One question that I find myself answering on a weekly basis has to do with starting a training program. Sometimes the question comes from women who have never done anything besides run or use the elliptical and sometimes this question comes from younger guys that are looking to start training for a specific sport.
When it comes to these beginners the one thing that THEY need to realize is that they are just that, a beginner. Too often I see, especially when it comes to young guys, people try to progress too fast and perform exercises that are too advanced for them. They inevitably end up getting hurt due to either terrible form or from just doing too much too fast. Don’t be that guy!
My first recommendation would be to hire a trainer. Find someone in your area that has a great track record with your population, whether that be a housewife or a high school hockey player. I highly recommend that you put some work in to find a great trainer though and not just go down to the nearest gym and grab the first trainer you run into – chances are you’ll end up being disappointed.
That being said, I understand that not everyone can afford to hire a trainer. My second recommendation would be to educate yourself. Read as much as you can whether it is books, articles, or blogs. Most, if not all of the great strength coaches out there have a blog. Coaches like Eric Cressey, Mike Boyle, Jen Comas Keck, Mike Robertson, Charlie Weingroff, and Neghar Fonooni all have blogs with tons of great information – learn from them – it’s free.
To expand on reading and learning from these strength coaches, I would recommend that if you can get your hands on a program that one of these coaches has written then you would be very smart to actually use that program. Mike Boyle has been successfully training athletes from all ages for close to 30 years and is currently the strength coach for the Boston Red Sox. If you can get your hands on one of his programs, do the program – it’s safe to say he knows what he’s doing. If Charlie Weingroff, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, former strength coach for the Philadelphia 76ers (12 years) and Lead Physical Therapist for the United States Marine Corps Special, tosses up a program on his blog I would highly recommend trying it out – he’s got a good grasp on things.
If all else fails I would recommend you keep things simple. It’s hard to go wrong with training all the big movement patterns. Push something, pull something, perform a knee dominant movement and a hip dominant movement, and carry something. Get to the gym 3-4 times a week and pick an exercise from each group each day that you train, push yourself and work hard – chances are progress will soon follow.
Here are a few examples of each movement pattern;
Push = Bench Press, Close Grip Bench Press, Incline Press, Military Press, Push Up, ect.
Pull = Chin Up, Pull Up, Dumbbell Row, Seated Row, TRX Row, Inverted Row ect.
Knee Dominant = Squat, Front Squat, Goblet Squat, Split Squat, Lunge, Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat, ect.
**UNH Goblet Squat to be Filmed Soon**
Hip Dominant = Deadlift, Trap Bar Deadlift, RDL, Glut-Ham Raise, Single Leg RDL, ect.
Carry = Farmer Carry, Suitcase Carry, ect.
My philosophy is pretty straight forward – keep it simple. Furthermore, I think this type of programming would be all that bad for people that aren’t beginners. Stick to the basics and load them with more and more weight. And as always, learn from the people that have been there and done that. There is a reason certain strength coaches have such a great reputation – use them to gain as must knowledge as you can from them.