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Barbell Logic

Nov 11, 2019

If you've listened to the first four episodes of the Getting Started series, you've got all the knowledge you need to start a productive strength training program and get stronger than you've ever been. Now it's time to put that knowledge into action and do it!


In your first workout, your goal is to find a starting weight for each of the lifts: squat, press, and deadlift. You will perform the bench press on your next workout, since the press and bench press alternate each workout. Matt sometimes coaches all four lifts on day one, but realize that you will be tired from pressing, so your bench press will be lighter than normal in that case.


For all the lifts, start with the EMPTY bar. A standard barbell is 20kg or 45lbs, which may be too heavy for you, especially on the pressing movements. In that case, find a smaller bar. A women's barbell is smaller in diameter and typically weighs 15kg or 33lbs. There are even smaller aluminum bars which weigh as little as 10 or 15lbs, if you need them.



You will perform a couple sets of 5 reps with the empty bar, then start adding weight. Men will add anywhere form 5-20lbs, and women will make smaller 5-10lbs increases. Do another set of 5. Add more weight, and do another set of 5.


When the weight just begins to feel heavy -- that is, slightly challenging -- we will call that your first work set. Everything up to this point was warm-up, this is the actual workout weight. Write it down in your log book. Do two more sets of 5 at this weight, and move on to the next lift. Remember, we only do ONE work set on the deadlift, since it is generally a more taxing lift.


Note that if you have trained before but are coming back to the bar after a long layoff, you may be strong enough to make yourself VERY sore if you overdo it on the first workout. In this case, it's best to do only ONE work set on squats, and be very modest with your starting weights. Otherwise you may have trouble crawling out of bed the next day!


Listen to Coach Matt and Scott's advice, and walk into the gym with confidence. Good luck with your first workout!



Need some help getting started? Email for a FREE trial of Barbell Logic Online Coaching. You'll get feedback on your technique and programming from a Barbell Logic coach, and see what the fuss is all about!


Have a question about training? Send a question to Matt and Scott! Email us at and we'll answer your question on an upcoming Saturday Q&A! 




  1. Do you have trouble with the bar rolling down your back on squats? You need A7's patented bar grip shirt. Even kyphotic guys like Scott can keep the bar on the back with it. A7 is always rolling out new clothing and gear, too, so head over to their store to see what's new.
  2. Need a(nother) lifting belt? Dominion Belts makes the best belts in the business, and Barbell Logic listeners can save $10 off any purchase by using the discount code LOGIC.



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