Our beginner training routine consists of all of the major compound movements. Perform this routine 2-3 times a week. You can get away with starting off with 2 days of training and then moving to 3. Training is all about progression as well as progressive overload so as long as you are constantly doing slightly more work you will improve. Not to mention that if you are a beginner you will experience what is known as “newbie gains”. This is defined as the time when a person is able to gain an initial 10-15 lbs. of solid muscle in the shortest time possible. You will never experience a more drastic change in your physique as when you first start working out so make sure that you make the most of this time! It is also the time when you can focus on muscle gain and weight loss simultaneously and achieve both. Once your newbie gain phase is over you will have to choose one or the other so, again…make the most of this gift you’ve been given.
I would recommend utilizing this routine for 3-6 months. Basically until you’ve mastered each lift and feel strong enough to move on. Please Note: These exercises are more complex than I can write about in a few simple sentences. Make sure you research the movements and don’t go just off of what I wrote here.
A Message About People Working Out From Home
I originally started to build my physique from home with a pair of adjustable dumbbells. I still use them but now I have a few more tools at my disposal. Dumbbells are great for people who workout at home, you can build a great physique with just dumbbells. They are great because they help you to develop stabilizer muscles that otherwise are not used when using a barbell, or machine for that matter. They help you correct imbalances in your muscles (left vs. right side). They also burn more calories than a barbell because you need to use slightly more concentration and muscle recruitment to do the same movements.
Beginner Training Routine
Below I’ll list every exercise that my beginner training routine consists of. The first few months of training will be dedicated to learning how to do these main, major lifts with decent form as well as getting stronger at them. Under each exercise I’ll list some information about each one.
Sets And Reps
I will recommend that you do 3 sets of 8 repetitions for each exercise to start. You will not know how much weight to use to start but leave your ego at the door and do a little experimentation until you know what works for you. Over time, most likely right away, that 8 reps will turn into 9, 10, 11, or 12. Don’t cheat yourself. Make sure the weight that you choose is challenging for a set of 8 reps. Also don’t stop just because you thought of a number in your head. When you first start off you should be able to add reps and weight almost weekly. If you get to a point where your progress stalls then you can switch to a formula such as what I will now present you with.
- First Week Heavy weight (3 sets of 6 reps)
- Second Week Moderate weight (3 sets of 8 reps)
- Third Week Change it up using one of the following parameters of your choice (Pyramid Sets or Drop Sets See Below)
- Fourth Week Light weight (3 sets of 10-12)
A pyramid set is when you start with a certain weight that you can do for a 10-12 rep range. Then add on slightly more weight for the next set and shoot for 8-10 reps. Finally you add slightly more weight and shoot for 6-8 reps. Drop sets are when you start a set with a higher weight, continue until you can do no longer, then choose a lighter weight and finish off the set.
If your progress continues to stall you most likely are possibly not eating enough or pushing yourself too hard (malnutrition or overtraining).
More importantly than actually working out is making sure that you get some rest. The frequency of this routine is a Monday, Wednesday, Friday ordeal. If you have a busy or hectic schedule, just make sure you get 4 days of rest a week and are able to space out your workouts at least a day a part.
Abdominal training can be worked in 1-3 times a week with this routine. For abdominals I recommend doing 3 sets of 3-4 different exercises. Try to do an exercise for the upper abs, the lower abs as well as the obliques.
Squats are an important part of a balanced workout. If you are a woman squats and deadlifts should be some of your favorite exercises as they put some meat on those legs. If you are a man, the more weight that you lift the more testosterone that is secreted. Meaning that working hard on your legs will put more muscle up top. Also, you don’t want to look like a jerk ass with a big upper body and no legs. Squats are also a major compound movement and help to work your core as you need strong core muscles to support the weight that you are holding up top.
If you workout at home and don’t have access to a barbell these can be done in a goblet fashion with a dumbbell. You can also do them goblet fashion until you are strong enough to do it with the bar. If you work out at PF, then use the dumbbells up to a certain point and then switch to the smith machine. Although the smith machine is a terrible device. If PF that’s all you can afford either save up to buy your own equipment or plan on switching to a different gym.
Deadlifts are also extremely important. Other than the above mentioned qualities that carry over from squats, deadlifts help your body to learn how to lift things off the ground. This is a very important skill to have. As well as working your hamstrings, glutes and lower back, deadlifts also help you work out your upper back, trapezius and your forearms.
If you workout at home and don’t have access to a barbell these can be done with dumbbells. The advice above about PF applies to most of these exercises.
The overhead press is the true measurement of a persons strength. This is the lift which will be the hardest to increase. The overhead press helps to workout your shoulders, triceps and partially your upper chest and traps. This exercise can also be done with dumbbells.
The bench press is the exercise which everybody knows and loves. If you’re a man you’ll love the bench press because it helps you get a big chest and triceps. If you are a woman you’ll also love the bench press because it’ll help you get the illusion of more cleavage, help your breasts sit higher and look perkier as well as make them look bigger.
If you workout at home and don’t have access to a barbell these can also be done with dumbbells.
Pull ups are a great exercise for your back and biceps. When it comes to beginners and pull ups, you should do whatever you are able to. With all the other exercises I will recommend something like 3 sets of 8-12 reps. But with pullups I will say, if you can’t do them over hand then do them underhand (chin ups). If you can’t do them on your own then use a band to assist you. Or a friend. If you work out a gym you could use the assisted pull up machine or the lat pull down machine instead. And if you don’t have access to any of that you can do negatives until you can work your way up to doing full sets. Negatives involve you jumping up to the bar and letting yourself down slowly.
If you can’t do pull ups to start, then your first 3-6 months of working out will involve you working up to doing full sets of pull ups. I will write an article about how to work up to doing your first pullups later and you will be able to do a search on the site for it. If you work out at home you can purchase a non-marring door pull up bar or make one yourself if you are crafty.
This row can be any of the major forms of rows, be it a barbell row, a single armed dumbbell row, a t-bar row. I personally recommend a single armed dumbbell row to start. Start with your weak arm and do as many as you can and then match it with your strong arm so you don’t create a muscle imbalance. Rows also work out your back and biceps.