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The Ultimate Beginner Weightlifting Routine

When first beginning a weight lifting routine, many people make the mistake of picking too many exercises and exercises not ideal for their goals.

With the wealth of information available to people, it is sometime hard to distinguish between a good workout routine and a bad one. In this article, I will discuss the main principles of fitness routines and the best routines for beginner lifters.

According to Principles and Labs for Fitness and Wellness by Wener and Sharon Hoeger (2010), there are eight basic fitness principles that need to be taken into consideration when designing or picking your first workout routine. Understanding these will ensure your routine is always challenging and effective.

To remember the first four principles, think of the acronym SPORT:

• Specificity: every lifter has different needs, goals, and limitations. A program should be customized to the individual.

• Progression: a program should gradually increase in difficulty. This can be accomplished by altering the FITT principles.

• Overload: in order to see results and build muscle, a routine must place the body under stress and continually force it to adapt.

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• Reversibility: the body will lose strength and muscle mass if not trained consistently.

• Tedium: keep your workout fun and interesting – you are more likely to stick to something you enjoy doing.

The next four principles can be remembered by the acronym FITT:

• Frequency: how often will you train?

• Intensity: how much rest will you get? How many sets? Reps?

• Time: how long will you train?

• Type: what program and methods will work best for you? Will you do full body workouts? How much cardio will you do?

All good programs need to address these principles in order to be effective. New lifters would do well to assess their program and, keeping their goals in mind, determine if they need to make any changes.

A simple, efficient strength training routine often recommended to beginners is Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe (2007). This routine will work great for novice lifters because it focuses on progression and overload – the two most common principles beginners forget. On Starting Strength (SS), you will train three days per week on non-consecutive days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday/ Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, ect). Alternate between workout A and workout B:

Workout A

Squat 3 x 5 (3 sets of 5 reps)
Bench 3 x 5
Deadlift 1 x 5

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Workout B

Squat 3 x 5
Press 3 x 5
Power Clean 5 x 3

These compound lifts should help you increase strength and muscle mass quickly, as you are adding weight to each lift every session. For a more in-depth explanation of SS, refer to Mark Rippetoe’s website http://startingstrength.com or the Bodybuilding.com Forum Page. Alternatively, you can find his book at most major bookstores across the country.

It is my hope that with the information on this page you are able to design and/or choose a workout plan that fits your needs and addresses your goals. The end result should be a routine which is fun, challenging, and gets you results!


Hoeger, Wener W. K., and Sharon A. Hoeger. Principles and Labs for Fitness and Wellness. Belmont: Brooks/Cole Pub Co, 2010. Print

Rippetoe, Mark. Starting Strength, Basic Barbell Training. 2nd. Wichita Falls: The Aasgaard Company, 2009. Print

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