Learning how to navigate a gym doesn’t come easily. It’s intimidating to walk into a gym for the first time and try to learn what workouts to do, especially when it seems like everyone around you already has it figured out.
But, it’s important to remember that everyone in the gym started somewhere too!
The best way to reach their level is to start with the basics of beginner fitness. Don’t focus so much on being as big as the guy next to you or as strong as the girl across the room. Just commit to being consistent and intentional with your workouts and everything will work out.
If you have no clue to begin, focus on the movements listed below.
Here are the 7 basic weight training movements you need to learn as a beginner.
Squats are one of the most common workouts that people do when they go to the gym. They’re meant to target your legs, but they do involve a bit of core strength as well.
The leg muscles that benefit the most from squatting are the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. You want to make sure you have a good squat form in order to challenge each of these muscle groups. Sometimes, a person relies more on their quads or their hamstrings to do a squat, which compromises how strong the other muscles can get.
The best way to avoid this is to work on your form without the squat bar. Look at yourself doing free squats in the mirror, then build up your strength to take on the bar and start adding weight.
Don’t ever go up in weight if it compromises the integrity of the movement. In other words, it’s better to lift a lighter weight and do it right than to do an improper squat with heavier weight.
Another exercise you can do at the squat rack is deadlifts. Deadlifts target the hamstrings, core, and the muscles in the back, too.
To do this motion, you set a bar on the ground in front of you and stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Then, you lean over and grab the bar from above with your knees bent. Next, in one steady motion, you lift the bar by using your legs, push your hips slightly forward and squeeze your back.
This is one deadlift. To repeat the motion, you set the bar down on the ground so that it barely touches the floor, then immediately lift it back up.
3. Bench Press
Squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are the fundamental movements you need to start learning about growing muscle and fitness as a whole.
This applies to men and to women. Ladies sometimes make the assumption that they shouldn’t bench because they don’t want “pecs.” However, incorporating a bench press into your workouts as a woman makes you stronger as a whole. It benefits your arm workouts, shoulder days, and back days.
It’s pretty simple to do a bench press. You start laying down with the bar above you, lift the bar off the rack, bring it down to your chest, then push back up. Your head should be behind the rack when laying down, and you should aim the bar so that it (almost) touches your upper ribs.
Keep in mind the bar alone is 40 pounds. If you’re not sure you can bench press this safely, start bench pressing with free weights and work your way up.
Up next on the list is pull-downs.
Pull-downs target the entire back. They’re a good workout to build strength with in beginner fitness, and then you can focus on targeting specific areas of the back.
To do a pull-down, you sit on the machine’s bench and raise your arms up to grab the bar. You may have to stand to reach the bar. Then, sit down and bring the bar to the top of your chest, squeeze your back, and let the bar raise back up.
Note, your back will need to be curved slightly upward.
5. Bicep Curls
Once you’ve learned how to target the major muscle groups of your body (i.e. legs, back, and chest), you can focus on smaller areas. You then want to move on to the biceps, triceps, and shoulders.
There are many ways to work your biceps, but the most traditional of all is a standard bicep curl. Stand with a bar in your hands and your wrists facing up. Keep your elbows in (close to your body, and lift the bar with an upward motion in your forearm.
Squeeze your bicep at the top, then lower the bar again so that it’s below your hips. Don’t rest the bar on your lower body, though. As soon as you finish the downward motion, pick it right back up to complete another rep.
6. Tricep Pulls
Triceps are a bit of a trickier muscle to grow. You really need to a build a strong mind to muscle connection when targeting this group.
The easiest way to build your triceps as a beginner is to do tricep pulls. You’ll need a rope and a cable for this. Cables are usually connected to the same area where you do pull-downs.
Connect the rope to the cable and raise it so that it’s above your head. Make sure the weight is set to a reasonable amount. Then, step back, grab the rope by its two ends, and pull down. Keep your shoulders in, hold at the bottom of the pull, then move the rope back up.
7. Shoulder Press
Last but not least, shoulder presses.
You can do these sitting down or standing up. Sitting down is usually better for beginners because it offers more stability.
To do a shoulder press, grab two free weights of the same weight. Hold them up with your wrists facing out and position your bent arms in front of your shoulders like you’re going to lift something up. Then, move your arms straight up and come back down.
How to Advance Your Beginner Fitness Workouts
The great thing about learning beginner fitness workouts is that these motions will follow you throughout your fitness journey.
Once you get the basics down, you can start learning different variations of these movements – like front squats, sumo deadlifts, preacher curls, and more. Your fitness knowledge will continue to expand, and your strength and muscles will reflect everything you’ve learned!
If you want to continue learning about fitness, keep checking back for more helpful tips and tricks!