So my wife and I signed the family up for the Gym. It is a University Gym and it is stocked with more geegads then I have a clue about. Frankly I don’t have a clue about anything Gym related.

Goal for my wife: drop 50 libs. 

Goal for me: drop the wine belly and get strong and some balanced definition.

Goal for my 6 year old son: learn how to swim.  We have signed him up for lessons.

I get the use a towel to wipe down the seat and put your weights back where you found them.  As to what to do?  I just pick up weights and move them around 6 times and do that 3 times and that is all there is to it right?  I don’t think it is that simple.

They have the option of hiring a “personal trainer” AKA a student studying this stuff – I’m not sure about that.

So for the Gym goers of this forum, can you give me a clue?  My wife is up for doing strength training with me doing the same maneuvers at low rep high weight sets.  So I have a partner in this adventure.

What are your gripes?

How did you started out? 

What went well in the beginning?

What failed? 

Any and all information would be helpful.  

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As a beginner, I would recommend that you learn how to do all the exercises with proper form. Proper form is the most important thing when doing the exercises. This lessens your chance of injury and helps you get the maximum benefit out of an exercise.

Also slowly start inching towards the compound lifts. They give you the biggest bang for your buck.

I would say to start immediately with the compound lifts and as you progress and master them start adding accessory lifts as necessary.

Rare in the military, but I have come across some who needed to start on machines and with Barbie weights before progress to barbell work. Hell when I was in rehab for my shoulder the PT gave me a band with slightly less resistance than a child's sling shot. Took me a while to get up to a bar.

Good points Shane, but PT is much different than weight training for strength/size/general fitness. I still say that, even with light weights (whether machine, barbell, or little pink dumbbells) that the compound movements should be the basis for a program and then isolation movements/accessory lifts are used to supplement the program. PT is an entirely different animal and there are several lifts that I had to modify because of that.

Hmmm. Agreed for the most part. I wasn't thinking in general, but special populations. If your fat uncle has trouble getting up from his chair, much less doing a body weight squat, I'd start off with leg raises. Presses if you have a sled sure. Or grandma who doesn't have the range of motion anymore for big lifts.

Didn't mean to converge the thoughts.

Yah.....I guess we need to differentiate between special populations and general populations. I was speaking in the most general of terms.

Yeah I didn't mean to create a tangent. I've just been dealing with crazy people and crazy issues. Kinda bled through here.

Peter's response made perfect sense to me from that standpoint. Some people really do need to work up to big lifts and are equipment and capability dependent.

No worries, I get where you are coming from. I was looking at the OP and then the post that said "slowly start inching towards the compound lifts". A relatively healthy person should not have to slowly work towards compound lifts.....compound lifts should be the center of their weight routine (IMO). Physical capabilities may be an issue....but equipment not as much: a body weight squat is still a compound movement. If equipment is an issue you just have to tailor the routine more to chase the goals you are looking for.

What I meant is that if you are a complete beginner, you need to familiarize yourself with the gym first and how thing work, especially learning proper form. A lot of people start doing things like SS and get injured quickly. If you have been sitting on your ass all your life, then you need to address the imbalances you developed first, before starting any type of serious program.

So I would recommend, first do a few few weeks in the gym trying out things and learning proper form and also stretching. This means also starting out with some compound lifts, but learning form first...

A good program should be based around compound lifts, however a lot of people have all kinds of imbalances which they need to address first, otherwise they risk injury.

One of the reasons I like Stronglifts is because it is so conservative. There's just no way to get over ambitious when you start out with a bar. I'm not one to be too cautious with much, but that's the program I started out on.

Perhaps part of our confusion is because of terminology or it could just be completely different viewpoints. I believe that SS and Stronglifts or any 5 x 5 is a great beginning program. In fact SS strongly emphasizes proper form and starts fairly light if I recall.

Addressing imbalances will not be accomplished in a week or 2. Two weeks of pull-ups and face-pulls will not address a shoulder imbalance though both exercises do that very well. I do agree with the stretching. But I think it is best left to after warming up. If it were me I would recommend a good beginner program, have them run it very light (think maybe 50% of what there training weight may be). That will give them the opportunity to learn the specific lifts in their program, warm them up for stretching, and ease them into activity safely. If you want to correct imbalances before starting a program no-one would ever start a program; everything would be corrective.

Agreed. There's ways to diagnose and address imbalances with a bar. Although I recommend starting with a few months of body weight work first. That will address any imbalances.

A big difference between SS and SL, besides the power clean, is the starting weight. With SL you start with an empty bar for everything except dead lifts. With SS, once the lift is learned, you add ten pounds each lift until it slows down; that's your starting work weight. It's easier to get over ambitious that way I think. Though if you keep your head no worries.

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