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Best Exercises for Beginner Lifters

Brand new to the gym? Take a look here to learn the best exercises for you to start with.




The gym can be an intimidating place if you're new to the free-weights section! So many options, and so many different ways to use them. Looking for help can be tricky too with contradicting advice everywhere you look. So how do you know what you should or shouldn't do?

Here's the truth: There's no good or bad exercises, just ones that fit your goals better than others.



It's so easy to get caught up in the "never do this" click-bait posts online, but all it is is a cheap grab for your attention. Coaches and PTs worth your money understand it's way more nuanced than that.

As a physical therapist who sees a lot of new lifters and lifters returning to the gym after an injury, I would never tell these clients "never do that exercise" or "doing that is why you're in pain." Instead we discuss goals. Why are we choosing this specific exercise? What purpose does it serve? Is there one that may fit better? If we're doing an overly complex exercise just because we saw someone on Instagram doing it, there's a decent chance it's not serving us.

Secondly, we discuss program design. What does your week of training look like? Are we overloading different muscle groups and not giving them a chance to recover? This is one of the most common mistakes I see in new lifters. Maybe you want to grow a specific muscle group for aesthetics, so you train it 4 days a week. This doesn't give the area enough time to rest and recover so an overuse injury starts to develop. Unfortunately, if the lifter doesn't know better, they attribute it to lifting in general and stop their fitness journey because they don't want an injury.

Lastly, we look at technique. If we've determined an exercise will help you meet your goals, and we're not over-training, then we need to make sure form is sound. The key here- exercise form is not one size fits all. Leg lengths, arm lengths, torso lengths- they're all different on everyone, and that changes how your form will look compared to someone else's.

An example? "Toes forward, feet hip width apart" is widely regarded as "proper squat form," but I know very few lifters who can squat to depth like that, and I know a lot who have a pinch in their hip when they try. This is because of differences in hip anatomy, leg length, and torso length. Figuring out the best squat stance for you will make sure you feel good and are able to lift well.




The same is true of every other exercise. Bench press, deadlifts, pull ups, lunges... They all can look different person to person and that's okay! This is why I always look at form specific to you and your body type. And if we have trouble maintaining your optimal form? That's what your programmed accessory exercises and warm ups are for. We then continued to monitor progress of form with video analysis and/or in person sessions until I'm confident you can maintain the proper technique on your own.


This is the process of any trainer or physical therapist that's worth your time. Struggling to find someone who can keep you strong and injury-free? Click this link and schedule a call or session to start on the right track today.
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