Let’s hit those weights the right way
This structured exercise plan is the best exercise program for beginners. On the the first month your focus should be on technique rather than how much weight you can lift. We want to avoid injuries at all cost. Leave your EGO at the door quality over quantity is always the best way to approach it.
Always remember everyone is a beginner at one point, and have to go on a learning curve to master a certain skill. Weight lifting is no different if you learn the right way to execute every exercise your gains will come faster than what you anticipate.
I’m going to break this down day to day for a week . I do hope you find value on this article also check my article on home exercises with no equipment required.
- Sets + reps.
- Body part you will exercise on the specific day.
- Rest times between reps to make it a full hour at the gym.
- Time doing Cardio mixing stationary bike and treadmill.
- Adding rest days in between.
I like to start with legs since i don’t want them to be sore the day i play soccer. It depends on how i feel i can skip Monday and do legs Tuesday but no later than that during the week. Feel free to move the days for the specific body part, you don’t have to follow exactly as i show it below.
This is just a guideline also my disclaimer, check with your doctor that you are able to perform intense physical activities. Let’s start slowly but surely. If you need a refresher read my article on the tips for beginners. When, you pick the amount of weight to perform on every exercise make sure it will allow you to complete 10 to 12 sets. If you can get past this amount maybe is to light and need to add 5 to 10 lb depending on your own strength.
Your rest time between sets should be no more than 35 seconds. If you have a watch or like many uses their phones to listen to music, keep a timer for your rest periods. To me time is money and i don’t like to waste any money on something i don’t need. Your workouts will be more flawless with a short rest periods and keep you focus.
The exercise program for beginners
Day 1 is Leg day =You will perform 3 exercises your split will be 10 or 12 repetitions on 3 sets.
1- Squat will be your first exercise and is a staple for strong legs and also your back. I will prefer that you start on a smith machine because this will help you with form and is a control motion up and down without having to worry about keeping your balance.
As you can see in both images place your hands on the bar unlock the weights and keep your legs separate shoulder width.
Arch your back and once you are at the bottom push with your legs feel those fibers engage on the movement. Hold for a second at the bottom part of the movement and explode on the way up.
2- The Deadlift will work your hamstrings, on this movement also arch your back and lift up at the top of the movement hold for a second and drop the weight, i see a lot of people bounce the weight at the bottom, for me i want to hold it an inch for a second from the floor to keep the stress on my hamstring and pull back up. Use a normal grip like you see on the picture.
3- Leg press machine will be the one that follow and your finish exercise for leg day. At the top of the exercise make sure you get a nice stretch on your legs and hold it for second. When, you bring the weight down hold it for 2 seconds and explode to the top movement.
Day 2 will be shoulder day and shrugs
1. Dumbbell shoulder press is one of my favorites exercises because you can engage your front delts. But one thing i will advise you to do is warm up at least one set with 10lb and do a set of 15. This muscle is very easy to injure if you don’t use the right form so make sure you stretch them. When, you are at the lower part of the exercise your thumbs should not go below your ears.
2. Lateral shoulder raise is the one exercise to follow. Standing up you will put the dumbbells on you sides palms facing you. Raise the weights until your palms are facing the floor hold that position for a second and lower the dumbbells to the starting position.
3- Bent over dumbbell rear shoulder raise is going to be the last exercise for the shoulder you can do this seated or standing mix it, you will bend down and be parallel to the floor keep your back straight. As you lift the weights you can have a slight bend on your elbows and once your arms are parallel to the floor hold the top movement for a second and lower the weights slowly to the starting position. The key is to keep the move at the top for one second, avoid the swing motion stay straight move.
4. Shrugs either barbell or dumbbells .When, you read many articles will tell you that this move can be done on shoulder day or back day. I prefer to this on shoulder day. The key to the move is to squeeze at the top of the move and hold for a second and always look straight, we want to avoid neck injuries. If you decide to use a barbell use a normal grip and keep your back straight and when you lift make sure is your traps that are doing all the work and not your shoulders. Your arms should be straight at all times.
Day 3 we will take a break give our legs and shoulders the proper rest. Are we doing abs and cardio ? yes we are doing that every day we exercise but that will be explain at the end of the article so you can have a nice menu to get started.
Day 4 is Chest and we will perform this exercises on a smith machine you have to learn the right way to do this, no arching your back when you lift, don’t bounce the bar on your pecs either, and keep your elbows closes to your body. I see it all the time when all this is done the wrong way, your pecs are not engaged in the move and you won’t see the gains. When, you are going to move the bar up doing in a way where the bar start at your chest but arch it so at the top of the move the bar is facing your eyes.1- First move is the straight bench press at the top of the move squeeze your pecs. As you are engaging your arms and shoulders the main push should come from your pecs.
2- Incline bench press is the second one. The benches on the smith machine most times are adjustable. You can move from straight bench press to incline so you don’t have to move. Just adjust the bench to an incline position and if you see most have numbers when you move the clip. Put the clip on number 4 so you can work you upper chest muscle. Bring it closes to your chest at the top of the move squeeze your pecs.
Now, while keeping your upper arms stationary, exhale and use your triceps to lift the weights until the arm is fully extended. Focus on moving the forearm
3- Decline Bench press will be your next move. Most gyms have a specific bench you can use on a smith machine and place it under the bar. Make sure is set to the last clip at the top. When the bar is at the lowest point it should come at the bottom part of your pecs, and when you are at the top portion squeeze at the top and hold for a second. Some might ask why this are all moves for chest ? I want you to learn this 3 moves first. On future articles we will take a look at variations of these moves, cables or dumbbells will come into play to mix and match. Remember we want to keep the workouts under an hour.
Day 5 will be biceps and triceps, when you are doing biceps you basically will be doing curls at the beginning is the basic move unlike triceps there are different ways to hit them and equipment to use. For the biceps when you are at the contraction top of the movement meaning you have the weights at the top you will hold for a second and release.
- Use dumbbells for your first exercise and standing up and do alternate biceps curls, first your right arm finish the move bring it back to the lower position and then your left until you complete the set.
- Use an EZ bar preacher curl and do this exercise on the bench.
- Use the cable set a bar at the lowest position and use one of the attachments and stand 3 steps behind and curl for reps.
Close grip bench press will be the first exercise for triceps, you already started with a bench press but if you do a close grip on the middle of the bar you will engage your triceps more than your chest. At the bottom part of the move you will hold for a second then push and get a full stretch at the high point of the move.
- Triceps push down with rope attachment on a cable machine, you will stand on front of the cable machine and you will stand straight and push down on the ropes until you have a full stretch at the bottom of the move, then bring them back up slowly.
- Your last move will be the dumbbell triceps kickback , Now, while keeping your upper arms stationary, use your triceps to lift the weights until the arm is fully extended. Focus on moving the forearm.
Day 6 and last of the week will be focus on back and there are 3 machines that we will use on this day
- Lat pull down machine : You will grab the bar with an open grip and you will keep your back straight, bring the bar down at chest level and hold that position for 1 second then take the bar up and get a full stretch on you lats hold that position for 1 second and repeat.
- Seated cable row with V attachment : Sit at the machine and grab the attachment keep your back straight and pull bringing your hands to your belly and hold that position for one second, then lower the weights slowly and hold that position for one second and repeat.
- One arm dumbbell row : this has the same set up as a kickback for triceps the difference is that you will pull the dumbbell from the floor up to your chest high area keeping your back straight throughout the move. Hold at the top of the move and lower the weight slowly. Do one arm at time. At the top of the move your arm should make an L.
Day 7 is rest day.
Abs and Cardio.
We have our menu of exercises for the week so now we have abs and cardio to add to this menu. I would like to do 2 exercises on abs once you are finish with the weight lift part of it once you are done we should be at least 25 minutes into our workout, remember we want to keep this about an hour or closes to it.
Our abs will consist of 2 simple exercises .
- Crunch or push up is the exercise you learn at school and is how we are start this program. Use a floor mat and lay with your legs doing an inverted v your feet should be flat to the floor, with your hands behind your back push up and hold the top of the move for one second, lay back and wait for a second and repeat .
- The leg raise will help work the lower part of your abs and you will be in the same position as a crunch but instead you will stay flat on your back, with your palms on your side at the floor you will raise your legs until you form an L. Hold that position for one second and bring them down but not all the way hold your legs an inch off the floor and move your legs back up repeat .
Well now we are ready for cardio and you can do 10 minutes. The first 3 days of doing cardio start with a walk to get your heart rate going or you can go for the stationary bike. The second week start running no time set go as long as you can and built your time from week to week.
Don’t burn yourself at the start do cardio every other day that you do weights. Once, you built your stamina you can move cardio to every day that you do weights. If you decide to repeat this for another month you can use the rest days just for cardio and skip a day during weight training.
Around this time you should be at least an hour into your day work out, i can’t stress enough that you use weights that will allow you to do 10 to 12 repetitions. This menu is a simple way to get started and once you get more use to it we can get more in depth but if you want to check more workouts that you can add to this menu, you can ask at the gym when you see someone doing something that to you is not familiar. But you can check a guide with more exercises and implement on your workouts menu.
This exercise is something that you can do on leg day, personally i have issues with my Achilles from playing soccer so many years and this helps me keep my calf stretch and i do it every day but you can do it every other day specially when you are doing cardio. This can be great and you need strong calf for strong legs. Some gyms have standing or seated use the one you have available to you.
I hope this article helps you to get started with the basic moves and eventually add more to your repertoire, one thing to remember is that the muscles adjust to do the same moves over time and we have to find ways to keep our muscles guessing so we can achieve our goals.
Another guide you can use is using Muscle and fitness for other ideas.