- How to begin strength training
- Questions you need to ask yourself
- Why seeking out for advice is important
- How to plan the work and work the plan
Step 1: Get medical clearance
You need to get medical clearance to start with strength training. Most people are healthy and there aren’t any counter-indications of starting a strength training program, but some people aren’t ready for it, so medical clearance is a non-negotiable.
Step 2: Start with the end in mind
You need to ask yourself what do I want to get out of this training, what do you want to achieve. Setting a specific goal is important, because it will determine
– The training mode (free weights, machines, bodyweight resistance, etc)
– The training method
– The training intensity (how heavy or intense you need to train)
– The training frequency (how many training sessions in a week)
– The training volume (higher or lower volume)
Step 3: Are you in it for the long haul?
The simple reason for this question is, that if you want to maximally benefit from strength training, there is no way around the fundamental exercises, such as squatting, variations of the Olympic lifts and other so-called compound movements. If you want to use these exercises, you need to invest time and effort in learning these exercises. For example with the athletes that join our development program, we take 6 – 12 month to really learn the techniques of the exercises before we think about loading the exercises. And even after that period, a big part of the training will always be reserved for consolidating and perfecting the technique.
Step 4: Seek out for help
I strongly believe in seeking out for advice from a professional who has experience in the field. You can try to do it alone, as I did it when I started out, but it’s a long way of using trial and error. So better asked someone who can save you a few trials that will lead to errors.
Step 5: Plan the work and work the plan
If you have the time, look at a period of 12 weeks (or better two times 12 weeks) and break it down into cycles of 4 weeks. Plan out the weeks, 3 training weeks in which you either increase intensity from week to week or volume from week to week and the fourth week as an unloading week reducing volume and / or intensity. Decide how many training session a week you need to do and plan them into your weekly calendar. Don’t miss any sessions!
Bonus step: Evaluate the plan and adjust or continue
This isn’t actually part of the ‘how to begin discussion’, because you already began. But it’s an important step for long-term success, so I wanted to put it in.Look if the plan brought you the results you mapped out in your goal setting. If you met your goals continue with the plan. If you didn’t meet the goals, look at where it went wrong and adjust. This can be a tricky one, because most of the times, the goals set out are too ambitious and unrealistic, so it’s not that the training plan didn’t work, it’s the goals were too high to achieve.
Look if the plan brought you the results you mapped out in your goal setting. If you met your goals continue with the plan. If you didn’t meet the goals, look at where it went wrong and adjust. This can be a tricky one, because most of the times, the goals set out are too ambitious and unrealistic, so it’s not that the training plan didn’t work, it’s the goals were too high to achieve.