Beginning Training Part I: Compound Movements & Repetition Ranges

The reason that this Beginning Training series is being published AFTER our Beginning Nutrition article is symbolic of the fact that training will not matter if there isn’t a solid foundation of nutrition to back it up.  Always keep that in mind!  But nonetheless, lets jump into TRAINING!

Like nutrition, training is a very complex area with even more intricate subcategories if you really dive into it.  There are plenty of misconceptions about training and yet again, the Instagram Popular Page Monster (real thing I swear…) does its job of sucking people in with flashing lights and incredible feats of training along with sometimes ridiculously pointless exercises, making us common-folk believe that we have to do the same thing to get jacked and lean.  This happens to be the furthest thing from the truth. Some of the questions I receive day in and day out in regards to training include the following…

     – “Which exercises should I be doing?”

      – “How many days a week should I be working out?”

      – “Should I be doing sets of 3-5 repetitions? What about 6-8?  I read somewhere that the optimal amount is 10 reps.  But then I also read that 12-15 is good for getting shredded.”  (LOL)

       – “I saw a guy on Instagram deadlifting 405lbs with one hand while curling a 45lb dumbbell with the other.  Should I try that?” (I know…I’m letting this get out of hand now… You get the point)

All of these questions will be answered in this initial 2-part Beginning Training series but to begin, we need to be able to jog before we can sprint, walk before we can jog, and crawl before we can walk.  Beginners, intermediates, and advanced lifters can all benefit from building the foundation of their training programs with the basics, which are COMPOUND MOVEMENTS.


Compound movements are movements that work multiple muscle groups at a time.  The most popular example of this is the Bench Press which works your chest, triceps, and front delts.  Compound movements in general give you the most bang for your buck in the gym and placing an emphasis on developing these movements over time will give you a solid general foundation of strength.  Too many times, people see the eye-catching isolation movements (one muscle group at a time) like a bicep curl and will place more of an emphasis on those types of movements when building their program.

 Of course there is a time and place for isolation & accessory movements.  I am NOT SAYING you shouldn’t do bicep curls.  That might actually be sacrilegious…  What I AM SAYING is that compound movements need to be the primary focus. Again, we need to walk before we can jog but even the most advanced joggers still need to be experts at walking… Catch my drift?

Here are the “Big Six” as they’re called which should be the centerpieces of your training program…

– Bench Press

– Squat

– Deadlift

– Overhead Press

– Bent-Over Row/Barbell Row

– Pull/Chin-Up

(I like throwing Dips into this conversation as well as they are in fact a compound movement)

The most important piece of advice I can give you is that you should MASTER these movements with lighter weights before adding load (weight) to the bar.  How many times do we see the guy in the gym with 3 plates on each side of the squat bar barely getting down into a squat and doing more of a glorified calf raise / bunny hop sort-of looking thing? 

The only muscle he’s working (or thinks he’s working) is his ego and that for damn sure won’t grow bigger quads.  Practice getting better at the “Big Six” and using adequate CONTROL of the weight and FULL RANGE OF MOTION (ROM).  I will eventually do a separate article on ROM but again, lets stick to the basics.


There are two basic type of repetition ranges we need to be concerned about for the most part.  They include the Strength Rep Range and the Hypertrophy Rep Range.  As the names give away, the Strength rep range puts an emphasis on building foundational strength whereas the hypertrophic rep range puts an emphasis on muscle growth and muscle size. 

The repetition range you decide to use for the majority of the time will largely depend upon your goals but most people will benefit from using both of these throughout their lifting career.  In other words, even powerlifters can benefit from occasional periods of hypertrophy-style training and bodybuilders can benefit from occasional periods of strength-style training.  The key word here is occasional.  It is tough to serve two masters at once, especially with taking recovery and accumulated fatigue into account.

Strength Rep Range:  Strength-style training ranges from 1 – 5 repetitions and usually causes more fatigue per-set than higher rep ranges considering the higher amount of load (heavier weight) being used.

Hypertrophy Rep Range: Hypertrophy style training ranges from 6-15 repetitions and usually causes less fatigue per-set than the lower rep ranges considering lesser amounts of load than strength training.  Multiple studies have proven that the high-end of the hypertrophy rep range is actually around 25-30 repetitions but those super-high ends of the hypertrophy spectrum should be used sparingly and occasionally to provide some extra stimuli to the muscle.  All things in moderation.

So which repetition range is the best?  Even within the hypertrophic rep range, 6 to 15 is a pretty large gap.  The answer is all of them.  For example, you might want to work on your squat in the 6-8 repetition range for a month or two.  After consistent periods (mesocycles) of working this particular exercise in this particular rep range, you might want to move to doing squats in the 8-10 repetition range.  The same thing goes with most exercises but there are a few exceptions. 

*To learn more about the hypertrophic rep range, check out the following article by Greg Nuckols


Certain exercises lend themselves better to certain repetition ranges within the hypertrophic rep range.  For example, you really aren’t going to get much out of doing deadlifts for sets of 20 repetitions.  On the flip side, you really aren’t going to get much out of doing hamstring curls for sets of 6.  For the most part, try and keep most compound movements in the 6-10 repetition range with some of those like the deadlift maybe even lower than that.

There is a small list of isolation movements that may be beneficial for 6 reps (leg press) but for the most part, these are usually best in the higher rep ranges.  This will give you the opportunity to really develop a quality mind-muscle connection while training.  Also, higher rep ranges for isolation movements can get you some good pump-work when your training calls for it.


I wanted to keep this first post brief and to the point.  There is so much to discuss when it comes to training and programming, even from a basic standpoint.  Instead of making one super long article, Part II of this Beginning Training series will be posted next week which will dive into more aspects of training such as programming, frequency, and training splits.


  1. Make compound movements the centerpiece of your training program
  2. Perfect movements with control and full range-of-motion before adding weight to the bar
  3. Identify your immediate & long-term goals from a Strength and Hypertrophy standpoint
  4. Work in all repetition ranges within the hypertrophy rep range
  5. Understand that some exercises lend themselves better to certain rep ranges

As always, please share this article with any friends and family that may benefit from the information.  You play just as important of a role in helping The Strength Lifestyle change peoples’ lives as we do!  You can also find us on Instagram: @TheStrengthLifestyle

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