A Beginner’s Guide To Weightlifting

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As heathens and nationalists, it is necessary to put pressure on each other to maintain a reasonable level of physical fitness. In order to build and maintain a strong and healthy community, it will require the effort of strong and healthy men and women. Weak men cannot provide for or protect their tribe, nor can weak women produce or raise desirable offspring. While there are groups who put a considerable amount of focus on achieving physical growth, there are still too many among us who have neglected to develop themselves in this area.

I understand that some people are struggling with conditions that make it difficult for them to pursue fitness at the same level of intensity as others. But considering that there are many examples of competitive athletes with extreme disadvantages, such as missing limbs, who are out-training fully functional men and women; it is hard to believe that you are incapable of, at the very least, finding a way to raise your heart rate for 20-60 minutes on a daily basis. Because of this, I encourage everyone to put more pressure on the people around them. Group accountability will go a long way in achieving a community of superior health and fitness.

If you are currently out of shape, don’t allow that to be the final reflection of your capabilities as a man or woman. Life happens, and sometimes weakness can overcome even the strongest of people. What truly matters is your ability to acknowledge that your current conditions are not honorable or desirable, as well as making the decision to take action and change those conditions. Be bold. Help yourself. And others will come to aid you in your journey.

Getting Started

When it comes to weightlifting, most beginners want extreme results, as fast as they can achieve them. Often they take on programs that they aren’t ready for and sabotage their overall results, or their ability to maintain those results long term. They also risk experiencing a serious sports injury, which could lead to a significant setback that lasts for months or even years.

I am of the opinion that, if you’re going to set out to achieve something, then you should put in the time and effort to learn how to do it right. You should break the skill down to its most basic elements, and master these foundational areas, before proceeding onto more advanced goals. When it comes to weightlifting, not only will this mindset help you to prevent serious injury, but it will also give you the skills you need to make and maintain long-term progress.

As a new lifter, you will benefit the most by learning the muscle memory that allows you to perform basic exercises correctly. Instead of jumping immediately into seeing how much you can lift without any prior education. Proper form not only helps prevent injuries but also ensures that you are targeting muscle fibers correctly, leading to superior results from your time in the gym.

Your primary focus should be on perfecting the performance of the main lifts, which will essentially target every large muscle group, as well as the basic functional movements of the human body. These lifts include The Military Press, The Bench Press, The Row, The Deadlift, and The Squat. If you’re a freak, like me, and have to punish yourself further; some isolation movements can be thrown in as a secondary objective. Although, as an absolute beginner, the main lifts will be enough to stimulate the growth of neurological strength and muscle mass. With any skill, the best advice I can give you is to “keep it simple and build from there.”

When it comes to learning proper form, there are plenty of free pictures and video materials available to you online. In fact, you probably won’t live long enough to go through all of the video tutorials on the proper squat form. But in your own best interest, I highly recommend working with an experienced trainer to help you get started.

The Warm-up 

A warm up properly prepares your body for a high-stress workout. Failing to perform a proper warm-up, will not only increase your chances of injury, but could also hurt your overall performance.

An individual’s warm-up is a very personal thing. The longer you lift, and the more you become familiar with your body, the better your warm-up will work. Over time, you will begin to recognize what joints and muscles need the most care, which is likely to differ from day to day. Meaning that your warm-up is also likely to change from workout to workout.

Prior to the following exercises, it might be beneficial to perform a general warm-up procedure. Especially if you’re working out in the morning or during colder times of the year. This should include a few minutes on the treadmill,  performing jumping jacks, or jumping rope. You might also consider it beneficial to include specific foam rolling exercises or stretches.

The following exercises serve to prepare and mobilize your hip and shoulder joints. As well as to activate the key muscles surrounding those joints. Remember that the warm-up should adequately prepare your body for the rest of the workout, without wearing you out before you begin.

The Thoracic Rotation

ThoracicRotation

This movement focuses on the thoracic spine. Improved thoracic spine mobility makes it easier to safely stabilize your lumbar spine.

Beginning Position: 

  1. Start in a half-kneeling position, with your right knee down and your left foot forward.
  2. Both Knees should be at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Bend forward at the hips so that your upper torso is parallel with the floor.
  4. Place your right hand on the floor beneath your right shoulder and in line with your left foot.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Rotate your upper torso as you reach up and back with your left hand. Follow your hand with your eyes and make both arms perpendicular to the floor.
  2. Reverse the movement, pulling your left arm down, and reach beyond your right arm.

Do eight reps each side.

Hip Flexor Mobilization

hipflexor

Making sure your hip muscles are activated and ready to work through their ideal range of motion, is a several stage process. The following exercise targets the hip flexors, which are strips of muscle on the front of your pelvis. These get short and weak from spending hours sitting every day.

Beginning Position: 

  1. Start in the half kneeling position, with your right knee and left foot on the floor.
  2. Keep your torso upright and place both hands behind your back.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Squeeze your right glute muscle and shift your hips forward.
  2. You’ll feel the stretch down the right side of your pelvis and at the top of your right thigh.
  3. Relax and return to the starting position.

Do six reps each side.

The Glute Bridge

glute-bridge

Beginning Position: 

  1. Lie face up on the floor.
  2. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Place your arms out to your sides.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Push down through your heels to lift your hips off the floor, until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  2. Hold this position for two seconds and allow yourself to feel the contraction in your glutes and hamstrings.
  3. Lower your hips toward the floor, stopping before they touch, and repeat for 10 to 15 reps.
The Clam Shell

Man lying on side doing clamshell exercise.

The clamshell aids in developing hip abduction strength. Strengthening these muscles will lead to improved strength and power in the gym.

Beginning Position: 

  1. Lie on your left side with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Keep your abs tight and use your left arm to support your head.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Tighten your abs
  2. Lift your right knee as high as you can.
  3. Pause at the top and return to the starting position.

10-12 reps each side.

An alternative method of the clam can be used with a resistance band. Wrap the band above the knees and use your left arm to support your upper torso. Spread your knees as far apart as you can and hold the open position for 30-60 seconds each. If you can hold it for 60 seconds relatively easily, then its time to switch to a more challenging resistance band.

The Body-Weight Squat

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Beginning Position:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keep your toes pointed forward.
  3. Stretch your arm out in front of you.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Push your hips straight back, as if you were about to sit in a chair.
  2. Drop until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Return to the starting position, with your knees and hips following the same path they used on the way down.

Do 10 to 15 reps.

The Tri-Lunge 

Side Lunge

Beginning Position: 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Place your hands behind your head like you’re about to get arrested.

Movement Performance. 

  1. Step forward with your left leg, lowering your body until both knees are bent at 90 degrees. Keep your torso upright and step back into the starting position.
  2. Take a long step to your left, descending into a deep side lunge. Keep your left knee bent and your chest over your left thigh. Your right leg should be straight, with both feet flat on the floor and parallel to each other.
  3. Push back into the starting position.
  4. Step back with your left leg, descending until your left knee nearly touches the floor. Keep your body upright and step back into the starting position.
  5. Repeat this sequence with your right leg.

Do 2 or 3 three sets for each side. Remember not to exhaust yourself before the real workout begins.

The Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift 

warrior3poseofweek1

This movement helps to test your balance, opens up your chest, stretch your hamstrings, and contract the glutes. It has been used as a working exercise as well, but it is also a fantastic body-weight movement to include in your warm-up routine.

Beginning Position: 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Place your arms at your sides with your palms facing forward and thumbs out.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Slide your left leg back as you bend forward at the hips and raise your arms straight out to the sides. Your leg and torso should move together, keeping the same alignment until both are parallel to the floor and perpendicular to your right leg.
  2. You should feel the stretch through your right hamstring.
  3. Squeeze the muscles in your upper back to open up your chest and shoulders.
  4. Activate your right glute muscles to return to the starting position.
  5. As your left toes touch the floor, sweep your leg back to begin the next repetition.

Do five to eight reps for each leg. Do not exhaust the muscles.

The Military Press

military-press

The military press is one of the most basic shoulder exercises and also has some secondary benefits. The standing position requires a heavier demand on core and stabilization muscles. Making it a fantastic addition to any total body workout.

Target Muscle Groups: Anterior and Medial Deltoids, Triceps, Upper Pecs, and the upper back muscles that impart rotational force to the scapulae.

Beginning Position: 

  1. Load the barbell and place it on the floor at your feet.
  2. Place your feet at a comfortable distance apart and bend over to take an over-grip on the bar.
  3. Your hands should be set 3-4 inches wider than your shoulders on each side.
  4. Flatten your back and dip your hips to assume the right position for removing the bar from the floor.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Begin to pull the bar quickly off the floor by straightening your legs, then your back, and finally pulling with your arms to clean the bar to your chest.
  2. Fix the bar to your shoulders by whipping your elbows under the bar.
  3. Push the bar straight up, leaning your head back just enough to avoid smashing your face.
  4. Bring your head back to alignment as you push the weight to lockout overhead.
  5. Pause at peak contraction.
  6. Lean your head back again, lower the bar to the base of your throat.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

 

The Bench Press

Barbell_Bench_Press

The basic bench press has been called “upper body squats” by many old-school bodybuilders. You could get a very good workout just from performing bench presses, squats, and bent barbell rows. The movements place direct stress on virtually every skeletal muscle.

If your weightlifting goals include the development of maximal upper-body strength, then there’s no other option but to master this movement. For most males, this is something I would highly recommend, since physical strength is certainly an important part of masculine development. However, if you suffer from shoulder problems, or are training for general health and fitness; dumbbell presses are an excellent alternative. Assuming that you’ll have access to dumbbells heavy enough to train with, they allow each arm to work independently and add some extra work to your workouts.

Target Muscle Groups: Lower and outer sections of the Pecs, anterior and medial deltoids, triceps, and the muscles that impart rotational stress to the scapulae.

Beginning Position: 

  1. Load the barbell and lie on your back. Either on a flat or an incline bench.
  2. Spread your knees and set your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Take an over-grip with your hands and set them 3-4 inches wider than your shoulders on each side.
  4. Straighten your arms to lift the barbell from the rack and bring the bar into position at arms length, directly above your shoulder joints.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Flex your lats and pull the bar down to our lower chest, keeping your elbows close to your torso.
  2. Touch the bar to your chest and push the bar back to the starting position.
  3. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Common Bench Press Variations: Incline Press, Decline Press, Dumbbell Press.

The Bent Over Barbell Row

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The barbell row is fantastic for stressing virtually all of the back muscles. Variations in your grip can also allow this movement to target the biceps and forearms. As a standard recommendation, I wouldn’t suggest most lifters to use barbell rows on the same day as their deadlifts, to prevent an unacceptable amount of lower back fatigue.

Target Muscle Groups: Lats, Anterior Deltoids, Biceps, Forearm Flexors, Traps, Spinal Erectors, and Teres Major.

Beginning Position: 

  1. Place the barbell on the floor, setting your feet shoulder width apart, angling your toes slightly outward.
  2. Bench down, taking a shoulder-width over-grip on the barbell.
  3. Straighten your arms and bend your knees slightly.
  4. Flatten your back and raise your shoulders, making your torso parallel to the floor.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Moving only your arms, pull the bar straight up and into your lower abdomen.
  2. Hold this peak-contracted position for a moment, then slowly lower the bar back to the floor.
  3. Reset your body and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Common Row Variation: Under-grip Barbell Rows. 

The Deadlift

deadlift

The key to utilizing your deadlifts most effectively is not focused on how much weight you can lift, but on the proper engagement of the target muscle groups, as well as the execution of the proper form. Once you have mastered these two things, then you can begin to work on getting as strong as you can, without compromising the form you have developed. When it comes to building mass in your back muscles, or overall body power, the deadlift is king.

Assuming that you’ve never done a deadlift before, I recommend starting with a conventional deadlift, then moving trying out variations.

Target Muscle Groups: Direct stress from this exercise is focused on the glutes, hamstrings, calves, quads, traps, and spinal erectors.

Beginning Position:  

  1. Load up a heavy barbell and place it on the gym floor.
  2. Set your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing straight ahead, and your shins touching the bar.
  3. Bend over and use a shoulder-width over-grip on the bar. Keeping your arms straight throughout the movement.
  4. Flatten your back and dip your hips to get into the proper position. Your shoulders should be above the level of your hips and your hips should be above the level of your knees.
  5. Grab the bar like your life depends on it, as a hard grip will naturally tighten the rest of your body.
  6. Push your chest up and pull your shoulders down, naturally bracing your core, fixing your back into its natural arch.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Rip the weight from the floor, guiding it straight up along your shins, and to a position where it rests along your upper thighs.
  2. As the bar passes your knees, thrust your hips forward.
  3. Finish the movement by squeezing your glutes and shoulder blades.
  4. Reverse the movement and return the barbell to the floor, using the same arc as before.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Common Deadlift Variations:  Sumo Deadlift and Hex-Bar Deadlift.

The Back Squat

Back-Squat.jpg

The squat is one of the best lower body exercises out there. Combined with the deadlift, it is also one of the best bodybuilding movements you can utilize in your training program. It puts so much stress on the entire cardio-respiratory system, that using squats will improve your metabolism, making it anabolic.

Target Muscle Groups: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, and Lower Back.

Beginning Position:

  1. Place the bar on the squat rack, positioning it just below shoulder height.
  2. Grab the bar with your hands spread outside of shoulder width.
  3. Duck under the bar and squeeze your shoulders together, in order to create a platform for the bar with your upper traps.
  4. Lift the bar and step away from the rack.
  5. Spread your feet a bit beyond shoulder width, with your toes either straight forward or slightly angled out.

Movement Performance: 

  1. Keeping your torso as erect as possible, push your hips back, and descend to the floor.
  2. Stop when the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Without bouncing at the bottom of the movement, slowly stand erect, and return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.

Common Squat Variations: Body-weight Squats, Dumbbell Squats, Goblet Squats, and Front Squats.

 A Beginner’s Program

A beginner’s training program is most effective when it is simple and focuses on the foundational aspects of weightlifting. Not only should you take this time to learn proper form for the main lifts, but you should also take advantage of the benefits that all beginners have: fast improvement. The program below can be used by beginners for any training goal, for example, muscle building or fat loss.

I will start you out with two workouts, which will cover all of the main lifts above. You will have three training days every week and will switch off your workout in an ABA-BAB format.

So your schedule will look something like this.

Week 1

  1. Monday: Workout A
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Workout B
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Workout A
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

Week 2

  1. Monday: Workout B
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Workout A
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Workout B
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

The workouts themselves might appear too simple, but there is plenty of research to back up that this schedule is what is the most effective for beginners. If you’re serious about learning to lift and gaining long-term results: keep it simple and stick to the plan.

Workout A

  1. Squats
    3 sets of 8-10 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.
  2. Bench Press
    3 sets of 8-10 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.
  3. Rows
    3 sets of 8-10 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.

Workout B

  1. Deadlifts
    3 sets of 6-8 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.
  2. Pull-Ups 
    3 sets of 8-10 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.
  3. Military Press
    3 sets of 8-10 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.

For each set, you will be using the same weight. Start with a weight that allows you to perform the movement without compromising form. The last 2-3 reps should be the most difficult. When you’re capable of doing all sets with perfect form, you will then increase the weight in the smallest increments available. Usually around 2.5 to 5 pounds. As a beginner, you should be able to make consistent progress using this method for a long time.

Socrates-Strength

For those of you who just HAVE to mess with perfection and continue to add movements to their workout; here in an alternative schedule for you to follow.

Workout A

  1. Squats
    3 sets of 8-10 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.
  2. Bench Press
    3 sets of 8-10 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.
  3. Rows
    3 sets of 8-10 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.
  4. Tricep Skullcrusher
    1 set of 10-12 reps.
  5. Calf Raises
    1-2 sets of 10-12 reps.
    1-minute rest between sets.

Workout B

  1. Deadlifts
    3 sets of 6-8 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.
  2. Pull-Ups 
    3 sets of 8-10 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.
  3. Military Press
    3 sets of 8-10 reps.
    2 minutes rest between sets.
  4. Dumbbell Bicep Curls
    1 set of 10-12 reps.
  5. Plank and Side-Plank 
    1-2 sets 30-60 seconds each.
    1-minute rest between sets.

These workouts are more than sufficient for any beginner. Don’t sabotage yourself by lifting with your ego, or by making this program any more difficult than it has to be. I have given you everything you need to begin a life-long journey of physical evolution. Take the time to learn the basics and you will set yourself up for long-term success.

It is also important to keep in mind the importance of pairing your workouts with proper nutrition. As such, I recommend that you check out my article on Nutrition For Fat Loss & Muscle Gain.

Roman Eagle Long

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