What to expect during your first week

So you have decided to start a new barbell training program here at the gym.  On your first day we will begin with the squat, overhead press, and deadlift.  We will start with an explanation of the lift and begin with an empty bar.  We will progressively load the bar, and go over some of the issues that you may be having with your form.  The loading will be about 5 – 10 lbs increments, depending on your current age and strength levels.  We will work up to a weight that will start to get a little tougher.  This will be your starting weight and we will do two more sets of this weight (except the deadlift will only be one set and that will make sense later).  So that’s it.  We will do those three exercises and it will take up to an hour.  I know it sounds simple and you should be doing more, but trust me, the next two days will let you know that you got a full body workout.

That brings us to the soreness.  Soreness will happen, but it will subside.  You shouldn’t feel too much soreness after this first week.  If you do feel soreness later in the program, it is likely due to some other issue.  Incorrect form or a long layoff period will bring the soreness back.  The latter is easier to spot.  If you take a week or longer off, then you will definitely experience some slight level of soreness when you come back.  Form issues we will need to examine and use some corrective coaching and new cues to help you straighten that back out. 

The next key is recovery, and this is where you actually begin to get stronger.  The day after your first workout, you should rest.  Get plenty of sleep, and eat enough food to recover from your training.  The amount of food will be dictated by your goals, but you should not be in a serious calorie deficit.  The first few weeks or months you should not be too concerned with weight loss.  There will be some recomposition (loss of fat and gaining muscle), but weight loss shouldn’t be a driving force during the beginning.  Once you’ve built up strength, you will be able to handle more rigorous High Intensity training to burn fat.  So during this first period, solely focus on getting stronger!

The next workout, we will replace the overhead press with the bench press.  We will squat first as usual.  This time instead of just building up over certain increments, we will squat an empty bar and 2-3 light sets to go back through form.  We will then add 5-10 pounds to your previous top set.  We will go through the same process as the first workout with the bench press.  We will go over the lift, do an empty bar set, and work up to a top set.  The deadlift will be treated the same as the squat.  We will do 3-4 warm up sets, then do a single top set that will be 10-20 lbs heavier than your previous top set.  After this workout, you will most likely be sore again (especially in the chest and shoulders).  

If time and scheduling works for you we will follow up with a third workout that will be the exact same as the first workout we did on Monday.  That will conclude your first week.  Pretty simple, huh?  We will proceed for the next few weeks alternating these two workouts.  We will always take a day to recover between workouts.  Nutrition will play a key to your success, and we will discuss what your specific nutrition needs will be.  After a few weeks, we can adjust your program as necessary depending on your goals, but it will not stray too far from this.  

There will be issues that we will have to face, injuries, time off, illness, etc.  The key to coming here is we can work through these issues and keep you on track to make the best progress.  You may come in with previous injuries that may keep you from wanting to start.  We can work through these issues. If you have shoulder problems, we will start as light as necessary to get you through the initial issue.  The same applies to back issues, knee issues, etc.  We can work to build strength, and even improve on any pain issues you might be having.  

The best way to start improving is to get started in the first place. 

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