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Simple Weightlifiting Routine For Beginner?

I’m trying to find a simple and effective beginner weightlifting routine to do 3 times a week. I get overwhelmed having so many different work outs in one session, and I’d rather do a few core compound exercises so I can focus on performing them perfectly, but which ones would I need to do every day when working out 3 times a week to hit all the muscle groups? I’m brand new to weightlifting, finally got T levels up (on TRT for primary hypogonadism) and I’m really looking to make lifestyle changes. I’m willing to put in the work I just need a guideline to follow for excercise and diet. The exercises I’ve done before (barely) are squats and bench press, but I’ll also be doing deadlifts. I know that starting out I should use lighter weight and focus on form before trying heavy weights, so I will be doing that. I’d just like to do the least amount of actual excercises, to hit all the muscle groups. Not because I’m too lazy to do more, it’s just being a beginner, I don’t want to run all over the gym learning a bunch of different machines, when I can do the simple compound lifts and perfect those. Any input is appreciated.

Here’s a simple one that starts out with the basics. Then it gives you a step 2 and a step 3 if you want to mess with those in the future.

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5/3/1 Beginner’s sounds like it fits all your criteria

This a good start below, reading a bunch of this guy’s articles great also for overall diet and lifestyle advice…

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Do you mean the sport of weightlifting (as in the thing that is contested at the Olympics) or just resistance training in general?

This is such a simple programme. But I’m sure its effective. Kinda wish I’d seen it years ago when I was starting.

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Just general training.

Starting out would it be okay to just do 3 of those for a month or 2 to get the form down? its better than doing nothing. I was thinking Bench press, Squats, and Deadlifts 3 times a week. Would that hit the proper muslce groups? I’m familiar with those, but not military press or power clean.

You’d lack significant pulling. Swapping clean for deadlift is not really the same thing.

Form on oly lifts is difficult. But don6t get too caught up in getting the form spot on before you use them. You need to be safe; but its perfectly reasonable to start with power cleans and progress very quickly from there.

Also if you MUST drop an exercise, drop bench press. The press is a much better exercise.
However I still recommend doing the programme as written.

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Didn’t realize this was the blasphemy forum!

Just kidding. It’s probably sound advice, but I hate the press. I’ll recommend you choose the best (or worst?) of both worlds and do the incline! You don’t get the free-moving scapula from the press, which is kind of the whole point, but you nearly maximize muscular activation in both the pecs and delts.

Now that I’ve thoroughly confused a beginner that didn’t need any of that, I’ll see myself out.

In all seriousness, OP, I’d recommend picking a program you can stick to the whole thing and just do it as-is for some time. It’s really helpful both to learn why certain things work together and, pragmatically, so you just have a checklist to knock out on those days you don’t feel like going to the gym.




Yeah its ok I guess, I would add a little bit of rows/rear delt work tho to keep back/posture in line

Starting Strength also checks all the boxes you want. Just stop doing it when your weights stall, and they will after a few months.


I really wish people would stop recommending 5/3/1 to beginners…

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Seconded. Would love to see beginners start with 3x10-12 or even 15 reps instead.

I had my little brothers do sets of 8-12 for goblet squats until they could handle half their body weight for reps. Once that was done they began front squatting (5/3/1) and things are going great.

That first period really drilled form, the ability do to higher reps, and built a great base for their future. I don’t necessarily think beginners shouldn’t do 5/3/1 but I do agree that building said base beforehand works great.

I wouldn’t say 5/3/1 is a bad suggestion. But if someone will be all alone, without someone coaching them on form, I think there are other programs that may be a more suitable start. Goals matter too. Along with many other things. But the less I know, the more inclined I’d be to suggest what I indirectly just did.

Edit: Jim mentions closet bodybuilders a few times in his work and I think more people match that description than people that genuinely, overridingly, are concerned with being strong as fuck. Lean with some muscle seems to be more what people are really after.

@EyeDentist said it so well when he proposed that (paraphrasing) your training should be informed by whether or not one wants to wake up tomorrow and look twice as good but at the same strength level as they currently are or waking up twice as strong but looking the same as they are.

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OP, I think this is one of the best beginner programs out there. It’ covers all of the essential movements you need, and is not too fixated on a single discipline (like powerlifting or bodybuilding).


Care to expound?

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Sure. I could write a thesis on this, but I’ll stick to 6 reasons.

  1. The rate of progressive overload is way too slow. Beginners are brand new and should take advantage of the rapid neurological and physiological adaptations of lifting. They should be adding 10 lb to their lifts every session let alone every month!

  2. They haven’t developed specific skills yet with the squat, hinge, overhead, and bench patterns. A wider variety of exercises are usually much more beneficial, especially dumbbell and unilateral exercises so that they are developing all those stabilizing muscles. Build a foundation that’s balanced and symmetric before prioritizing barbell movements. Moreover, pulling this number out of my ass, but I’d bet that less than 5% of new weightlifters have the motor control and/or mobility to do any one of the 4 main movements correctly with a barbell. That’s a skill that needs to be developed.

  3. New lifters don’t need to take technical lifts to failure. The risk outweighs the benefit. For one they don’t require the same level of stimulus a more advanced lifter does to adapt and grow. Second, as mentioned in point 2, mastering the skill of each lift is much more important, and those last few reps would put them at high risk of injury when they haven’t mastered anything yet.

  4. A beginner is also new to programming. One of the things people typically love about 5/3/1 is how versatile it is, but that’s exactly the opposite of what a beginner needs! They haven’t had a chance to really develop a sense of their “weaknesses” or precise goals, so they’d have no framework within which to build their assistance work regimen.

  5. The frequency is too low. The basic template is each big movement trained once a week, but beginners should be hitting movement patterns 2-5x a week to develop them.

  6. The volume is too low. Again, this hits the same point of prioritizing skill development with beginners. I would tend to have beginners doing 10 sets of 5 or even 15 triples on a more complex movement, all reps technically sound. For a beginner this is far superior to 3 work sets in the 1-5 range, one to failure. That’s just not enough to drill in the new motor patterns.