10 weight exercises perfect for those who are new to strength training

Small pink dumbell weights

Embarking on a weight training journey can seem daunting – with so much choice and information available, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to building your strength for the first time. Here our fitness expert Laura Williams’ top lists 10 resistance moves – easy to follow and highly effective strength training for beginners – so you can remove the guesswork and add these to your workout routine for really speedy results.

  • What: Walking lunges
  • Why: The walking lunge conditions all of your lower body muscles while challenging core as you work to keep your balance.
  • How: Take a stride forward with your right leg, lower hips towards the ground bending both knees to 90 degree angles. Push off with your left foot and bring your left leg forward to your starting standing position before lunging forward with left leg. Repeat for one minute. Move it on: Add a rotation to work your core – hold a weight in front of you and rotate torso to the side each time you lunge.
  • What: Single arm row
  • Why: The single arm row strengthens upper body and helps improve posture by strengthening all of your upper back muscles.
  • How: Position feet a stride apart before hinging forward from the waist, so your back’s flat. Rest one hand on the edge of a bench or sofa and hold a dumbbell in the other. Bend your arm lifting the weight to the side of your chest keeping arm close to your side (this is like a sawing action). Lower back down. Do 20 reps on each side. Move it on: Rest on an unstable surface such as stability ball to add a balance challenge.
  • What: Side plank
  • Why: The side plank is an effective plank variation that targets upper back and waist muscles.
  • How: Lie on your left side propped up on your elbow with feet stacked. Raise body into the air until you form a straight line from shoulder to hips. Hold for 10 seconds to start off with and aim to build up to 30. Rest and repeat several times before changing sides. Move it on: Add a leg lift (lift top leg to hip height and lower) to really work obliques (waist) and hip muscles.
Woman doing a side plank

  • What: Squat, curl and press
  • Why: This 3-in-1 multi-tasking move works lower body, arms and shoulders.
  • How: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart holding a weight in each hand. Bend knees, push hips back and squat down to the floor. As you straighten up, curl bottles to shoulders before pushing them overhead. As you lower arms to sides, squat back down to the floor. Do 20 reps. Move it on: Come onto tiptoes to add a balance challenge and work your calves.
  • What: Weighted bridge
  • Why: Add a little bit of weight to the bridge and you have the perfect tum-and-tush toner!
  • How: Lie on your back with legs bent, feet flat on the floor and a dumbbell positioned at the top of each of your thighs. Lift hips so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold this position squeezing buttocks and pushing feet into the floor for a count of 5. Return to your starting position. Repeat a total of 5 times. Move it on: Switch it up to a single leg bridge (one leg extended in the air) to really fire up glutes and hamstrings.
  • What: Stability ball crunch
  • Why: The ball crunch is one of the most effective exercises for working all the abdominal muscles.
  • How: Lie back over the ball so shoulders, hips and knees form a straight line. Fold your arms behind your head. Curl your trunk off the ball stopping when head and shoulders are 45° from the rest of your body. Lower back down and repeat. Do 20 reps. Move it on: Position a cushion between knees and squeeze at the top of your crunch to work the adductors (inner thighs).
  • What: Stability ball jack knife
  • Why: This fun move works upper body and core and strengthens often-overused hip flexors.
  • How: Start by kneeling behind the ball and roll yourself over the top of the ball. Walk forward until upper body is off the ball; lower body from shins downwards is on the ball. Bend your knees and pull the ball towards your chest. Straighten legs and return to starting position. Do 15 reps.
  • Move it on: Straighten legs extra slowly, to a count of 4, to really challenge deep abdominal muscles.
Woman using swiss ball to exercise in gym

  • What: Pec Flies
  • Why:Flies are a great move to work chest muscles, while elevating your legs in the air challenges your abdominals.
  • How:Lie on your back with hips and knees at 90-degree angles. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and extend your arms up straight up above you at breastbone level. With a slight bend in the elbow, slowly bring your arms out to either side in an arc – stop just before the weights reach the floor or until you feel a slight stretch in your chest. Slowly return to your start position. Repeat. Aim for 15-20 reps.
  • Move it on: Try performing this move on a stability ball as you get stronger, to work lower body at the same time.
  • What: Single leg deadlift
  • Why: The single leg deadlift is a killer move for core, glutes and hamstrings.
  • How: Hold a weight in your right hand, stand on right leg and lift your left foot off the ground. Maintaining a straight back, hinge forward from the waist with a slight bend in your right leg until torso’s parallel to the floor as you lift leg to hip height. Return to your starting position. Do 12-15 on each side.
  • Move it on: Use two weights when you’ve perfected your technique.
  • What: Curtsey lunge
  • Why:The curtsey lunge is a fabulous lunge variation that targets all the muscles of the hips.
  • How: Start by standing with feet hip width apart, then take a stride back with your right leg, crossing it behind your left leg (as if you were going to curtsy). Bend both knees and lower body towards the ground until front thigh is parallel to the floor. Do 15 reps and switch sides. Move it on: Add an arm movement to turn this into a total body move. Hold a weight in your right hand and extend arm to shoulder height as you straighten up out of your curtsey.




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