Weight lifting is a HUGE part of strength training.
Strength training is a type of bodily physical exercise that uses resistance of some type to force a muscular contraction which leads to an increase in strength.
This means weight lifting is the PRIMARY method for building strength.
Sometimes people may use body weight exercises to gain great strength (it is very possible) but the vast majority of strength training involves weight lifting of some type.
The focus of strength training is to 100% build strength.
The focus of training for strength is NOT to build muscle. The main goal is also NOT to lose weight. You will most definitely lose fat, but you should not focus on that.
Did you know that you can increase your strength GREATLY without getting huge muscles? This is true, but, if you want to get even stronger you will need to increase muscle size.
Often, building muscle size is confused with building muscle strength. The 2 things are not the same thing, but they are closely related.
It's important that you understand the difference in muscle size and muscle strength and their relationship. Once you understand this, you can set goals and reach the goals that you want.
Strength Training for Beginners
Most beginners start out wanting to know more about weight lifting or weight training or strength training because they have heard or seen the benefits of weight lifting.
Someone may have told them that lifting weights would help them to gain strength, gain muscle, or to lose weight. Weight loss (or the better term is fat loss and not weight loss) can also occur from weight lifting.
A great way for beginners to strength train is to start with body weight exercises.
Here's a list of the absolute best body weight exercises for building strength:
- Pull Ups
- Push Ups
- Handstand Push Ups
With just those 6 body weight exercises, you can build amazing strength throughout your body.
As a beginner you can focus on getting really strong on body weight exercises before moving to weight lifting. You can do this by starting out with very low reps on each of the 6 exercises I have listed out above. For example, start with a few reps of squats, a few reps of lunges, a single pull up, a few reps of push ups, a single dip, and a handstand push up against a wall.
If you are out of shape completely and can't do a single rep of some of the body weight exercises, you also need to focus on fat loss, cardiovascular exercise, eating healthy foods, and increasing your overall level of fitness.
If you can do squats as a beginner but can't do a single pull up, you can use heavy resistance bands and wrap them around your leg to assist you in doing a pull up. I do not recommend assistance machines. The heavy resistance bands allow you to do the natural motion of the chin up or pull up.
Same thing with dips, you can also use a resistance band to help you.
You might wait until you get much stronger on pull ups, push ups, and dips before you attempt to start the hand stand push ups.
One of the components of the WLC System (the planet's most powerful muscle building and fat burning system) is constant progression or making progress with your strength training each and every workout. When you eat right, rest right, and exercise right, you will be able to make constant progress.
This means you gain strength, build muscle, and burn body fat each and every day. Constant progress leads to quick results in terms of appearance, energy, and feeling great.
Strength Training Goals for Beginners
To make constant progress as a beginner to strength training, you must attempt to do more reps for the body weight exercises I have listed out.
Each and every day you workout, do 1 more rep than the previous workout. Since you aren't yet adding weight, adding an additional rep will be your goal. This type of strength training will greatly help beginners get strong.
Your goal should be to do 50 body weight squats (full squats and not some quarter squat or half squat). For example, this is a full squat:
For lunges, your goal should be 50 each leg. Lunges are not an easy exercise and will instantly improve your fitness level after each workout. I love lunges. Here's a good example of a lunge:
Some people have it set in their mind that they will never be able to do a pull up. They might think they are too heavy or they might believe they just aren't strong enough. That kind of negative thinking will produce those exact results. Instead, change your mindset and know that YOU WILL start doing pull ups and you'll get really good at them.
I will tell you right now that if you work hard, you will be adding extra weight to pull ups in the near future. For example, I couldn't do a pull up (not even close) when I first started. I've added over 100 extra pounds to my 240-pound body weight for pull ups. You can do the same.
For pull ups, set a goal of 10 body weight pull ups.
The guy in the picture above has never stopped doing pull ups! He has done 8,786,432,237 pull ups so far. Sorry, that was a bad attempt at humor. Hope you laughed.
A good goal for push ups is to do 50. You can start out with easier versions of push ups like doing them from your knees if they are too difficult.
Your goal for dips is the same as pull ups. Try to do 10 full range of motion body weight dips as your target goal.
All of these goals are meant to be achieved slowly over time. Don't start your first strength training workout at the maximum intensity and try your hardest to do as many as possible. That's not what you should be doing.
Start out with very low reps and let your body get accustomed to working out. This way, you won't be so sore that you can't walk or move. You don't want that as a beginner to strength training.
Strength Training Program
Once you have achieved all of the body weight exercise strength goals that I have listed out above, you will be in good shape now and ready to start weight lifting.
You will now be able to take your strength training to a completely new level.
You will need some weight lifting equipment to add additional weight to the best exercises. I want to now give you a list of the best strength training exercises when you have the right weight lifting equipment:
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
- Pull Up
The above list of exercises are the 7 core weight lifting exercises included in each every strength training program that you will find here at Weight Lifting Complete and within the WLC System.
If you want to see in-depth exercise videos explaining how to do these exercises, see this page: 7 core weight lifting exercises.
I've got a beginner strength training program for weight lifting:
1. Squats 3 sets for 5 reps each set
2. Bench Press 3 sets for 5 reps each set
3. Pendlay Rows 3 sets for 5 reps each set
4. Dips 3 sets for 8 reps each
1. Squats 3 sets for 5 reps each set
2. Overhead Press 3 sets for 5 reps each set
3. Trap Bar Deadlift 3 sets for 5 reps each set
4. Chin Ups 3 sets for 8 reps each set
For the above strength training program, you will do a weight lifting workout 3 times per week. Here's an example of the schedule:
- Day 1: Workout A
- Day 2: Rest
- Day 3: Workout B
- Day 4: Rest
- Day 5: Workout A
- Day 6: Rest
- Day 7: Rest
- Day 1: Workout B
- Day 2: Rest
- Day 3: Workout A
- Day 4: Rest
- Day 5: Workout B
- Day 6: Rest
- Day 7: Rest
You repeat the above weight lifting schedule. Simply alternate workouts and have at least a day of rest between the workouts.
The starting weights or resistance for the exercises above should start out very low or very light.
Don't worry, you will be getting stronger and increasing the weight often. For example, if you started out with just the bar on squats and increase the weight by 5 pounds on average each week, you'll be at nearly a 300-pound squat by the end of the year (since you take breaks when using the WLC System every 6 to 15 weeks).
Strength Training Workouts
Within the WLC Workouts Manual, I have many different strength training workouts. These are workout programs that focus on strength gains only.
Earlier I mentioned the relationship between strength and size. Please read this so you understand: The Relationship Between Strength and Size.
So strength training workouts might focus on building muscle BUT then they wouldn't be labeled as “strength training workouts,” right? You might label those as muscle building workouts or size building workouts.
So I want to give you an example of another strength training workout program so you can learn more about how to train for maximum strength.
There are 4 different workouts in this weight training program:
Workout A (ramped sets to highest weight on last set)
1. Trap Bar Deadlift 5 sets for 5 reps
2. Chin Up 5 sets for 5 reps
3. Curl 5 sets for 8 reps
Workout B (ramped sets to highest weight on last set)
1. Flat Bench Press 5 sets for 5 reps
2. Three Board Bench Press 3 sets for 3 reps
3. Triceps Pushdown 5 sets for 8 reps
4. Lateral Raise 5 sets for 8 reps
Workout C (constant weight for each set)
1. Pendlay Rows 5 sets for 5 reps
2. Squat 5 sets for 5 reps
Workout D (constant weight for each set)
1. Flat Bench Press 5 sets for 5 reps
2. Dips 3 sets for 8 reps
3. Dumbbell Overhead Press 5 sets for 8 reps
These are example workouts from the 1/3/5/7 Strength Specific 5×5 Split Strength Training Program within the WLC Workouts Manual.
The workouts change sets and reps once you reach Week 5. The overall volume is decreased once you hit Week 5, but the increases in the amount of weight you are lifting continue. When you make changes like this, strength gains can sky rocket.
For a workout program like this, strength gains are the focus but you will also gain lean muscle mass. For women, lean muscle mass leads to a toned and sexy body with curves. For men, lean muscle mass leads to a muscular and ripped body.
Strength Training for Weight Loss
If weight loss is your goal, strength training can definitely help in all the right ways. But you need to understand the difference in weight loss and fat loss first.
Fat loss is your goal. Weight loss should never be your goal as explained in the link above. Please understand this.
Every strength training workout you do should focus on gaining strength. Every exercise and every set that you do must focus on getting stronger. If you focus on getting stronger as a goal of your workouts, you will have MUCH better success.
If you focus on burning calories, you will fail.
For example, some strength training advice you will find on the internet talks about using 3 pound dumbbells and doing hundreds upon hundreds of reps just to burn calories. You do the same workouts over and over with the same 3 pound dumbbells and same workouts. Boring. Doesn't work.
Weight loss should come in the form of fat loss. Your diet plan and you cardiovascular exercise workout plan will take care of fat loss for you. Strength training workouts are NOT for weight loss or fat loss. Those are for building strength primarily and building muscle or “keeping” muscle while you lose fat.
If you don't focus on burning maximum calories during your weight training workouts, you will instead choose to do workouts like the ones I have listed on this page.
These types of workouts have you lifting heavier weight over time and getting stronger and stronger.
When you get stronger, you aren't losing any of your lean muscle mass. This is important because lean muscle mass works for you, burns calories even when you're resting, and helps you to burn body fat even faster.
If you lose muscle mass while your goal is maximum weight loss, you will simply end up with the “skinny-fat” look. You'll be smaller but still have all the body fat.
So let me state this one final time: strength training for weight loss is the incorrect goal!
Focus your weight lifting efforts on gaining strength. Use your diet and cardio to take care of the fat loss. The WLC System explains all of this in detail and gives you the correct strategy.
Strength Training Exercises
There are hundreds upon hundreds of strength training exercises that are great for building muscle and strength. I constantly change the exercises I do within my workouts. I then focus on getting as strong as I possibly can on the new exercises I am doing.
Once I get really strong on a specific exercise and have trouble increasing the amount of weight and reps I am doing (after trying many other strategies), that's when I switch weight lifting exercises.
For example, once I am very strong on lunges and am having trouble making further progress, I switch to front squats. I will then work hard over the next several months to get really strong on front squats.
So it's a must to have a huge list of the best strength training exercises. Below, I have only listed out 5 alternates for each of the 7 core exercise movements when using the WLC System:
1. Squat Movement
– Low Bar Squat
– High Bar Squat
– Barbell Hack Squat
– Forward Lunge
– Step Ups
2. Bench Press Movement
– Incline Bench Press
– Weighted Push Ups
– Reverse Grip Bench Press
– Flat Bench Press
– Close Grip Bench Press
3. Row Movement
– Power Cleans
– Pendlay Rows
– T-Bar Rows
– 1-Arm Rows
– Face Pulls
4. Overhead Press Movement
– Standing Overhead Press
– 1-Arm Overhead Press
– High Incline Bench Press
– Handstand Push-Ups
– Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press
5. Deadlift Movement
– Barbell Deadlift
– Trap Bar Deadlift
– Rack Deadlift
– 1-Arm Deadlift
– Romanian Deadlift
6. Chin Up Movement
– Pull Up (hands facing away)
– Chin Up (hands facing towards)
– Rack Chin Ups
– Kipping Chin Ups
– 1-Arm Pull Downs
7. Dip Movement
– Parallel Grip Dip
– Forward Leaning Dip
– No Lean Dip
– Bench or Chair Dips
– Push Downs
So I've listed out 35 strength training exercises above and these are some of the best for building muscle and strength.
If you would like to see more of these strength training exercises, see this page: Weight Lifting Exercise Alternatives.
The most important thing you can do is to choose good exercises and simply focus on making progress with those exercises. Even if you choose not so one of the best exercises and focus on getting better at it, you will make great progress in strength gains. It's always best to choose the best weight lifting exercises, though, and I've given you a great list.
Strength Training Benefits
Benefits to strength training are absolutely endless. I want to list out just some of these amazing benefits. EVERYONE should include strength training in their lives! No one should go without weight lifting in their lives. Without it, you are truly missing out on something amazing.
– Become stronger and more fit. Getting stronger is fun and makes your everyday life much easier. Being fit makes you feel awesome.
– Protect your bones and muscle mass. As you age, you get weaker at a much faster rate and you lose lean muscle mass. Start strength training and you minimize all of that and can even reverse that trend.
– Keeps body fat off of you permanently. When you lift weights and gain muscle, you gain active tissue that works for you and helps to burn fat. When you do strength training the correct way, you get permanent results. No more high levels of body fat.
– Improves balance, posture, and coordination. You will improve your balance which prevents you from falling later in your life. Falling is very dangerous as you age. Your posture improves which helps you feel better too.
– Decreases chance of chronic disease. Decrease the chance for arthritis or treat pain from arthritis by lifting weights. This is just one small example. There are hundreds of examples of strength training reducing disease.
– Improves your mood and boosts energy levels. Weight lifting is absolutely amazing at improving your mood. Your energy levels will completely skyrocket. It has done it for me since the year 2000, and I've never quit since then.
– Burns more calories. I've already talked about it some, but getting up and moving will always burn more calories than just sitting there. High intensity exercise like strength training burns more calories than most anything else you are doing.
– Balances your body. Strength training will build muscle and strength in all the right place. 1-leg or 1-arm exercises like lunges and 1-arm snatch will help balance the musculature in your body and even prevent injuries in the future.
– Builds flexibility. Weight lifting exercises will lead to more flexibility and mobility. During warm-ups with the WLC System workouts, you will do dynamic stretches and after weight lifting exercises you will implement weighted stretching. You will become very mobile and flexible.
– Reduce back pain. I've never had back pain in my life because I have made my entire body strong and flexible. Back pain is very common! Your core (including abs) will become very strong when you do the exercise movements I've listed on this page.
– Increases your work capacity. I can work with the best of them. I attribute this to the weight training and strength training I have done since the year 2000. You have physical work outside for me to do? I can do it. Many people can't handle tough physical work. You will be able to once you are good at strength training.
– Reduces blood pressure. High blood pressure isn't fun at all and you are at an increased risk of dying. You need to start exercising and eating right and not depend on medicine to mask all of your discipline problems with eating properly and exercising properly.
– Enhances mental health. Your brain is running your life. All the decisions you make come from there. Do you want to make better decisions and have a clearer mind? Strength training will lead to greatly enhance mental health. Strength training improves self esteem, cognitive abilities, depression, and even anxiety.
I could go on and on for a long time. Strength training benefits are endless. You need to start getting some of those benefits.
Conclusions About Strength Training
Now you have no reason to not get started with strength training. I've listed some of the most popular items about strength training:
- Strength Training for Beginners. I've talked about how to easily get started if you are a true beginner. You don't need anything but your body to get started. Get down and give me some squats and some push ups. Work on getting better each day by increasing the number of repetitions you are doing. This is how you get stronger and fitter.
- Strength Training Program. Once you've passed the beginner status, it's time to start a program by adding weight. You'll need to find a gym or purchase some weight lifting equipment. Just a simple pair of adjustable dumbbells is enough to get started. It doesn't take much. I've given you a sample strength training program and how to make progress.
- Strength Training Workouts. I've explained the difference in muscle building workouts and strength training workouts. I provided you with sample workouts for an awesome strength training program inside the WLC Workouts Manual. Your focus should be on strength gains.
- Strength Training for Weight Loss. I talked about why weight loss is not the goal you should have for your weight lifting workouts. Strength training should always focus on strength gains. Do not focus workouts on burning calories. This doesn't work. I explained why.
- Strength Training Exercises. I gave you a HUGE list of the best exercises in existence. Once you get really strong on the exercise of your choice and are having trouble getting stronger, you can switch over to a new exercise and work on getting really strong on the new exercise. Then, when you go back to the first exercise, you will skyrocket past your previous best!
- Strength Training Benefits. If you aren't strength training right now, you are in for a HUGE SURPRISE once you begin. You'll love it because of all the benefits you will receive. I've listed 12 of these benefits but there are an endless number of benefits. You've got to get started today, and you've found the perfect place (Weight Lifting Complete) to help you get started the right way.
If you have any further questions about strength training, you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. The most important thing you can do today is to simply “just get started” with strength training!