There are so many ways you can train your body to get stronger, but as a beginner it’s always best to start with the basics. Even if you’re a regular to exercise, starting strength training can be confusing - it’s important not to get caught up in the smoke and mirrors that you might see on Instagram.
When starting out, your focus should be on the correct technique, forming an awareness of the body and the way it should be moving and recruiting the relevant muscle groups. The more you do this, the easier it’ll get - then you can start adding heavier weights for even more benefits.
Try these simple yet effective compound moves to boost your strength.
Where: glutes, quads, hamstrings
With feet shoulder-width apart, lower your bum down behind you, keeping your weight in your heels and chest up.
Lower until the tops of your thighs are at least parallel to the floor, or as low as you can go before your chest collapses or your heels feel like they need to lift off the floor.
Drive up through the heels back to standing. Make sure your knees don’t collapse onwards on the drive up.
Expert tip: Imagine sitting your bum down into a chair behind you - the movement is not straight up and down but back and down.
Where: chest, triceps, shoulders, core
From a high plank position with hands just wider than the shoulders, feet hip-width apart and a straight line going through the body, slowly lower your chest down by flexing at the elbows, ensuring your elbows do not flare out. Keep your weight forwards over your hands.
When your chest is a few inches off the floor, push back up to the start, ensuring your tailbone is tucked under and neck is neutral throughout.
Expert tip: If you are struggling to maintain good form and perform a full range of motion, do these on your knees instead to build up your base strength.
Where: glutes, hamstrings, quads
From standing, take an exaggerated step forwards and bend both knees to 90 degrees, lowering the back knee until just an inch off the floor. Keep your chest up and shoulders square.
Drive up from the front heel back to standing, then do the same with the opposite leg.
Expert tip: Take a big enough step so that your front knee ends up almost directly above your ankle when both knees are bent. If the knee drives past the ankle then you need to take a bigger step.
Where: glutes, hamstrings, back
Stand with a barbell or deadlift in front of you. The bar should be either loaded with plates or resting on a platform that raises it to about mid-shin height. With a bend in the knees, hinge forwards at the hips to take hold of the bar or kettlebell with straight arms. Your neck and back should be in neutral, your chest should be open and your shoulders should be pulled back.
Push through the floor to extend to standing, lifting the bar or kettlebell with you, driving the hips forward. Lower with control.
Expert tip: The bar or kettlebell should remain as close to your body as possible on both the way up and back down.
5 Shoulder press
Where: shoulders, triceps
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, hold a dumbbell in each hand racked in front of your shoulders.
Brace your core and push the dumbbells straight up towards the ceiling, extending both arms fully. Lower back down with control.
Expert tip: Make sure the weight isn’t too heavy that it causes your lower back to overarch.