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The Fitness Zone

How to Start Strength Training
July 21, 2015 | by David Hood

You may have been told by a Personal Trainer or fitness professional the importance of strength based training in your usual regime. Gone of the days of CARDIO, CARDIO, CARDIO, nowadays gym goers are ALL ABOUT THEM WEIGHTS!

So you have decided your new goal for the gym is to start a serious strength training program? We all know the benefits of strength training for ours bodies; increased bone density, stronger muscles, better posture, increased quality of life, improved physique... So what is holding us back? David Hood, Fitness Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness NSW, talks about all things gains!

If you are relative new to strength training the best advice I can give to you is keep it simple. Sometimes less is more, remember that. If you are still familiarising yourself with the strength equipment in the gym, it is recommended that you seek a one on one training session so a PT can take you through each exercise so you master your technique and know where your starting point for weights is.

Most of the best strength programs for novices utilise these 5 main Barbell lifts:

Back Squat


Bent Over Row

Shoulder Press

Bench Press

Why They Work

Not only do these 5 main lifts produce a balanced program of upper body pushing and pulling as well as covering lower body strength, but they allow safe incremental progression to heavier weights to improve Nervous System adaptation.

For the volume of each exercise, 3x5 is recommended. That's 3 sets of 5 reps of your working weight (not including warm ups). Typically only 1 heavy set of 5 is advised for the Deadlift to allow adequate recovery between sessions. Rest at least 2-3mins between each set to allow enough time to recover. 3 Exercises are picked for a training session and you should train 3 days per week, with at least 1 rest day between sessions. Increase your weight by a small amount each week to allow steady progress on all your lifts.

Remember if you are new to this style of training, even if you start with light weights, your body will still need some time to adjust and recover. You will most probably, feel tight and sore after your first couple of sessions before your body starts to adapt to these movements. As you start to feel stronger and more confident with these exercises you can start to introduce more weights.

More and more people are incorporating strength training into their fitness routines for weight loss, muscular endurance, muscular strength and hypertrophy.

Technique is the MAIN focus when it comes to weight lifting, well more important than the amount of weight you have on your bar, so make sure you master the technique before adding on an extra plate and causing an injury.

Here is an example of a week’s training program:

Workout 1: (Monday)

Back Squat - 3x5

Standing Shoulder Press - 3x5

Bent Over Row - 3x5

Workout 2: (Wednesday)

Back Squat - 3x5

Bench Press - 3x5

Deadlift 1x5

Workout 3: (Friday)

Back Squat - 3x5

Standing Shoulder Press - 3x5

Bent Over Row - 3x5

Have fun getting strong!


David is a Fitness Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness NSW

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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