Weightlifting 101

Weightlifting 101

Today I will give you a guide to weightlifting and what your main focus should be in the gym. I will start off by saying that you have to find something you can sustain and enjoy. If you can’t do those two things, it will be very hard to follow and be consistent. So what should you focus on? Let’s begin.

Lifting Weights: What to Focus On?

Sooo …. most people know it's important to lift weights or do some sort of exercise but, what should you focus on? In my opinion, I think that focusing on compound exercises and isolation movements are very helpful to maximize your muscle and strength gains. These movements can be varied in many ways so you will have to experiment in finding what exercises feel more comfortable for you! What are compound movements and isolation movements? Compound exercises are any movements that include more than one muscle group being worked. I would recommend picking a certain compound exercise that you enjoy and pairing it with certain isolation exercises (an isolation exercise is a movement that targets one specific muscle group). To be honest, there are no "magic" compound exercises or isolation exercises. Everyone has different exercises that work better for them. Pairing your compound exercises and isolation exercises strategically is also very important for a workout session.


Now, let’s go over some examples of compound and isolation exercises and the muscle groups they will hit. These are common examples of exercises that I see most people incorporating!

Examples of Compound & Isolation Exercises:

*PM: Primary Muscle

*SM: Secondary Muscle

Compound Exercises:

Bench Press (PM: Chest, SM: Shoulder, Triceps)

Squat (PM: Quads, SM: Hamstrings, Glutes, Lower Back, Abs)

Deadlift (PM: Lower Back, Quads, SM: Glutes, Hamstrings, Back, Traps, Rear Deltoids, Core, Forearms)

Pull Ups (PM: Back(Lats), SM: Biceps, Forearms)

Dips (PM: Triceps, SM: Lower Chest, Shoulders)

Dumbbell Shoulder Press (PM: Anterior Deltoids, SM: Triceps, Lateral Deltoid, Traps)

Note: These are just examples, there are many more options. These should be done with proper form and optimal weight for your body composition.

Isolation Exercises (only one muscle being used):

Leg Extensions: Quads

Leg Curls: Hamstrings

Bicep Curls: Biceps

Tricep Extensions: Triceps

Calf Raises: Calves

Lateral Raises: Shoulders

Flyes: Pectorals (chest)

Note: These are just examples, there are many more options. These should be done with proper form and optimal weight for your body composition.

Now that we have a better understanding of what compound and isolation exercises are, let me give you an example of a push workout day!

Note: A push workout is any movement that involves a pushing movement. Chest press and shoulder press are two main examples.


Example of a Workout Day

I recommend performing your compound movements first in your workout as you will be using more energy to perform these exercises.

Example Push Day (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps):

Bench Press (Compound)

Dumbbell Shoulder Press (Compound)

Lateral Raises (Isolation)

Chest Flyes (Isolation)

Tricep Extensions (Isolation)

All exercises can be performed with the number of sets and reps you prefer. Typically I recommend doing 3–4 sets for each exercise, but that is what I prefer. For reps, I typically stick in the 4–8 range for compound movements and 10–15 range for isolation movements.

Reps: The number of times the exercise has to be performed in a set.

Sets: The number of times the exercise has to be performed as a “chunk” or a group. Example: Perform Bench Press 3 times of 8 reps


You have almost learned everything you will need to begin your very own program! Next is an explanation of ways to progress! The reason it’s super important to know this is that you always want to be adding more stress on the muscle to make progress! If you don’t do this you will stay where you are without any progress. It’s just like if you were to plateau with your weight on the scale! You will maintain your progress but no change will happen unless you find a way to increase more stress on the muscle which I will explain next!


What is progressive overload? Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise training. The increase of resistance, reps, volume, training frequency and the decrease of rest time are all examples of progressive overload. (Progressive overload is highly important to take into consideration during your training if you want to stimulate growth, both in terms of muscle mass and strength. Simply put, your body does not like to change. It adapts to the workload you put on it and then becomes very good at doing just that with the resources it has available (i.e. your muscle mass). This is why if you place certain requirements on your body during a workout in terms of reps, sets, and weight, your body will adapt to those requirements, but it will never improve beyond the muscle needed for those minimum requirements. If you build 24-inch quadriceps and that amount of muscle mass is able to perform 4 sets of 8 reps using 315 lbs on the squat (assuming you are perfect in terms of rest and nutrition), as long as you keep asking that muscle to lift the same reps/sets/weight, your quadriceps will not decrease in size/strength, but it is unlikely that they will increase either.) - Igor Opeshansky


I want to finish off by saying, everyone begins their journey somewhere! If you're trying to lose weight, gain weight or even maintain weight, lifting weights will benefit you and help you achieve your goal. Proper programming, proper nutrition, proper progression, consistency, and patience are all keys factors to achieving whatever goal you have.

Written By: Jereymi Longpre