In Beginning Weight Training Part 1, I looked at some basic concepts related to beginning weight training programs along with defining who was a beginner. In Beginning Weight Training Part 2, I took a rather detailed look at some of the primary goals of beginner weight training which included neural adaptations, learning proper technique, conditioning connective tissues, improving work capacity, etc. since those goals guide how to best set up a beginning weight training program. I’d mention again that, fairly regardless of ultimate goal (e.g. physique sports, strength/power performance, athletic performance or general health), beginning programs shouldn’t and won’t vary too much. I will note places where they might vary to some degree below.
I’d make the point again that one huge assumption that is going into what I’m going to write is that the individual has no underlying issues (such as muscular imbalances or injury) that are oh so common in the modern world. In those specific cases, an ‘imbalanced’ program may be required to fix things. But since I can’t cover that in any detail, I’m going to draw up what is basically a ‘balanced’ beginner routine.
Today, I want to look at some issues related to loading parameters for beginners including intensity, volume, frequency and exercise selection. Quite a bit of research has actually looked at these topics in beginners (I’m unaware of much on exercise selection) and that goes a long way towards guiding the development of proper beginner programs.
Since I ran a bit long (as usual) today, on Friday, I’ll finally put all of this together and present some fairly ‘standard’ beginner routines along with suggestions on how to start, progress, when to change things up, etc.
As I discussed in What is Training Intensity? there are a number of different definitions of intensity that are often used in the weight training world; for the purposes of this article, I’m going to be using the definition of intensity as percentage of 1 repetition maximum (1RM). Now, 1RM refers to the absolute maximum weight that you can lift for one repetition. You can think of it as 100% of capacity. Training loads have often been set relative to that in terms of the percentage 1RM used.