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5 Best Foundational Strength Training Exercises to Enhance Your Performance

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

As you get started into your fitness journey, you will become more and more familiar with the different kinds of workouts you can add into your workout routine. Before you decide to enhance your training by weight training right off the bat, it's so important to be able to build a proper foundation so you can lift knowing that you've build those foundational muscles to lift more.

What I like about exercise, is that there are so many variations and so many exercises out there that will make your workout harder or easier for you so you can get what you need during your session. Each and every exercise serves a purpose to build muscle, strength and power.

For the experienced athlete, it's so easy to get wrapped up in the latest trends in lifting that you might even lose sight of your goals. And maybe for some, reading all of the information out there can be a bit overwhelming too! - I've been there. It really isn't easy when you are first starting to exercise and developing workout plans for yourself.

To make things a bit easier, and to help you start the process of developing strength and the proper foundation, you have to start with some easy exercises like squats, push-ups and lunges. These exercises are very easy for beginners but also very straight forward for developing those essential foundations for lifting more later.

No matter what your fitness level is starting out, developing your foundation is essential and just step one. Here, we will go through 5 foundational strength workouts you can try to add to your fitness routine. I would recommend working a few of the following routines in three to four days per week.

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5 Foundational Strength Workouts

Foundation of Strength (Lower)

You might be asking "Why build strength in your lower body?" And that is such a great question. Building lower body strength is so essential for everyday movements. This includes anything from walking to getting up from a chair to kicking a ball.

When you add lower body exercises into your exercise routine, you are able to work your quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips and even your core. This is a lower-body workout focused on building a solid foundation of form and core integration.

Featured Circuit

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. Complete 3 rounds.

— Bodyweight squat

— Lateral lunge

— Reverse lunge

Foundation of Strength (Upper)

Just as you would train your lower body, you can train your upper body to improve your range of motion and flexibility. When you train your upper body, you should make sure you are training all of the major muscles in your chest, back and shoulders....and off course your core muscles. This upper-body workout is focused on building a solid foundation of form and core integration.

Featured Circuit

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. Complete 3 rounds.

— Hand-release push-up

— Supine dumbbell chest press

— Supine dumbbell fly

TUT Torture

TUT stands for time under tension, which basically means the amount of time a muscle is held under tension or strain during an exercise set. What happens during the TUT workouts is that you are able to lengthen each phase of the movement to make your sets longer. When you do this, it forces your muscles to work harder - which means you develop muscular strength, growth and even helps with endurance.

A great way to involve TUT in your workouts is to add a Full body workout that focuses on adding light kettlebells or dumbbells. A full body workout also needs to include eccentric movements and introduces you to time under tension

Featured Circuit

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. Complete 2 rounds.

— Split squat

— High plank

— Strict overhead press

— Reverse lunge and twist

— Goblet squat

— Single-arm gorilla row

Hit the Ground Workout

This 20-minute, full-body dumbbell workout is designed with dumbbells and easy to add into your routine. As a trainer, I've gotten the questions like Can you build muscle using dumbbells? - Yes! Absolutely you can! In fact, using dumbbells in your workout, you can add muscle mass, increase coordination and develop strength. This workout is designed to balance out your entire body.

Featured Circuit

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. Complete 4 rounds.

— Standing dumbbell plank

— Dual dumbbell clean

— Dual dumbbell front squat

— Dual dumbbell push-press

All Under Control

This brings us to the age old question: Should I lift fast or slow? When lifting weights, it is so important to remember that faster doesn't always mean better. In fact, when lifting you should always have a slow and controlled movement. This workout is designed to build to build strength by focusing on TUT so you can get those slow movements down.

Featured Circuit

Perform each exercise for 20 seconds each. Complete 3 rounds.

— Forward lunge

— Lateral lunge

— Curtsy lunge


There you have it! Five Foundational Strength Workouts to get you off on the right start before you start lifting those heavy weights. It's also important to remember to give your body rest days so it can repair your muscles. Rest days are really important no matter if you are a seasoned weight lifter, or a newbie. It might be challenging at first to get started, but don't be discouraged if you don't see results as fast as you want. Results will come with time, dedication and persistence.

Learning how to complete exercises with proper form and getting the proper nutrition is so essential to building the body you want. Weather you are a seasoned gym goer, or a newbie, we have tips and trick for everyone on their fitness and health journey.

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