Training the Beginner

At Adonis Athletics we have trained numerous Elite level athletes and exercise enthusiasts at all our locations, we will continue to do so in future locations. We also have many novice athletes and clients who have never lifted weights before walk through our doors eager to learn and achieve their training and nutrition goals. For the beginner it takes a lot of courage to walk into a gym and start lifting weights, especially with little or no guidance and that in itself is an accomplishment.

Learning how to set goals, program your training, acquire correct technique and understanding the principles and specificity of training is not an easy feat for a novice. Trainers and coaches fine tune their programming over many years of practical application and research. If you are a beginner there are some basic principles you should follow in regards to weight training and exercising in general.

  • Set training goals which are realistic and achievable. A combination of short term goals and long term goals are more productive as you are hitting milestones along your journey. Continually Track your training and progress as this is a great coaching tool and reference point in the future.
  • Any activity more strenuous than sitting on the couch will elicit a positive training response. This means that for a novice you are more sensitive to physiological adaptation. So lift some weights or do some form of anaerobic/aerobic conditioning and you will get stronger, have more muscle, and be fitter.
  • Workload and frequency should not surpass the beginner’s capabilities to recover and adapt efficiently. Training 3 days per week 48 hours apart is perfect for a beginner as it allows adequate time to recover and adequate time for physiological adaptations to stress. As the beginner shifts to an intermediate lifter, the body will recover quicker. When this occurs more sessions or longer sessions will need to be implemented. This is where a coach may be necessary in identifying these key factors.
  • Learn the movement patterns first. Train on an empty bar or even a broomstick to acquire the neurological adaptation of muscles to complete complex movements safely. Once you have learnt the movement patterns you can start adding weight progressively. Progressive Overload is key, remember this.
  • Stick to basic foundation exercises as your main goals throughout training sessions. These will include Squats, Pulls and Pressing. Base Your Workouts around these targeting the bigger and more compound muscles and movements, then work your way down to the smaller ones. Exercises like Squats, deadlifts, bench press and overhead press are prime examples.
  • Bodybuilding style programs or high rep work is essential for beginners, for reasons of joint reinforcement and muscle/tendon growth and strength. If your goal is strength or you are an aspiring strength athlete try to stay away from doing one rep maxes until you have practiced the technique through training and build up the strength and work capacity for it. For a beginner that’s a one way ticket to retirement. It takes years of training to develop the musculature, strength and power required to repeat such strenuous movements often.
  • Strengthening the core for spinal stability is one of the most valuable forms of accessory work you can do as a beginner, so put that in your programming as a fundamental and should be done at whatever level lifter you are. These include muscles of the abdominal area, lower back and pelvic floor.

Program structure for the beginner is simple and must allow proper recovery in between sessions. There must also be adequate time between sessions to allow recovery for certain body parts. Below is a sample 3 day per week program that can be followed and has been proven to achieve results for body composition (assuming nutrition is in check), fat loss and strength increase.

For all exercises pick a challenging weight to start with, have at least 2-3 reps left in the tank. Then increase weight slightly each week. All exercises are 3 sets of 12 reps, if you choose to implement isometric work for core or lower back, then progression is 3 sets for time and increase time each week by at least 10 seconds.

Day 1
Back Squat/variation
Bench Press/ variation
Dumbbell chest Flys
Bicep/triceps superset
Core exercise

Day 2
Shoulder Press/variation
Lat Pulldowns
Deltoids (pick one; mid, rear or front Delt exercise)

Day 3
Leg press
Chest DB press/ variation
Hamstring curls
Biceps/triceps superset
Lower back exercise

As time goes on and you become more experienced with training, workload must increase to allow for adaptation and breaking through training plateaus. Try to stick to the same exercises for the entire training cycle which should continue for 4-5 weeks. At the end of the training cycle incorporate a “Deload Week”, which is simply a reduction in training volume to allow the body to recover from any long term fatigue and over training. After which begin a new training cycle by changing the stimulus and exercise choices, an increase in overall workload is important. You can add an extra day of training, add more exercises for the day, or add more sets and reps. For a beginner this can be run for quite some time.

In conclusion, for a beginner the most important aspect to achieving your training and nutrition goals is adherence. Writing goals will definitely help with longevity and making these health and food lifestyle changes for good. Keep it simple and follow the basics.

If you would like help with your training no matter what your goals are contact or
Online coaching also available for those who cannot make it down to train at the gym in person.

About the Author:

Amir Fazeli
Amir is the founder of Adonis Athletics and the owner of Adonis Athletics Granville. He is a competitive powerlifter having represented Australia at 7 international competitions to date including twice at the Arnold Sports Festival and twice at the World Championships. His best lifts are 258kg squat, 150kg bench press and 317.5kg deadlift all at under 83kg in the IPF. He holds the all-time highest deadlift record at under 83kg bodyweight across all federations in Australia. His best international results are silver medal at 2012 IPF Oceania Powerlifting Championships, silver medal at 2014 Arnold Sports Festival, gold medal at 2014 IPF Asian & Oceania Powerlifting Championships and 5th overall at the 2015 World more