In this lesson, I interview fitness expert JC Deen, an author and coach, on the basics of strength training.
- Why strength training is recommended for both muscle gain and fat loss.
- How to get lean.
- The basic exercises to learn, and how to learn them.
- He recommended watching tutorial videos to learn, including Jordan Syatt’s videos (squat tutorial, deadlift, bench, more)
- A good basic strength training program.
- What to do if you’re absolutely new to strength training.
- How to progress with weights.
- How to stay motivated over the long term.
- How to track progress.
A must-watch video with JC!
Beginner’s Strength Program
(created by JC Deen)
|1. Barbell Squat||3||5-7||2 minutes|
|2. Hyperextension||3||8-10||1 minute|
|3. Leg extensions||2||10-12||1 minute|
|4. Barbell bench press||3||5-7||2 minutes|
|5. Barbell rows||3||5-7||2 minutes|
|6. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder press||2||8-10||1 minute|
|7. Cable face pulls||3||10-12||1 minute|
|1. Romanian Deadlift | article | video||3||5-7||2 minutes|
|2. Dumbbell Walking Lunges||3||5-7/side||1 minute|
|3. Body weight glute bridges||3||10-12||1 minute|
|4. Lat pulldown||3||5-7||2 minutes|
|5. Seated Arnold Press | video||3||5-7||2 minutes|
|6. One-arm Dumbbell row||2||8-10/side||1 minute|
|7. Band upright rows | video||3||10-12||1 minute|
Training Frequency: 3 days per week
Mon – Workout A
Wed – Workout B
Fri – Workout A
Mon – Workout B
Wed – Workout A
Fri – Workout B
Repeat this rotation every week, resting (meaning no weight training) on the days in between sessions.
How to Progress Properly // Sets/Reps/Weight
The goal of progressive overload is to consistently increase the resistance by adding more weight, doing more reps, or a combination of the two. Double Progression is what youâ€™re using.
Thereâ€™s a rep range for every movement to help facilitate this progress.
With each movement, you want to aim to use the same weight for all sets.
For workout A, youâ€™re starting with the squat. So after youâ€™re done warming up, and ready to do your work sets, you want to pick a weight you can use for all 3 sets of 5-7 reps.
Letâ€™s say you know you can do 6 reps with 100 pounds. Thatâ€™s what youâ€™d use for all 3 sets.
The main goal is to stay within the rep range for all sets, and eventually exceed it. So if you get 6 reps on your first set, 6 on your second, and only 6 on the last set, thatâ€™s perfect.
If you can only get 5 reps on your first set, and canâ€™t get 5 or more on the second and third set, then you should stick with that weight over a few workouts until you can do 7 reps reps on all sets respectively (aka double progression, detailed below).
Letâ€™s say you are able to get all three sets done with great form, and stay within the rep range (or pass it), then you know itâ€™s time to add weight to the bar on your next workout for that movement.
On Monday, during workout A, you did 3 sets of 7 reps with 100 pounds. Youâ€™d make a note in your log book to add weight to the bar on your next squat workout, which just so happens to be at the end of the week on Friday when you do workout A again.
Now most gyms are going to have 5 (~2kg) pound plates, but not all are going to have 2.5 (~1kg) pound plates. Itâ€™s my recommendation that you aim to add the least amount of weight possible so youâ€™re able to make progress over a long period of time without plateauing.
If you have the 2.5 pounds plates, perfect. If not, adding 10 total pounds each workout will be doable for a while, but not forever.
Adding 10 pounds to lower body movements like squats, and deadlifts usually doesnâ€™t pose too much of a problem. Adding 10 pounds every workout to your upper body movements usually doesnâ€™t last very long and will cause you to plateau.
Since weâ€™re dealing with rep ranges, meaning Iâ€™ve given you a set of numbers (5-7, 8-10, or 10-12) to work within, double progression is perfect for all movements.
Hereâ€™s how it works.
Letâ€™s say youâ€™re in the gym, and doing a set of bench press. Last week you did your 3 sets 5-7 reps and it went like this:
Set 1 // 80 x 7
Set 2 // 80 x 6
Set 3 // 80 x 5
If you go by my original guidelines of just adding 5 pound plates (10 pounds total), I can almost assure that you wonâ€™t be within the 5-7 rep range the next time you do bench press.
So instead of grinding sloppily through 3 sets and ending up with doing fewer than 5 reps per set, you should stick with the 80 pound bench press until you can get 7 reps on the first set, and to play it safe, probably the second and third.
Once youâ€™ve hit the upper end of the rep range, aim to add weight on the next session.
Notes on body weight movements:
Push-up* progression: When you can do sets of 15 push-ups easily, elevate your feet on a bench behind you.
Hyperextension progression: When doing the prescribed reps with body weight becomes easy, pick up a plate or dumbbell for extra resistance. Follow the same progression guidelines, and add weight slowly.
*this is a good substitution if youâ€™re not strong enough to bench press the bar
Exercise for Today
Review how your exercise habit has gone so far, and whether you need to make adjustments, in Slack.
Also consider whether you’d like to add strength training to your exercise routine during this course.