How Do I Start A Weight Training Program?

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The Beginner’s Toolkit: How Do I Start A Weight Training Program?

One of the most common questions I receive is, “Jon, where do I begin when it comes to working out with weights?” That’s a great question — and believe it or not, the answer is really pretty simple. In fact, the entire concept of weight training can be made into utter simplicity for the beginner. From there, and in combination with the mental and dietary techniques covered in Fit Over 40, you’ll be well on your way to building shapely muscle at any age.

First, why muscle — and why weight training? Well, that’s a newsletter unto itself, but the short story goes as follows. Muscle burns calories — many more calories than body fat, and dynamically at that (meaning muscle burns even more calories when active than passive, and you cannot activate fat.) Second, muscle is the only thing responsible for that curvy, toned look we all want — no, really! A lot of people say, “But Jon, I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder.” Well, you have nothing to worry about. We bodybuilders have to go through so much to gain our muscle. The odds of you walking into a gym waking up the next day looking like a buff bodybuilder are…well, they’re zero.

Third, what you’re after is the release of body fat and the increase of muscle mass. Again, really! “Weight”, unless you’re 80 or more pounds overweight, should not be your focus. “Fat” should. You want to discard body fat — that is your nemesis. You certainly do not want to lose muscle mass. That’s the only thing keeping your body metabolically super-charged and curvaceous. In fact, you want to increase the muscle (even slightly) so you can eat more food. That’s right — muscle requires calories to sustain itself. That’s why a bodybuilder who weighs, say, 190 pounds (male) can eat much more than a typical 190-pounder and not gain fat. The muscle requires more calories, the activity he engages in requires more calories, and there’s a lot less fat on his body to produce and evoke nasty hormonal changes in the body that increase fat storage even further.

If you were to discard 10 pounds of body fat and gain 10 pounds of muscle, you would look like a different person — and trust me, you’d be pleased with that different person! Still, you would weigh exactly the same. The only time physical weight is a concern is when there are medical issues involved that demand a physical drop in total mass. Sometimes blood pressure, when extreme, is a valid reason not to train for muscle mass, at least until it is managed. Even that is rare. I trained for years with high blood pressure. Eventually my weight leveled out (of course I decreased my overall mass, as will most of you) and my blood pressure dropped drastically despite the increase in muscle.

Here’s a great routine for a beginner, along with suggestions on how to learn the movements.


Weight Training Tips

| Weeks 1-2: Ease In

| Weeks 3-4: Step It Up

| Day One: Chest and Back

| Day Two: Legs And Abs

| Day Three: Shoulders And Arms


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