Tip: How to Make the Most Newbie Gains

New to lifting? Here are some common mistakes to avoid and a simple plan for getting strong.

As a beginner, you need very little stimulus to create an adaptation. Doing more isn't going to make you grow any faster; it's just going to slow your progress. You must be patient and let the body grow.

After your warm-up sets, three working sets of five reps on the bench, squat, and lat pulldowns are all you need to stimulate the body enough to grow. It's boring, but enjoy it. You'll wish gains came this easy when you're older and stronger. Below is an example of this training method:

Day 1

  • Bench Press: 3x5
  • Lat Pulldown or Barbell Row: 3x5
  • Squat: 3x5

Day 2

  • Off

Day 3

  • Repeat day 1 with 5 or 10 more pounds on all the lifts.

Day 4

  • Off

Repeat this model from week to week. It's seriously this simple. Lift, eat, sleep, and grow.

You might not even need to spend an hour in the gym at this point. And it might not feel like you're getting shredded or putting in hard work. Why? Because you just aren't strong enough to make it hard. Benching 95 pounds for 3 sets of 5 is going to take about 10 minutes, warm-up included. Same with a 135-pound squat.

All the more reason you should focus on this and get away from being weak. This can be the hardest stage of training. It's bland, it's boring, and you don't feel like you're doing a lot. Just focus on your numbers for motivation and watch them go up because this is the quickest way to escape weakness.

Deadlifts and overhead pressing should eventually be added after a couple of months of this basic beginner stage. They simply just aren't that important right now.

Aaron Fick is a strength coach, specializing in the barbell. After his service in the U.S. Army, as a heavy platform artilleryman, he began coaching everyone from special-forces operators to Division-I athletes. Aaron is continually working to spread the fundamental truth of health and performance in barbell strength training. Follow Aaron Fick on Facebook