Weight Training Focus: What’s The Point?

What’s weight training? Weight training is a type of strength training that uses resistance to strengthen your muscles.

Adding resistance to muscle and bone increases their density, making them stronger.

Just like cardio works wonders for your heart and lungs, weight training does the same for your muscles and bones. 

As a certified personal trainer, I’m here to guide you through the basics of weight training. Here’s what’s coming up.

Why Should I Weight Train?
Frequently Asked Questions
Kinds of Weight Training
Organize Your Training Into Workout Splits
Workout Tips
Strength Training Exercises For Beginners
Bottom Line

Why Should I Weight Train? 

weight training

Weight training can strengthen your entire body and help you gain good weight. But the benefits of weight training go beyond losing weight and building muscle.

Training can be a mental reset. It can help release pent up anger, tension, or frustration.    

Go ahead, take it out on the weights. It can also be calming, soothing, and a way to feel centered. It can have a deeper meaning than just lifting.

Training can give you a sculpted and toned physique.   

If you decide to train each body part, you can have a balanced looking physique. It’s popular to train the muscles you can see, like shoulders, arms, and push-ups variations for chest.

Training these feels good, but overtraining them can lead to muscle imbalances. Muscle imbalances can even increase the risk of injury, according to this study.

So make your focus the muscles you can’t see, like back and legs!

  • Your back muscles provide the main support for your torso. Training the often neglected mid back is important.
  • Legs are also a crucial and over looked body part to train. Exercises for gluteus minimus, or hamstrings with B stance RDLs can take your legs to the next level.
  • Exercising abs can also be beneficial because strong abs promote a stronger core. The core is made up of over 20 muscles in your abs, mid and lower back, hips, and buttocks. A strong core will make you less prone to injury when doing any bending in real life. 

Getting into training can be a tough change, especially if you’re not used to it. But eventually it can become a lifestyle choice that you enjoy.

A way to feel motivated to keep working out is to train with a purpose. Figure out the reason you’re going the gym, and let that be your focus. That will make hitting every goal that much sweeter. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What can I use to train?   

You can use dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, resistance bands, gym machines, or bodyweight. All of these add resistance to exercises and can make you grow. 

How often should I train?  

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), recommends strength training twice a week. If you can do more that’s great. But if you can only do it once a week, at least start there! 

Check out my post on how often to train at the gym if you want a more detailed outline into what’s best for you.

Should I have rest days?   

Yes. Your muscles need to recover after weight training. Resistance from training causes tears in your muscle tissue at a cellular level. These are repaired while you rest to form bigger, stronger muscles.

  • Rest days involve listening to your body. You can prevent injury that can happen from muscle fatigue.
  • If you’ve tried to function without sleep before, you know how challenging it can be.
  • Having rest days can improve your performance and sleep. You can do light cardio on rest days, as it can help to speed up recovery.

How long should I train?  

It depends. You can sign up for classes with varying times. If a quick 30 to 45 minutes is what you can do for that day, then increase your intensity to make it a challenge.

If you have more time, then 60-90 minutes is a lot to make gains. Then there’s those who live at the gym and can spend hours. Figure your preference and go for it. 

What should my starting weight be?  

Your starting weight should be something that feels comfortable…but don’t get too comfortable.

Weight training is all about stressing your muscles by adding resistance! This principle is called progressive overload and is the reason you get stronger and bigger.

  • If you want to do 15-20 reps of an exercise choose a lighter weight. Keep reps low to build strength and get a mean muscle pump.
  • Don’t sacrifice proper form and a complete range of motion to lift more weight. After 8 years of weight lifting, I like moderate weight at 8-12 reps.  

Kinds of Weight Training 

Functional Training 

This type of weight training is great because it helps you with everyday activities. Functional training  helps you become more aware of how your body can move in the space around you.

For me, everyday activities like handling grocery bags and bending for laundry became easier. I got stronger and could maneuver weight easier. 

Bodies can naturally pull, push, rotate, and hinge at joints. We do those things every day without thinking of it as exercise.

Don’t forget about squats and lunges! You might not lunge at your job, but you can definitely incorporate those in your workout. 

Calisthenics 

This type of training uses body weight as resistance.

Over time you gain body control and focus. Calisthenics is growing in popularity because you don’t need much equipment to get strong.

It is challenging to start doing pull-ups, dips, and more, but the results will speak for themselves. For more, check out this winning bodyweight workout.

Circuit Training  

This type of training adds speed and endurance, by doing multiple exercises one after the other. Focus on light weight for high reps with little rest.

Circuit training is great if you’re short on time and want to get your heart rate bumping. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), is a perfect example of this. Look into it if you want a fun challenge. 

Bodybuilding 

This type of weight training focuses on building bigger muscles in the right places to look aesthetic. 

Professional bodybuilders are judged at shows for their bodies’ proportions and symmetry.

Bodybuilding relies on mind muscle connection, where you can “see and feel” the muscle you’re working on in your minds’ eye. There are useful principles in this training that anyone can incorporate.

Isometric Weight Training 

This type of training holds a position of resistance for a short time without moving. Hold out a broom in front of you for 10 seconds.

Easy right? Now try it with a milk jug. Much harder. Isometric weight training makes you stronger in that one position.

Since these exercises are done by staying still, they won’t help with athleticism in the normal sense.

But it does add an element of endurance to your workout, and can be a fun challenge with a partner or in a group. 

Powerlifting  

This type of training aims to reach your maximum strength through heavy lifts. Its key exercises are what I call The Golden Three: squat, deadlift, and benchpress.

Powerlifters compete and perform crazy feats of raw strength. Power lifting principles are arguably the most popular among young, new lifters today.

Go to any gym to see people lifting so heavy that their form suffers. This type of training requires practice and patience, just like all the others. 

Organize Your Training
Into Workout Splits

A workout split allows you to focus on different areas of your body on each day. 

This can be a great way to target your fitness needs. You can experiment with splits to make your workout less boring and more time effective. 


Full Body Split (2 to 4 days) 

This is to workout your total body: chest, back, legs, shoulders, arms, and abs.

An idea to get the most out of your workout could be to incorporate a compound exercise. Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at once, but can be more physically taxing. 

Another idea is that you stick to one exercise for each body part. For instance, the legs are composed of the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. You could do quads one day, hamstrings the next, and so on. 

Pros of full body splits: 

  • Variety of exercises each workout 
  • Full body benefits in a shorter period of time 
  • High weekly volume of exercise 

Cons of full body splits: 

  • Physically demanding 
  • Recovery time can be longer
  • Less volume for each body part on a single day

Upper/Lower (2 to 5 days)  

This workout split divides the body into two halves: upper and lower. On the upper body days, you can do a couple of exercises for the larger muscle groups like back and chest.

Follow up with one exercise for shoulders and arms.

On lower body days, you can vary the training of your leg muscles, like doing quads one day and hamstrings the other. Abs are incorporated on different days throughout. 

Pros of upper/lower

  • Flexible scheduling options  
  • Comparable variety to full body split 

Cons of upper/lower 

  • A 2 day split may not be enough for serious muscle gain
  • You have to follow the pattern. You might not be feeling a leg day

Push/Pull/Legs (3 or 6 days)  

This workout split utilizes your body’s natural mechanics to push and pull. Pushing muscles are your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Pulling muscles are your back, biceps.

Legs get their own day, and abs can be incorporated on different days.

Don’t neglect exercising abs because strong abs promote a stronger core. The core is made up of over 20 muscles in your abs, mid and lower back, hips, and buttocks. 

Pros of push/pull/legs

  • Related muscle groups work together 
  • More focus goes into one movement or body part
  • A solid structure of working out. If that’s your preference

Cons of push/pull/legs

  • A 3 day split only works each body part once a week 
  • A 6 day split will have less recovery time
  • You have to follow the pattern. You might not be feeling a leg day

Science Split (4 days) 

This workout split is common among beginners and advanced lifters alike.

It incorporates a logical push/pull aspect, but has a separate day for shoulders and legs. Abs would be a good idea to incorporate on your shoulder day. 

Pros of the science split 

  • Push days can be chest focused 
  • More emphasis on building shoulders

Cons of the science split 

  • Overlap in training. Bench press trains chest and front of the shoulder. 
  • No less than 4 days 

Workout Tips

Before You Start 

  • Get informed! Get to know some exercise terms or your body shape.
  • Wear the right clothes for lifting: comfortable and functional.
  • Find a trainer or instructor if you need 
  • Get in the right mindset for your workout.
  • Remember to ignore distractions and get ‘er done.
  • Warm up your body by getting your heart rate up 
  • Stop and reconsider exercise if you feel pain. Get medical attention if it gets worse. 

During The Workout

  • Keep a workout log to track your progress
  • Breathe properly to give your body and muscles enough oxygen
  • Slow and steady wins… feel the burn with slow reps 
  • Start light to warm up but increase weight for a challenge 
  • Remember that proper form is key 
  • Stay hydrated throughout the workout. Find out the importance of water here.
  • Listen to music if that gets you going 
  • Rest between sets to recharge your muscles or catch your breath
  • Don’t be shy to use a spotter for heavier lifts if you need 
  • Keep a workout log to track your progress 

After You Finish

  • Consider stretching for a nice cool down.
  • Recover your muscles with rest days
  • Continue the fitness journey with smarter diet choices.

Strength Training Exercises For Beginners

Chest

  • Dumbbell Chest Press 
  • Dumbbell Incline Chest Press 
  • Push Up 
  • Cable Fly

Back

  • Dumbbell Single Arm Row 
  • Bent Over Row 
  • Assisted Pull Up Machine 
  • Resistance Band Pull Apart 

Legs 

  • Wall Sit
  • Bodyweight Squat 
  • Bodyweight Lunge 
  • Dumbbell Lunge 
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat
  • Kettlebell Deadlift
  • Calf Raise

Abs  

  • Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Dead Bug
  • Bird Dog

Shoulders  

  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise 
  • Resistance Band Face Pulls

Arms

  • Dumbbell Bicep Curl 
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curl 
  • Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Bottom Line 

Weight training is a way to combat the muscle weakening effects of aging. It adds resistance to movements to make them fun and challenging.

Choosing the right kinds of weight training and split depends on your abilities and schedule. Consult a trainer if you need assistance.

There are many exercises that beginners can enjoy, and tips that lifters of all levels can implement to have the best workout possible. 

AUTHOR

Shalom is a content creator, musician, and a teacher at heart. As a certified personal trainer, his goal is to encourage others to lead healthier lives and to get buff in the process!