Build Essential Strength with This Weight Lifting Plan

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The American College of Sports Medicine recommends adults strength train all major muscle groups a minimum of two times per week. Even with this specific (and longstanding) recommendation, we often underestimate its importance and some even avoid weight lifting altogether, getting stuck in cardio routines. Don’t let it happen to you!

Building muscle is a critical component of any health and wellness plan. Strength training provides numerous benefits, including protecting your bone health, increasing metabolism, enhancing movement quality, and preventing disease. And if you’re looking to lose weight or change the shape of your body, weight lifting actually is critical!

It’s still hard to know where to begin. There’s a lot of overwhelming and often contradictory information out in the universe. Many still fear “bulking up” or assume strength training is only beneficial if you want to get “swole” or “ripped.” It’s just not true. So we’re here to help and point you in the right direction.

Beginner Weight Lifting Plan

Our three-part plan is designed to progress you from the basics through mastery:

  • Level 1 will help you get started. The strength training circuit uses machines which can help ease you into weight lifting. While machines are often discounted, they provide a great opportunity to build confidence in the beginning! Follow this workout for 3-4 weeks and you’ll have a solid foundation before moving on to Level 2.
  • Level 2 is designed to get you off machines and into the free weight area. The exercises chosen require a bit more coordination and recruit more muscles (which means more calorie burn in the same amount of time!). We stuck with straightforward exercises in this workout that focus on all of your major muscle groups. Focus on increasing the weight you’re lifting and work toward including more functional, full-body exercises in Level 3.
  • Level 3 is our functional strength training workout. The exercises work the major movement patterns we use on a daily basis. These exercises require a bit more coordination and elevate the heart rate. You’ll look better and feel better, in no time.

Choosing Your Level

You should begin with Level 1 if you’re new to exercise, returning after a long(er) period of time, have several injuries or orthopedic concerns, or cannot comfortably lift more than 5 lbs. Begin with Level 2 if you’ve been working out consistently and have good mobility and general strength. Jump to Level 3 if you consider yourself an experienced exerciser, have been lifting weights consistently for over 6 months and you are pain-free with zero limitations.

It’s important to consult with a medical professional before beginning any physical activity. If you are working with a physical therapist recovering from an injury, our strength training programs should not replace your prescribed therapy plan. Progress slowly and if any exercise causes you pain or strain, limit range of motion, reduce the weight, or skip the exercise.

You should perform each workout two times per week. Be sure to select challenging weights to produce change, and give yourself at least 36 hours between strength training sessions. Finally, remember that strength training is only one part of your health and wellness plan. You’ll still need to be active, perform cardio sessions, rest, and eat well for optimal results!

View Our 3-Month Weight Lifting Plan


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Shannon Fable, 2013 IDEA and 2006 ACE Instructor of the Year, is the VP of Fitness Programming for the FIT4MOM® franchise. For more than two decades, she has helped impressive brands such as Anytime Fitness, Schwinn®, Power Systems, ACE, Silver Sneakers, and BOSU® as a fitness business and programming consultant. An experienced educator, freelance writer, and certified Book Yourself Solid® Business Coach, she helps fitness entrepreneurs navigate the industry and make more money. Fable serves as Vice Chair of the ACE Board of Directors and is the founder and co-owner of GroupEx PRO®, a cloud-based group fitness management tool.