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The Ultimate 30-Day Beginner's Guide To Fitness Day 16

The gym is like a playground for adults. How do you know what to choose? Today's workout will teach you the differences between major movements and how they'll help change your body!

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You're now more than two weeks into the 30-Day Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Fitness. You've moved stacks of weight on machines, done cardio, and learned about nutrition and supplementation. We believe you're ready to start lifting what are known as "free weights," like dumbbells and barbells. This is really where the fun begins! Kathleen will tell you more.

Ultimate 30 Day Beginners Guide To Fitness: Day 16
Watch The Video - 02:47

Day 16 challenge

  • Perform a free-weight workout of compound and isolation movements.

Compound Is King

Today's workout is built around a type of superset called a "compound set," where you work the same muscle group in both movements. For instance, you'll do a dumbbell fly followed by a bench press (or a dumbbell press if that's all you have access to), both of which are chest-dominant movements. However, whereas the dumbbell fly is what is known as an "isolation movement," because it focuses almost entirely on the chest, the bench press is far more than just a chest exercise. It works your shoulders, triceps, and middle back as well, which is why it's called a "compound movement."

Once they make sure you are confident with free weights, trainers usually recommend building your program primarily around compound movements. The reason is simple: Because you move the most weight in these programs, you utilize the most muscle fiber, burn the most calories, and get the biggest bang for your buck. In this model, you would then use isolation movements like biceps curls, triceps extensions, and calf raises to address specific areas you want to work on.

Compound Vs Isolation Movements

It's reasonable to wonder if working with compound movements will make you "bulky," but the answer is no. As author Nick Tumminello pointed out in his article "Strong vs. Toned: The Truth about Gender Specific Workouts," no movement is inherently more "mass producing" than another. Your overall approach to exercise programming and nutrition has plenty more to do with how much muscle you build than simple exercise selection.

And besides, everyone can benefit from a little more muscle, even if they call it another name. "When you talk about 'toning,' 'enhancing,' or 'shaping' certain areas of your body, what you're really talking about is muscle," Tumminello writes. "Muscle creates the shape of your body, and therefore more muscle equals more muscle tone. You can't build a perkier, rounder, or sexier anything without building muscle."

Slow and Steady

Today, don't try to be a hero when it comes to weight! Pick something that feels substantial, but not so heavy that you struggle to finish just a few reps. You're exploring movements and learning the differences between them. For that reason, also make sure to watch the exercise videos in the program below.

Compound Workout
General warm-up

Elliptical Trainer

5 min (Alternate Options: Bike or Treadmill)
Elliptical Trainer Elliptical Trainer


Dumbbell Flyes

2 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Flyes Dumbbell Flyes

Dumbbell Bench Press

2 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press Dumbbell Bench Press


Side Lateral Raise

2 sets of 10 reps
Side Lateral Raise Side Lateral Raise

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

2 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Bent-Arm Dumbbell Pullover Bent-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

2 sets of 10 reps
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown


Leg Extensions

2 sets of 10 reps
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

Leg Press

2 sets of 10 reps
Leg Press Leg Press


Seated Leg Curl

2 sets of 10 reps
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

Romanian Deadlift

2 sets of 10 reps
Romanian Deadlift Romanian Deadlift


Walking, Treadmill

5 min (speed)
Walking, Treadmill Walking, Treadmill

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