10 Free-Weight Exercises for Beginner 

Things to consider 

Machines and cables and dumbbells, oh my! The gym floor is chock-full of equipment to choose from, but where should you start? 

How to maximize your training   

Before you start a new workout regimen, think about how to maximize your time and effort. 

Set a goal

Are you looking to build strength, gain size, or increase your endurance? Decide what your goal is and create your regimen accordingly. 

Set a schedule

Whatever your goal, aim to work out 4 or 5 days per week. 

Order is important

In general, you’ll want to perform harder, full-body exercises, like squats, before more targeted, smaller movements, like bicep curls. 

Your goal determines your weight

Choose heavy, challenging weights — whatever that means for you — if your goal is to gain strength and size. 

Proper form is a must

If you don’t perform exercises with proper form, you could miss out on benefits of the movement, or, in more serious cases, cause injury. 

Beginner routine 

If you’re new to lifting weights, don’t fret. This beginner-friendly free-weight routine is a great place to start. 

Weighted glute bridge

Glute bridges are a key exercise to strengthen the posterior chain, or the back of your body. 


A lunge is a unilateral lower body exercise, meaning it works one leg at a time. 

Overhead shoulder pre

Improve your balance and posture and strengthen your entire upper body with the overhead shoulder press. 

Single-arm dumbbell row

An accessible exercise for beginners, the row also hits all of those important posture muscles.

Floor press

Floor presses are perfect for teaching bench press to beginners because they engage your shoulders and back with your upper body flat over the floor. 

Intermediate routine 

If you’re no stranger to weightlifting, or if you’ve graduated from the beginner routine, try the intermediate routine below. 

Barbell back squat

Touted as a “functional” exercise, squats have a plethora of benefits. 

Barbell deadlift

Deadlifts are a super beneficial exercise to incorporate into your routine, but nailing correct form can take some practice. 

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