Starting Weight Training Routine: Case Study

For this fitness case study, we have an active 28 year old female with minimal resistance training experience. Her primary goal is stay active and well in a time efficient manner. She typically chooses running as her activity of choice. To build bone density, develop strength, decrease risk of injury, and spice up her exercise regimen, we are developing an individualized resistance training regimen.

Initial Resistance Training Plan:

2 days per week that are not consecutive

Aerobic Warm Up

Prone Press-Ups 2 x 10

Happy Campers 2 x 10

Upper Trunk Rotation 2 x 10

Unweighted Squats with Theraband Resisted Abduction 2 x 5

Machine Chest Press 1-2 x 10

Machine Row 1-2 x 10

Machine Shoulder Press 1-2 x 10

Machine Leg Press 1-2 x 10

Optional: Triceps Press Down 1-2 x 10

Optional: Bicep Curls Seated with Back Support 1-2 x 10

Cool Down

Now, I am sure you have questions about why I chose this plan. I chose this plan because it meets the individual needs of this person. This plan largely resembles a generic beginner exercise plan you can find anywhere. Feel free to fire away in the comments below. First let me provide some more supporting information and rationale.

Typically, I am not a huge fan of these plans. I think Olympic style lifts in some capacity are beneficial for the vast majority of people and should be initiated as quickly as possible. With someone with some nervousness embarking on a resistance training program and some flexibility deficits, I made the decision to slowly progress to these lifts. For a beginner, it is much easier to have success using a machine rather than complex technically demanding power lifts. I also did not consider simpler compound lifts like bench press or a military press. The limited equipment in the gym would require her to learn these lifts that need more stability at near maximal intensities. To me, it seems clear that now machines will best set her up for success.

The other concern is flexibility. Snatches and cleans require flexibility (and motor control). We want to work towards performing these lifts with proper technique at this time. This is done by by breaking down the requirements for these lifts. Children do not learn to run before learning to walk. The same concept applies here. Fundamental requirements need development before more complicated movements. For her, she needs to create more core and proximal mobility in extension and rotation. These mobility exercises and performing squats in a corrective manner will start forming the base for more complex movement patterns and challenges.

On the flip side, others might question why I am not doing more to address her movement foundation. Using a qualitative lens, all the exercises would be corrective in nature to perform basic unweighted movement patterns (like the Functional Movement Screen). By adding resistance before optimizing these patterns, I could theoretically be reinforcing dysfunctional patterns. I do think training quality of movement is important, which is why I have corrective exercises in her program. Yet I do not think we should become tunnel visioned in chasing more optimal movement. By doing so, we risk missing out on the other physiological benefits of exercise that can occur without perfect movement. As a beginner almost any novel stimulus should start the rewiring of her nervous system and quickly lead to significant gains. I am sure Serena Williams did not hit a perfect serve her first few hundred times. Though I am sure she benefited from this practice, seeing lots of improvements. We need to keep quality in mind, but not get too caught up in perfection.

Here are a few quick points. Flexible number of sets and additional exercises were made to address her limited time. I think core mobility exercises addressing extension and rotation work best to create a movement foundation. She still enjoys aerobic exercise so the warm-up and cool down are opportunities for aerobic work on resistance training days. Likewise by only implementing this new part of the program 2 days per week, this further increases time for activities like running. Ultimately, keeping some enjoyed pastimes and mixing in some new challenges keeps things fresh and fun. Do not underestimate fun on the road to wellness.

Hope this helps,




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