15 Strength Training Tips + My Workout Plan

Before we get started, I need to confess a few things:

  • I am not a medical experts or certified personal trainer (although it’s on my bucket list to become a personal trainer!!!)
  • I just started lifting about 30 days so I’m still a rookie
  • I have a TON to learn, but I’m excited about all the knowledge I have to gain
  • I realize there are people more qualified and more experienced to give this advice so please keep in mind I am just sharing my journey and tips that have worked for me
ashley lifting tips
Running + Lifting = perfect lunch break

1.    Form trumps everything else. Don’t let your ego convince to lift more and do more reps if your form is not perfect! If you aren’t sure about proper form, ask a trainer – google it – or watch a YouTubde video! Poor form will lead to injuries and injuries lead to time away from the gym, which delays your goals and progress!

2.    On Day 1, find your starting weight and max out weight. Your starting lifting weight should be a weight where you can do a set of 10+ while maintaining good form! Your max out weight is the amount of weight where you can only do 1-2 reps without jeopardizing form. Document these numbers and each week work on finding ways to increase the weight- even if it’s just by 5 lbs or less! Your max out weight will obviously adjust as you get stronger.

Hello, beautiful.

3.    Eat clean! In a nutshell, this means nothing fried, nothing processed, and nothing from a can. If it comes from the ground, it’s a guaranteed YES to your diet! Eating well is SO important when lifting and strength training!! Pinterest is FULL of awesome clean eating tips and recipes. Get pinning and cooking, ya’ll!

4.    Workout with a purpose. As you know, I have a happy and awesome baby- so there are times when I am bending over to pick him up (using my core muscles and leg muscles) …to help with those mommy movements,  I do a ton of abs and squats to make sure I have good form when bending over to grab that little man. Think of your exercises in the practical world and your workouts will give you more purpose!

My inspiration.

5.    Be open minded to new programs, exercises, and lifts! YOU CAN DO IT!

6.    DO NOT drop your weights or slam down on the machine. Seriously, dropping your weights and clinging them down on the machine  just makes me you look an asshole. If you are lifting and maintaining good form, you shouldn’t have a problem following this rule.

7.    Slow and steady is key! If you find yourself FLYING through your reps, you need to increase your weight. Be slow and in control of the muscle groups you are working. I always visualize my muscle and think about how it’s moving and getting stronger. Focus, focus, focus on the moment and don’t let your mind wonder. Simply focus on your movement and muscles.

8.    Take your rest days seriously. When you lift weights, you are tearing your muscles. Seriously that happens. So rest days are no joke! Don’t confuse rest days as cheat days though (in terms of your diet)! Although I firmly believe in cheat meals – you gotta live a little!

Bye, bye belly!
Bye, bye belly!

9.    Make a plan and stick with it! Life happens, but no excuses. I was up ALL night with Cooper once (literally all night-  he had an ear infection and could not sleep because the pressure was so bad). But guess what? It was my workout day…and I got my butt to the gym on my lunch break. No. Excuses. Period.

10.    Don’t be afraid to ask strangers for help or advice. OR ME! I’m always here to help you.

11.    Speaking of strangers, watch other people for inspiration and new moves. And yes, you should talk to them! I once told this lady at the gym she inspired me and I tried new moves because I saw her do them. Turns out she was so incredibly nervous about working out in a public gym and my moment made her feel more comfortable and confident. Even better? She’s going to share some awesome workout routines with me. Double win!

12.    Write down your reps and weight to track progress. You will l be so amazing if you document where you started and how far you’ve come! I use the notes feature on my phone – some people use a real pen and paper – and I am sure apps exist to do document everything.

Today’s workout notes.

13.    Remove the words “I can’t do that” from your vocabulary.  My close friend, who is also a personal trainer, taught me this important rule! He made me do burpees anytime I said “I can’t” – do a lot of burpees and you’ll make sure you never repeat those words again. YOU CAN do ANTHING.

14.    Take selfies! Yeah, I said. Document your progress in pictures. You don’t have to post them, but I promise you’ll want to look back and see the changes your body has made!

Working on my Kim K. booty (aka double squat day)!
Working on my Kim K. booty (aka double squat day)!

15. Stretch, stretch, stretch! I can’t think I can stress this one enough. Use your rest days to stretch as well!

No weights? No gym? NO PROBLEM!

DO a HITT program! Following a HITT program 2-3 times a week will help you burn more calories and fat in half the time!

What is a HITT Program?

A good friend emailed me this description that she found online, “High-intensity interval training (HIIT), also called High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise (HIIE) or sprint interval training (SIT), is an enhanced form of interval training, an exercise strategy alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise. Usual HIIT sessions may vary from 4–30 minutes. These short, intense workouts provide improved athletic capacity and condition, improved glucose metabolism, and improved fat burning”

Watch an example HITT program workout here (21 minutes) or read the instructions below.

How to do this workout
After a 4-minute cardio warm up, your muscles will be warmed and ready to work. That’s when we jump into the HIIT portion of our routine that engages the upper body, lower body, and core.

Warm Up Exercises
• Crossover Toe Touch Stretch
• Standing Crisscross Crunches
• Torso Rotations
• High Kicks
• Leg Swings, Front to Back

HIIT Exercises
• Jumping Jacks
• Ski Squats + Kicks
• Traveling Push Ups
• Crossover Crunches
• Fingertip to Toe Jacks

I also signed up for a Daily HITT workout routine- join me here!

What is my typical workout? Here is an example of a lunch time workout:

  • 5-7 minutes of HITT intervals on the treadmill or the elliptical
  • 3 sets of 10 reps shoulder press
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of chest press
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of pectoral fly
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of seated leg curl
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of leg extensions
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of leg press (seated)
  • 3 sets of 10 reps seated row (or you can use free weights and do a free weight row)
  • 3 sets of 10 reps of lat pull downs
  • 3 reps of side bend shoulder press (using 20 lb free weight)
  • 3 reps of triceps curls (using 20 lb free weight)
  • 125-150 abs: (25 reach to ceiling, 25 side to side, 25 leg lifts + toe touches, 25 elbow to knee, 25 butt kicks  / leg lifts – I mix these up often).
  • 3 to 5 sets of 10 reps of squats (traditional and ballerina style)
  • 5-10 box jumps to squats, depending on my mood and coordination (I literally started out BARELY doing one and I am getting better day by day!)

I’ll probably follow this routine for the next 30 days and adjust as needed. I’ll also post before & after pictures then, so stay tuned!

Additional information Resources:

Check out Pinterest for some 30-Day Challenges that you can do at home pretty easily:

Happy lifting!!!

Much love,


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