First Things First Training

“First things first” means you must first get a basic understanding of what type of movements, muscle groups, exercises, and programs to use for basic strength.   


There are 5 main human movements to focus on while building your starting strength (as categorized by Coach Dan John):

  1. Push
  2. Pull
  3. Squat
  4. Hip Hinge 
  5. Carry

There are 5 main muscle groups to focus on with the 5 human movements while building  your starting strength:

  1. chest – shoulders are included here
  2. back
  3. legs
  4. hamstrings – glutes are included here
  5. torso/core

There are 5 main exercise groupings to focus on with the human movements and muscle groups while building your starting strength:

  1. pushups, bench press, dips, overhead press
  2. pull-ups, body row, back row, pull-downs
  3. back squat, front squat, goblet squat, 1-legged squat
  4. deadlift, kettlebell swings, glute bridge, hip thrust
  5. loaded carry, farmers walk, turkish get-ups

There are a variety of basic strength programs to focus on with the human movements, muscle groups, and exercises.  It should look similar to this, but it varies depending on the program:

  • train 2-3 days/week on non-consecutive days 
  • train 3-5 exercises in a workout session 
  • perform 3-5 sets in the 3-8 repetition range 
  • perform the same exercises each session or pick similar exercises in the same exercise groupings for each session
  • rest 2-4 min in-between sets 
  • Note:  I have a basic strength program that is a good starting point.  It explains why different sets, repetitions, and rest periods are set up the way they are (for this particular program only).  You can download it now on the right side of this page, “A 4-Week Smart Startup Strength and Conditioning Plan.”

There are 5 main reasons why “first things first” is important:

 1.  It is important to understand, learn, and practice a general strength training program first.  This is required so that you can experience the importance of having a strong foundation in place.  Everything that you do, such as other levels of training, challenging exercises, personal activities, and daily movement, all rely on having a strong base developed first.


2.  It is important to learn and train opposing movements and muscle groups which help build balanced development, to understand that training bigger muscle groups first is necessary (since they take more energy and effort), and to understand that training smaller muscle groups assist the bigger muscle groups (so fatiguing them first would not be ideal).


3.  It is important to use the best exercises to increase strength.  Using only body weight is excellent as well.  Any type of equipment can be used such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, TRX system, resistance bands, etc.


4.  It is important not to make programming or training complicated with unnecessary exercises or  equipment when building basic strength.  The further away you get from the basics, the longer it will take to build your strong foundation.


5.  It is important to know that “first things first” are for any level trainee.  We all begin at our current strength level and we all have our own goals.  Resistance training is necessary for each of us, and it depends on how strong you want to be or how much strength you want to maintain.