Beginner’s Guide to Weight Training Exercises
Don’t let inexperience hold you back from learning the best weight training routine—get on track with our fitness tips for fast fat loss and better core strength.
Q: How can I prevent injuries?
A: If an exercise hurts, stop. It's your body's way of telling you that something's wrong. Unfortunately, most guys would rather find a way around the pain than to find a fix for it. But in the long run, that'll just allow the damage to accumulate, causing an even worse injury.
So if a pain persists for more than one workout, or always occurs when you perform a specific exercise, see a sports-medicine doctor or a physical therapist before you pick up another weight. Muscle soreness doesn't count, but numbness, sudden weakness, or shooting pains are major warning signs of impending doom.
Q: How many sets should I do?
A: We should tell you ahead of time that there's a chance your gym's resident meathead will scoff at our recommendations. But remember, he's a meathead. So don't assume that big muscles plus ripped abs equals training knowledge. (There's a difference between hard work and smart work.) That said, use the following guidelines:
Muscle and strength: As a general rule, somewhere between a total of 12Â18 sets per workout is usually ideal. Any more than that leads to diminishing returns on size and strength gains, while creating the need for a greater amount of recovery between sessions. When you first start, you'll need fewer sets—say one or two per exercise—to maximize your gains. As you become a more advanced lifter, you'll need to add more sets for each exercise, but you can do fewer total exercises. So a beginner might do a workout that consists of two sets of 6-8 exercises, and an advanced lifter might do four sets of four exercises. The point: fewer sets of more exercises as a beginner; more sets of fewer exercises as you advance.
Fat loss: You can do a few more sets—15Â25, for instance—when your main objective is fat loss. Since you'll be resting for less time between each set, you won't be able to work your muscles as hard compared with workouts that focus on size and strength. So the extra sets will help you burn more calories, without increasing the time you need for recovery.