A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ask Meg Go Run: I want to start weight training...

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Question: I want to try strength training but I don't know how to start. 
Can you give me some tips?

Answer: I have had several people ask me about this topic! Below, I have some tips for you... 

1. If you can spare the money, higher a trainer (a good one) to get you started. Investing in 10 sessions with a trainer was the absolute best thing I have ever done with my fitness money. I was clueless when it came to weight training, so I feel like what I invested in was actually knowledge. Not only did I learn how to do the exercises, but I also learned...

- How often to weight train
- Proper form
- Confidence
- Muscle imbalances and overall strengths and weaknesses
- What types of food to eat to help muscle growth
(Yes, you want muscle growth. You're not going to get huge, I promise.)

**How do you know a trainer is good and worth the investment? They should sit down with you before any training takes place or contracts are signed and talk to you about your goals. It's not about what they want for you, it's about what you want for yourself. The trainer should be able to answer your questions clearly. Your training sessions should not be something cookie cutter they do with everyone, but designed for you to reach your personal goals.

Tip: Ask your trainer if they will write you a program to do on your own once the sessions you purchased are complete. That's the route I took since I couldn't afford a trainer for the long term. (Once I am certified, I plan to write programs for clients who want to work out on their own!)

2. Beginners can do 2 full body workouts on non consecutive days of the week. Of course it depends on how busy your gym is, but if you don't have to wait to use equipment, a full body workout should only take 45-60min. If you're doing it right, you will be tired and not have energy to go longer!

Muscle groups to target in a full body workout:

Lower Body

Types of strength training equipment you can use:

dumb bells
medicine balls
stability balls
kettle bells
resistance bands
body weight

3. Design your workout like a circuit. A basic way of doing this is having 3 exercises (using different muscle groups) in a circuit. Do 8-12 reps of each exercise. Then repeat the circuit so you do it 2-3 times.

Circuit Example:

Lat Pull Down (back)
Dumb bell chest press (chest)
Body weight squats (lower body)

4. Pick a resistance level in which you can do 8-12 reps of the exercise with good form. If you can only do 6 reps, it's too heavy. If you can do 15 reps, it's too light. You will have to experiment at first.

5. Choose exercises that target several muscles rather than isolation exercises.

Here are some suggestions of exercises beginners can do, broken down by body part. (By beginner, I mean new to weight training, not new to exercises in general!)

If you click on the exercise, it will take you to the ACE Exercise Library. It will show you how to do the exercises.




Dumbbell Lateral or Front Raise

Lower Body:
Lunges- Forward, Side, Backward, Walking

Full Body


6. Don't forget to warm up, cool down, and stretch. Treat your body with the TLC it deserves so you are prepared for your workout and can repair afterwards!

7. DO NOT DO OTHER EXERCISE ON YOUR FULL BODY STRENGTH TRAINING DAYS. Do not go run five miles. Do not take a spin class. Use all of your energy for your weight training. If you are doing it right, you should not have energy to do "extra" cardio on that day. (Plus your muscles need to rebuild so you get stronger and leaner. Rest them for the rest of the day. Trust me.)

There you go, my friends... Some basic tips to get started in the weight room. Like I said, if you have no clue what you are doing (like me!), invest in some sessions with a trainer. You won't regret it!

Note: I am not a certified personal trainer. I am not a doctor. These are simply tips I am sharing that may or may not work for you. 

Did I miss anything you think would be helpful for beginners?

What is the best tip you got when starting a weight training program?

Do you/have you ever had a trainer?


  1. I live in a small town in the middle of Wyoming. There is no trainer here and the closest major city is 2 hours away (major bummer as I would love to work with a trainer even for a few sessions and have them help me correct my form on some lifts). I have had to learn much of what I know from books and the internet. You just have to be careful of your sources but there is some great information out there. When people ask me how to get started I usually recommend one of the New Rules of Lifting books or The Female Body Breakthrough by Rachel Cosgrove. I'm sure there are a lot of other good books out there but I have had success with these and they got me started on my strength training journey.

    1. Thank you for the book tips! I can understand how that is helpful if you have to teach yourself.

  2. This is great! Thanks for all of the information. I still have no idea what I'm doing with strength so this is very helpful.

    Can you comment on a superset? like, how to use it and what it's supposed to do? I see people talk about them all the time but I am not clear on what they are.

    1. Sure! Super sets are when you do two different exercises back to back with no break. You can do opposing muscle groups- like a back exercise and then a chest exercise, or you can do same muscle groups. It's a good way to save time. If you do same muscle groups, it really takes your muscles to fatigue! I never did it that way but I've done it the opposing muscle group way.

  3. I couldn't agree more about investing in a trainer if only just because form is so critically important for safety if you're serious about weight training.

    When I first started and I was only lifting 15-20lbs or so I didn't really understand how important it was, but when I got into much heavier weights I could definitely see how form is such a big deal for injury prevention.

    1. Right!!! And if you don't have proper form, you may not be reaping all the benefits. Like if you're using your back to get the dumbbells up during the bicep curls and things like that... you may not be using the proper muscle group. Form, form, form!!

  4. Love this!! One thing I love about weight training is that once I had a trainer show me how, even all these years later, I can get back into it and know proper form, etc. I just forget how to plan which exercises to do on which days.

    Thanks so much for this post!!

    1. Awesome! Well honestly, it is hard to screw it up. Full body is best for beginners, bust honestly, as long as you give your muscles time to recover, you can split up your muscle groups in any way you want.

  5. I definitely consider myself a beginner in this area, so I loved this post. I have a difficult time using proper form, but my husband has been helping me with weight lifting a lot so I don't get hurt!

  6. These are some great tips - I agree that getting in with a good trainer to start out is THE way to go. Do it right, don't hurt yourself. I'm glad to hear you are getting this question a lot because I hear so often girls being scared to lift because they think they will bulk up which isn't the case unless you train like a behemoth.

    1. I know! There is literally no way for us to bulk up in that way unless we severely altered our diet. Girls say they want to look "toned" but honestly the only way to do that is to to the big exercises and use heavy weights.