Top 3 Exercises For Beginners

Strength training beginners:   you see people lifting weights but you’re unsure about it.  Or, maybe you do lift weights but you are still new to it.  This one’s for you!

There are 3 exercises, in my opinion, which give you the most bang [for your effort] buck:  the squat, the deadlift, and the pushup.

Let’s explore…

The Squat for Beginners

The What & The Why

Effectively, the squat is sitting down to an object and standing back up again.  It is one of the most fundamental movement patterns for a human being.  And, as you age, you do not want to lose your ability to squat because that means you will likely need help getting your butt off the toilet seat.

Not to mention, when you squat heavy you are telling your body “I want to properly fill out a pair of jeans.”  #ThighDayFriday

How To Squat

  • Stand with your feet roughly hip to shoulder width
  • Point your toes out slightly
  • Stand tall and keep your back tall throughout your squat
  • Sit your butt slightly back as you begin your squat
  • Then sit your butt down
  • Come back up the same way you went down
    • If your knees travel forward [past your toes], this is fine so long as your feet are flat
    • Your knees should also stay toward the outside of your feet as you squat

Common Mistakes

  • Leaning too far forward as you squat so your back is nearly parallel with the ground
  • Heels coming up off the ground as you squat
  • Not squatting low enough (below parallel) or not standing up all the way
  • Knees caving in rather than staying over the outer edge of your foot

The Deadlift for Beginners

The What & The Why

When you deadlift [also called a hip hinge], you are teaching your body how to safely pick something up off the ground.  This is an extremely valuable movement to maintain through the years because you can stay self-reliant, functional, and safe in your activities.

Also, due to the fact that this is a compound movement which can be potentially trained heavy, you are building core strength, leg strength, back strength, building muscle, and burning body fat all at the same time.

Ever wanted to go from having a butt to having an ass?

How to Deadlift

  • Begin with a tall spine and keep it that way throughout the deadlift
  • Push your butt back to initiate the deadlift
    • My favorite cue?  Pretend like you’re mooning someone
  • Begin to bend your knees as the bar passes them
  • Root your toes into the ground while keeping the heel down
  • Keep your armpits “flexed” throughout the movement

Common Mistakes

  • Thinking this movement is an “up and down” movement when it is a “backward and forward with your hips” movement
  • Letting the weight pull your shoulders “forward”
  • Having excessive round in your back
  • Allowing your knees to cave in as you lift

The Pushup for Beginners

The What & The Why

I think it’s probably fair to say you probably know what a pushup is so let’s move on to why it is important:  not only is it a representation of your ability to control your own body, it represents being strong enough to lift your own body.  As such, if you end up on the ground and need to get back up off the ground, could you?

What about when you’re 90?  Could you do it then?  Plus, these are your “show” muscles.  Build those things up!

How to Do a Pushup

  • Assume a “tall plank” position (the top of the pushup)
  • Hands should be slightly wider than your shoulders
    • Yes, there are many other ways to set your hands but as a starting point, slightly wider than your shoulders is great
  • Lower yourself down, while maintaining your plank body position, until your chest touches the ground
  • Press yourself back up, while maintaining your plank body position, until your elbows are locked out

Proper Modifications

As not everyone can do a pushup from the floor, I felt it important to share with you my preferred means of modifying it so anyone can do it.

Elevate your hands on some sort of object.  Knee pushups are not my preferred way of performing them.  Place your hands on the stairs, on a plyo box, on a bench, on a table, or even on the wall.

The point is, the higher your hands go in your set up, the easier the pushup will become.  And, on the flip side, the lower your hands go (up to and including the floor), the harder the pushup will become.

Common Mistakes

  • Tucking your chin as you begin to descend into your pushup
  • Shrugging your shoulders immediately
  • Your elbows flaring out as you perform your pushup
  • Hips too high or hips too low as neither of these are a plank position
  • Performing knee pushups – ouch!  Shots fired!
    • Note:  there are legitimate modifications which include knees down but that’s for another time and discussion

“What If I’m Not a Beginner?”

Weird thought but if I were stuck on an island and could only perform 3 exercises the remainder of my days, I’d pick the squat, the deadlift, and the pushup.

What that means is these big 3 are great for people at every level!

If you are looking to learn how to safely, and effectively, perform these 3 movements and want to feel the physical benefits of them, click HERE.  We love to introduce strength training to beginners!

Intermediate and beyond?  We would love to chat with you and show you how to level up your game too!

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