Written by Natasha Pivovar — Updated: Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Strength training has a number of benefits. The most obvious one is building muscle to increase your strength. Building different muscles can also increase your metabolic rate (which can help you lose or maintain weight), lower your risk of injury, and boost your mood. Strength training can be intimidating, especially for beginners—and you don’t even need to go to the gym! Many beginner-friendly strength exercises don’t even require weights.
Below is a list of beginner-friendly strength exercises—most of which can be done without any weights at all. Feel free to use these workouts at the gym or from the comfort of your home! With regular practice, this training routine can significantly increase your strength and confidence.
**As always, you should consult a medical professional to make sure you are able to undertake physical exercise. Remember not to overstretch to avoid injury, and if you ever feel any physical pain either before or during your exercise, please stop and consult a doctor before continuing.
Squats are one of the best workouts to do as you begin to strength train! They are great for building leg and core strength and can be done with or without weights.
To do a squat:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward.
Slowly bend your knees and lower your body as if you're sitting in a chair (feel free to sit in a chair as a modification for this workout).
Keep your back straight and your knees behind your toes.
Return to the starting position and repeat.
Lunges target the muscles in your legs and hips. They can also be a great tool to improve your hip mobility.
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
Take a big step forward with your right foot, bend your right knee, and lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Make sure your knee doesn't extend past your toes to avoid injury.
Return to the starting position and repeat with your left foot. See the video below to check your form.
Push-ups are a great way to strengthen your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Start by placing your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart. Alternatively, you can start with your knees on the ground in a plank position to ease joint tension and decrease the difficulty level.
Lower your body until your chest touches the ground, then push yourself back to the starting position. If you can't do a full push-up, you can modify the workout by doing them against a wall or countertop. To see this modification, check out this example video:
Bicep curls can help to strengthen all of the muscles in your arms. You can use dumbbells or resistance bands for this exercise. However, if you don't have the necessary equipment, feel free to use soup cans or anything else that you can comfortably hold in one hand.
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
Slowly lift the weights or bands toward your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your body, against your rib cage.
Lower the weights or bands back down and repeat.
Planks are a deceivingly difficult exercise that can strengthen your core muscles, which can help with your posture and balance. To do a plank:
Start by getting into a push-up position, then lower yourself onto your forearms.
Keep your body straight from head to heels, and hold the position for as long as you can.
Try to work up to holding the plank for 30-60 seconds.
Sit-ups are a popular exercise for strengthening your ab muscles. Below are the steps on how to do a sit-up:
Lay dow on your back on a mat or a comfortable surface with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Cross your arms over your chest or place them behind your head, making sure not to pull on your neck or strain your shoulders.
Engage your core muscles by drawing your navel in towards your spine.
Lift your upper body off the ground by curling your shoulders towards your hips. Keep your feet and your glutes firmly planted on the ground.
Exhale as you rise and inhale as you lower yourself back down to the mat. Repeat as many reps as you like, and feel free to take breaks in between sets.
Keep in mind that when performing sit-ups, it's important to maintain proper form to avoid injury to your neck. Keep your chin slightly lifted, your neck relaxed, and your lower back pressed into the mat.
Starting a strength training routine may seem daunting at first, but it can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. It’s good to aim for 2-3 strength workouts per week, and remember to include some cardio exercise, too. Before you know it, you'll feel the exercises and daily activities getting easier as you increase your strength and confidence.
Feeling sore? Sore muscles are a natural part of building muscle. To counteract tightness and reduce your risk of injury, incorporate these stretches into your exercise routine.