Everyone wants to be super strong. The problem for new weight lifters is their central nervous system isn’t used to generating those strong contractions needed for a 1 or 2 rep max. You can do a set like that, but you’ll be spinning your wheels. I learned that first hand when I stared lifting heavy. What you need is a program for new lifters.
A weight lifting program for new lifters
The 5×5 program is probably the most popular out there for strength gains, and I think it’s an awesome program for new lifters who want to start lifting heavy. I’ll keep this simple so you can go right to the gym with this.
How to do the 5×5
- Pick three or four compound exercises (squat, bench, and deadlift are community staples. Chin ups and dips are also pretty awesome. You may need to do these assisted).
- Warm up with sets of five at progressively heavier weight to find the right load (This should take about 2-3 warm up sets).
- Perform 5 sets of 5 reps, going to failure or close to it.
- Rest for 2-3 minutes between sets (this isn’t a cardio session).
- Once all five sets are complete, rest for 2-3 minutes and move to the next exercise.
You will likely not be able to complete all five sets of five on your first workout. That’s fine. As long as you complete all five reps on the first set of each exercise, you’re good to go. The goal is to work up to completing all 25 reps with the same weight.
If you do not complete at least 14 total reps for a given exercise, the weight was too heavy. Try coming down about 5 pounds (2kg).
A workout shouldn’t last more than about an hour. Walk for 10-15 minutes afterwards for some fat burning.
Keep a log of your lifts so you can see when your progress stagnates. I recommend changing the variation of the lifts about every four weeks for structural balance, i.e. back squats to front squats, bench press to overhead press, etc.
When you stop responding to the 5×5 method, you can try out the Wave Loading method I also cover.
Every third week is a deload week where you only do three sets of five. Everything else is the same.
If you hit a plateau, try switching to a slightly higher rep range for a few weeks. Four sets of eight with 40 seconds rest is a nice place to go.
So you’ve been armed with an effective strength training program to start you out. Now get in there and crush it.
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