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A Beginner’s Guide to Free Weights: 5 basic exercises to try for strength training

If you’re just trying out free weights, make sure you know the basics!

If you’re wanting to build muscle, improve coordination, and step out of your comfort zone, it’s time to look beyond the treadmill. Weight training is a powerful tool to challenge your body and achieve impressive results.

Studio 5 Health & Fitness Contributor Emily Nelson shared five effective weight workouts to jumpstart your strength training journey.


Understanding the Basics

Weight training can seem daunting, but Emily assured us that feeling overwhelmed is normal.

“If you’re not going to the gym every day and going straight to the weight section, you may feel intimidated… and that’s okay,” Emily said.

The key is to start with a plan. Whether your goal is to build strength or endurance, the approach differs. For strength, opt for heavier weights with fewer reps; for endurance, lighter weights with more reps are the way to go.

Mixing It Up

A rule of thumb is to vary your muscle groups. Training the same muscles without adequate recovery won’t yield the desired results. Emily suggested starting with larger muscle groups like glutes and working towards smaller ones. This strategy ensures a balanced workout and proper muscle recovery.

“If you do want to train every single day, make sure that you are focusing on certain muscle groups because recovery is part of building muscle,” Emily emphasized.

Form Over Everything

Proper form is non-negotiable.

“Form rules everything,” Emily exclaimed. “If you can’t do it correctly using weights, go less weight. If you still can’t do that, drop the weight.”

It’s better to use lighter weights or no weights at all than to risk injury with incorrect form. Hand weights are a great starting point—they’re approachable and versatile. Emily emphasized the importance of not getting too comfortable; challenge yourself by gradually increasing the weight.

5 Fundamental Moves

See above video for demonstration of these exercises.

  1. Glute Bridges: Start with 10 to 12 reps, focusing on the largest muscle group—your glutes.
  2. Reverse Lunges: Target the lower body with heavier weights for 10 to 12 reps.
  3. One-Arm Rows: Slow and controlled movements engage multiple muscle groups, allowing for heavier weights.
  4. Overhead Press: Maintain visibility of the weights in your peripheral vision for proper form.
  5. Chest Press: Laying on the ground helps preserve technique as you work your chest muscles.

It’s okay to start simple and build from there. Embrace the basics, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or follow trusted sources for workout inspiration. Stay strong and lift confidently!

Find more fitness advice from Emily on Instagram, @highfitnessemily.

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