If you are new to resistance training, you may be wondering how to start. There are so many different philosophies when it comes to resistance training, it can be very confusing to a beginner. As a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist, I like to suggest a “Body Part per Day” routine. This establishes a regular commitment to weight training, without too much risk of injury. During the first week, the exercise may only last 5 minutes, and will increase to approximately 20 minutes by the fourth week. Try to perform 2 sets of 8-10 reps for each exercise, but do adjust depending upon your personal fitness level. The weight should be difficult enough to feel fatigue after the third set. Stretching is very important, and you should stretch that body part when you are done. I will outline good stretches in another article. Obviously, all beginners should check with their physician or physical therapist before starting a new program. This routine could last about 4 weeks. After that time, you may choose to repeat it, adding more resistance to each exercise, or start a more detailed workout, 3-5 days per week, incorporating more body parts on each day. Good luck!
Day One: Chest
For the first week, lie on a bench or the floor, perform dumbbell bench presses. In week 2, perform that exercise as well as push ups on your knees. In week 3, increase your weight for the first exercise, increase your number of push ups in your set for the seconds, and add a chest fly exercise with dumbbells. In week 4, do all previous exercises, but try push ups on your toes instead of your knees. For your fourth exercise, get in your bench position, and repeat the dumbbell press with dumbbells held close together.
Day Two: Legs
Perform basic squats during week 1 for your leg day. For week 2, add lunges. Alternate legs until your reach your reps. Add reverse lunges during the third week. Finally for the fourth week, get a resistance band and tie it around your feet and walk sideways in both directions for the same number of reps. If you can, you can hold onto dumbbells during these exercises to make the exercise more difficult during the month.
Day 3: Back
For your back, you may need to have access to a weight machine, or you can use resistance bands. For Week 1, perform a lat pull down with machine or use a resistance band tied to the top of a door. Pull the bar or bands down to your chest (not behind your neck). Add rows in week 2, again with a machine or bands, pulling straight towards your chest. In the third week, add bent over rows. Repeat both sides for the same number of reps. For your final week, return to the lat pull down machine or bands and pull down with hands close together.
Day 4: Glutes
For week 1, do some bridges. Lie on your back and lift your bottom off the floor. Add bench step ups during the second week. Add donkey kicks for week 3, where you start on your hands and knees and kick your leg upwards, keeping knee bent. Finally, add single leg bridges for week 4, where you lift one leg in the air as you perform your bridge.
Day 5: Shoulders
For week 1, work your lateral deltoids by raising dumbells straight out to the sides at shoulder level. Add anterior deltoids for week 2 by raising dumbbells to the front. In week 3, lie on a bench, and with arms at shoulder level, raise dumbbells upwards, focusing on the posterior aspect of the muscle. Finally, in week 4 add a seated shoulder raise, with dumbbells, or use a machine at the gym.
Day 6: Abs
For week 1, perform a basic crunch. During week 2 add a lower abdominal exercise where you lift one leg up, then the other, then each down, while keeping your low back flat. Week 3, lie on your side and raise both legs up together, trying to keep legs straight. During week 4, add a plank. On your elbows and knees or toes, lift your body up so it is parallel to the ground and hold as long as you can, up to a minute. Repeat 3 times.
Day 7: Arms
For week 1, perform a basic biceps curl with dumbbells. Add a triceps kick back on week 2. During week 3, add a hammer curl, which looks like a bicep curl, except your palms are facing each other. Finally during week 4, add a triceps dip, where you put your hands on the edge of a bench or chair and lower your bottom toward the ground and back up.