Being a beginner is not easy, and you often feel overwhelmed with information, no matter what you are planning to do. Fitness is no different. Yes, you’ve made the decision to start improving your health and physique, but now what?
In this article, we will talk about what is the best workout routine for beginners. We will try explaining it as simple as possible because the road to fitness is precisely like that. Steps are easy to take, and you make them one at a time. The only issue is the needed dedication to keep doing them forever. But, we will leave that to you.
Are You A Beginner?
If you haven’t lifted before, or you did, for a month or two, three years back, you are a beginner. More experienced gym dudes often say that beginner is anyone who can’t lift his bodyweight on squat, bench, or deadlift.
But the truth is, you are a beginner if you feel that way.
Still, it is better to be a beginner in fitness, than in anything else. “Beginner gains” are a real thing, and anything you do once you start exercising will show massive results. Unfortunately, it won’t stay that way for too long, but still, it is a great motivation booster when you see your body rapidly changing.
The Best Approach for Beginners
Because most beginners are weak, small and have body fat at the same time, the best approach for them is focusing on increasing strength.
By focusing only on adding more weight to the bar you will be able to lift more (of course), but you will also widen your frame, and put muscles in.
The old school approach was “you have to get strong if you want to get big” and it’s still true to this day.
By increasing your strength, you will inevitably gain muscle mass, because that happens no matter what when you are a beginner.
Additionally, strength training burns a lot of calories and the new muscles that form burn even more. Through strength training and recovery after it, you will burn fat too, and ditching that skinny-fat noob look.
Still, it is imperative that you also include cardio into your routine, not only for extra fat-burning effects but also for endurance and general health too.
To get strong, you need to focus on big total-body barbell movements such as squats, deadlifts, and presses. You should also include pull-ups or chin-ups and barbell rows.
As for isolations, such as biceps curls, triceps extensions, and similar, leave that out, you will do it later, once you get stronger. The compound movements listed above will tax your CNS too much, and they require good recovery. Besides, all of those exercises hit your arms too, and your delts, and for starters, you don’t need to overthink it.
Do It 3x Per Week, Cardio On Days Between
Full-body workouts tax your body a lot. Therefore, as a beginner, you should only do them 3x per week, and never in subsequent days.
Ideally, Mon-Wed-Fri and the weekend off. By having three workouts per week, you will allow your time to recover fully. Both between the workouts, and in general, as you have four days off each week.
On your non-lifting days, you should do some light, steady-state cardio. Ideally something low impact, like cycling or swimming. Just don’t go all in with sprints or HIIT, you need to rest, full-body workouts are tough.
And yes, do some light stretching on your recovery days, it will help you feel much better. Yoga is fine too.
Reps, Sets, Rest and Weight
You will do five sets of five reps for each exercise, resting 2.5 minutes between sets.
As for the weight, you should pick as much weight as possible that allows you to complete those five reps while getting close to failure. You will have to test yourself with this, but you will find it out after a few tries. T
ry to add slightly more weight each week. If you can’t do bodyweight pull-ups or chin-ups, use the lat machine.
Combine one exercise from each group. Switch exercises the next workout, never doing the same movements two workouts in a row. Also, try avoiding doing the same variation twice per week (for example deadlifts on Monday and then again on Friday), if possible.
- Group A (Lower Body) – back squat, front squat, deadlift, Romanian deadlift.
- Group B (Upper Body Pull) – pull-ups, chin-ups, barbell rows.
- Group C (Upper Body Push) – overhead press, push press, barbell bench press, incline barbell bench press.
When trying to build strength and muscles, you should have a strong diet. You need to fuel that activity, and the growing muscles, and therefore you need to be in a slight caloric surplus.
If your primary goal is losing weight, this type of workout is not for you. Trying to build strength in a caloric deficit is not smart. Your body won’t have the building blocks to recover from workouts, and you will feel energy deprived.
Your diet should be packed with protein. Get at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, every single day. Use protein shakes if you can’t meet the goal through food.
Focus on proteins and fat, eating eggs, cheese, meat, but also non-starchy veggies. Don’t be afraid of the carbs, as long as they are good for you. Vegetables are filled with fiber, and fruit with vitamins (just stay within normal limits).
The only thing you should cut from your diet is soda. That is completely useless, and it doesn’t fill you up, it’s filled with sugar and does you no good whatsoever.
You can have a piece of chocolate or a slice of pizza once, max twice per week, but you should completely stay off soda. As for the alcohol, drinking a beer on a Friday night is OK, just don’t go overboard.
That’s it, nice and simple. Three workouts that consist of three exercises, 5×5, that’s all you need to get stronger. Once you start adding weight to the bar and feeling you can go for more, feel free to put in more exercises, especially isolations. Or, find a more advanced program. But for now, stick to the basics. You can also check out our fitness blog here.