A Simple Beginner's Plan

 A lot of people have asked me what kind of program they should start with. The answer is you can do nearly anything and, with consistency, it will pay off. But, I do have an opinion that a novice lifter should start with basic, fundamental moves and wait until later on to branch out into isolation moves or try newfangled jazzamatazz. Build the frame before you put up the walls and all that. 

How many reps and sets should I do? 

For this program, I'd like you to start with a 10-12 rep range. What this means is using a weight you can definitely lift ten times, but not more than 12. Don't worry too much about getting this exact. It's a bit of an art and you'll get to know what I mean once you've been lifting for a while. As for sets, the first week, start with 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions. After that, do 3 sets. If you are a complete wuss at the moment, do one set the first week, two the second and three the third. 

How long should I rest in between sets?

Take 1-2 minutes between sets, and as long as it takes you to go from one piece of equipment to the next in between exercises. Again, if you are a complete wuss at the moment, take up to 3 minutes. When you first set foot in a gym, it is more important to complete the workout than it is to complete in a set amount of time. 

How many days a week is the program?

Between 3-4, depending on how many days you can get to the gym and how much time you have while you are there. If you have an hour fifteen, three days a week, go with M/W/F, if you only have 30-40 minutes to spare, plan on splitting the workout in two and going M/T/Th/F or whenever you can. The important part is to have a day of rest in between working any specific bodypart. 

Do I need to warm up?

When you are working in the 10-12 rep range, the weight is light enough that you don't need too much of a warm up. 5-10 minutes on the elliptical at a moderate pace should do it. 

Will there be cardio?

Not for the first month. Focus on one thing at a time, because I'd rather you not overwhelm yourself. Weeks 5 and on, add 20-30 minutes of steady-state cardio, however you like to do it (bike, elliptical, treadmill, whatever.) 

What about supplements? 

I am a supplement minimalist, myself. I believe beginners should rely on hard work and only supplement after they've reached a point where they need a boost. That said, a protein shake might not be a bad idea post-workout, especially if your diet is lacking. A multivitamin may help, too. A beginner's focus should be on consistency with their workouts, because that is what nets the most results, not supplements. 

How long is this program? 

Generally speaking, 6-8 weeks should do it, and then you can move on to a push/pull split, or something more complicated. If you like this, shoot me a comment, give the video a thumbs up and I'll be happy to give you the next step! 

The Exercises:

*Optional warm up on cardio equipment 5-7 minutes.

Barbell Squat

Barbell Bench Press (Substitute Dumbbell or Iso-lateral machine if you don't have a spotter)

Bent Row

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Barbell Curl

Tricep Pushdown

Calf raises


So, if you're on the 3x/week plan, Preform all exercises for three sets of ten to twelve repetitions. If you have to split it up into shorter workouts, do: Squat, Shoulder Press, Calf Raises & Crunches one day and Bench Press, Bent Row, Barbell Curl, and Tricep Pushdown the next. 

When do I raise the weight? 

Once you feel you can go past 12 reps on any given exercise, up the weight. You may suddenly find yourself failing by 10 again, but that's okay. Work back to 12 and once that is easy, up the weight again. You'll be surprised how in six to eight weeks you can make some great beginner's gains! 

Should I log my workouts? 

Absolutely! Find a free gym app that works with your phone. Mine has the ability to record all my exercises, build workouts, calculate my 1RM, volume, intensity, and it has timers so I don't waste time in between sets. It's a lot easier than lugging around a notepad and a stopwatch, but you can do that, too. No one in the gym will look at you funny. 

Do I need Gear?

Don't worry about belts and wrist wraps and knee sleeves just yet. Unless you have an injury, you won't need any accessories right away, except *maybe* some gloves. Personally, I like hand protection. I use gripper gloves that only cover my knuckle area. They provide good grip and protect my hands from blisters and calluses (for the most part.) 

You will also need good shoes. I suggest something designed for lifting. I like my Asics wrestling shoes. They are flat and nearly padless and keep my feet planted solidly on the floor. 

Where can I find tutorials on these movements? 

I love this one for squats: CLICK HERE

And bodybuilding.com has a great database for exercises: CLICK HERE

If you can't find what you are looking for, just Google it!


When should I start? 

Now. Don't overthink it, just get going.