Disclaimer: It’s only been ~4 years since I started going to the gym regularly. While that might seem like a long time, it’s actually not. I still have lots and lots to learn.

Anyhow, I have some free tips to give for those who are just starting out:

  • stay away from isolation movements
    Bicep curls, leg extensions, hamstring curls, tricep pushdowns – exercises that train a specific muscle group.
  • do lots of compound movements
    Barbell bench press, lat pulldowns, overhead barbell shoulder press, squats, lunges – exercises that train several muscle groups at once.
  • avoid dumbbells for a while
    Dumbbells are great, but not for beginners. They rely a lot on your stabilizer muscles and when you are a newbie they’re not developed enough and you risk injuring yourself.
  • machines over free weights
    Free weights are best for muscle development but they also make it easy for you to get injured. Machines are better. You can still get injured, but the chances are significantly lower.
  • high rep sets
    You shouldn’t go to the gym and start doing sets of 3-5 reps. It takes a while to get your form right. Doing high reps allows you to stay injury free while you work on your form.
    Go with anywhere from 8-15 reps for your upper body exercises and 12-25 reps for your lower body exercises. Lower body exercises are more dangerous because they put a lot of stress on the entire body, not just your legs. Use lighter weights, do more reps.
  • short breaks
    1 min between sets
  • training 3 days a week is more than enough

Most of the tips revolve around staying injury-free. Even so, it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or you’ve been lifting for a few years – the likelihood of getting injured is always there. Don’t be reckless. Start slow.