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Just bought a strength machine....now what?

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My husband will be home with it in about an hour.  I figure setting it up will be the first workout :) But what comes next? It has an overhead pulley, place for a barbell and the leg curl attachment, I this also a preacher curl attachment.  I'm hoping those terms make sense, if not, Google let me down


In the past (over 5 years ago) I used to go to the gym, on and off on my own and with various trainers  I've always liked the way I felt after a good strength workout, but always hated doing weights alone at a gym.  Either way, gym is out for several reasons now, but as I'm determined to make a real change this time, decided to try setting up at home.


So of course, I started googling best weight lifting apps, routines, exercises, etc.  And I'm now somewhere between intimidated and demotivated.  It feels like I'm kidding myself thinking that I can figure out something this complicated on my own at home (personal coaching, from this site or any other is out of the budget for now).  Plus all the pictures of crazy buff people just makes me want to give up....why isn't there a site with pictures of normal people doing strength training???


I know the focus on diet, using my fitness pal to track and reacquaint myself with proper portion sizes.  But I really want to make the strength training side work.  It just feels like I have so far to go that I'll surely get derailed in the process, so why even bother :(


Any advice for a determined, well intentioned, scared newbie?

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Breathe. :)


OK, now that that's out of the way: for beginners, it's often easiest to use a programme that's already put together FOR you. I can make suggestions, but I'm not a trainer, just a stranger on the internet - take any advice with a grain of salt. Or you can compare several different internet recommended starting routines, and decide if maybe one of those would work for you.


To help you understand the differences between exercises, I generally like to think of them as pulling and pushing for upper body (both vertical ie. overhead and horizontal ie. arms in front of you), knee dominant or hip dominant for your lower body (the two major joints for your lower body, AKA squat v deadlift), and some folks also like to add some core specific and isolation exercises for areas that need some extra attention. But that's pretty much it. Find some safe/fun lifts, and you're away to the races. Some more info: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-build-your-own-workout-routine/  The other movement I'd add to the list would be loaded carries - which is to say, picking up something heavy and walking a distance with it - mostly because that mimics the most common day-to-day strength we need in real life!


For beginners, full body workouts (rather than focusing on different body parts on different days) give you the chance to exercise each muscle group 3-4 times a week, which helps improve movement patterns and initial strength gains. Essentially, beginners aren't strong enough to stress out their muscles to the point that they need to split things up, at least to start with. I also like to err on the side of less technical movements, especially when you're working out alone at home - the fewer things that can be done incorrectly, the better!


To that end, here are my favourite beginner movements:


WARM UP: 5-10min of skip rope, burpees, or jumping jacks AND 2 sets of Sun Salutation for EACH SIDE (4 total, lots of variations around, I prefer the ones that include a lunge movement/stretch for your hips)


Goblet squat or Split Squat (lower body; knee dominant) - kettlebells are NOT essential, you can start with just bodyweight and/or dumbbells & similar

Hip Thrust or Practice the Hinge (lower body; hip dominant) - add weight when you can do at least 15 bodyweight reps in a row; don't deadlift until you have a good hinge

Inverted Row or Dumbbell Row (upper horizontal pull; pick one per workout) - keep your back straight, don't let your shoulders cave in!

Pull Downs with bands or pulley weights (upper vertical pull; pick one per workout) - lighter weights to start with, you should focus on feeling it in your back, not your arms (this movement will eventually progress to pull-ups, but those are really hard for most of us)

Pushups or Dumbbell Bench Press (upper horizontal push; pick one per workout) - regress as needed to keep good form

Headstand Pushups (upper vertical push) - DB presses are another option, but DON'T do any overhead pressing with weights if you have poor thoracic (upper back) mobility or shoulder stability

RKC Plank or Auxillary Core Movements (core) - time and reps don't matter if you're not doing them properly; slow & good form for 15sec is better than bad form for 60s

Farmer's Walk or Similar Variations (loaded carries) - also acts as a 'finisher' for the workout


COOL DOWN: Walk for 15min, 2 more Sun Salutations (one per side)


Do 3 sets of 8 reps (that's lifting the weight 8 times, and then doing that 3 times each) per: one each of the upper body push/pulls & one or both of each of the lower body movements. That's your workout! Do it 3-4 times a week, and get at least 45min of walking (ideally outside) on days that you're not working out.


Go slow, be safe, have fun, do your own research to decide what will work best for you! Ask advice from experts, if you have access to any. Welcome to the wonderful world of weight lifting.

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Since you are kind-of starting back,


I would recommend heading on over to stronglifts.com


There is a lot good info on that site--the 5x5 program is a good place to get started.


That is 5 sets for five reps per set--for a total of 25 reps.


I like it, because when you are just starting out--or getting back into it--your form tends to breakdown if you do high reps.


With the 5x5 you can do not have to worry about that--and can concentrate on mastering the form on the exercises and gradually--after you have the form down,


Increasing the weight you are using.


As far the exercises part--in addition to what you are getting you can do


All manner of push-ups, feet elevated, close hand position push-ups, push-ups done with one hand on a basket ball or medicine ball.


And of course, you can do, body-weight squats--and calf raises off a step.


Also, you can include, overhead dumbbell presses, dumbbells bent over rows and dumbbell dead-lifts


You did not include-but if there is a way to do chest dips on the strength machine by all means include them.


Along with this, include some brisk walking--say 30 minutes, three days a week--and you should be good.


One last thing, if you can, pick up a slant board--I bought one years ago--gives my abs a great workout.


Hope this Helps.

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