Introducing a beginner to weightlifting should be done slowly, with the basics. If you are the beginner or a person teaching the beginner, the same principal applies.

Think of it this way, when you start a new job do you want to be swamped with a ton of information at the very beginning? Chances are you’ll forget 90 percent of the information and maybe even want to quit.

On the other hand if you are told to do one single task and then build on that task, you’ll retain much more information and will be comfortable in your job. Now apply this way of thinking to weightlifting. First start with the absolute basics, the body parts being worked. These are:

  • Back
  • Biceps
  • Calves
  • Chest
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Shoulders
  • Traps
  • Triceps

1st Phase, Weeks 1-3: Learning The Basics:

The beginner has never lifted a barbell yet and needs to learn proper form. This is where machines come in handy.

Machines provide a precise range of motion. This teaches the beginner how to properly perform the exercise in addition to how it feels. Now you must note all machines do not provide a good range of motion. This is why I limit machine work to mainly the Smith machine.

What is a Smith machine? Simply put, it’s a barbell that is hooked onto a rack. The picture below is an example of a Smith machine.

So when the person lifts weight on the Smith machine, the weight can only go up and down. The weight cannot lean to one side because it’s all attached to a machine.

And that’s why the Smith machine is good for beginners, it teaches them how certain exercises feel and develops their mind-muscle connection. It’s comparable to using training wheels on a bicycle. After a few weeks of using the Smith machine a beginner will be much more coordinated in preparation for barbell work.

In addition to using a smith machine, other key factors in the first three weeks are the use of low-intensity exercises. Examples of these are pull-downs, cable rows, lying leg curls and butterflies. These exercises strengthen your muscles in preparation for more intense, compound work such as pull-ups, barbell rows, stiff-legged deadlifts and dips.

The important thing to remember about weeks 1-3 is that it’s a priming phase. These weeks should be used to get you accustomed to weightlifting and how to use certain muscles in certain exercises.

2nd Phase, Weeks 4-7: Building A Foundation

At this point you’ve properly primed your body to weightlifting, and should be somewhat familiar with your mind-muscle connection.

The exercises to this point have been low intense, and here is where they get harder. The 2nd phase starts removing machines and uses more bodyweight and free-weight exercises.

The important thing to learn during the 2nd phase is proper form. Some exercises will be familiar because you’ve completed their machine counterpart in phase 1; however some will not be familiar. These are exercises such as dips, pull-ups and squats.

Research the exercises thoroughly and do not be obsessed with using heavy weight, do what is comfortable for 8-10 reps. Curling 65 pounds with proper form will build much more muscle than curling 85 pounds. by swinging your body.

3rd Phase, Weeks 8-11: Advancing On What You Know:

With 7 weeks in, you’ll notice you’re much stronger than in phase 1 and that it’s time to take the training wheels off. Machines are farther removed from the workout, and all that remains is using the Smith machine for total isolation work with shrugs and calf raises.

This phase calls for weighted, bodyweight work. While the average lifter will be able to complete a few reps, there are some cases where this will not be possible. If the beginner is obese then they may not be able to even lift their bodyweight. Or if the beginner has a low amount of muscular strength then doing these exercises will be difficult.

If you have problems doing weighted bodyweight exercises or even just bodyweight exercises, continue to work towards achieving this goal. Even if you can only do 1 rep, build on that 1 rep. Everyone starts somewhere.


After this routine is completed you’ll have 11 weeks of training added to your weightlifting experience. Since 11 weeks is a long period of continuous training, it’s time to take a week off.

During this week take the time to plan another routine. Evaluate your goals.

The Split:

How you position this split in the week depends on your schedule; however you must remember to give your body the proper rest. It is not ideal to do this workout on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday … your body cannot fully recover from a workout overnight.

Instead try doing a Monday, Wednesday and Friday routine for instance. This gives your body a full-day rest between workouts with two days of rest after the split.

Warming Up:

Warm-up exercises may be done and are recommended to gradually load your body with weight. Lifting weight with warmed up muscles will allow you to lift more weight than you would with cold muscles. To warm-up your muscles, simply do a set with about half of the weight that you will do for the normal set.

For example if you use 65 pounds for your normal set of barbell curls, to warm-up just curl the bar 10 times.

Adding Weight:

Muscles grow only to adapt to the environment you put them in. Don’t be afraid to increase the weight. As a beginner the most important thing you must know about weightlifting is to keep pushing yourself.

If you train with that same 65 pounds for barbell curls for a year, you will not make much, if any progress. Your body will long be adapted to 65 pounds and will have no reason to grow.

Aim to increase the weight every other week. Even if it’s only a five pounds increase (2.5-pound plate on each side), your body will have something new to adapt to. You’ll then notice a few weeks after increasing the weight, the old weight seems easy to lift. That’s your body adapting to its environment.


Ofcourse, your diet is very important, you can always check our “Healthy Food Thursday” categoty every Thursday in this blog for more information about the healthy food and what you should eat!