If you got something out of this article, I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it with your friends, your gym buddies, and anyone else who you think might benefit. Since women are so underrepresented in strength training research, I find that this is a topic with so much misinformation swirling around. I hope this article can serve as a small beacon of sanity.
The purpose of begin with exercises with the lowest learning curve that provide the greatest benefits is more evident when you compare a goblet squat to a barbell back squat. Every person I’ve worked with can correctly, and confidently, perform the goblet squat from the first workout. Most people master this quicker than a barbell back squat, and that’s why it’s used in this beginner strength training guide.
I recommend exercises that simulate what you do in real life, exercises standing up using your body weight, for example. These exercises not only use the muscles you're targeting, for instance when doing a lunge you're working your legs, they also challenge your core muscles, which are the muscles of your abdominals and lower back. And they challenge your coordination, which you need in real life.
How should I warm up for each exercise? Begin with a weight (or variation for bodyweight exercises) that allows you to perform 10 easy reps. Then add a little weight and perform 5-8 reps. You can perform a third set of 3-5 reps, with a heavier weight, if needed. Use the warm-up sets to find the proper weight/variation to use for the work sets. The goal of the warm-up sets is to hone proper technique and prepare you for the main workout.
Start in downward dog position (hips high, bending at the waist, trying to keep your arms and torso in the same line), then lift your right leg off the ground and shift your right knee so it’s beside your right wrist. Your right shin should face forward. Keeping your left leg straight, slowly lower your hips toward the floor as far as you can; this flexibility will be different for every person and different on both sides of your body. This is the start position. Now lower your chest toward the ground as far as is comfortable. Lift your right arm off the ground and thread it past your left armpit, then reach it toward the ceiling. Repeatedly thread it past your left armpit and reach it toward the ceiling until time’s up, then repeat the process on the other side.
For each exercise you do, try to perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps with a weight heavy enough that by your last rep you can't eke out another one without compromising your form. To spark further muscle building, William Kraemer, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut, suggests alternating moderate-intensity workouts of 8 to 10 reps with lighter-weight 12- to 15-rep sets and super-hard 3- to 5-rep sets. (For a more detailed fat-blasting workout, check out "Do This at Home," below.)