The Beginners Workout Guide For Starting Out In The Gym

Are you thinking of getting started at the gym but don’t know where to start? Well, congratulations because you are in the right place! Starting in the gym can be both very exciting and daunting at the same time. As for someone starting out, it can get very challenging to find the right beginners workout to follow.

I remember when I started in my sophomore year in high school, I was about 6 feet tall and roughly 135 pounds. To put that in perspective I was probably as skinny as this tree branch.

But why did I decide it’s time to hit the gym? Well probably for some of the same reasons as to why you might be starting. I wanted to look better and be happy with my body, I wanted to feel confident in myself after having been picked on for many years by students who would address me as “skeleton man” or “chicken legs” and most of all, I was desperate to change. 

Everyone has a different reason, and that’s okay, the important thing is that you are taking action and for that effort alone I’m going to do my best to help you out as much as I can. So without further adieu, let’s begin.

Set Your Motivation

Now it’s great that you want to get started but let me tell you now, getting in shape isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes months and even years depending on your fitness goals. 

Some days you will be frustrated why you are going to the gym and not seeing results and for most people, this can be disheartening. Other days you may feel extremely tired and too lazy to get up to go to the gym. So before we get into the workouts and nutrition its key to set our expectations realistically and to establish our drive for motivation. 

So what I recommend you do is take out a phone, a piece of paper and a pencil right now. With your phone I want you to screenshot a model, celebrity or athlete that you want to look like (body-wise) and keep that picture either as your lock screen or in your gallery (any place you check constantly). Next, I want you to take your pencil and paper and write down your WHY. Why are you working out? What is the ultimate vision and what is the cherry on top for you?

Examples of Your Why Could Be:

  1. I want to feel confident with how I look with my shirt on or off no matter the occasion.
  2. To become stronger and healthier.
  3. Obtain the feeling that you can protect yourself and the people you care about.

Notice how your WHY is not a goal like “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I want to become 500 pounds of pure muscle”, your WHY is your motivation to achieve your goals and you will need your WHY’s to push yourself in times where you feel like quitting. 

Once you have made your list of WHY’s and screenshotted your fitness role model, stick your paper on your fridge or anywhere you walk by a lot in your house so that every day you are reminded of WHY you have to go to the gym. This is very important as there are going to be days where you feel like quitting because it’s easier. Yet by reinforcing your motivation you can overcome those low energy days and get the work done.

The key is that by having a constant mental image on your phone and your list of WHY you are going to the gym, you will be able to stay motivated and determined to achieve your fitness goals.

Starting With Bodyweight Exercises

Now you may want to go and hit the iron right away and believe me that’s fine, however, I’d always recommend starting off with bodyweight exercises to build the foundational strength to start working out in the gym. Not only can you do bodyweight exercises at home but once you master controlling your own body, lifting weights at the gym gets a lot easier. This is because,

  1. You will feel more confident that you have a solid base (from doing bodyweight exercises)
  2. It prepares your mind and gets it ready to adapt and change 

Here is a bodyweight routine to start off with at home

  1. 20 Pushups 
Beginners Workout- Push-ups
Beginners Workout- Push-ups

2. 20 Sit-Ups

Beginners Workout- Sit-Ups

3. 20 Squats

Beginners Workout - Squats

Repeat for 5 sets. 

Now if you are having trouble doing these exercises you can always adjust the level of complexity of the exercise. For example, instead of pushups, you can do knee pushups. You can also adjust the number of reps you are doing per set or increase rest time between sets. 

Beginners Workout - Knee Push-ups

Beginners Workout

Now that you have built some strength at home it’s time for you to hit the iron and get that gym membership. Now there are about a zillion different workout programs out there but I’ll give you one that focuses on what beginners should be focusing on most, COMPOUND LIFTS.

What are compound lifts you might ask? Compound lifts are lifts that require more than one muscle group to execute. These are far more effective when starting out because it allows you to workout with fewer exercises that are more efficient at stimulating the main muscle groups required to build strength and size later on in the future.

Here are a few examples of compound lifts for the main muscle groups:

  1. Chest
    1. Dumbbell Bench Press
    2. Incline and Decline Bench Press
  2. Back
    1. Deadlifts
    2. Row variations
    3. Pull-ups
    4. Lat Pulldowns
  3. Shoulders
    1. Military Press
    2. Dumbbell Press
    3. Handstand Pushups
  4. Legs
    1. Squats
    2. Lunges
    3. Leg Press
  5. Biceps
    1. Chin Ups
  6. Triceps
    1. Triceps Bench Press
    2. Tricep Dips

Now that you know what compound lifts are, I’ve put together a program that will allow you to work out the main muscles with solid compound exercises.

Full Body Beginners Workout

Essentially you have 2 Full Body Workouts as shown below (represented by A & B)

Workout A

ExerciseSets * Reps
Squats3 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Bench Press3 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Barbell Row3 Sets of 8-10 Reps

Workout B

ExerciseSets * Reps
Deadlift3 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Pull-Ups3 Sets of 8-10 Reps
Military Press3 Sets of 8-10 Reps

Your Schedule

Based on this, your beginners workout should consist of you going to the gym a minimum of 3 days a week alternating between workouts A & B. Here is an example of a schedule/routine.

DayWorkout
MondayWorkout A
TuesdayREST
WednesdayWorkout B
ThursdayREST
FridayWorkout A
SaturdayREST
SundayREST

In the next week start with Workout B and continue alternating every other day. 

After 4 Weeks

Now that you have worked out for a few weeks, it’s time for progressive overload. Essentially, after 4 Weeks your body may start adapting to your training regimen so in order to keep growing you must shock your muscles and challenge them to grow, I recommend making the following changes:

  1. Add 1 additional set to each exercise
  2. Add 1 isolation exercise with 4 sets at the end 
  3. Lower the rep range to 6-8 reps (increasing the weight if possible)

Beginners Workout Plan After 4 Weeks

Workout A

ExerciseSets * Reps
Squats4 Sets of 6-8 Reps
Bench Press4 Sets of 6-8 Reps
Barbell Row4 Sets of 6-8 Reps
Bicep Curls 4 Sets of 8-10 Reps

Workout B

ExerciseSets * Reps
Deadlifts4 Sets of 6-8 Reps
Pull-Ups4 Sets of 6-8 Reps
Military Press4 Sets of 6-8 Reps
Tricep Pushdowns4 Sets of 8-10 Reps

How To Warm Up Before Lifting

Awesome, so now you have your new mentality, a workout routine and schedule. Now before we hit the iron it’s extremely important to warm up. Here is the most effective way to warm up:

  • 8 Reps With Just The Bar
  • 5 Reps With 50% of Your First Working Set
  • 3 Reps With 70% of Your First Working Set
  • 1 Rep with 90% Of Your First Working Set

Take a 60 Seconds Rest Between Sets. After you complete your warmup you then do your working set of 4 sets of 6-8 reps and follow the plan accordingly. 

You Are On Your Way!

Congratulations! Now you have the tools to get started on your fitness journey! Like I said previously, the road to self-improvement is not easy and it will take a lot of discipline and self-motivation. However, by implementing progressive overload and constantly challenging yourself every exercise, you will find that over time not only will you build strength, but you will be one step closer to your fitness goals. 

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or any ideas for any future blog posts as well as follow our Facebook page! Thanks!

Fitness Elitist

We're passionate about fitness and living a healthy and active lifestyle and we hope you are too! We are dedicated to providing you with the fitness knowledge to help you achieve your fitness goals and dreams. We provide nutritional information, workout info as well as additional resources to help you with your journey of becoming a better version of yourself. Want to know where to start? You are in the right place!

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