The Only 5 Weight Training Exercises You Need
The only 5 weight training exercises you need to maintain strength, metabolism, and health
Do a Google search of the phrase “weight training program”. Seriously. Right now.
How many hits did you get? I got more than 1 billion. That’s billion with a B!
No wonder people are so confused about what to do in the gym!
Is weight training really that complicated?
Good news: it’s not.
Unless you are training for something very specific, like a body building competition, extreme obstacle race, or just want to have disproportionately huge biceps, there’s no need to waste time, money, or headache on a complicated weight training program.
Get clear on what you want to achieve with weight training
Most people quit before they’ve experienced the benefits of weight training because it’s overwhelming if you have to spend 90 minutes in the gym and learn 30 different exercises! But, as mentioned above, unless you have very specific training goals, you don’t need to do this!
The average man or woman seeking fitness advice just wants to “get healthy” and “drop a few pounds”. These non-specific goals can be achieved with a fairly non-specific and simple weight training program.
That’s great news for beginners or those who just don’t love the gym! You don’t need a specialized or specific weight training program or fancy equipment to get the job done! All you need is the willingness to work out consistently, a weighted object, and your body!
Keep it simple and stay safe while weight training
The 5 weight training exercises listed below will work your entire body effectively and efficiently, improve strength and muscle mass, enhance balance and joint stability, and boost metabolism.
Aim to perform 10 repetitions of each exercise, two to three times through. If you do this workout circuit-style, it should take you no longer than 30 minutes to complete!
Shoot for completing this total-body workout two or three times per week on non-consecutive days…and you’ll be golden! (See infographic below.)
If you’re new to weight training, start out mostly with body weight exercises and/or very light weights. Get the form perfect, see how your body handles this new kind of exercise, and then begin adding more challenging amounts of weight in small increments.
If you are unsure or are trying to work around an injury, hire a trainer for a few sessions to check your form and keep you safe! It’s money well-spent!
The only 5 weight training exercises you’ll ever need
The basic 5 weight training exercises that will make you strong, fit, and healthy are the squat, hip hinge, overhead press, row, and chest press. They work all major muscle groups in the body, including the core. Each of these exercises has many variations, so it is possible to mix up your routine if you get bored easily.
1. The Squat. Possibly the best lower body weight training exercise you can do is a properly executed squat. It works all the major muscle groups of the lower body and is one of the most natural movement patterns for the human body.
Variations: Barbell squat, smith machine squat, front squat, Dumbbell squat, wide-leg squat, single-leg squat, split squat, leg press machine.
2. The Hip Hinge. This very important lower body exercise creates a backward weight shift through the hips with minimal bending through the knees. Performed properly, it strengthens nearly every muscle in your back, butt, and hamstrings.
Variations: Barbell deadlift, stiff-legged deadlift, single-leg deadlift, sumo deadlift, good mornings, lying hip extension (hip thrust).
3. The Overhead Press. More than just having nice shoulders in a strappy top, the overhead press keeps your shoulders strong and functional so you can toss your kiddo up in the air without breaking a sweat or tearing a rotator cuff!
Variations: Dumbbell overhead press, barbell overhead press, military press, shoulder press machine, handstand pushups.
4. The Row. This exercise targets the most neglected muscle group in the upper body (maybe because you can’t see them in the mirror): the back muscles. Weak back muscles will cause poor posture, and can eventually lead to spinal misalignment and pain.
Variations: Barbell row, dumbbell bent over row, single-arm dumbbell row, cable row, suspension trainer row, row machine. While not technically considered a row, pullups and cable pulldowns are also excellent exercises for strengthening the back.
5. The Chest Press. One of the most familiar strength exercises, the chest press works the largest muscles in the front of your upper body, including the pecs, anterior deltoids, and triceps.
Variations: Barbell chest press, dumbbell chest press, machine chest press, cable chest press, incline chest press, pushup.
More information and weight training resources
For more information, check out this weight training Q&A article I wrote for Akron Ohio Moms Blog!
Keep in mind that if you’re into a more specialized sport or activity, you may need a more specific training plan. Check out this post I wrote for CampRents about using weight training to get prepared for hiking and backpacking!
Need further assistance with a weight training program or a form check? I can help you even if you don’t live nearby! Contact me today and we’ll get you on the right path for success!
I gotta put this here…
Don’t be a dummy! Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.
I hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for reading!
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Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer
Learn more about the author here.