Strength Training Weight Lifting Routines — Strength Before Size

squats1I am a firm believer in muscle building and weight loss through strength training. Strength training is different than bodybuilding in the manner that you give yourself more rest in between sets, go heavier on your exercises and focus on getting stronger with the physique coming as a byproduct of gaining strength. In order to effectively gain strength you need to utilize compound exercises in effective weight lifting routines that work your entire body.

Isolation exercises definitely have their place when it comes to training, but I prefer to keep them to what I refer to as my “off days” which are my days in between my compound exercises. You should give yourself a minimum of 1 day of rest per week no matter what so you don’t over train.

My Favorite Weight Lifting Routines Overview:

First and foremost — you don’t need to train 5 times a week. You should be training a minimum of 3 times per week with the compound exercises spread out similarly to the way I have them split below. If you choose to do 5 days per week and are an overachiever, do not do compound lifts on your off days. I would stick more to isolation exercises for problem areas if you choose to do so. If you are just starting out or are just looking to lose weight, you should focus on making sure Weight-Lifting-Routinesyou are consistently sticking to 3 days per week of exercise. I would not recommend you attempt 5 days per week. Instead focus 20% on a solid weight lifting and strength training routine and 70% on your diet. The other 10% should be focused on rest. For those of you that are a little more advanced, working out on your off days is fine, but not required. I will go over some great off day workout exercises later on in future articles.

Please note that on each exercise that I pursue a breakdown of 5 sets and 5 reps, I usually only get 3-4 clean reps on the 4th set, and 1-2 on the last. If I get all 5 clean reps on set 4, and 3 or more on set 5, that tells me it’s time to go up in weight 5 pounds in starting weight on every set the following week.

My Sample Strength Training Routine:


  • Warm-up: 1×8 Bench Press, 1×8 Shoulder Raises.
  • Bench Press: 5×5, increase weight by 5 pounds each set.
  • Renegade Rows: 5×5, increase weight by 5 pounds each set.
  • Push Ups: 5 sets to fatigue.
  • Deadlifts: 3×5, increase weight by 10 pounds each set.

Tuesdays: Open Workout Day or Rest


  • Warm-up: 1×8 Standing Military Press, 1×8 Shoulder Raises.
  • Standing Military Press: 5×5, increase weight by 5 pounds each set.
  • Squats: 5×5, increase weight by 5 pounds each set.
  • Weighted Pull Ups: 5×5, increase weight by 5 times each set.
  • Open Exercise: (I usually rotate External Rotator Cuff Exercises here with any other shoulder exercise).

Thursdays: Open Workout Day or Rest


  • Warm-up: 1×8 Bench Press, 1×8 Shoulder Raises.
  • Decline Bench Press: 5×5, increase weight by 5 pounds each set.
  • Renegade Rows: 5×5, increase weight by 5 pounds each set.
  • Deadlifts: 5×5, increase weight by 10 pounds each set.
  • Push Ups: 5 sets to fatigue.

Saturdays: Rest

Sundays: Rest

As you can see the bulk of my exercise routine consists largely of compound lifts which I personally think is extremely important. Compound exercises hit almost every muscle group and are a huge part of appropriate strength training. On your open workout days, don’t push yourself and listen to your body. If you can handle another day in the gym, go for it. Do things that make it fun for you, curls, abs, whatever floats your boat. I usually use these days as non-strength training days and rotate whatever exercises I feel like to keep it interesting or I rest. Rest is highly important and the key here is to not do any compound exercises on your off days. Save your compound exercises for the days that you’ve allowed a good portion of your body to recover so you have the stamina to push yourself hard when you get into the gym next time around.

Wrap Up:

For those of you just starting out, 5 days a week is NOT necessary. Your focus should be on your diet and just getting into the gym 3 days a week. If you push yourself every day to get to the gym, you WILL burnout. Balancing your everyday life with great weight lifting routines is absolutely essential. Nothing is worse than starting off with the best intentions only to abandon everything 3 weeks into it because you have burnt yourself out or are holding your own expectations too high. Pace yourself and focus on nutrition while starting the right type of strength training program for you!

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