When it comes to lifting, where does one start?

The following post is inspired by all my friends who are participating in the Elf 4 Health challenge. Organized by Lyndsay and Elle,this program promotes health and accountability through social networking. If you think this is something you could benefit from or you like meeting new people and discussing health and fitness related topics, by all means go here and sign up!


Today’s challenge focuses on trying a new strength training exercise. I’m going to take a little time at the end of my deadlift session today to work on some light Turkish Get Ups. I haven’t had much success at these in the past, but I’ve also progressed a lot at lifting since I last tried them. Here’s a decent explanation of the overall movement: Step By Step Turkish Get Up.

I haven’t thought a lot until I started my ISSA studies about how naturally my love for lifting came. Initially spawned by a weight loss plateau, a loss of interest in body pump, and a curiosity for CrossFit, I quickly pieced together a makeshift home gym from Craigslist because I didn’t feel comfortable working out in public. I had a decent mastery in the classic lifts thanks to high school sports, but I still spent hours a day researching, reading, watching videos, practicing in a mirror with a broomstick trying to perfect my form and all the other cues that come along with safely executing a lift.
This is because I’m a crazy person.

20121206-150117.jpgClassic example

I always thought everyone was just like me and just needed a little nudge to start down the path of strength zen. I now realize that not everyone has a burning desire to be a powerlifter, and I’m thankful for that because it means less competition for me.

But I digress.

Thanks to all the awesome participants in Elf4Health who answered by survey about why they don’t lift weights, I got some interesting insight. Amongst the most active population, they feel that they just plain enjoy their cardio endeavors more. This is an important topic which I will address in the near future.
Today I want to touch on the most common answer I received. People aren’t lifting because they don’t know how to start. I sincerely get that.
A good lifter makes it look like second nature to show up at the gym, move from lift to lift in a highly calculated manner, and naturally know exactly what to do and how to do it. They have an intimidating confidence about them when they train.
Walking into the free weight section, picking up some dumbbells, and trying to figure out what to do with them is obviously not the best approach in your beginning phases of lifting. Without a plan and knowledge of how to properly execute a lift, you don’t have a chance to even start reaping the benefits of weight lifting. That being said, if you don’t strength train, you need to start. TODAY.. Here are my tips for beginners. Do them all, or pick and choose based on what you like or what you can afford. Please make sure if you have any preexisting conditions you talk to your doctor about what you safely can and cannot do.

  • #1) Hire a Personal Trainer.
  • Tell them that you are specifically interested in learning how to strength train. Get the most bang for your buck by being direct. If you already feel ok at your cardio regime, don’t waste your time or money having a trainer help you with this. A great trainer will comply to your needs.

  • #2) If your gym offers a Body Pump Class, take it until you outgrow it.
  • Although I don’t attend BP anymore because it doesn’t meet my training needs, if you attend a class with a decent instructor they will be on you like a hawk if you’re new. This is a good way to learn some lifts, get your form checked, ask some questions, and I think most importantly learn how to effectively deal with soreness as a result of lactic acid build up in your body. When you first start lifting you are in for a world of pain. It sucks, but it’s the truth.
    The more you do it, the less it will hurt. Unless you are specifically training with competitive lifting or body building goals in mind, you will eventually be able to reap all the benefits of strength training without ever being sore. In fact, I take lifting really seriously and have followed some pretty effective training models that have never caused me aches and pains and still delivered results.


  • #3) Learn to Squat!
  • You can do this at home using nothing but your body weight. Be aware it’s a lot more complicated than just putting your booty to the ground. Watch videos, read, have a buddy help you and practice in front of the mirror. Once you have a basic mastery in the movement, invest in some dumbbells and branch out into some weighted variations. You can find a plethora of these on the net using a basic Google Search. You can even email me privately at rebeloutions@live.com with a video of your squat and I will be more than happy to help you get sorted. (This is a win win for both of us, as you will be a big help in growing my personal training skills!)
    This method of starting small and working your way up to bigger lifts translates well into many other exercises including bench pressing and deadlifts. Often times your body will have imbalances (a stronger side or weaker side) and using a barbell won’t help you fix these right off the bat. Dumbbells can allow you to move in a range of motion that helps both sides get caught up to one another.

  • #4) Strength training doesn’t mean just using weights.
  • As a beginner, your own body provides a really efficient home gym. Push ups and dips are challenging. So is holding a squat against the wall or doing a plank for any amount of time. Find some body weight exercises that challenge you and get really good at them. Once you’ve mastered these you might be inspired to branch out in your practice!

    What I want to emphasize most in this post is that you shouldn’t be ashamed of not being amazing at something the first time you try it. One would be wildly negligent to say “Strap a barbell to your back and get low!” – without knowing you can efficiently perform a body weight squat. You have to learn to crawl before you walk. You have to learn how your muscles and joints respond to certain movements without overloading them. And you can’t be afraid to fail, because as you advance in your lifting career you will realize there are times when failure is highly effective.

    If you have any further questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to inspire you to reap the awesome benefits of the sport that has changed my body and life!


    10 thoughts on “When it comes to lifting, where does one start?

    1. Hi Martha, I have a very controlling husband can not workout on my own, at my own time, my own way, yet alone go to a gym…. I only have 8, 10, and 20lb weights… Do you have any suggestions on how I do any bodybuilding and still look great with very little limitations? Help!!!


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