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How to Start Lifting Weights: A 9-Step Beginner's Guide

If you're new to the gym or a workout routine, the idea of the weight room might feel a little intimidating or something only reserved for personal trainers. However, lifting weights has a number of health benefits, combining strength training and cardio to tone your muscles and help you lose weight, and you should definitely consider adding dumbbells, kettlebells, or bodyweight exercises into your fitness routine to achieve your health goals. We'll break down the steps to get even the most inexperienced beginner started while ensuring safety and injury prevention.


How You Can Get Started Lifting Weights

If you're new to weightlifting, it's important to come up with a plan to maximize your efforts, ensure your safety, and reach your fitness goals. Keep reading to dive into some of the specifics of setting yourself up for success.


1. How to Set Clear Weight Lifting Goals

Coming up with clear and attainable goals is the foundation of any successful fitness plan. If you've never lifted weights before, you will want to start with less heavy weights and a low number of repetitions. From there, you can gradually increase the weight and number of reps as you grow stronger. Remember that everyone has to start small — if you can only do a 1-lb. dumbbell for 10 bicep curls, that's still more than you did the day before.


2. Choosing the Right Workout Space

The weight room at the gym can be difficult to navigate at first, so don't be afraid to ask a friend with more knowledge or a trainer for pointers on where to get started. But the best part about weightlifting is that you can do it just about anywhere, from your backyard to your living room. The best place for you to work out is where you feel the most comfortable.


3. Understanding Weightlifting Equipment

To lift weights effectively and safely, you'll need to understand the equipment you're using. The tools can be quite simple, like dumbbells or barbells, or they can be a little more complicated like some of the machines at a gym. Whenever you're using a new piece of equipment, make sure to read the instructions carefully or ask an expert for assistance. Your workout clothing is also important, and you may want to consider compression apparel to aid in your workout and recovery.


4. Proper Warm-Up and Stretching

Preventing injuries starts with a proper warm-up. Before lifting, you'll want to do some basic stretches to get your muscles ready for the task at hand. Try to pick stretches that correlate with the muscles you will be focusing on during your workout, and it's also important to do some basic movements like jumping jacks to get your body ready.


5. Emphasizing Proper Form

Correct position and form are vital in weightlifting to prevent injuries and maximize results. While you may be tempted to do movements quickly, you should actually perform each movement — from squats to deadlifts to bench presses — slowly and with a focus on the muscles you're targeting. Always ask for help from an expert if you're unsure of how to do a move, and stop if something hurts.


6. The Importance of Proper Nutrition and Recovery

Gym or workout time matters only so much if your diet isn't similarly health-focused. Bodybuilding helps you look toned, but only if it's accompanied by adequate protein intake and nutrient-rich foods while limiting sugar, fried foods, and alcohol. In addition, compression gear can improve your recovery time by improving blood circulation and oxygenation, providing muscle support, and reducing soreness.


7. Tracking Progress and Adaptation

In addition to setting realistic goals, you'll want to keep a record of how your workouts are improving as you build muscle and endurance. There are a number of apps you can download on your phone to track results, but a handwritten journal also does the trick. After each workout, write down the goals you accomplished, your diet, and how you felt during your workout. You'll be amazed at how recording this will result in noticing patterns and trends that you can use to your advantage.


8. Safety and Injury Prevention

The most important thing to keep in mind when weightlifting is maintaining correct posture and form to reduce the risk of straining a muscle. And after you've finished a set, it's vital to gently place the weights on the floor or back in the rack rather than dropping them to avoid hitting yourself or others. Another thing to remember is to give yourself plenty of breaks and recovery time in between sets — don't train if you are feeling sick or tired, or you'll risk prolonging your recovery time.

How Compression Gear Can Help with Weightlifting Performance

Compression workout clothes are growing in popularity, and for good reason: adding pressure to muscles and joints can enhance performance, prevent injury, and improve recovery time (in addition to being super stylish). CW-X has a range of products for both men and women featuring patented EXO-WEB technology, which mimics kinesiology-taping techniques that trainers apply to injured muscles. When applied to muscles and joints, this creates an exoskeletal support system that improves biomechanics for athletes of all fitness levels looking to achieve their full potential in a wide range of exercises including weightlifting.


9. Seeking Professional Guidance

Even the most experienced people in the gym can benefit from the help of an expert in the field, and their insights are even more beneficial to beginners. Personal trainers can teach you how to achieve your goals with the correct form and show you a range of exercises to incorporate into your routine. If you can't afford a session with a personal trainer, there are many free resources such as workout videos on YouTube that can help you prevent injury and enhance your sweat sessions.



3 Great Beginner Weightlifting Workouts

For each of these workouts, use weights that you are comfortable with. You can always increase the weight if you feel you're not challenging yourself enough.


male athlete squatting holding dumbbell wearing stabilyx ventilator shorts in black and a grey t-shirt

1. Full-Body Workout


(10 reps for 3 sets)

Holding dumbbells at your chest, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower your bottom as if you're sitting in a low chair, then return to a standing position. For an extra challenge, hold the dumbbells at your shoulders and raise them to the ceiling as you stand.

-Standing Rotation

(10 reps for 3 sets)

Holding a dumbbell at your stomach, rotate your torso all the way to the right slowly, then back to the middle. Then rotate all the way to the left and return to the starting position.

- Plank Row

(10 reps for 3 sets)

With a dumbbell in each hand, start in a plank position. Pick up your right arm to bring the dumbbell to your shoulder, then slowly lower the weight back to the floor. Repeat with the left arm.


female athlete doing a hammer curl holding a dumbbell wearing endurance generator tights in black/gradient rooibos and xtra support sports bra

2.Upper Body Focused Workout

- Hammer Curls (add image)

(10 reps for 3 sets)

Holding a dumbbell at your waist in each hand while standing, alternate lifting your hands by squeezing your bicep and moving at the elbow. Then return to your starting position.

- Lateral Raises

(10 reps for 3 sets)

Standing with your feet hip-width wide, hold dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing each other. Lift the arms out to the sides to shoulder level, then slowly lower back down. If this is too difficult, try alternating lifting your arms.

- Tricep Extension

(10 reps for 3 sets)

Sitting or standing with a dumbbell or weighted medicine ball in your hands, raise the weight so it's behind your head with your elbows bent. Then raise the weight above your head slowly before lowering to the starting position.

 female athlete doing a lunge holding a kettlebell wearing stabilyx ventilator shorts and xtra support sports bra in true navy

3. Lower Body Focused Workout


(10 reps for 3 sets)

Holding weights in your hands at your sides and keeping your torso straight, step out with one leg and lower your body toward the floor without allowing the front knee to bend over the toe. Push through your heel to return to a standing position, then repeat with the other leg.

-Hip Bridge

(10 reps for 3 sets)

Laying on your back, bend your knees and hold a barbell or dumbbell over your thighs. Pushing through your feet, push up your hips while squeezing the glutes. Hold for five seconds then slowly lower yourself back down to the ground.

- Deadlift

(10 reps for 3 sets)

Holding a dumbbell in each hand and keeping your knees slightly bent, bend forward at the hip while keeping your arms extended so the weight is in front of your legs. Lower yourself and hold for three seconds before returning to starting position.


Staying Motivated

Starting your weightlifting journey is an important step toward a healthier self. At any budget and any location, you can start to increase your strength by setting realistic goals, staying consistent, keeping a healthydiet, and tracking your progress. It may also help to reward yourself once in a while — for example, if you meet your goal of lifting weights at the gym three times a week for a month, you might want to buy yourself something special that's related to your fitness journey, like a piece of compression workout apparel or a new water bottle.

Remember that everyone has to start at the beginning, but before you know it, you'll be reaching your goals and setting new ones.