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The Rise of knowledge and downfall of fads: The Ultimate Beginners Guide for Weightlifting

The gym is the one place people worry about what others think, except for the middle-school lunchroom. No one wants to look like a weight-training beginner—even beginners. Having spent much time in the gym the sad truth is most people have no idea what they’re doing—even if they’ve been lifting for years.

The Ultimate Beginners Guide for Weightlifting
Photo credit: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Lifeandhealth/Pix/pictures/2008/01/04/gym1.jpg

Learning proper technique and maximizing your efficiency in the gym is tough these days. Inconsistent, contradictory information from all sources of media has created an environment ripe with confusion. No wonder so many people struggle to build a strong, shredded and athletic body.

As a Beginner I was there too.

I struggled in the gym and became overwhelmed by empty promises of results from supplements, workout programs, and ludicrous articles with one-size fits all approaches.

Luckily, I learned from and work with some of the world’s best coaches. I have great network of brilliant professionals and work with athletes of all ages and ability levels.

In The Ultimate Beginners Guide for Weightlifting you’ll find out what works in the gym and be outfitted with the training knowledge to get results most people can only dream of.

What Beginners Say (And Do)

We’ve all seen it. The group of dudes in cut-off t-shirts with bright red pre-workout drinks bench pressing and blasting biceps curls three days per week, yet with no discernible improvements.

Or the young athlete wavering under a 45 bar with a bewildered expression.

Or the residential cardio queen who refuses to do anything besides cardio and endless sets triceps kickbacks to “tone” the muscles.

Despite potentially large efforts and time commitments these are still beginners. This isn’t a result of poor efforts; rather, misinformation and a lack of guidance. Rather than  saying“ I told you so” I’ll share the  principles, knowledge, and facts to make sure you’re prioritizing correctly in the gym.

1.You’ve never touched a weight. In fact, “what the hell is a dumbbell?”

2.”Bro, I don’t need bigger legs. Plus, I’m running a 5k in two weeks, I don’t need to lift my legs”

3.You believe weight training will make you “too big or bulky.”

4.You can’t perform simple bodyweight movements such as push-ups.

5.You train to get as sore as possible.

6.You train solely by body parts, rather than movements.

7.You perform the same monotonous, ineffective program day-in day-out.

8.Your program isn’t based around full-body movements like: squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, lunges, and cleans

9.”Chase the pump baby, nothing under eight reps!”– because you only want to build muscle.

10.You change exercises every workout because “muscle confusion is the way to go.”

11.You have spent years in the weight room, yet you have little strength or physique improvements to show for it.

12.You devote two days to building up your arms, yet can’t perform 6 solid pull-ups.

13. You don’t even have a program.

Enough beating the dead horse, you get my point– You need Principles. Principles are simple–they provide the foundation and groundwork for success no matter the circumstances.

Principles for the Ultimate Beginners Guide for Weightlifting

1.Train Movements, Not Muscles

The most crippling problem for beginners is isolating each muscle group rather than training compound, multi-joint movements. This is majoring in the minors and a sure-fire way to be small, weak, and injury prone.



Strength training with basic movement patterns is the best way to develop a strong strength base. As such you have limited time and energy to dedicate to training and picking the right exercises is key to getting results in the gym. Biceps curls, lateral shoulder raises, and hamstring curls aren’t bad, but they shouldn’t make up the majority of your program. Isolation exercises only focus on a small part of the body and won’t provide the necessary stimulus to transform your body. Even bodybuilders, known for their insane isolation exercises and high volume, place focus on big movements like squats as the backbone of their programs.

The Ultimate Beginners Guide for Weightlifting
Photo Credit http://undergroundstrengthmanual.com/images/arnold-squats.jpg

There are seven human movements patterns, but for the scope of this article I will cover five: Squat, hinge, lunge, push, and pull. The list below has each movement pattern and corresponding exercises to form the base for good programming.

Hinge: deadlift (all variations), good morning, kettlebell swings

Lunge: lunge, split squat, step back lunge, bulgarian split squat

Push: bench press, push-up, overhead press, jerk, one arm presses

Pull:pull-up, bent-over row, seated row, one arm row

Squat: Front squat, goblet squat, zercher squat, back squat

These exercises require major muscles working at multiple joints to perform movement, just like most movements in sport and life. These major movements must be emphasized early in a training career to build impressive results.

Eric’s Recommendation:  Focus on three movement patterns per workout, aiming to add weight to the bar during each workout. Plan all movements patterns equally for balanced training.

2.    Stick to the basics

You know those dudes standing in the corner of the gym doing curls on that half-ball bosu thing? Don’t do that. When it comes down to it the basics have withstood the test of time and should make up the majority of training. Prevalent in the fitness industry is the idea that complicated means effective. Non-sense. Programs consisting of 43 different exercises, pain-inducing timed sets, complex training, chains, and bands are not necessary for beginners. All of those are advanced methods and must be carefully programmed. There is a reason barbell and dumbbell exercises have been around for 100+ years—they work. Squats, deadlifts, cleans, push ups, and lunges etc. should be the primary exercises used in your programs. You’re not a special butterfly, the same exercises that worked 100 years ago will provide the best results today.

Basics are best for weight training beginners, How the best bodies are Built: The Rise of knowledge and downfall of fads"
Photo credit: http://www.rosstraining.com/images/gorner2.jpg

Eric’s Recommendation: Don’t follow fad programs or look for the latest exercise trend in the fitness industry. Instead, seek out tenured coaches that preach the basic tenants of training. I recommend Jason Ferruggia and Jim Wendler.

3.    Quality over Quantity

It’s important track weights, beat personal records, and add weight to the bar, but it’s more important to improve the quality of each rep. Focus on perfecting technique and mastering mechanics of the major movements.  This means achieving depth on your squat, staying tight on your deadlift, and performing full chin-ups when you hit the gym. Proper technique on exercises will yield better gains, fewer injuries, and a longer training career—That’s more important than beating your buddy in a bench-off.

Eric’s Recommendation: Take videos of your training. Is your technique up-to-par? Consider hiring a coach to ensure proper technique and optimal quality.

4.    Exercise Order

Proper exercise order is vital for exercise performance and safety. Due to requirements of the nervous system and muscles it’s important to program certain exercises before others. Contrary to many workouts of the day (WOD’s) it’s stupid and dangerous to run 400 meter sprints followed by 15 power cleans and 50 box jumps. That’s recipe for overtraining and injury, not high performance gains. According to the NSCA Essentials of Strength and Conditioning “Compound power and core exercises require the highest level of skill and concentration of all exercises and are most affected by fatigue. Athletes who become fatigued are prone to using poor technique and consequently are at a higher risk of injury. “(Baechle and Earle 390-391) Sounds pretty damn important to me.

Eric’s Recommendation: I recommend the following order for exercises: 1. Dynamic movements: Jumps, sprints, throws 2.Explosive/Power: Power cleans, snatches 3.Compound Strength: Squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls 4.Compound/higher rep/hypertrophy: Squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls 5. Isolation work: Curls, calf raises, leg extensions 6. Conditioning  

5. Free Weights Over Machines

Beginners head straight for machines when they enter the gym. It’s completely understandable. Easy to use instructions, change weight with a small pin, and a place to rest in between sets (I hope not). Despite their convenience most machines are pieces of crap. Why? Machines lock the body into place during movement patterns, which removes real-world carry over.  Although you can use more resistance on machines the arms and legs are writing checks the body can’t cash. Your body doesn’t know how to use the strength or muscles in movement because the supporting parts of the body aren’t fit to handle the load. Essentially, you’re placing a jet engine in a go-cart with no steering wheel. At some point the body has to give.

Eric’s Recommendation: Machines won’t kill you, but they will not yield optimal results. There’s nothing that can be accomplished on a machine that can’t be trained more thoroughly with bodyweight, dumbbells, and barbells. Avoid them. 

6.    Feel Versus Real

I stole borrowed this term from Loren Landow. If you don’t feel an exercise it doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Conversely, because an exercise is extremely difficult it doesn’t mean it’s creating any actual change. Pick your battles and train for performance. Pain and soreness may result from a tough workout, but they should not be your primary focus in training.

7.    Loading, Reps, Sets, and Volume

Regardless of your goal training for strength and performance yields the best results. Especially with weight training beginners it’s imperative to build a big strength base for better development of all other physical qualities. This is the typical order I use with my clients. 

1.   Dynamic movements: Jumps, sprints, throws

Proper dynamic warm up, three to five sets of three to five reps for activation. More specifics are needed for sports performance, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.

2.     Explosive/Power: Power cleans, snatches, jumps

 Two warm up sets followed by three to five sets of three to five reps. Keep load moderately heavy, but never to failure.  

3.    Compound Strength: Squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls

Pick a couple major movements and perform three to six sets of one to six reps. These should be heavy and difficult, but not past failure. If you can’t perform with good form it’s too heavy.

4.    Compound/higher rep/hypertrophy

 Pick one or two movements and perform two to four sets of eight to fifteen reps. These should be moderately difficult but not failure.

5.    Isolation work

 Pick one or two movements and perform twelve to twenty reps for two or three sets. Incomplete recovery can be used and near-failure is fine. Don’t go overboard, this is icing on the cake.

Eric’s Recommendation: Per the explanation above there is some variability in exercise selection and loading. Place your focus on the explosive and compound strength exercises, they are responsible for at least 80% of your results. Program hypertrophy and isolation work sparingly to bring up weak points.

8.    Warm-Up

Jumping right into a workout without a thorough warm-up is recipe for injury. Take 10 minutes and get it done, no excuses! Warm-ups should incorporates active stretching techniques, sport-specific movements, and neural activation exercises. These modalities are performed to mimic the movement-specific demands of the activity, address movement deficiencies, increase core and ligament temperature, stimulate the nervous system, increase stability, and activate proprioceptors (Yauss and Rotchstein, 2011). In other words, the warm-up should mimic target key movement patterns and muscles that will be trained during your upcoming session.

Eric’s recommendation: watch this=>  Agile 8 by Joe DeFranco. Or try this: Here’s a sample lower body day: 1×10/each

  • Walking knee hug
  • Cradle walk
  • Forward lunge
  • Reverse lunge w/reach
  • Spiderman’s
  •  Sub-Scap Push-Ups
  • Body Weight Squats

 Your warm-up doesn’t need to be complicated, but it can’t be neglected.

It’s a Wrap

There is a ton of information out there for beginning weightlifters; unfortunately, that’s part of the problem. By giving you the knowledge and principles on how the best bodies are built you’re now armed with the tools to maximize your time in the gym. The basics are best whether you’re a 55 year old female hittin’ the gym for the first time or a high school athlete trying to get bigger, faster, and stronger.  

Join the Discussion on Facebook:


Down with fads,  it’s time to base training around time-tried principles and knowledge for the best results.



Baechle, Thomas, and Roger Earle. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning. 3rd. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics , 2008. 390-391. Print.

Yauss, B. and Rotchstein, A. (2011). The acute and chronic benefits of movement prep for the soccer athlete. NSCA’s Performance Training Journal, 10, 3, 1116.

Ask Eric Part 1: Improve Strength and Athleticism, Hydration, and Endurance Training

Alas, spring is here. Interestingly enough the last day of winter was 65 degrees and sunny and the first day of spring was 35 and snowy.

How does that work? Either way I’m not complaining, I’m just excited to get my clients outside during training session and bring a “fun” collection of stair sprints, throwing things, and backyard sports into the mix. Training’s always more fun when workouts improve strength and athleticism outdoors.

But back to business—I’ve been conducting short Q-A sessions on Twitter and receiving tons of great questions.

10 minutes for a twitter chat. What #lifting and #fitness questions can I help you with? #fitfamnation

— Eric Bach (@Eric_Bach) March 20, 2014

With this in mind I’m moving forward with a new post answering the best training, nutrition, and lifestyle questions I get each week. So please, jump into the mix and ask anything that comes to mind whether it’s through Facebook, twitter, or through the Bach Performance Contact page.

Ask Eric

Question: Which lifts should I focus on for improving strength and athleticism? –Travis from Utah

Answer: Your best bet for improving strength is and will always the basic, multi-joint exercises. If your form is sufficient the Olympic lifts like snatches and cleans incorporate explosiveness, power, rhyme, and timing for improving strength and athleticism. Squats, deadlifts, lunges are also big money exercises. BUT, if you really want to improve athleticism you need to move your body through space. Change of direction, sprints, throws, and jumps better be a focus. Shocking I know, but your body adapts to the style of training you put it through. If the only focus is building strength your gains will be limited once you attain a good base of strength.

Improve strength and athleticism. Move like an athlete to perform like an athlete. muscle building workouts,strength, athleticism, lean gains, carb cycling, hydration, weight training, six pack abs
Move like an athlete to perform like an athlete

Organize Training like This:

-Dynamic Warm-Up

-Movement (sprint work, sports specific work)

– Jumps or Throws

– Explosive Lift: Cleans 3×3

– Compound Strength Lift: Front Squat 4×5

Question: I’ve increased my training a lot over the last few weeks and have felt dehydrated, how much water should I drink each day?

— Jane from Wisconsin
Answer:Hydration is highly variable based upon intensity of exercise, sweat rate, and body mass. In active individuals I’d advise drinking between .75-1 1oz per 1lb bodyweight each day—over a gallon in most individuals. Yes, other liquids count, but emphasize water.

The human body is made up of as much as 75% water and even even a 1-2% decrease of baseline hydration status impairs performance by:

  • Decrease in blood volume
  • Decrease skin blood flow
  • Decrease heat dissipation
  • Increase core temperature
  • Decreased sweat rate

These affects of dehydration decrease performance through decreased cardiac output and increased fatigue.

Hydration is involved in numerous physiological processes such as that are important for general health and health during exercise:

  • Transportation of chemicals to and from cells
  • Cell hydration
  • Maintenance of body temperature
  • Elimination of toxins
  • Aids in metabolic and digestive processes
  • Moisturizes and protects joints

Tips to stay hydrated:

  • Avoid alcohol and/or keep it at a minimum, especially while physically active
  • Drink 20 oz of water immediately upon waking up
  • Drink 20 oz of water 1 hour before exercise
  • Continuously refuel with water and or/sports drinks if an endurance athlete during physical activity. The carbohydrates and salts will help water transportation into cells.
  • Keep water at your desk or wherever you spend the majority of your day.
  • Eat foods with a high water content such as fruits and vegetables; these go a long way in maintaining hydration!
  • Drink water before you are thirsty, the thirst mechanism doesn’t kick in until a low-moderate stay of dehydration. Stay ahead of the game!

An appropriate hydration strategy will maximize workout performance while reducing health risks and maximizing recovery.

 Lean Gains and Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

Oh yeah. Here are two brand-spankin’ new articles that were published this week. One is how to implement Carb Cycling For Lean Muscle Gains while the other is Strength Training for Endurance Athletes.

Carb Cycling For Lean Gains: Struggling to Build muscle without gaining fat? This is your solution. Click HERE to see how my clients build muscle and athleticism without fat gain.

**This is a two-part series I did with Mike Samuels of Healthy Living, Heavy Lifting. Stay tuned for part-two.

Lights, Camera...Body Manipulation. muscle building workouts. Improve strength and athleticism, lean gains, carb cycling, hydration, weight training, six pack abs

Relative Strength Vs. Absolute Strength for Runners: I’m not personally a runner, but many runners are missing the boat when it comes to strength training. Absolute strength is imperative to build relative strength. Prevent injury, run faster, and easier? If you run and train endurance athletes you need to check out this one.  Click HERE to continue.

These articles both tons of shares and likes, so I hope you enjoy them.

Have a great week,


53 Tips to Build Herculean Strength- The Community Has Spoken Part 1

Strongman Pudzianowski
Photocredit: http://workoutsinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/pudzianowski3.jpg

Training for Strength performance is the BEST method for results in the gym.

Being strong is impressive. It builds a huge fitness base, improving everything from speed and power to your ability to perform fat blasting high intensity exercise with greater weight and intensity.

Besides making you a bad-ass, building strength is imperative to long-term health and maintaining function as you age. So, unless you want to be hobbling around like peg-legged pirate by the time you’re 45 building herculean strength is damn important.

My Top 5 Tips to Build Herculean Strength Are:

1.) Pick basic, compound movements like squats, pull-ups, deadlifts, and presses.

2.) Start with weights that are too light and progress over time. 

3.) Deload every four to six weeks. Recovery is vital to long-term health and results.

4.) Get high quality coaching to ensure proper form and ideal loading. 

5.) Persevere. Building long-term strength takes years of hard work and dedication. 

Instead of having all the fun I decided to reach out and engage the Bach Performance Communities of Facebook and Google+. Here’s what the crew game up with.

Build Strength
Photocredit: http://uncontrolledvocabulary.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/woman-squatting.jpg


1.) Nick BuchanStick to the basics of squat, deadlift, bench, pull up etc, do them well and do them regularly. www.strongergolf.org

2.) Juciest L ‪-Lifting every week and actually doing something while your there.

3.) Jason’s Journal– Find a way to train that you can truly believe in to be able to work hard and as consistent as possible for a very very long time.

4.)Matthew Marshall– Don’t jump around and switch up too much, variety is the spice of life but if you train something consistently chances are it’s going to get stronger.

5.)illy Fanska -Lift heavy…


David Moya -Be consistent

7.)Joseph Armenta- Don’t worry about 1rm move weight when it gets easy add more

8.)James R Anderson -Put more weight on the bar.

9.)Steve Denison -Have a written training plan and stick to it. Lots of good strength templates out there. Just find one and use it for a complete training cycle of 8-12 weeks. Applying yourself to any of them you will make gains. Then evaluate your progress at the end.

10.) James Fuller- Dont be afraid of the weight or an attempt.

11.)Charlie Martin-I think Steve has the key points right on. I would also include this: In addition to building strength never stop investigating the fine points of proper technique.


Ben Gallaher -Work hard. www.goldenempiretraining.com

13.)Zack McDole- Attack your weaknesses and make progress without going to fast to avoid hitting a wall


Nathan Chaszeyka -Consistency. It doesn’t matter how good your plan is, or how hard you work if you aren’t consistent with it.

15.)Dylan Poesch -Add weight to the bar

16.)Chris Leavy- Pilates
. JK, Be consistent and show up to do the work.


Matt Dustin -Track your progress, don’t guess and improvise as you go.

Dave Tate powerlifter strong
Photocredit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-sydBs9Mo5l8/TdF8MyZ1qyI/AAAAAAAAArI/KGgpLd5GNYU/s400/dave-tate-pullup.jpg

18.)Mike Marino -Don’t overtrain! Allow your body adequate time to repair and recover! Sleep and Rest between bouts is vital to strength gains! That’s more than one sentence but it’s such a common mistake…. More training volume isn’t always best….. Smart training with focus on recover outside the gym is crucial


Joel Erickson-Something Johnny Ibar told me once – stress the negatives


Wade Carter- show up…

21.)Kedric Kwan-Focusing on your weakness. Most people don’t necessarily need to train their core but if your core is limiting your squat and deadlifts you need to train them. Same thing with the bench, and all the other lifts. Know your weakness and make them strong. site: http://kedrickwan.com


Greg Ohnoez- Consistency with your workouts with due intensity (just showing up doesn’t count)


Abbie Fratzke- Find a coach or mentor (in the gym or online) and learn as much as you can, experiment, play and try new things; never stop learning or experimenting.  Absolutely Strong


Daniel Freedman-Okay, you’ll see the badass cliches below.

Weakness is a Choice.

Get Strong.

Saw it on the back of a T-shirt. So it must be true.


Daniel Freedman-Don’t be a pussy.


Dave Dreas-Push the Weight!

27.)Daniel Freedman-Pain is weakness leaving the body.

29.) Daniel Freedman-No one ever drowned in sweat.


Patrick Umphrey-Use an appropriate training program that is designed to increase your strength through progressive loading.

Mike Campbell-Consistency, patience, intensity and simplicity. One sentence, 4 things.. http://unleashyouralpha.com/

Lara Lazaro-Strength, like all other worthwhile gainzzz in life, is born through cultivation; accept the process of getting stronger as just that, a process, that takes time, consistency, proper progression, and patience.
 www.laralazaro.com and/or Be Strong Savvy Sexy


Alison Wheatley-Grit your teeth, dig in ensure your form is correct and believe in yourself to make progress.

female powerlifter
Photo Credit: http://www.thesimplesongbird.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/bw-lifter.jpg

34.)Jimi Lanham-Get adequate rest.

35.) Marc-Jason Locquiao-Lift heavy, lift often.  Redline Conditioning


Amy Rubin Yunger-Warm- Up

37.)Vincent Allen-Never skip a Monday workout and focus on compound movements.


Genia Cheresh-Progressive overload, with built in deloads for advanced trainees.

39.) Josh Gibson-Have your plan worked out and work your plan. www.facebook.com/gibsonperformancetraining

40.)Tony Bonvechio-There are more ways to set PRs than just weight or reps, including (but not limited to) bar speed, improved form, reduced rating of perceived exertion and tougher tempo/increased time under tension. http://bonvecstrength.com/

41.)James Cerbie-At the end of the day, you have to lift heavy to get strong. http://rebel-performance.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/rebelperf


Sam Topping-High Intensity of effort

43.)The Bodyweight Files Use as advanced-BW strength training as possible for maximizing strength-to-BW ratio.

Lift heavy to build strength
Photo Credit http://undergroundstrengthmanual.com/images/arnold-squats.jpg

44.Kelly Clay– Squats, lunges, dead lifts are money!

45.)Nick Mckim- Stick to some sort of a program (obviously with a strength focus) and be consistent, it will pay off!


Joel McGrath-In my opinion i would have to say high intensity intervals is the best way i have gained strength the fastest


Nghi Tran combination of hypertrophy and strength workout routine sets. to build strength, I focus to deadlift, squat, and bench press. then do total body routine as well for muscles

 48.)Jonathan Lautermilch-I’ll take you up on this. My number one tip for strength gain is to increase your strength of managing your own body weight before looking to add more weight to manage. If you can’t handle doing a push up why look to want to bench your body weight or more? Just my opinion. my site is www.thinkyourself2health.com

There you go, there is no excuse to walk through life weak! Building strength is the most important thing you can do in the gym.

P.S. Shout out to my dude Mike Samuels of Healthylivinghealthyeating.com, I kind of completely borrowed this idea from him.

Have something to add? Drop me a comment and I’ll add you to the list!

Strong. Shredded. Athletic.


Creatine: What’s the Deal?

Hey guys, i’ve got some exciting stuff today. I reached out to one of my idols in the Fitness industry Tony Gentilcore a few weeks ago to write a guest post. I anxiously waited around my email, checking constantly and drinking vodka to pass the time– okay, not really vodka– until I got a response. Tony was a very down-to earth dude and was thankful to have my contributions.
I was pretty jacked, I might have even peed a little. Okay, joking again, that’s weird.

Anyways, I’d really appreciate it if you would head over to his site and check out the post and drop me a comment.

Ready? See you there.

Creatine: What’s the Deal?

Creatine. We’ve all heard about it, but what’s the deal? I get boat-loads of questions regarding the safety and effectiveness of creatine.

Does it make me look better naked? What are these crazy ethyl-ester pills and shiny Pre-workout jugs promising a Skin Searing Pump?

With all the products and information it’s no wonder there are questions.  I’m going to dig in and tell you what creatine is, how to use it, and what to expect.


Creatine Monohydate
Creatine Monohydrate

What is it?

Creatine is a natural amino acid most commonly found in red meat,but also produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. In the body creatine becomes a fuel source for short duration high-intensity activities such as weight training, sprinting and jumping where phosphocreatine is converted to ATP.

The amount of creatine consumed through the diet and produced naturally in the body are low; supplementation increases available levels.

Continue Here… Creatine: What’s the Deal?



Strong. Shredded. Athletic.




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