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Beginners Gym Workout (Revised 2011)

Once you have made it through the basic workout (return to gym workout) and you feel ready to go to the gym and start working out more seriously you can start putting together the following workout. This workout will take you from day 1 in the gym as far as you want to take it. It is the workout regime that I have used for the past 18 years and has always provided me with the results I asked of it. As time passes, you may want to fine tune your workout for specific sports or to build specific bodyparts, this is easily workable with this regime if you know the right exercises to do. As far as women and men are concerned, the workout frequency should be the same but the exercises may differ slightly. I am aware that women are far more likely to use the stability ball and bodyweight exercises such as lunges and so on in order to reach their goals but regardless, the frequency and intensity should remain the same. If you have specific questions about substitutions for women, just ask me when you see me. However, I should point out that I have personally trained women using this exact workout with very good results especially those involved in other sports such as volleyball, soccer, gymnastics and so on.

This workout assumes you have been to the gym before and are familiar with the correct biomechanical motions required to stress specific muscle groups. It does not require that you use free weights although I personally recommend them for overall strength and coordination. By beginners, I am referring to people who are beginning again, not those who are new to weightlifting who should be doing a half body circuit training workout for at least 6 months prior to moving on to a muscle group specific workout such as this. The times given will vary but are given for the total time it should take you from stepping out of your vehicle to stepping back in, including cardio (30 min) and shower time.

This is a 7 day regime that requires 4 days in the gym and 2 days outside cardio or yoga. I do not recommend the treadmill or machines for cardio. The only cardio workouts you should be doing are sport participation. There is no honour in cardio and it is scientifically proven to be detrimental to your health. The 3 days without weights can be broken up between the work days but cannot be spread across multiple weeks.

Week 1 and 2 - Low weight, high reps, full motion, low rest (1 hr total out the door)

Use as much weight as you can completing 15 reps
4 Sets per bodypart

Day 1 - Chest Triceps Quads Abs
Day 2 - Back Biceps Hamstrings Abs
Day 3 - Light Cardio / Yoga / Stretch
Day 4 - Chest Triceps Quads Abs
Day 5 - Back Biceps Hamstrings Abs
Day 6 - Yoga / Sport Participation
 Day 7 - Rest

Week 3 and 4 - Low weight, high reps, full motion, low rest (1 hr total out the door)

Use as much weight as you can completing 15 reps
6-8 sets per bodypart

Day 1 - Chest Tri Abs
Day 2 - Back Bi Abs
Day 3 - Light Cardio / Yoga / Stretch
Day 4 - Shoulders Traps Abs
Day 5 - Quads Hams
Day 6 - Yoga / Sport Participation
Day 7 - Rest

Week 5 to 12 - For those not interested in building muscle
(1 hr total out the door)

2 days on, one day rest, 2 on, 1 off in a 6 day cycle
so that you don't get used to doing a certain bodypart on a certain day.
If you are not interested in getting any bigger then stick with the 15 reps

7 - 10 sets per bodypart

Day 1 - Chest Tri Abs
Day 2 - Back Bi Abs
Day 3 - Rest
Day 4 - Shoulders Traps Abs
Day 5 - Quads Hams
Day 6 - Rest

Week 5 to 12 - For those wanting to build muscle
(1 to 1.5 hrs total out the door)


4 days on, one day off 5 day cycle.
You should be doing between 5 and 10 reps per set now
and trying to increase your weights at least every other workout.

To build muscle you need to maximize your weights with a spotter
Do not attempt to do less than 5 reps without a spotter
Single rep max attempts are recommended once every 2 weeks
8 - 12 sets per bodypart

Day 1 - Chest Tri Abs
Day 2 - Back Bi Abs
Day 3 - Shoulders Traps Abs
Day 4 - Quads Hams
Day 5 - Rest / Yoga / Stretch

Working Example - My Personal Workout (Pyramid Technique)

Day 1 - Chest and Triceps, Abs 

Flat Bench
135 20 reps x2
185 15 reps x2
225 10 reps x2
275 7 reps x2
295 3 reps x2
315 3 reps with spot x2
225 10 reps x2
135 15 reps x1

Incline Bench
95 20 reps x2
135 15 reps x2
185 10 reps x2
225 10 reps x2
Due to shoulder restrictions I do not go over 225
185 10 reps x1
135 15 reps x1

Flat Bench Close Grip Press (Triceps)
(This is by far the best tricep exercise in my opinion)
135 15 reps x2
185 10 reps x2
205 10 reps x2
225 10 reps x2
205 10 reps x1
185 10 reps x1
135 15 reps x2

Dips on Dip Station
I cannot recall specific weights for this at this time
5 reps x2
10 reps x2
15 reps x2
20 reps x2
15 reps x1
10 reps x1
5 reps x1

25 Hanging Leg Lifts x4
25 Crunches x4
25 leg up crunches
25 Hanging Leg Lifts x2
30 second Half Superman Stretch x4

Day 2 - Back and Biceps, Abs and Cardio
(coming soon)

Day 3 - Shoulders and Triceps, Abs and Cardio

(coming soon)

Day 4 - Quads and Hamstrings, Abs and Light Cardio
(coming soon)

Exercises and explanations


Cardio is not recommended as an activity at all, even for those looking to lose weight. Remember that the point of being at the gym is primarily to increase or maintain your lean muscle mass.


Most people will freak out when I tell them I expect them to do 200 abs a day. By week 5 you should be up to about 400-600 ab movements a day.
Ab movements include crunches, leg supported crunches, leg raised crunches, leg held situps (if your sport requires this degree of strength) leg raises, hanging leg raises, front support leg raises. In addition, you may want to use the stability ball for crunches since this will increase overall core strength. Men, this includes you!
There are plenty of variety filled ab workouts out there, get a copy of P90X Ab Ripper X if you want a tough standard workout.
My typical ab workout would look like this:
20 crunches
20 leg raised crunches
20 leg raises
20 alternating elbow to knee bicycles
20 crunches
10 hanging leg raises
10 hanging crunches
20 hanging side crunches
25 crunches
15 leg raises
10 crunches
10 leg raises


The mistake that most people make with weight programs is to try to put too many exercises into a regime. People are so scared of the boredom factor that they overextend themselves trying to make up dozens of exercises per bodypart. The fact is that the gym is not entertainment. There will always be a boredom factor involved with working out and it is healthy to adjust your workouts once in a while but the focus should always be on results not on the temporary feeling of discomfort from doing the same workouts. At the very least, I would encourage you to follow this workout for 3 months before substituting any of the movements. That will give you the basic strength and control needed to give you an idea of how each muscle group functions. This knowledge will enable you to figure out for yourself which exercises are good substitutions. The simple fact remains that unless you have a good command of the basic movements you will not be able to achieve your ideal strength levels. Many of the movements that a personal trainer may show you do not stress the muscle enough to promote growth and in fact may prevent you from gaining any significant strength. I am not suggesting that every workout has to revolve around getting bigger or lifting heavier, but what I am saying is that for the first 6 to 8 weeks at least, you should concentrate on basic movements and increasing your strength. Below is the workout I suggest including descriptions of each movement. You may be surprised at the amount of different movements per bodypart but remember without the basics you cannot hope to move on to the next level.

Flat bench
Incline bench
Close grip bench
Chin Ups
Straight or EZ bar curls
Dumbbell curls
Hammer curls or French curls
Military Press behind head
Lateral raises
Front raises
Upright rowing
Squats (Zercher and Regular)
Lunges - All kinds to burn out the quads and glutes at the end
Horizontal press / Deadlift
Laying curls
Straight leg deadlifts / good mornings
Single leg calf raises with weight
Double leg seated calf extensions


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