The best strength and conditioning workouts for beginners

by  in Training

If you are new to fitness training and are looking for the most efficient way to achieve your fitness goals, it can be quite confusing nowadays as there is an enormous quantity of information available online about strength and conditioning workouts for beginners.

If you wish to speak to some of Hong Kong ‘s most experienced and proven trainers, please request a consultation here.

Also, there are new personal training gyms opening every month in Central Hong Kong who all claim in some form of being the best. This poses difficult choices for the consumer who is seeking the best and experienced trainers and programs.

My name Is Jeremy Meyer, I am a personal trainer in Hong Kong and the founder and manager of RAW personal training. RAW has been open in Central Hong Kong since 2009. I have 21 years of experience working as a personal trainer and have 30 years of training experience. Find out more about me here.

If you are new to strength training and are looking at improving your physique, fitness or body fat percentage in order to look and feel more athletic, here are 5 basic rules to follow when starting a strength and conditioning workout program.

1) First, assess and rectify any strength discrepancies or structural balance issues.

Before loading your body with heavy weighted barbell movements such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses, find out if you have any strength or mobility discrepancies between the left and right side of your body or the front and back of your body.  If you do, we can assist you to address them first by focusing on unilateral (single limb) movements. Not doing this will lead to injuries and joint pain which will stop any progress in its tracks.

2) Assess your movement efficiency and program exercises accordingly.

The human body should be able to perform the following 5 basic movements with no restrictions, pain and appropriate muscle control:

  • Squat to full depth while maintaining a neutral spine. (with no joint pain, forward/side lean/twist and the ability able to maintain a stable and neutral spine)
  • Single leg squat (pain free and with adequate ankle/knee/hip stability and mobility).
  • Horizontal and vertical push (with no shoulder/elbow impingement or pain, adequate scapulae stability and mobility)
  • Horizontal and vertical row (with adequate movement pattern and scapular control)
  • Hip hinge (while standing you should be able to lean forward by hinging at the hip joint only while maintaining a neutral spine).
    Ignoring poor movement pattern by loading the body too early in the progression can lead to serious injuries which will stop all progress.

3) Perform high repetitions (sets of 12 to 20 repetitions) for the first year of training.

Strength training requires some skill.  Beginners cannot stimulate their nervous systems efficiently and are still learning correct and safe movement patterns. Using heavy loads (3-5 repetitions) per set is not an efficient way to train for beginners. They cannot stimulate fast twitch muscle fibers when performing 3-5 reps. Fast twitch muscle fibers are hypertrophic or grow as a result of strength training. As long as sets of 12 to 20 repetitions are performed to muscle exhaustion while maintaining perfect technique, you will gain muscle in a safe and efficient manner.

4) Stick to the same program for at least 4 weeks.

If you are a beginner, you are still learning correct muscle recruitment and movement coordination for each exercise. As a beginner, your nervous system needs to become more efficient at doing each movement. Too much variety will cause staleness and a lack of long term progress. It would be like trying to learn 5 different languages at the same time. It is simply not realistic.

5) Keep a detailed training log and aim to improve by 1-2% each workout.

Given the adequate training program, beginners should improve their strengths by 1-2 % every workout. As long as perfect technique is replicated for every repetition and the program has been designed for your customized needs following the first 4 steps of this article, you will not sustain an injury and make swift progress in muscle mass, strength and body composition.

At RAW, our personal trainers at our Hong Kong studio, write tailored strength and conditioning workout programs for each new client.  A 90 minute assessment is first performed to assess structural balance, movement efficiency, body fat percentage, body mass index and blood pressure.

We keep a thorough log of your training program and expect improvement with every workout.

Come in for a free chat and find out how we can help you reach your personal fitness goals.

RAW Personal TrainingThe best strength and conditioning workouts for beginners