Boosts Your Metabolism

Not only does weightlifting improve your physical appearance, but it also boosts your metabolism.

With increased muscle mass, your body burns more calories throughout the day. This assists in healthy weight management and fat loss.

Increases Energy and Stamina

Lifting weights can significantly boost your energy levels. Regular resistance training helps improve your overall fitness and stamina, allowing you to handle daily tasks with ease. 

As you build muscle and enhance your physical capabilities, you’ll find that you have more energy to engage in activities and conquer the challenges of daily life.

Reduces Stress and Improves Mood

Engaging in regular strength training helps reduce stress by promoting the release of endorphins, which are natural stress relievers. These endorphins can create a sense of euphoria and help combat symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Weightlifting also provides a healthy outlet for frustration and pent-up energy, allowing you to clear your mind and regain a sense of control over your emotions.

Slows Down Aging

Incorporating weights into your exercise routine can slow down the natural decline in muscle mass and strength that comes with aging. 

By maintaining muscle tone and strength, you will enhance your quality of life and reduce the risk of age-related conditions.

Getting Started with Equipment and Gear

To embark on a successful weight training journey, understanding the essentials is paramount. It’s crucial to know what equipment and knowledge you’ll need.

Dumbbells

Dumbbells offer versatility for strength training. Their individualized weight allows for unilateral exercises, targeting imbalances and promoting symmetry.

Suitable for beginners and experts alike, they’re fundamental in a variety of exercises targeting various muscle groups.

Barbells

Barbells facilitate compound movements like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. These exercises stimulate multiple muscle groups, promoting strength and muscle growth.

Barbells also allow for heavier lifting, which is essential for progressive overload and advanced training.

Kettlebells

Kettlebells offer dynamic, full-body workouts. Their unique shape and off-centered weight challenge stability and coordination.

They’re ideal for compound, explosive movements like kettlebell swings or Turkish get-ups, engaging both the core and extremities.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands provide variable tension throughout exercises, challenging muscles differently from the ways free weights do.

Portable and adaptable, they’re perfect for adding resistance to bodyweight movements or assisting in pull-ups. They also aid in rehabilitating injuries by facilitating controlled resistance.

Gym Weight Machines

Weight machines guide and support movements, ensuring correct form and isolating specific muscle groups.

They’re particularly helpful for beginners learning movement patterns and for advanced lifters targeting particular muscles without relying on stabilizing muscles.

Shoes

Proper footwear is crucial for weight training. A good pair of training shoes should provide stability and support during exercises while allowing for an adequate range of motion.

When selecting shoes, look for a flat and firm sole that enhances your connection with the ground, giving you increased control and balance during lifts.

Beginner-Friendly Exercises

For beginners, it’s essential to master foundational movements that build strength, improve technique, and lay the groundwork for more advanced routines. Let’s explore some beginner-friendly exercises to kickstart your lifting experience.

Dumbbell Single-Arm Rows

To improve balance and coordination, begin with dumbbell single-arm rows. Start with three (3) sets of 10 reps, focusing on proper form.

To perform this exercise, stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in one hand. Bend your hips and knees slightly, keeping your back straight. 

Then, pull the dumbbell toward your hip, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower the weight back down and repeat the movement. 

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

For shoulder strength, try the dumbbell shoulder press. Start with three (3) sets of 10 reps. 

Hold the dumbbells at shoulder height, press them overhead, and lower them with control. Keep your core engaged to maintain good posture.

Dumbbell Chest Press

Dumbbell chest press builds upper body strength and can be done on a bench or the floor. Start with three (3) sets of 10 reps.

While lying down, press the dumbbells upward and bring them back to the starting position. Ensure that your shoulders are aligned with your wrists.

Bicep Curls

To develop your bicep muscles, perform bicep curls. Aim for three (3) sets of 10 reps.

Hold the dumbbells with palms facing forward, curl them upward, then lower them slowly. Keep your elbows steady and maintain good posture.

Triceps Extensions

For tricep strength, start with three (3) sets of 10 reps of triceps extensions. Hold the dumbbell overhead with both hands.

Lower it behind your head and extend your arms back to the top. Keep your elbows close to your ears and your core engaged.

Resistance Band Pull Apart

This exercise improves upper back and shoulder strength. Begin with three (3) sets of 10 reps. 

Hold a resistance band with both hands and pull it apart horizontally until your arms are at shoulder level. Return to the starting position, maintaining tension in the band.

Lunges

Lunges are excellent for lower body strength. Start with three (3) sets of 10 reps per leg. Step forward, bend your knees until your front thigh is parallel to the ground, and push back up.

Keep your knees in alignment with your toes and maintain good posture.

Squats

Squats target numerous muscles in the lower body. Perform three (3) sets of 10 reps. Start standing, lower into a squat, and return to standing.

Keep your back straight, chest lifted, and knees behind your toes.

Calf Raises

Calf raises focus on calf and ankle strength. Begin with three (3) sets of 10 reps. Stand tall, raise your heels off the ground, then lower them.

To increase difficulty, perform this exercise on a ledge or step.

Plank

The plank is a full-body exercise that strengthens your core. Start with three (3) sets of 10-15 seconds and gradually increase the duration.

Position yourself in a push-up stance while resting on your elbows. Keep your back straight and core engaged.

Simple Weight Lifting Schedule

Starting your weight training journey begins with a solid schedule. It is essential to include a warm-up, rest days, and a structured strength training program.

Warm-ups

Always start with a 5 to 10-minute warm-up session to prepare your body for exercise. 

This can include light cardio, dynamic stretching, and specific exercises at a lower intensity.

Strength Training Programs

It’s crucial to follow a program designed for beginners that encourages incremental progress in lifting heavier weights. A proven program is the 12-week beginner weight lifting routine.

Your weekly schedule should consist of 3-4 strength training sessions, incorporating exercises like squats, bench presses, overhead presses, deadlifts, and barbell rows. 

Rest Days

Incorporate 1-2 rest days after each workout session to allow your muscles to recover. Rest days are critical for preventing injuries and promoting muscle growth.

Remember, the key is consistency and patience. Stick to your schedule and stay dedicated to your goals.

Safety Tips for Beginners

Before starting your weightlifting journey, prioritize safety. Follow these guidelines to prevent injuries and maximize results.

Correct Lifting Form

Ensure your back is straight when hinging at the hips for exercises like squats, deadlifts, and rows. 

Keep your spine aligned, even if you are leaning forward.

Selecting the Right Weight

Begin with a weight you can comfortably lift 12 to 15 times. This helps avoid muscle strain and joint issues while still allowing for strength gains.

This also develops control, which reduces the risk of accidents and injury.

Adjusting Repetitions and Sets

When starting a weightlifting routine, it’s crucial to tailor the number of repetitions (reps) and sets to your fitness level. Beginners should begin with lower reps (typically 8-12) and fewer sets (2-3) to allow your body to adapt gradually. 

As you progress, you can increase both reps and sets for a more challenging workout. However, never sacrifice proper form for higher reps or sets, as this can lead to injuries. 

Always maintain good form and gradually adjust your reps and sets to meet your evolving fitness goals.

Pay Attention to Your Body

One of the most critical safety tips in weightlifting is to pay close attention to your body. If you experience pain, discomfort, or unusual sensations during a workout, stop immediately and assess the situation. 

Pushing through pain can lead to injuries. Additionally, it’s essential to rest between workouts to allow your muscles to recover and grow.

Avoid Locking Your Joints

To ensure safety during weightlifting, it’s crucial to avoid locking your joints. When you fully extend your joints, like your elbows or knees, you expose them to excessive strain and potential injury. 

Instead, maintain a slight bend in these joints while lifting, which distributes the load evenly across your muscles and reduces the risk of joint-related issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best exercises for beginners to start weightlifting?

For beginners, try exercises like squats, bench presses, single-arm rows, and overhead presses. Start with light weights and gradually increase as you develop strength.

Remember to perform each exercise with proper form to avoid injuries.

Can I start lifting weights at home, and what equipment is needed?

Yes, you can start weightlifting at home. Invest in a pair of adjustable dumbbells, a bench, and resistance bands.

You can also perform bodyweight exercises like push-ups and lunges.

What’s the difference between starting to lift weights for males and females?

There isn’t a significant difference in weightlifting for males and females. Both should focus on proper form, technique, and progressive overload.

However, hormonal differences may affect muscle-building rates in men and women.

How can I ensure proper form when lifting weights to build muscle?

To maintain proper form, perform each exercise slowly and focus on engaging the correct muscles.

Learn from reputable sources like instructional videos, books, and certified trainers. Avoid rushing or using momentum to perform the movements.

What should I do to prepare before starting a weightlifting routine?

Begin with a 5-10 minute warm-up that includes light cardio, like brisk walking or dynamic stretching. This will increase blood flow, loosen muscles, and reduce the risk of injury.

Additionally, start with realistic goals and choose a suitable lifting program.

Is it safe for a beginner to start lifting weights without a trainer?

It’s possible to start lifting weights without a trainer, but it’s crucial to educate yourself on proper form, technique, and safety.

Reach out to knowledgeable friends, watch instructional videos, or consider online coaching to ensure you’re following a safe and effective program.