What Is The Best Muscle Building Workout For A Newbie?

What is the best workout for a newbie? You are motivated and excited ... but have no idea what to do with all the weights. It can be overwhelming. Here are some great tips and workouts for the beginner! Try these out and start building muscle now.

TOPIC: What Is The Best Muscle Building Workout For A Newbie?

The Question:

He is motivated and excited ... but has no idea what to do with all the dumbbells, barbells and odd machines that he sees in front of him in the gym. It can be overwhelming.

What workout program would you design for them so they can gain as much mass as possible in the shortest amount of time?

What should a beginner avoid when just starting a training program?

What additional tips would aid a new gym enthusiast to long-term success?

Bonus Question: We've all been there - What helped you get over your initial fear of the gym and lifting weights? How did you overcome it?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

      1st place - 75 in store credit.
      2nd place - 50 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Justin @ justin.podzimek@bodybuilding.com for more info.

1st Place - soundcheck129
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

He is motivated and excited ... but has no idea what to do with all the dumbbells, barbells and odd machines that he sees in front of him in the gym. It can be overwhelming.

The first visit to the gym for a new lifter can be one of his fondest memories, although at the time it may seem like a nightmare - a bunch of people with great physiques striding confidently from machine to machine, lost in the tunes blasting out of their iPods.

The smell of sweat and iron mingle in the air with grunts and echos of steel plates slamming together. It's enough to make a newbie feel as if he's stumbled into the modern Mount Olympus; god-like figures are all around.

It's Enough To Make A Newbie Feel He's Stumbled Upon Mount Olympus.
+ Click To Enlarge.
It's Enough To Make A Newbie Feel
He's Stumbled Upon Mount Olympus.

If getting huge is your goal, this seems to be the place. But what's the best way to start when everyone else already seems so far ahead? Don't sweat it - beginning on the journey to the body of your dreams doesn't have to be difficult.

What Workout Program Would You Design For Them?

I believe that the ideal program for a beginner is a simple, 3-day split that focuses on compound lifts. This gives the lifter plenty of recovery time and makes use of exercises that activate a large number of muscles at one time, rather than isolation exercises that focus on one or two.

Compound lifts pack on muscle, giving a beginning lifter a great base to start from. While some may recommend 4-day splits, I think the extra day off is important for beginners because their muscles and central nervous system have not yet been properly conditioned to handle such a load.

Compound Vs. Isolated Exercises!
[ Click here to learn more. ]
Compound Vs. Isolated Exercises!
Isolated exercises are great for minor tweaking, however for those looking to make significant changes they are not ideal.
Shannon Clark

Such splits are susceptible to overtraining. In addition, a beginning lifter may be overwhelmed and feel that lifting is taking over his life if he's at the gym too frequently. I've also placed the more strenuous days on Monday and Friday so there is plenty of space between them.

Cardio will vary depending on one's goals; in order to minimize fat gains, 30 minutes of cardio on off days will be helpful, but not necessary. The beginner may also be involved in other sports, which would constitute sufficient cardio in themselves. Ab work can be added at the end of workouts or done on the weekends.

Beginners should remember to warm up with stretching and two warm-up sets before each lift to ensure that they have the proper form and range of motion down, as well as to gauge how much weight they can handle.




What Should A Beginner Avoid When Just Starting A Training Program?

Ego Lifting

    This is an easy trap to fall into. With so many other, more experienced lifters surrounding a newbie, he may become obsessed with the numbers on the weights rather than the quality of the lifts.

    However, if form is compromised for the sake of putting up heavier weights, by putting one's back and legs into dumbbell curls, for example, the target muscle groups are not being sufficiently stimulated and the risk of injury is high. These consequences are counterproductive and should be avoided at all costs.

Fight The Ego!
[ Click here to learn more. ]
Fight The Ego!
It wasn't until I started weight training to pack on some pounds that I found out the connection between my eating and my progress ...
Brad Borland

    It's important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere, and there's no shame in using lighter weights if you're working hard.


    A common complaint from new bodybuilders is that they just can't seem to put on mass. Often, this arises because they don't realize that eating big is necessary to get big. This can be difficult to get used to, and many newbies may underestimate how many calories they need - enough to compensate for the expenditure in the gym plus a surplus to grow.

Please note that this calculator is only to be used as a general guideline. Individual results may vary.
Body Weight: Pounds
Not Active

    The fact that most newbies are young and have naturally quick metabolisms doesn't help either, creating a lot of "hardgainers." However, this shouldn't be too much of a problem, because who doesn't like to go back for seconds?


Over Supplementation

    While some supplements can be a great help in adding muscle or retaining it on a cut, newbies should stick to the basics. They probably won't have enough experience or knowledge to weed out what's truly effective from what just claims it is. Also, supplements can be expensive, and if the newbie decides not to stick with weight lifting, it could be a poor investment.

If You Decide Not To Stick With Weight Lifting, Supplements Could Be A Poor Investment.
+ Click To Enlarge.
If You Decide Not To Stick With Weight Lifting,
Supplements Could Be A Poor Investment.

    Besides, those just starting out can always count on "noob gains" at first. Don't get me wrong - supplements are valuable, but a newbie should exercise for a while on his own to figure out what's lacking and can be covered by extras. That said, I would recommend using whey protein and supplementing with a multivitamin.

100% Whey Protein Optimum Presents:
100% Whey Protein

Optimum 100% Whey Protein won the Supplement Of The Year and Protein Powder Of The Year award for 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008! Since the very beginning, Optimum Nutrition has raised the standard by which all other whey protein supplements are judged. Now we're raising the bar again with the 3rd generation of ON 100% Whey Protein: ON 100% Whey Gold Standard.
[ Click here to learn more. ]
Animal Pak Universal Presents:
Animal Pak

The #1 selling training pak in the world for 23 consecutive years. Since 1984, more competitive bodybuilders have cut their teeth on the Animal Pak than any other bodybuilding supplement in history. Why? Simple. Animal Pak gets the job done. It works. First time. Last time. Every time.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Believing Everything Joe Bro Says

    When one is unfamiliar with how things work, he may look to someone more experienced for advice. A beginning lifter will find many muscular, potential role models at the gym, and it can be tempting to follow everything they say to the letter. This isn't a good thing though - these experienced lifters have found out what works for them personally, and everyone's body is different. Newbies should see how their bodies react to things rather than trusting the advice of others.

    A lot of misinformation and "broscience" tends to be spread around the gym, and there is a high potential for harm to enjoyment and health. Avoid self-appointed 'experts' and question the illogical.

Green Tea As Good As Its Hyped Up To Be?
[ Click To Join The Thread. ]
Is This Total Broscience? You must switch different foods every 4-6 weeks in your diet in order to maximize gains. Is this a myth?
Started By:

What Additional Tips Would Aid A New Gym Enthusiast To Long-Term Success?

Educate Yourself

    There's nothing wrong with not knowing much when you first begin, but there's no reason to remain ignorant, whether the matter is on lifting, nutrition or anything else. Asking other people at the gym can be helpful, and consult a trainer if there is one available.

    Most people love to share their knowledge, and no one will criticize you for trying to better yourself. If you're too shy, don't worry - there are thousands of articles on Bodybuilding.com to answer all of your questions. And if you still can't find what you're looking for, check out the Forum for additional advice or just to chat and make some new friends.

Find A Partner

    It can be intimidating to walk into a strange, new gym by yourself, so why not go with a friend? This will make you more relaxed and comfortable, and will also give you someone who can critique your form and share ideas.

Why Not Go With A Friend?
+ Click To Enlarge.
Why Not Go With A Friend?

    Partners are also excellent at keeping you motivated and challenging you to pump out a few extra reps. Partners can help you get through tough days and share in your moments of glory, and you'll never have to worry about finding a spotter on short notice.

Get Adequate Rest

    Beginners may feel that muscles are made in the gym, so the more time spent there, the better. Unfortunately, that's not how it works, or I'd be at the gym right now instead of writing this!

    Your muscles need time for growth and repair, especially when first starting, because your body isn't used to the trauma. Try to get 8 hours of sleep every night and give your body some relaxation time.


Your 12-Week Daily Video Trainer - Week 10: Rest And Sleep.

At first you might think three days of training isn't enough and that you should train more for even better results. This isn't the case. Training works to break down your muscle tissue. Rest and sleep is how your body builds that muscle back even stronger than before. That's why it's important to have at least day of rest between all training days.

Click The Play Button To Start The Video.
Or Download Here:
WMV (31 MB) - iPod Video (40 MB)
[ Your 12-Week Daily Video Trainer ]

Eat Up!

    It can't be said enough - eating big is the key to getting big. But even if you don't want to pack on mountains of mass, you're going to need extra food just to fuel your workouts. The more food you eat, the more intensity you'll be able to bring to the gym, and the more success you're likely to see.

    You'll need a surplus of calories to develop muscle, so don't worry about eating 'clean' all the time, just use common sense. If you're confused about how much to eat, look for an online calculator, such as Berardi's Massive Eating plan.

Be Patient

    Enthusiasm can easily turn into frustration if results don't come as quickly as you want. Remember - bodybuilding is a process, and it takes time to reshape your physique. Setting goals can keep things in proper perspective, and logging workouts is a good way to judge progress if you can't tell by the mirror.

Bodybuilding, Patience And Time Bring Success.
[ Click To Join The Thread. ]
Bodybuilding, Patience And Time Bring Success.
Everyone wants a quick fix. They want it fast. They want it NOW!
Started By:

    Don't try to rush through things and pound out a lot of sets in order to spur growth, let it happen naturally. And it's not fair to compare yourself to others who have had more experience; everyone started somewhere.

Be Well-Rounded

    With ridiculous media portrayals all around, it can be tempting to concentrate on hot spots such as biceps and abs and forget everything else. However, you will see the biggest gains if you train all parts of your body; big lifts like deadlifts and squats can shock your core just as effectively as crunches.

    If you neglect some areas now, you'll find yourself with some asymmetry or lagging parts later, and that can be difficult to correct.

What Is The Best Workout Scheme To Focus On A Lagging Body Part?
Sometimes we notice that one of our muscle groups are lagging ... Here's what you can do to build up lagging parts and overall physique.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    And most importantly ... Have Fun!

What Helped You Get Over Your Initial Fear Of The Gym And Lifting Weights?

My first real gym experience was tough - it was my freshman year at college, and I knew absolutely no one. I had only lifted a few times with buddies on my hockey team in high school, so I was completely out of my element. Everyone at the gym seemed massive to me and also appeared to know one another.

I was afraid I'd look like a fool because of my inexperience. However, I kept training and my hard work spoke louder than my inexperience, and the other lifters seemed to appreciate it. Because we were all lifting around our class schedules, I tended to see the same people a lot of the time and got up the courage to start some conversations and ask for help. Thankfully, everyone was friendly and I came to be a lot more comfortable at the gym, which made lifting much more enjoyable.

I also did a lot of reading on my own so I could educate myself and have something to share with others. This helped me form a bond with others and allowed me to be at ease, which is conducive to success. Now I just enjoy myself as much as possible and look for others to help progress.

2nd Place - big game hunter
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Best Routine For A Newbie

Oh Yeah. The first day at the gym. It is something everyone who has experienced will remember for the rest of his/her life. It is just one of those things in life that involves so much of a mental factor, that it creates a lasting impression - one that will surely last a lifetime.

But you are ready to enter a gym and give exercising a try. That itself puts you ahead of the millions of lazy people around the world, who would never do such a thing. But that is just step one. Now let us ensure that your time in the gym is not wasted.

You're Ahead Of Millions Of Lazy People Who Would Never Enter A Gym.
+ Click To Enlarge.
You're Ahead Of Millions Of Lazy
People Who Would Never Enter A Gym.

This brings us to the workout. Let me now come to the workout that I would suggest for a newbie.

First, start off with a very light warm-up. This should take about 10 minutes and I would recommend the following -

This light warm-up is done in order to get your body ready for the heavier sessions that lie ahead. It is important to note that you do not go to failure on any of the warm-up sets. This would leave you exhausted for the main workout.

After a couple of minutes rest, I would suggest a stretching routine for about 3-to-5 minutes.

Importance & Dangers Of Stretching!
[ Click here to learn more. ]
Importance & Dangers Of Stretching!
It is generally accepted that stretching is important. However, there seems to be a lot of conflicting advice about how and when to stretch.
Josh Hewett

This procedure ensures that your muscles are not cold when you stretch them. They are already warmed up a little. This helps prevent injury.

I recommend the above two warm-up and stretching routines on all workout days.

Now, let us come to the main workout routines that a newbie needs to follow.

Precede every workout with one warm-up set with moderate weights. Do one warm-up set with about 15 reps.

Day 1 - Chest

Day 2 - Back

Day 3 - Cardio, Abs and Forearms

Day 4 - Shoulders and Traps

Day 5 - Arms

Day 6 - Legs

Day 7 - Rest

What Should A Beginner Avoid When Just Starting A Training Program?

There are several things that a newbie needs to avoid. I can only hope to cover a few of them here in this section. But please take note.

  1. Improper clothing and that includes shoes too. Proper attire helps prevent injury and allows proper movement of body parts for exercise.

Buying The Best Shoes: A Review Of Terms And Types!
[ Click here to learn more. ]
Buying The Best Shoes: A Review Of Terms And Types!
Getting some basic knowledge about shoes is the best way to avoid being sidelined in the future.
Dr. David Ryan

  1. Avoid the company of people who take banned substances like drugs, steroids, etc.
  2. Avoid the gym wise guy who thinks he knows more than he actually does. And the worst part is, these people think that they have all the experience and right to go about telling people what to do and what not to. Avoid advice from people who do not have proper training knowledge.
  3. Avoid socializing. The gym is not meant for that.

The Gym Is Not Meant For Socialization.
+ Click To Enlarge.
The Gym Is Not Meant For Socialization.

  1. Avoid assuming things. Please clarify before getting into anything. There is no harm in that. Moreover, the coach is there to help you at such times and that is what he is paid for.
  2. Get rid of the ego. Remember, never to try and impress people at the gym by going overboard or by trying something new that you are not certain of.
  3. Avoid junk food. Bodybuilding and fitness is a lifestyle. Unlike other sports, the training does not end when the workout or session is done. Training for bodybuilding or fitness goes a whole long way more than just the gym. Diet forms a major part of the training program. Get your diet right and follow it morning to night. Otherwise, no amount of exercise is going to help you. Newbies seldom understand the importance of diet.
  4. Avoid dropping your guard. Injuries do happen at gyms. Stay safe and keep others around you safe.
  5. Stick to your program. Do not try something just because there is a bigger and better looking guy doing it. Carefully analyze what works and what does not.
  6. Avoid stagnation. Lots of people do not update their knowledge. You have several tools such as books, magazines and the Internet from where you can learn about the human body, training, exercises, diets, treating injuries, etc. Please invest quality time into this type of knowledge development. Especially as a newbie.
  7. There are several people who spread rumors and believe in myths. Do not listen to them and avoid spreading them yourself.
  8. Do not spend too much time on warm-ups. You may have nothing left to give after that.

How Important Is Warming Up?
Much of the time you will see people stretching out their legs before a run, or stretching out any body part before they train it. It's also popular for people to begin warm-up sets before they really get into the workout.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

  1. Avoid having misconceptions about supplements. Newbies believe that supplements play a bigger part than they actually do. A supplement is just that - a supplement. All it does is help you complete the diet and nutrition part of things.

    Supplements are just a way of avoiding deficiencies. Please do not think that supplements are more important than a proper well balanced diet. Like mentioned earlier, invest quality time learning about diet and how supplements can fit in.

  2. Give your body time to grow. Do not be in a rush to see results. Bodybuilding, muscle building and fitness are not easy. If they were, everyone would be ripped, muscular and fit. It is tough. That is why there are so few who actually achieve success.
  3. Avoid exercising beyond the 45-minute mark. It is easy to overshoot this limit as an enthusiastic newbie. There are several people who believe that the longer they stay at the gym, the more results they will see. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    Exercise for 45 minutes, then get out of the gym, eat well and rest your body. Relax and enjoy yourself. Results are not going to show immediately. The smart and well-educated newbie knows this.

What Additional Tips Would Aid A New Gym Enthusiast To Long-Term Success?

  1. You are not going to be a newbie forever. There will come a stage when you need to kick things up a notch. Make sure you have all the knowledge and prepare yourself well in advance for such a stage. These stages come about every now and then. If you do not make them count, you will be a newbie in terms of knowledge and training all your life (and trust me - I have met dozens upon dozens of such people who are newbies even after more than a decade of training).

Take Your Training To The Next Level This Summer!
[ Click here to learn more. ]
Take Your Training To The Next Level This Summer!
With the winter months behind us, now is a great time to take advantage of the warmer weather by taking your cardio sessions outside.
Ginger Redecker

  1. Do not experiment too much with supplements. Stick to the ones that work.
  2. Invest a few dollars and hours to learn things correctly as early as possible. This initial investment is priceless. The newbie stage is critical in many ways. It lays the foundation to your future in training. If you are on the right path, and are seeing results steadily, you are more likely to continue with it in the long run. On the other hand if a newbie does the wrong stuff and eventually sees no results, he is more likely to quit.
  3. Find a training partner with goals similar to yours. This is a big psychological advantage for a newbie. However, remember not to form a group. I do not like to see people with more than one partner. Three or more partners leads to wastage of time at the gym since the waiting time between sets is too large.

BodySpace: Strength In Numbers!
BodySpace is your key to bodybuilding, transformation or fitness success. Create your profile, start a BodyBlog, meet others with similar goals, and share information.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

  1. It is really tough on the body and mind in today's world to train and stick with it for long period. If you feel that your routine is getting too demanding on your mind or body because of some other commitments in life, it is ok to take a break every few months for like a few days or even a week. This will rejuvenate your body and mind and you will be ready to take on the challenges of training once again.
  2. Do not cheat on your training or your diet. Cheating once in a fortnight is okay according to me. But this may vary depending on your goals. But then again a cheat day will provide pleasure to the mind and will keep you motivated for training.
  3. Do not miss out on getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day.
  4. Last, fix goals for yourself and give yourself enough time to achieve them. Maintain a log or a diary. Note down the exercises you perform and the poundages used, note diet, note important tips, motivational lines, pictures, etc., and frequently update and follow this log to monitor yourself.

12 Week Workout Log Bodybuilding.com Presents:
12 Week Workout Log

This 12-Week Workout Log will be your best friend; it will help keep you consistent and know where you are in the gym at all times. This workout log will allow you to fill in the days you did cardio, what exercises you did, the weight you used and how many reps you were able to complete and by how many sets you finished with. Don't leave home without it!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

What Helped Me Get Over My Initial Fear Of The Gym And Lifting Weights?

I have never lacked the desire to get fit and stay fit. I have been a fitness freak and athlete basically all my life. I always wanted to be at my best at whatever sport I took up as a kid and the same is true even today. This was a big advantage when I went to the gym the first time.

Obviously the decision to join a gym did not happen overnight. Every person ponders joining a gym over a period of time before making the decision. In that period of pondering, I did my research on weight training - the benefits, challenges and the demands of it. I finally decided that it was something I needed to try.

The day I joined, I must admit that I was nervous and did not know what to do in there. And at the time, I was in a new state where people spoke a totally different language which I did not know a word of. But my mental focus and my desire to get over the challenge pushed me on (Bodybuilding and fitness really does improve you physically and mentally).

9 Amazing Tips To Overcome Your Fear Of The Gym!
[ Click here to learn more. ]
9 Amazing Tips To Overcome Your Fear Of The Gym!
Intimidated by the gym because of all the strange equipment, rules and huge mean-looking guys? Don't be!
Tom Noonan

In my case my mental toughness came from my experience as an athlete. Once in there, I took my first week just to learn the names of the exercises and equipment (Luckily the names people use all over the world are pretty much in English). At this point I knew no more than a dozen words of the new language people spoke.

The following 2-to-3 weeks, I learned from a well experienced coach by use of sign language and the dozen words I already learned, how to perform every exercise and what routine I need to follow. It was tough, but I knew I was tougher. And the coach was always ready to help and pass down his knowledge and experience. That was it.

After my first month, I was ready to tackle the challenges a whole lot better. All along, I read a lot of stuff on the Internet and amassed a plethora of information. It was like I was studying for a big test that my life depended on. I still read a lot even today (7 years after my first day at the gym).