Back to Lifting Basics


Though it is one of my favorite physical activities, for a lot of people it’s a part of the gym where they feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed and quite possibly embarrassed. The weight room can be intimidating with all the machines, cables, dumbbells and all the bells and whistles that go with it. I get it, so many things to try…where would you possibly even start? So I’m going back to the beginning as I have been the past couple of weeks. I’m even going to repeat a lot of exercises I’ve talked about in previous posts because I think it’s important to break things down and make it simple especially for those that are first starting out or even people that have fallen off the wagon and need to jump back on.

All I used for this workout is a set a dumbbells, a bench (a stability ball can serve as a bench as well) and my own body weight. This is a routine you can do at the gym or even at home if you can’t seem to get to the gym as often as you would like. If possible, I would try to get to the gym…I recommend this because I think there are less distractions to pull you away from your workout and it’s good to have some time to just focus on yourself. The interval workout ideas I posted last week can be tacked on to the front or back of your weight program. It still should take you no more than an hour to an hour and a half to get through all of it.


Weight Program

Dumbbell (DB) Chest Press – 3 x 15 (sets x repetitions)

DB Mid Rows – 3 x 15

Bench Squats – 3 x 15


DB Shoulder Press – 3 x 15

DB Lateral Raises – 3 x 10

DB Front Raises – 3 x 10

DB Reverse Flies – 3 x 10


Bodyweight (BW) Forward Lunges – 3 x 10/leg

BW Lateral Lunges – 3 x 10/leg

Glute Extensions – 3 x 15

Single Leg Glute Extensions – 3 x 15 

**each grouping of exercises are to be performed together. For example, you will do one set of dumbbell chest press followed by one set of dumbbell mid rows and repeat for two more sets. Just go down the list and perform each one and then just start over.

Here’s the exercise breakdown to help you make sure you’re performing each exercise correctly.


Chest Press


DB Chest Press – Laying on a flat bench with feet flat on the floor, (you can also put your feet on the bench if you feel too much of an arch in your back) start with the dumbbells around armpit distance apart. Your elbows should be making a 90 degree angle or so at the start of the exercise. Keeping the dumbbells at the same distance apart, press straight up from their starting points in a controlled, slow motion and control the press back down. 

**Make sure through any exercise you are breathing properly. Exhale when the exercise is difficult (for the chest press you will exhale on the upward motion and inhale on the downward motion) and inhale when you are coming back to your starting point.**



Mid Row


DB Mid Row – Start by putting the bench up at about a 30 degree angle. Lay on your stomach with your legs straight and your chest at the top of the bench. Your head should be above the bench. Start with the dumbbells in your hands with your arms straight. Bring your shoulder blades together by bringing your chest up off the bench a bit. Pull the dumbbells up towards your armpits and squeeze your shoulder blades at the top of the exercise. Control the weights both on the way up and down. 






Bench Squats


Bench Squats – The bench or box squat is a very basic exercise to get you familiar with the fundamentals of a squat. Start with your feet a little wider than hip width apart and turn your toes out on an angle just a bit to open up your hips. Think about reaching back on the bench as you sit and keep your chest up. Your knees should be going out towards your angled toes and you are going to sit and rock back to a neutral seated position. To stand, push through the outside of your feet to keep your knees from diving in and try to keep your chest up as much as possible. The goal is to not lean so far forward to get up but rather use your glutes and hamstrings to bring you back to a standing position.





Shoulder Press


DB Shoulder Press – Start with your palms facing one another at about ear level and press them straight up from the starting point. Lower back down to your ears and repeat. With all of these exercises, take your time and just get in a good rhythm. You always want to be in control of the weight and not feel like the weight is controlling you.








Lat Raise


DB Lateral Raise – Start with the weights at your side with your palms facing in. With straight arms or a slight bend in them, raise the dumbbells so they are parallel with the ground. Your palms should be facing the ground at the top of your exercise. Lower both dumbbells back down to their starting point and repeat. 

DB Front Raise – Start with the dumbbells in front of you facing your body just like you did for the lateral raise. With straight arms, raise both dumbbells until they are parallel with the ground. Just like the lateral raise, your palms should be facing down when you’re at the top of your exercise. Lower both dumbbells back down to their starting point and repeat. 

DB Reverse Flies – Bend your body into about a 45 degree angle. Make sure you keep your shoulders back and chest up to promote good posture. When you are doing a reverse fly, you want to think about squeezing your shoulder blades as it is working those rear deltoids. With a slight bend in your elbows, start with the weights together and arms straight.  Staying in your bent position, fly the dumbbells out keeping that slight bend and squeeze your shoulders blades at the top of your exercise. Control the weights back down and repeat.


Forward Lunge


Forward Lunge – Start with your feet together and take an over-sized step forward. In this position you are going to keep good posture and instead of leaning into your front leg to perform the lunge, you are going to drop your back knee towards the ground. This will ensure you are continuing to stand up tall and it will also protect those knee joints. The same rule applies for lunges as they do squats…no knees should cross the plane of the toes.







Lateral Lunge



Lateral Lunges – Start with your feet together and take a over sized step to one side. Your toes should always be pointing forward throughout the exercise. Lean into the leg that you stepped out with, push your glutes back behind you as if you were going to sit down and keep your other leg straight. Push back off the outside leg and repeat the exercise.










Glute Extensions –  Lay on your back with your hands at your side and your knees bent with feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips and squeeze your glutes at the top of the exercise. Lower your hips back down and repeat.




Single Leg Glute Extensions –  You will start in the same position as glute extensions except one leg will be up in the air. Lift your hips, squeeze your glutes at the top and lower hips back down. Repeat.



Take your time with each exercise until you get comfortable with the proper form. Remember everyone is at the gym working on themselves. They aren’t worried about what the person next to them is doing so just go in with a plan and execute it to the best of your ability. Start with a lighter weight and you can always move your weight up if it is too easy. A good rule of thumb is the last five repetitions of your exercise should start to feel harder and harder. There are countless different exercises and these are just some basic ones to start you off and give you some guidance. I will definitely give you an in depth look into the weight room soon. Happy lifting.



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