You started this year trying to lose weight, and you did, however, you look nothing like you imagined. You look skinny, or maybe you are skinny and are wondering how you can build lean, toned muscles like fitness models.
The thing is, losing weight is not enough to get a beach body. Moreover, yoga, cardio, hours of stretching, and bodyweight exercises are also not enough to build lean, toned muscles.
The only way to build a beach body is through weight lifting.
As a beginner, you may have a few misconceptions related to lifting weights, like you are going to get bulky or you are going to injure yourself. However, most of these misconceptions are not true and are just there to stop you from realizing your goal of becoming strong, fit, and healthy.
With weight lifting, you can build bulky muscles as well as lean, toned muscles. It all depends on your choice. You will not accidentally get bulky or develop lean muscles.
For instance, if you want to grow your glutes without growing your thigh muscles (quads) or want your arms to look toned, you can make it happen only with weight lifting; Cardio, yoga, or bodyweight exercises are just not enough.
In this article, you will learn about the basics of weight lifting, simple weight-lifting exercises that can help you in building lean, toned muscle, and find a full-body workout routine you can use for the first few months, along with dietary tips to reach your ideal physique.
Let’s first go through a few myths of weight lifting:
There are many stereotypes about women and lifting weights. Here are a few myths about weight lifting for women and why most of them aren’t true:
1. Women Who Lift Weights will Get Bulky
Gaining a pound of muscle is much harder than losing a pound of fat. You need to take care of your diet and spend hours in the gym.
The thing is, casually lifting won’t accidentally turn you into a bodybuilder.
It will take years of training and following diet & workout plans that are focused on bulking. If you train to develop a lean, toned physique, you will develop only a lean, toned, athletic body.
Your physique will develop the way you choose. So, don’t worry about getting bulky. When it comes to weight training, everything is in your control. Your muscles will develop according to your choice.
2. Crunches Will Get Rid of Belly Fat
Spot reduction is a myth. You cannot spot reduce fat with a specific exercise. You lose fat all over the body. Moreover, crunches will not get rid of belly fat. They will only develop your abdominal muscles. That’s it.
To burn fat fast, perform exercises like jumping rope, burpees, running, etc. Crunches can help you build strong abdominal muscles but burn too few calories to make any difference (It can take up to 250,000 crunches to burn one pound of fat).
3. You Can’t Lose Weight Through Lifting
Weight lifting burns fewer calories than cardio.
However, weight lifting can increase your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn at rest) for up to 48 hours after you finish your workout. On the other hand, cardio only burns calories when you are doing it.
Moreover, Muscle is high-maintenance tissue, which means it requires a lot of energy for maintenance. This will further increase the number of calories you burn during daily activities.
In brief, you may not be able to lose much weight with weight lifting, but weight maintenance is only possible if you do weight training consistently.
4. Weight Lifting is Dangerous
Weight lifting is only dangerous if you are doing it incorrectly. With proper form, diet, and focus, you will only benefit from weight lifting. You can hire a coach to learn about weight lifting, or you can always read about it at fitnessgained or watch tons of youtube videos.
Basics of Weight Lifting
To maximize your results, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Breathe: Don’t hold your breath while lifting weights. Breathe out as you lift the weight and breathe in as you lower the weight.
- Warm-up: The best way to avoid injuries while exercising or weight lifting is by performing a 5-minute warm-up. To warm up, 5-minute of brisk walking or 5-minutes of jump rope is enough.
- Choosing the right exercise: You don’t need to perform multiple exercises for a single muscle group. One to two exercises per muscle group is more than enough. To grow your muscles, the best thing you can do is focus on your form, perform more reps, and increase weight consistently.
- Choosing the right weight & performing the right reps: This is the most important part of weight lifting. Always use weight with which you can perform 10-15 reps consistently, and your goal is to take that number up to 20 reps (as a beginner) with proper form. Once your form becomes impeccable, use weight with which you can perform 6 reps only and focus on growing your reps up to 10. However, in any case, or with any exercise, never lower your reps below 6.
- Getting help from a coach: You can learn the basics of weight lifting online. However, if you are still unsure about something, you should consider getting a coach or email me at (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Rest: In weight lifting, rest is as important as training. Make sure you take enough rest between workout days so that your muscles can repair and get stronger.
- Proper form: You have to make sure your form is perfect. Don’t ignore the form, even for a single rep. Proper form will lower your risk of injuries, allow you to move efficiently, and develop your muscles faster.
8 Exercises to Start Weight Lifting
These exercises can be performed with free weight. So, you can start your weight lifting journey from the comfort of your home.
This is the basic exercise for building glutes, quads, and calves. However, if done right, you don’t need any other exercise to grow your quads. You don’t need to perform a leg press or deadlift.
According to Tom Platz, aka The QuadFather, the barbell squat is the most complete exercise you can perform to grow your quads.
2. Bicep Curls
Bicep curls, as the name suggests, will target the bicep muscle. This is also a basic exercise. However, for normal lifters who are trying to tone their arm muscles, this is the only exercise you need to perform.
You don’t need to waste your time on hammer curls or preacher curls if you are just trying to build toned arm muscles. This exercise is enough.
Military Shoulder Press will target your shoulder, chest, upper back, triceps, and core muscles. However, it is a challenging exercise for novice lifters. If you find this exercise to be too challenging, try performing shoulder presses or simple push-ups.
Even after years of lifting, I rarely perform this exercise due to its difficulty.
4. Reverse Fly
Reverse Fly will target your rhomboid muscles in your upper back and shoulder region. This exercise will improve your posture, help develop a well-shaped back and make you look feminine and athletic at the same time.
Bent Over Dumbbell Rows will target your latissimus dorsi (the large wing-like muscles in your back), the middle trapezius, the lower trapezius, the rhomboids, and the posterior deltoids. This exercise will also improve your posture, improve your trunk stability, and hip stability.
Dumbbell Pullover is a complete upper-body exercise. With this exercise, you will target pecs, lats, teres major, triceps, anterior deltoids, etc. This exercise will also improve your balance, posture, flexibility, and range of motion in your chest and shoulder region.
Standing Good Mornings will develop your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. If you have lower back pain, performing this exercise consistently will help you fix lower back pain (This is the best exercise to treat lower back pain along with Jefferson curl & Back extension).
Caution: If you have never done this exercise before, start with lightweight only.
Bulgarian Split Squat is another leg exercise you are going to perform. This exercise targets the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. However, it isn’t as easy as Barbell squats, so you should consider starting it with body weight or lightweight only.
This exercise primarily targets the glutes.
This is another exercise you can perform to grow your triceps. However, apart from the triceps, this exercise also targets the chest, shoulders, upper back, and lower back muscles.
If you are not interested in performing Military Shoulder Press, this exercise alone is sufficient, however, you should consider performing more sets.
Moreover, If you are unable to perform weighted dips, start with simple dips. If you are unable to perform simple dips, use resistance bands.
Pull-ups are advanced-level exercises (Weighted pull-up is an elite-level exercise). So, if you aren’t able to perform weighted pull-ups or even simple pull-ups, it’s fine. However, you need to start training for pull-ups.
Even after months of training, if you can perform only a single pull-up. The strength, muscles & upper body definition you will gain will be extraordinary.
As a beginner, use multiple resistance bands to perform pull-ups, and as you gain strength, reduce the number of resistance bands.
11. Lying Leg Raises
Lying Leg Raises primarily target your rectus abdominis, obliques, and hip flexors. This exercise will also improve your balance, posture, and core stability.
12. Russian Twist
Russian Twist targets your obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, hip flexors, erector spinae, scapular muscles, latissimus dorsi, etc. Most athletes perform this exercise consistently as it helps with rotational movement.
You should consider performing Russian Twist with lightweight unless performing it is negatively affecting your form.
Beginner Full Body Workout Routine
You need to perform this workout routine 6 days a week (Sunday is a rest day).
You can take 2-minute rest between exercises and 40-second rest between sets.
Day (Legs + Glutes + Back) (Monday + Wednesday + Friday)
You need to increase the number of reps in a certain time frame or increase the weight with each passing week. However, you should never compromise your form to make it happen.
In some exercises, increasing the number of reps in a specific duration will be difficult. Try increasing the weight in those exercises.
- Barbell Squat: 5 sets of 10 reps / 3 sets of 2-minute (You need to perform squats for 2 minutes straight, if you get exhausted in between the set take 10-second rest and start again)
- Bulgarian Split Squat: 5 sets of 10 reps / 4 sets of 1-minute (You need to perform Bulgarian Split Squat for 1 minute straight on both sides, if you get exhausted in between the set take 10-second rest and start again)
- Reverse Fly: 5 sets of 10 reps / 4 sets of 1-minute (You need to perform Reverse Fly for 1 minute straight if you get exhausted in between the set take 10-second rest and start again)
- Bent Over Dumbbell Rows: 5 sets of 10 reps / 4 sets of 1-minute (You need to perform Bent Over Dumbbell Rows for 1 minute straight if you get exhausted in between the set take 10-second rest and start again)
- Standing Good Mornings: 5 sets of 10 reps / 4 sets of 1-minute (You need to perform Standing Good Mornings for 1 minute straight if you get exhausted in between the set take 10-second rest and start again)
Day (Arms + Chest + Abs) (Tuesday + Thursday + Saturday)
In some exercises, you may not be able to perform certain reps consistently. Taking a 10+ seconds break between each rep is advisable.
- Bicep Curls: 4 sets of 10 reps / 3 sets of 1-minute (You need to perform Bicep Curls for 1 minute straight, if you get exhausted in between the set, take 10-second rest and start again)
- Military Shoulder Press: 4 sets of 10 reps / 3 sets of 1-minute (You need to perform Military Shoulder Press for 1 minute straight, if you get exhausted in between the set, take 10-second rest and start again)
- Dumbbell Pullover: 4 sets of 10 reps / 3 sets of 1-minute (You need to perform Dumbbell Pullover for 1 minute straight, if you get exhausted in between the set, take 10-second rest and start again)
- Weighted Dips: 4 sets of 10 reps / 3 sets of 2-minute (You need to perform Weighted Dips for 2 minutes straight, if you get exhausted in between the set, take 20-second rest and start again)
- Weighted Pull-ups: 4 sets of 10 reps / 3 sets of 2-minute (You need to perform Weighted Dips for 2 minutes straight, if you get exhausted in between the set, take 20-second rest and start again)
- Lying Leg Raises: 4 sets of 10 reps / 3 sets of 1-minute (You need to perform Lying Leg Raises for 1 minute straight, if you get exhausted in between the set, take 10-second rest and start again)
- Russian Twist: 4 sets of 10 reps / 3 sets of 1-minute (You need to perform Russian Twist for 1 minute straight, if you get exhausted in between the set, take 10-second rest and start again)
Your dietary needs depend on your BMI and goal. Here are two possible scenarios:
Scenario 1. You are in a healthy BMI range
If you are in a healthy BMI range (BMI calculator you can use to calculate your BMI), all you need to do is calculate your macronutrient and calorie needs. Here’s a macro calculator you can use (If you are going to start weight lifting, mention it in the calculator so that you can calculate the calorie and macronutrient requirement correctly).
You can also use the cronometer app to track your calories, biometers, nutrient intake, exercise, etc.
Scenario 2. You are in an unhealthy BMI range
If you need to lose weight, use the ideal weight calculator to calculate your ideal weight and the weight you need to lose. Now use a macro calculator to calculate your macronutrient and calorie needs to lose weight.
Once you lose weight, shift to weight training.
Moreover, you can try the keto diet to lose weight swiftly.
Weight lifting is a great way to build lean, toned muscles, maintain your weight, build strength, and more. However, you should do sufficient research about an exercise before you perform it. Since performing an exercise with the wrong form can cause injuries. Moreover, avoid lifting more weight than you are comfortable with.
Diet is also very important. Keep your protein intake up, avoid processed foods or sugary drinks and stick to organic foods.
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