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The 8 Best Strength Exercises for Beginners

Starting an exercise routine can be a bit overwhelming.

Where do you start?

What areas should your training focus on?

How do you ensure you are completing the exercises safely and correctly?

Many of our new members come to us for those very reasons.  As the #1 gym in N.H, we have established quite a niche for training beginners.

Of course, our new members have goals of their own. They want to improve their fitness, mobility, weight loss and strength. They want to look and feel better. We then go to work to make these goals a reality. 

But, at the same time we as coaches have goals of our own for our new members.

One of the biggest goals for our new members is to set a foundation of strength and proper technique with the exercises we will cover below. 

We consider mastering these 8 exercises crucial for our new members. This allows our beginners to build a great foundation of strength and proper movement.  

These exercises are also the foundation of almost every exercises we do in the gym. Getting really good with the 8 movements below allows us to progress to more advanced and intense exercises down the road. This sets our new members up for continual progress. The 8 exercises are also very safe. When choosing exercises for beginners it is crucial that they match the individual's current level to both improve their fitness but also keep them injury-free. 

This formula provides a great starting point for our new members and sets them up for long-term success. 

Let’s get into the 8 Strength Exercises for Beginners!

#1 Kettlebell (KB) Deadlift

The KB deadlift is one of the best exercises to strengthen and shape your glutes and hamstrings. It is typically the most challenging exercise for our members to master so take your time!  Beginners initially want to squat the movement by excessively bending their knees. The KB deadlift is a hinge movement where you want to move at the hips and allow your torso to fold forward. This movement not only teaches our members to safely deadlift in the gym but also how to safely pick objects off the floor outside of the gym. This is a great lead into the KB swing.

Key Points

  • Start one KB directly between your feet
  • Take a hip to shoulder width stance, toes pointed out slightly
  • Soften knees and push hips back (do not let knees travel forward)
  • Keep spine in neutral position with shoulders back
  • Grab KB and drive through heels to stand up
  • Finish tall with glutes squeezed
  • Start with 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

#2 Plank (front & side)

The plank could easily be number one on our list. Be sure to get really good at these as they transfer to keeping you strong and safe in all exercises. By improving the strength and endurance of your core, you will be better able to stabilize your spine during exercise. This will also set the foundation for more advanced core exercises down the road. 

Learn how to properly plank below:

Key Points (front plank)

  • Start on elbows with fists directly under your eyes
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep hips tucked under and glutes squeezed
  • Focus on long exhales through your mouth
  • Start with 2-3 sets of :10-:30 holds/side

Key Points (side plank)

  • Start on side with elbow directly under shoulder
  • Keep hips squared and high 
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep hips tucked under and glutes squeezed
  • Focus on long exhales through your mouth 
  • Start with 2-3 sets of :10-:30 holds/side

#3 Push-Up

The push-up is our favorite upper-body exercise and maybe even our favorite exercise for beginners. It is a great way to build the strength of your arms and shoulders as well as the stability of your core. Be sure master technique and work from an elevated hand position. The biggest mistake we see beginners make when it comes to the push-up is progressing to the floor too quickly. This progression will allow you to get stronger over time and keep your wrists, elbows and shoulders healthy. As your strength and core stability improves, work your push-ups closer to the floor. 

Learn the proper push-up technique below:

Key Points

  • Start hands directly under shoulders
  • Keep straight line from head to heels
  • Keep glutes squeezed and hips tucked
  • Lower entire body until arms are parallel with body
  • Keep arms back at 45 degree angle
  • Start with 3 sets of 6-10 reps

#4 Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is fantastic exercise to build lower-body strength and mobility as well as master your squat technique. Holding a kettlebell or dumbbell at your chest allows you to properly brace your abs, sit back and maintain a good spine position throughout. This is vital for keeping both your knees and low-back healthy. Finally, improving your goblet squat will allow you progress to more challenge squat variations like the double KB or barbell squat when the time is right. 

Learn the proper squat technique below:

Key Points 

  • Start feet shoulder width with toes slightly pointed out
  • Stay tall with stomach braced throughout
  • Initiate movement by breaking at the knees, sitting back and pushing knees out
  • Go as low as you can with no pain and good neutral spine position
  • Finish tall with glutes squeezed
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 8 reps

#5 Inverted Row

The inverted row is one of our favorite upper-back exercises. It is a great way to properly teach beginners how to row and retract their shoulder blades which is crucial for building strong and healthy shoulders. This exercise also works your entire body, including your core. Finally, the inverted row is a great lead into more advanced upper-back exercises like plank rows and chin-ups. 

Key Points

  • Start with straight line from head to heals, arms straight
  • Initiate movement by pulling shoulder blades towards each other
  • Pull yourself up, finishing arms in line with body
  • Finish by lowering yourself to starting position
  • Start with 3 sets of 8-10 reps

#6 Farmer Carry

The farmer carry is a favorite amongst our members. Think of these as a weighted and moving planks. Walking with weights is a great way to improve the strength of your grip, shoulders, core and hips. Carries challenge you to control your spine and aid in improving core stability and even improve cardio by elevating your heart-rate.

Key Points

  • Start with 2 kettlebells or dumbells in hands
  • Squeeze weights hard and stay tall
  • Keep shoulders back and abs braced
  • Do not allow weights to move around
  • Start with 3 sets of 40-50 yd walks

#7 Split-Squat Iso Hold

Before jumping into lunges, we like to start our new members with the split-squat iso hold. The iso hold mimics the position of a lunge, just without any movement. This allows beginners to slow things down and master the technique all the while building the coordination, balance, strength and mobility required to properly execute a lunge. Your knees will thank you down the road!

Key Points

  • Start in a long split-stance with front foot flat and back heel in the air
  • Initiate movement by bending back knee directly under your hip 
  • Drop down as low as possible maintaining 90 degree angles with front and back leg
  • Keep majority of weight in the front leg
  • Start with 2-3 sets of :15-:20 holds/leg

#8 Wall Dead-Bug

One of the most important areas to strengthen is your abs. Strong abs are crucial for injury prevention (especially at your low-back) and improving performance. Because the abs attach to the spine, pelvis and rib cage, strong abs are not only for looks. They are a big part of core, hip and rib cage stability as well as posture and total-body strength. 

Learn the wall dead-bug technique below:

Key Points: 

  • Start on back with hands on wall
  • Press and keep low back into floor
  • Keeping back flat, reach one leg out front
  • Hold this position as you exhale long and slow
  • Return to starting position and switch side
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 5 reps/leg

Our 30-Day Beginners Fitness Program starts June 1st!

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