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Beginner Weight Training

An easy-to-follow guide
with tips and advice!

Best Beginner Weight-Training Guide With Easy-To-Follow Workout!

Want to take up a strength or weight-lifting program, but don't know where to start? Here are the basic guidelines, rules and easy-to-follow workouts.

Recently decide to get fit? Want to take up a strength or weight-lifting program, but don't know where to start? Everyone has been in this position at least once before; you're new at the gym, and you don't know where to go or what to lift or how to use the machines. Well, help is here!

I am going to tell you the basic guidelines and rules for starting out in a weight-lifting program; whether it is for strength, weight loss, lean muscle gain or just overall fitness this article and workout can help you figure things out and get started off on the right foot towards your health and fitness goals.

Strength training provides remarkable results in those who have tried and failed at overhauling their fitness with just diet or cardio. Consistent training (more than twice per week, for 12 weeks) can provide such benefits as:

  • Increased muscle fiber size
  • Increased muscle contractile strength
  • Increased tendon strength
  • Increased ligament strength

All of these add up to a much healthier, fit and less likely to be injured body; not to mention you end up looking pretty good too!

Strength training provides remarkable results in those who have tried and failed at overhauling their fitness with just diet or cardio.
"Strength training provides remarkable results in those who have tried and failed at overhauling their fitness with just diet or cardio."

A Few Rules Of Lifting Etiquette

  • To start, always bring a towel and be kind enough to wipe off the machines, benches and equipment you use.
  • Be sure to re-rack all the weight and replace all the dumbbells or barbells that are used.
  • Don't rest for extended periods of time on a machine that someone is waiting for; if possible work in with them between sets, most people are more than willing to share when asked nicely.
  • Finally, please, leave your cell phone in your locker or car; nothing is more distracting than listening to another person's conversation, unwillingly.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

  • Using too much weight, too soon; always start lower than your expected ability and work your way up that first workout. If your form suffers, you are swinging the weight, or using momentum, this indicates you may be using too much weight. Greater momentum increases the potential for injury and reduces the effectiveness to the muscle group being targeted.
  • Not using enough weight; always play it safe, but if you can perform 30 reps with a certain weight, it's likely time to increase it a bit. Tip: Increase the weight no more than about 5% at a time.
  • Moving through repetitions too quickly, going too fast; there is nothing gained by lifting weights 'fast' some of the perks of lifting weight in a slow and controlled manner, include more total muscle tension and force produced, more muscle fiber activation both slow and fast twitch fibers, and less tissue trauma. *Remember, a joint is only as strong as the muscles that cross it; if you haven't lifted in a long time, or ever, be careful what you ask of your joints.
  • Not resting long enough, or resting far too long; both can be a workout killer. Tip: The recommended rest period is between 30-90 seconds, for overall fitness.

Beginner Weight/Strength Training Workout

Guidelines For This Workout

This workout is designed for overall health and fitness gains of a healthy, adult individual who has never lifted weights before, or who is very inexperienced at it.

You may note that the majority of exercises are machine based; this is intentional as an unconditioned beginner, has less integrity in the joints, less stability in the core which supports the entire body during training; and this makes one more apt to be injured when attempting to lift free weight (dumbbells, barbells) when just starting out.

Using machines provides support for these weaker areas and allows the intended muscle to be isolated and strengthened before progressing to free weight.

  • Perform this workout at least two times per week, significant strength and fitness gains are obtained with only two workouts per week.
  • Take one day off from weight training between each workout.
  • For health gains, at least one set of 8-12 repetitions should be performed to fatigue; this means a weight heavy enough to tire the muscle significantly in 8-12 reps.
  • For fitness gains, two sets of 8-12 repetitions should be performed to fatigue; again with a weight heavy enough that the muscle is tired and unable to continue without a 30-90 second rest period.
  • It should take four to five seconds to complete one repetition through a complete range of motion; in a slow and very controlled manner.
  • Rest at least 30 seconds and no more than 90 seconds between sets of each exercise; and 1 to 2 minutes between each exercise.
Beginner Workout
Cardio Respiratory Warm-Up

Warm up by performing 5-10 minutes of moderate intensity cardio work, on any machine (treadmill or elliptical), or using any modality (walking, jumping rope) that works the large muscles of the body; increasing blood flow and warming the muscles themselves.

Weights Workout
Tips

Sitting on a leg press machine, position your feet together against the crosspiece about should-width apart and toes pointed slightly outward. Grasp the handle grips or sides of the seat. Bend your knees and lower the weight as far as possible without changing the position of your hips.

Do not lower the weight so far that your hips start to curl up off the seat! Then slowly push the weight back up using your heels, not your toes. Do not lock your knees at the top, but rather take the weight to just before lock. Then begin to lower the weight again SLOWLY. You can change your foot positions to vary the angle on the muscle.

Tips

Using a leg extension machine, sit in the seat and hook your feet under the padded bar. Adjust the pad and/or the seat so that your knees hang off the end of the seat and the footpad rest on the lowest part of the shins. Grasp the handles on the machine or the edges of the seat to keep your hips from lifting up as you perform the exercise. Extend your legs until knees are straight, making sure you remain seated flat on the machine.

Raise the weight all the way, lock and hold briefly, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. Get the full range of motion and feel the muscle being worked during the entire movement. Do not SWING the weight up!

Tips

Lie face down on a leg-curl machine and hook your heels under the roller pad. Your legs should be stretched out straight so that the pads rest on the back of your ankles. Grasp the handles under the bench for support.

Remaining flat on the bench, curl your legs up until your hamstrings are fully contracted. Release and lower the weight slowly back to the starting position. Concentrate on using a full range of motion and do not SWING the weight up. You can point your toes to intensify the burn in your hamstrings.

Or if your gym or fitness center is equipped with a seated leg; but select one or the other, don't do both!

Tips

Follow the directions on the seated leg curl machine.

Tips

Start with your legs positioned snugly under the kneepads of a pulldown machine. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Grasp the wide bar firmly with an overhand grip. Your hands should be almost twice your shoulder width apart. Pull the bar down on top of your chest, arching your back slightly.

Focus on keeping your elbows directly below the bar. Pause briefly with the bar in position right on top of your collarbone. Slowly raise the bar back to the starting position. Do NOT lean back too far and pull the weight down using your body weight!

Tips

This is like a normal bench press but using a machine. Follow the directions on the machine that you choose. Be sure to go slow during each rep.

Tips

Also known as the Pec Deck Fly. Sit at the machine with your back flat on the pad. Place your forearms on padded lever. Position your upper arms approximately parallel to the ground. Push levers together slowly and squeeze your chest in the middle. Return until chest muscles are stretched fully. Repeat.

Tips

Same as the Triceps Pushdown except with the rope attachment. At the bottom of the movement you should pull the rope "apart" to get the best contraction in your triceps.

Tips

Follow the exact directions that are on the machine that you choose; as machines at gyms vary.

Tips

Follow the directions on the shoulder press machine.

Tips

This is like a sit-up or crunch, but the machine helps you to add resistance for greater strength increases. Follow the directions on the particular machine that you choose. Be sure to go slow and concentrate on using your abs to push the weight while relaxing your legs and feet.

Tips

Lie on your back and put your hands behind your head. Raise your legs so your thighs are perpendicular and your lower legs are just above parallel to the floor. Curl up and bring your left elbow toward your right side while drawing your right knee in to meet it.

It is like you are riding a bike. Alternate sides, continuing the motion, back and forth. Remember, don't just flap your elbow across your body, actually rotate your shoulder across and squeeze your abs.

The eleven exercises shown in this workout program will thoroughly work the entire body. Do these exercises in the order shown; it's important to work the muscle groups largest to smallest, as the smaller muscles support the larger, and if the smaller ones are already fatigued they cannot adequately do their job of supporting your large muscles when its time to work them.

Training Tips

A few tips to make your new training program work for you more effectively:

  • Stay hydrated! Be sure to drink at least the minimum USDA recommended 8-10 glasses of water each and every day; dehydration can make you weak, and sick and less effective in the weight room. Drink a lot of water during your workout as well.
  • Eat a small, balanced meal with equal portions of lean protein (lean chicken, turkey, beef or fish) and complex carbohydrate (oats, rice) 30-60 minutes prior to each workout; and again within 60 minutes after you train with weights. A huge meal is not necessary, just enough protein and carbohydrate to refuel and encourage healing in the body.
  • If also performing cardio work for weight loss, do so after you train with weights, not before; or at separate times of the day all together.
  • Keep a record of what you do, and when you do it... an awesome tool I love within the Bodybuilding.com community is the BodyBuilding.com BodySpace work-out tracker - it's really interactive and lets you set things like sets, reps, weight used, and even lets you input exercises that aren't listed and keeps a running tally of your progress! All you have to do is register for your very own FREE BodySpace profile... You can check that out and register here.
  • Also, once you are on your way to being super fit, you can also take progress pictures, keep track of weight loss or gain progress, and measurements of all your body parts. This tool is also part of your free BodySpace profile, there is so much you can track and record... even a BodyBlog!
  • Be sure to check out all the aspects of BodySpace while you record and update your daily workouts, and don't forget to stay fit!
References
  1. Bodybuilding.com
  2. Exrx.net
  3. ACE; 2005, 06
  4. ACSM; 2005

Related Articles

About The Author

Jaime is a personal trainer and group exercise instructor certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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ch9jermain

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ch9jermain

nice guide for the beginners. Maybe it'll teach some of the gym rats better manners. lol

Jul 2, 2012 5:16pm | report
 
hkgphooey

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hkgphooey

Very good,straight talking,informative and useful.

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Aug 4, 2012 7:55am | report
 
hkgphooey

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hkgphooey

Why can't i do 30 mins of bike and 30 mins of running before i do my weights???.

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Aug 4, 2012 8:35am | report
 
tlesh993

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tlesh993

hkgphooey- doing a bunch of cardio before lifting burns all your energy so you wont have the best lifts. some people do a short jog to warm up i personally just like to do some warm up sets to get some blood flow before big lifts

Aug 30, 2012 4:11pm | report
 
Carlos0371

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Carlos0371

Unfortunately, I have no choice but to do cardio before weights, as I have to cycle 5 miles each way to and from work every day, and I have to work out before work as I have a 2nd job in the evening. The gym is 2 minutes from my work, so I cycle there, workout, go to work, cycle home.

I've only just started weights (yesterday lol) so I don't yet know how badly this will affect my gains, but my intention is to "ride easy" on weights days, and "go at it" on the other days.

Just to throw something else into the mix, I'm also doing my first Triathlon at the end of April!!

Mar 25, 2014 4:35am | report
EachUisge

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EachUisge

Great for getting back in after a way to long layoff. This will be a good program for 6 weeks, to get the motor pathways back in shape, and stop the "shaky's". Machines do have their place, I really like this program...Thanks!!

Article Rated:
Nov 11, 2012 12:21pm | report
 
Sprinter91

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Sprinter91

Is this workout a full body workout to do in one day at the gym?

Dec 30, 2012 2:43pm | report
 
JannDanDag

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JannDanDag

I will try this. Thank you!

Feb 19, 2013 9:00am | report
 
acv2dude

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acv2dude

I will try this!

Feb 28, 2013 8:33am | report
 
say87

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say87

is it good for beginner that want to loose some fats in the stomack and wanna gain lean muscle ?
also, i couldn't get what does it mean :
For fitness gains, two sets of 8-12 repetitions should be performed to fatigue; again with a weight heavy enough that the muscle is tired and unable to continue without a 30-90 second rest period.
does it mean i do reps of 12 or continue till failure, and does it mean i do the two reps without taking any rest time between'em?

Apr 14, 2013 8:05am | report
 
say87

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say87

is it good for beginner that want to loose some fats in the stomack and wanna gain lean muscle ?
also, i couldn't get what does it mean :
For fitness gains, two sets of 8-12 repetitions should be performed to fatigue; again with a weight heavy enough that the muscle is tired and unable to continue without a 30-90 second rest period.
does it mean i do reps of 12 or continue till failure, and does it mean i do the two reps without taking any rest time between'em?

Apr 14, 2013 8:05am | report
 
say87

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
say87

is it good for beginner that want to loose some fats in the stomack and wanna gain lean muscle ?
also, i couldn't get what does it mean :
For fitness gains, two sets of 8-12 repetitions should be performed to fatigue; again with a weight heavy enough that the muscle is tired and unable to continue without a 30-90 second rest period.
does it mean i do reps of 12 or continue till failure, and does it mean i do the two reps without taking any rest time between'em?

Apr 14, 2013 8:06am | report
 
dialman

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dialman

just getting back into the gym after a pretty long absence about 3 yrs. Trying to gauge my recovery time. If my muscles are still a bit soar from a work-out 2 days ago, is it okay to work them again or should i wait until i am no longer soar?

Jun 19, 2013 4:56pm | report
 
shaynealbert

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shaynealbert

I find that this article goes in the exact OPPOSITE of what a good training programme is for beginners. If you've never lifted before, you don't want to isolate your muscles. Leave that for the experienced bodybuilders. What you want to do are purely compound movements. Squats, flat-bench press, standing barbell overhead presses and deadlifts!
Search for Stronglifts 5x5 for a proven strength training programme

Jul 4, 2013 2:06pm | report
 
wtfsrslyomg

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wtfsrslyomg

I always thought there was supposed to be a "leg day" and an "upper body" day. This makes it seem like you should do all of this at once? I'm gonna separate it for now... But someone help a sistah out here? Should I do all of this in the same workout?

Aug 8, 2013 8:42pm | report
 
wtfsrslyomg

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wtfsrslyomg

I always thought there was supposed to be a "leg day" and an "upper body" day. This makes it seem like you should do all of this at once? I'm gonna separate it for now... But someone help a sistah out here! Should I do all of this in the same workout?

Aug 8, 2013 8:43pm | report
 
wtfsrslyomg

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  • rep this user
wtfsrslyomg

I always thought there was supposed to be a "leg day" and an "upper body" day. This makes it seem like you should do all of this at once? I'm gonna separate it for now... But someone help a sistah out here! Should I do all of this in the same workout?

Aug 8, 2013 8:43pm | report
 
wtfsrslyomg

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wtfsrslyomg

I always thought there was supposed to be a "leg day" and an "upper body" day. This makes it seem like you should do all of this at once? I'm gonna separate it for now... But someone help a sistah out here! Should I do all of this in the same workout?

Aug 8, 2013 8:43pm | report
 
RedRen89

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RedRen89

Clear and concise instructions. Makes me happy to look forward to using some of these techniques! :D

Sep 14, 2013 12:32pm | report
 
zenu17

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zenu17

Great tips thank you.
I have a friend that just start going to gym and I'm going to give him this training plan to begin with.

Regards.

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Nov 8, 2013 7:42am | report
 
LD2GJ

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LD2GJ

Should all of this be done at one go or broke up into muscle groups per day?

Mar 18, 2014 10:54am | report
 
Carlos0371

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Carlos0371

This is one full workout.

Mar 25, 2014 4:37am | report
damiot

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damiot

I tried this as a first attempt at lifting in over 10 years - very well balanced and I felt great afterwards (tired, but great). Disclosure: Due to a small window of time, I had to settle on removing the first and last exercises (did some running beforehand to warm up). Took about 45 mins - you should leave about an hour of gym time.

Apr 2, 2014 2:41pm | report
 
CrackerWatson

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CrackerWatson

A great looking guide that i dont feel intimidated to try! this will give me something to work with!

Jul 11, 2014 7:08am | report
 
Showing 1 - 24 of 24 Comments

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