Looking to build muscle mass and burn fat? If you’re thinking of trying your hand at strength training but not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place! In partnership with Tom Joyce of TJ Fitness & Wellbeing we’re bringing you the best techniques to make you stronger and leaner safely.

Before you start your training it’s important to choose the most appropriate weight based on the required sets and reps. Ensuring you perform all lifts with the correct technique is critical to avoid any injuries that may result from incorrect lifting or excessively overloading the muscles.

1. SQUAT

How To Do It:

Use your bodyweight to begin with this, completing shallow squats and increase this gradually once you feel more confident.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing forwards or slightly turned out.
  2. Keep your back in neutral alignment as your initiate movement at your hips.
  3. Push your buttocks out behind you and bend your knees.
  4. Don’t let your knees move in front of your toes.
  5. You don’t need to squat any deeper than 90 degrees (right angle) at the knee.
  6. Return to the starting position by standing tall.

Perform 1 - 2 sets of 8 - 12 reps, with 60 - 90 seconds rest between sets.

Variations & Progressions:

Once you feel ready to, use a dumbbell in each hand. Decrease repetitions whilst increasing the resistance used.

What Muscles Will This Work?

  • Rectus Femoris
  • Vastus Medialis
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Vastus Intermedius
  • Iliopsoas
  • Gastrocnemius
  • Biceps Femoris
  • Semimembranosus
  • Semitendinosus
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Soleus
 

Related Injuries:

  • Disc Herniation (& Degenerative Disc Disease)
  • IT Band Syndrome
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • SLAP Tear
  • Tennis Elbow (Lateral Elbow Tendonitis)
  • Hamstring Pulls & Tears
  • Patellar Tendonitis (& Knee Pain)

2. BENCH PRESS

How To Do It:

Complete bodyweight push-ups to begin with.

  1. Lie on your back on a bench with your feet planted on the floor*.
  2. Grip the dumbbells in each arm*.
  3. Push the dumbbells up until your elbows are straight*.
  4. Slowly and under control, lower the dumbbells to the level of your chest*.
  5. *Once progressed to dumbbells.

Perform 1 - 2 sets of 8 - 12 reps, with 60 - 90 seconds rest between sets.

Variations & Progressions:

Once you feel ready to, use a dumbbell in each hand.

What Muscles Will This Work?

  • Pectoralis Major
  • Pectoralis Minor
  • Anterior Deltoid
  • Triceps

Related Injuries:

  • Pectoral Strain

3. BARBELL BENT OVER ROW

How To Do It:

Use dumbbells, a core bag or functional bar.

  1. Position yourself with a wide stance, knees slightly bent, hips pushed backward and spine neutral.
  2. Hold the dumbbell, core bag or functional bar with straight arms, at around knee level with the hands just wider than your knees and pronated (palms facing down).
  3. Keep your core engaged, back in neutral position as you pull the dumbbell, core bag or functional bar in towards your stomach.
  4. Return the dumbbell, core bag or functional bar to the starting position, maintaining control throughout.

Perform 1 - 2 sets of 8 - 12 reps, with 60 - 90 seconds rest between sets.

Variations & Progressions:

Perform with the hands in a supinated position (palms facing upwards).

What Muscles Will This Work?

  • Rhomboids
  • Trapezius
  • Biceps Brachii
 

Related Injuries:

  • Postural Kyphosis

4. DEADLIFT

How To Do It:

Use kettlebells or dumbbells.

  1. Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, with the kettlebell or dumbbell a couple of inches in front of your shins.
  2. Squat down, keeping the back straight, although leaning forwards from the hips.
  3. Grip the kettlebell or dumbbell with your palms facing backwards.
  4. Before you start the lift, ensure your lower back is arched and you are holding your chest up high and looking straight ahead.
  5. Keep your arms straight as you push up using your legs.
  6. Don’t pull using your arms or back!

Perform 1 - 2 sets of 8 - 12 reps, with 60 - 90 seconds rest between sets.

Variations & Progressions:

Perform using two dumbbells.

What Muscles Will This Work?

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Erector Spinae
  • Biceps Femoris
  • Semitendinosus
  • Semimembranosus
  • Rectus Femoris
 

Related Injuries:

  • Quadricep Strains
  • Hamstring Strain

5. SHOULDER PRESS

How To Do It:

Use dumbbells, a core bag or functional bar.

  1. Stand with your body upright and core muscles braced, looking straight ahead.
  2. Hold the dumbbell, core bag or functional bar on your upper chest, gripping it with hands just wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Press the dumbbell, core bag or functional bar directly overhead.
  4. Don’t push your hips forward during the move.
  5. Return bar back down to your chest and repeat.

Perform 1 - 2 sets of 8 - 12 reps, with 60 - 90 seconds rest between sets.

Variations & Progressions:

  • Perform using two dumbbells.
  • Use a staggered stance
 

What Muscles Will This Work?

  • Deltoids (posterior, medial, and anterior shoulder)
  • Triceps
  • Traps
  • Upper Chest
 

Related Injuries:

  • Impingement. Excessive and repetitive overhead movement is one of the major causes of shoulder injuries
  • Instability. The dumbbell shoulder press allows greater freedom of movement during the exercise, which can prevent shoulder injuries from occurring
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Back Injuries

Once you’ve mastered TJ Fitness & Wellbeing's strength workout for beginners, try their intermediate one here.