Basic Beginner's Machine Workout

Basic Beginner's Machine Workout

Since I wrote the Simple Beginners Plan, it has come to my attention that some of you are too shy to get into the free weight room, or perhaps have had injuries or surgeries that make compound movements with barbells too challenging for the moment. I put this quickie substitution video together for you. It is the same workout, but replaced with machines. Hopefully this will get you used to your gym or strengthen your muscles, so that you can eventually use free weights and compound exercises. 

How many reps and sets should I do? 

For this program, I'd like you to start with a 10-12 rep range **EXCEPT FOR THE LEG PRESS, do 3 sets of 12-15. ** 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.

Leg Press

Chest Press 

Shoulder Press

Seated Row

Cable 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: Leg Press, Shoulder Press, Calf Raises & Crunches one day and Chest Press, Seated Row, Cable 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 (or 15 on the Leg Press,) 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?

You need zero gear for this workout, just comfy gym clothes and shoes.

Where can I find tutorials on these movements? 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? 

Today would be great.