Beginner Strength Exercises – Part 2

Alright…You are on your way! You are a young hooper, you started your strength training journey, and you used our previous post to get started  with the right exercises.  Good start!

But, after making some progress with those basic exercises, it’s time to keep those exercises in your training, but add some other elements. We are going to add vertical pushing and pulling for the upper body, as well as critical unilateral exercises for the lower body

Vertical Push

Vertical pushing is overhead pressing.  It includes exercises like overhead (shoulder) press variations.  At PPT, our “Big Rock” pushing exercises are really all in the horizontal category – that’s the category of exercises we really look to get stronger in.  For vertical pressing we are a little more cautious due to the higher potential for injury to the shoulder joint.  As such we start with exercises that focus on stability, and sick to a higher rep range.  Our baseline vertical pressing exercise for beginners is the Half Kneeling Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press:

Vertical Pull

Vertical pulling is all about chin-up and pull-up variations.  There are some other exercises but chin and pull-up variations are the bulk of the exercises we do with athletes for this category.  That said, chin-ups can be a very difficult place to start  for most  young athletes.  As such we will often start with the Tall Kneeling X-Pulldown:

If you don’t have the equipment to do this and you have to jump to chin-up variations then our preference (if equipment allows it) is neutral grip, and our place to start is band-ASSISTED neutral grip chin-ups:

Unilateral Lower Body Training

OK, now’s the fun part.  The unilateral lower body exercises are really where the money is!  While lower body bilateral training is important, it’s really the unilateral training that will help athletes see the most performance (strength, power / vertical jump, speed) gains as well as reduced injury potential.  There’s two categories to consider here:  unilateral squats (knee dominant) exercises, and unilateral hinges (hip dominant) exercises.

Unilateral Squat / Knee Dominant

For new athletes or even advanced ones beginning a new program we LOVE the split squat.  It’s a great place for beginners to start and progress by loading with dumbbells or kettlebells in a goblet or suitcase hold.  Occasionally we get athletes that can’t do this exercise well and there’s a number of correctives, regressions, and alternatives but those can be the subject of another post.  For now, we’ll assume that you can do a goblet split squat or at least regress it to a bodyweight split squat:

Unilateral Hinge / Hip Dominant

And finally, for the unilateral hinge / hip dominant exercises.  We try and start athletes off with the cross-body reaching single leg RDL.

For some really young or beginner athletes this is still to hard in which case we would recommend regressing to unilateral glute bridge and hip thrust variations.

The single leg glute bridge raise is probably the easiest place to start:

If that’s TOO easy then usually a good solution that challenges the athlete, while they build up strength is the feet elevated single leg glute bridge raise:

Beginner Strength Exercises – Summary of Part 1 and Part 2

So there you have it.  If you have been following along, through Part 1 and Part 2 of this series then you now have really good starting points for each of the following exercise categories:

  • Horizontal Push:  Push-Up (regression:  incline push-up)
  • Vertical Push:  Half-Kneeling Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press 
  • Horizontal Pull:  TRX/Ring Row (alternative:  Inverted Row with Feet on Ground and Knees Bent)
  • Vertical Pull:  Tall-Kneeling X-Pulldown (alternative:  Band-Assisted Neutral Grip Chinup)
  • Bilateral Squat (Knee Dominant):  Goblet Squat to Box (regression:  Bodyweight Squat to Box)
  • Unilateral Squat (Knee Dominant):  Goblet Split Squat (regression:  Bodyweight Split Squat
  • Bilateral Hinge (Hip Dominant):  Kettlebell RDL (regression:  Glute Bridge Raise)
  • Unilateral Hinge (Hip Dominant):  Cross-Body Reaching Single Leg RDL (regression:  Single Leg Glute Bridge)
  • Anti-extension Core:  Front Plank
  • Anti-lateral Flexion Core:  Lateral Plank 

In future posts we’ll help you understand how to organize all these exercises into workouts.  For now, a good resource I put together a while ago is a free bodyweight training program that is available here: .  If you have never trained before, or never done a structured program and don’t have access to equipment this is a GREAT place to start.  Future posts I’ll walk you through more details to help you start a plan if you have different equipment available. 


Alright, what are you waiting for?  Get started!  Start Training!

Train Smarter 🧠

Get Stronger  💪 Run Faster 🔥  Jump Higher 🚀   Play Better 🏀