Beginners Guide on Workout and Fitness

You have joined a gym and looking for a beginner workout routine.

Same as you I am looking for a beginner workout. I have trained in the past and did not train for 3 yrs.

Then I was looking for a beginner program and thought of creating one. I had created one and decided to share it here, so that it would be helpful to someone like you.

Here I have added the beginner workout routine along with basic information regarding workout and fitness.

Free Download: Download this four week beginner workout routine in pdf format.

Warm-up

Let’s start your workout session with warm up. Warm-up is important in training as it can prevent you from getting injuries.

This study shows that preconditioning the muscles before exercise can prevent muscle injury and can increase muscle elasticity

Another study suggests that warm-up and stretching had to done before exercise, when done with proper techniques can prevent injuries. The study also suggests doing warm-up and stretching immediately before workout (15 min) can bring most benefits.

We will discuss stretching later in this article.

Be careful with warm-up and stretching as improper stretching and warm up can lead to muscle injury

warm-up

Warm-up protocol: how to warm-up properly

Now you know that warm up helps to prevent injuries and improves muscle flexibility. It also helps to enhance your workout performance.

Your warm up protocol must include generalized warm up and specified warm up session to pump more blood to targeted muscle group.

Generalized warm-up will increase your core body temperature. It will lubricate warm up your joints and increase range of motion. Your heart rate will increase which will pump more blood to muscles preparing you for a great workout.

Specified warm-ups are simply the workouts done with lighter weights. This helps to pump more blood to the targeted muscle group.

It’s time to do some warm-ups. (Warm up exercises before workout at gym)

  • Neck, Hip and knee rotation - 10 each
  • Jumping jacks - 30
  • Arm swings - 10
  • Arm rotation - 10
  • Side leg kicks 10
  • knee to chest touch 10
  • Body weight squats - 20
  • Push up - 20
  • Alternating Lunges - 10

What is included in beginner Workouts?

You have completed your warm-up session and now ready for your workouts.

As told by aworkoutroutine a beginner workout

  • Will consist of basic compound exercise.
  • It will be low in volume (sets and reps).
  • Will not contain exercise variety.
  • The main focus will be consistent progression.

Here we have tried to include multi joint exercises which focus on 2 -3 muscle groups. We have prepared a 4 week workout plan which will improve your strength, and muscle co ordination.

First week

What you do:

First week you will have full body workouts. In your workout day each muscle group is trained in this routine. In first week of beginner training you will train alternate days. This will ensure 48 hrs rests for your muscle groups.

Rest is essential as you are a beginner and it needs some time for your body to adapt to workouts.

Your do three sets of each exercise and the repetition will be 6-10. Your first week has 3 working and 4 rest days. These 3 days will have 3 diff exercises and in your first week you will be doing 9 sets for each body part.

Different people have different goals for starting workouts, may be strength gain, bigger chest or six pack abs. whatever your goal is your main focus on first week have to be learning proper form and technique.

You have to properly execute each exercise; you have to learn arm movement, breathing, body posture etc.

You will be doing new exercises on each workout day, and which can be challenging.

My take here is to read the step by step instruction and watch the exercise video. You may have some coordination problem in the beginning, until the whole thing gets in your muscle memory through practice, practice, practice.

​Second & Third week

In second week and third week there is upper body lower body split workout. The workout program will be similar to this workout

Upper / Lower body split :


Day 1: Upper body

Day 2: Lower body

Day 3: Off

Day 4: Upper body

Day 5: Lower body

Day 6: Off

Day 7: Off

Your upper body workout includes chest, shoulders, arms, abs, and back muscles.

Lower body workout will include your Quads, calves and hamstrings exercise.

This four day training split will allow your body to get enough rest as you weekends will be off. Similar to week one you will do three sets per exercise.

Third week you will see an improvement in your strength. Always focus on your form and workout technique.

Fourth week

In fourth week you will have four day split. This week we will shift our focus towards muscle groups. Each day you will target individual muscle groups. You have moved from full body split workout to upper body lower body split. Your workout will have two or three muscle groups combined.

In this way you can focus on that muscle groups. As you were progressing, muscles need more time for recovery. This training will aid more rest time. That is good recovery.

The 4 Day Split:


Day 1: Chest, Biceps

Day 2: Back, Triceps

Day 3: Off

Day 4: Thighs, Calves

Day 5: Shoulders, Abs

Day 6: Off

Day 7: Off

Your weight training will finish within 45 minutes. You must warm down after weight training.

Warm down

“The post-workout phase is a critical part of any exercise routine,” agrees Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise.

This warm down or cool down means slowing down your workout intensity or activity.

Warm down helps:

  • To bring your heart rate and breathing rate to normal.
  • To avoid fainting which can happen due to pooling of blood in major muscle groups after training.
  • To remove lactic acid and other metabolites which as a byproduct due to workouts.

You have to give 10 mins for warm down. At the end of your workout, slow down the pace of exercise so that the intensity will get reduced. Continue for 5 to 10 minutes and this will ensure a proper cool down.

Warm down exercise

Warm up exercise when done with less intensity can warm down your body.

Stretching

stretching-yoga

Stretching is best when done after your workout, when your muscles are warm. Include stretching exercise after your warm down exercise.

Stretching will help to relax your muscles and it improves flexibility.

Study shows that 30 s stretching your hamstring muscles can improve its flexibility.

Stretching Exercise

Chest stretching :
Shoulder stretching:
Abs stretching:
Triceps stretching: 
Biceps stretching: 
Thighs stretching: 
Calves stretching: 
Back stretching: 

That’s about stretching; now let’s write down the workouts details on your training log.

Training log

training-log

You have to keep a log to track your workout progress. These logs will help you to learn and understand new workouts will help to remember the weights or sets you have done previous week. It helps to analyze your workouts. This comes handy when you have a personal trainer. He can easily analyze your weak spots and can suggest any change in workouts.

You can track your workouts, nutrition, supplementation, body stats, and progress photos.

Workout log

We have prepared a workout log for you and you can download it from here. The log is prepared to track 4 week workouts, you can download and print. Write down the weights and reps you used and time for warm-ups.

Nutrition log

Nutrition is more important than training. If you ask any personal trainer he will agree with this. Your diet makes more than 50% of your progress. So you have to track your diet, to be able to properly track your progress. If you have your diet tracked, you can easily analyze that factors that are holding you back.

Your nutrition log must contain your meal timings, amount of food ate and can also include protein carb and fat percentage share in each meals. But this step is more complicated, use only if you are that much serious.

Body stats log

Get a measuring tape and measure your body parts. When you start your training the body will undergo changes. We have to know whether you are progressing towards your goal. Whether it is fat loss or muscle gain.

Your appearance is referred to as one of the key ways to identify fitness. So we can track the fitness by analyzing body stats.

Let’s take measurements. Measure the circumference and write it down in your log.

Try to remember the spots where you take measurements.

Take Measurements

Neck

Chest (wrap the take around just above nipples)

Shoulders

Thighs

Waist

Hips

Arms

Calves

Body fat percentage:

You can measure your body fat percentage using this body fat caliper. If you don’t have one then you can key in the above body measurement in this website

The body fat percentage will not be accurate, but you can use it to track your fat loss journey.

Progress photos

The best motivating part is progress photos. You will take your pic every single week.

Stand in front of mirror in underwear and take one pic using your mobile. Then take a side pic using the same methods.

Name the picture something like “arun progress 29-sep-2015” or “arun progress 1st week”

Keep the environment same like the background, dress color and angle of taking pic.

Tip: mark a point on the floor stand on that point when you pose for your progress photo.

Supplement log

This comes handy if want to track your supplements. Print this log and mark the supplements as you take them.

This log will be beneficial if you cycle different supplements. Thus helping you to identify which supplement gives you most benefits.

For eg: Comparing this log with workout log can help you understand which pre workout drink gives you the most pump during workout.

Nutrition


Vince Gironda was famous for saying, Bodybuilding is 80% nutrition!

Yes nutrition is as more important than training. You can get the desired results, if your nutrition program sucks.

Proper nutrition is the key to success in any workout program.

Poor recovery between workouts may be due to imbalance in your nutrition. 

Especially for beginners, a good nutrition protocol can do wonders. The protein you take changes, number of meals increased. These changes will cause a positive nutrition balance and can bring rapid changes.

Whatever you goal is it is important to have a solid nutritional plan. Here you are going to look through the main elements of a nutrition plan.

Carb

nutrition

Carbohydrates simply known as carbs is the source of energy. Your body uses carbs for energy during physical activities.

These are stored as glycogen in liver, muscles and in blood.

There are simple carbs and complex carbs. Sugar is a simple carb and grains are complex carbohydrate.

Grains, fruits and vegetables are sources of carbohydrates.

Can you live without carbs?

Yes, you can live without carbs. 

Your carb intake can be 2 gram per pound of lean body mass (your body weight – body fat). (approx calculator)

You can take major portion of your carbs in post workout meal. A study at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine on exercise ground that strength training increases the insulin sensitivity of muscles. The carbs you take after workout will be driven to the muscles for replenishment.

Protein

egg-protein

Protein is made up of amino acids that are the building blocks of muscles. During workouts your muscles will get damaged and protein is required to rebuild and recover.

Beef, chicken, Turkey, egg and milk are good sources of protein. They contain 15% to 25% protein and also rich in vitamins, minerals and fat.

Protein is digested slowly, which helps to feel full longer.

Your body requires .6 to 1.5 gram per pound of lean body weight. (Your body weight – body fat). (approx calculator)

Pro tip:

If you are dieting for weight loss increase your protein intake otherwise there is a risk of muscle loss.

The same thing applies here also:

If you feel less energetic and not recovering from exercise increase your protein intake.

Fats

olive-oil-fats

Fat is the macronutrient that is essential for our body and life. Fat has an important role in vitamin absorption.

This study suggests that in your diet 15% -20% calories must come from fats.

Reduction in fat intake resulted in reduction in testosterone production as shown in these studies. study , study

Your body requires .4 to .7gram of fat per pound of body weight.

Good sources of fat include coconut oil, olive oil, almonds and nuts etc. one table spoon of coconut oil provide 13 grams of fat. One cup of peanut (146 g) provides 72 gram of fat. 

Water

water-fountain

Water accounts for 60% of human body.

From WebMD “Just losing 2% of your body weight in fluid can decrease performance by up to 25%.”

It’s essential for various chemical reactions in your body. Dehydration can cause a slower recovery and reduced performance.

The signs of dehydration are

  • Increased thirst.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

If you have these symptoms immediately drink water.

Water depletion rate will be high during exercise in the form of sweat. That will further increase if you are in outdoors.

Take a bottle of water and drink when you exercise.

Vitamins and minerals

vitamin minerals

Let start the vital amine story, vitamins are vital for you that’s why the name. Vitamins are needed in small amounts. Some are anti oxidants (vitamin C and E), others are co-factors of enzymes (B complex vitamins, some have hormone like properties (vitamin D). there vitamins have different roles in your body.

Fat soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Water soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C

Vitamin deficiency can hinder your athletic performance. This study shows that the vitamin c depletion results in poor performance.

Antioxidant vitamins; vitamin C and E can be recommended for individuals who trained heavy exercise.

This study shows that athletes who have vitamin B deficiency have poor performance on heavy exercise. It also suggests that exercise increased the requirement for vitamin B6 and riboflavin.

Similar to vitamins; minerals are also essential for several biological process like muscle contraction, heart rhythm, bone health etc.

Macro minerals (calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus).

Trace minerals (zinc, copper, selenium, chromium, and iron).

This study shows that if you are lacking minerals, then your performance will get affected.

In such cases mineral supplementation can improve the performance.

Chromium, boron and vanadium can induce an anabolic effect by boosting the effects of testosterone.

Exercise can induce mineral deficiency in certain cases and have to be answered by a balanced diet or supplementation.

You will get these vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet. Vitamin and mineral deficiency occur due to poor diet habits. Both are essential for metabolic and physiologic processes of human body.

Try to get a good multi vitamin and mineral supplement if you suck on balanced diet.

Supplements

Yea here also if you are on a balanced diet, the need for supplementation will be limited.

You can build muscles with a solid workout and nutrition plan. But the supplementation protocol can supercharge your results.

There is lot of supplements out there in the market. So it is difficult to judge and buy a good one.

Those supplement companies are spending lot of money on advertisement to boost sales. Some claim about magic chemicals or xx formulations that can build muscle.

So it is easy to lose your hard earned money.

I am going to recommend you only two supplements that I think are best investing your money.

As Pre workouts

COFFEE

Creatine + coffee

By taking creatine and caffeine you can increase your strength and energy.

Creatine is a well known performance booster. It is naturally occurring chemical in your body from arginine and glycine.

Creatine helps to supply energy to muscles and cells. The performance benefit obtained from creatine ingestion is due to improved ATP re synthesis in type two fibers (ATP are like battery and their availability can speed our motors).

Creatine will help to add lean muscle mass.

Creatine supplementation can increase your lifting volume in resistance training.

Coffee contains Caffeine which can boost your energy during exercise. Combining coffee with creatine makes good pre workout.

A pre workout drink containing Caffeine increased the number of reps performed in an exercise.

Caffeine will increase your endurance performance. The six studies here show that caffeine is beneficial to resistance training.

Take 1 or 2 cup of coffee 1hour before your training (It takes 60 -90 minutes for the caffeine to reach its peak in blood stream).

Take 3-6 gm of creatine 15 min before workout that will ensure your muscles are loaded with creatine. On non workout days take creatine along with breakfast.

Post workouts

Whey + sugar + creatine

Add Whey protein, Glucose and Creatine to your shaker and drink, they form best post workout nutrition.

This combination can increase your muscle size as this study on pre and post workout nutrition suggests.

Whey isolate supplementation for 10 weeks add lean body mass and reduced fat mass.

Whey protein supplementation enhances the acquisition of strength in resistance training.

Prepare post workout shake by mixing 40 gram of whey protein, 50 -80 gram of simple carb (glucose / dextrose) and 3-5 gram of creatine.

Rest and Recovery

Your muscles require rest to grow and strengthen. Your body will heal and recover from the damage caused by weight training during this rest time.

Rest can be as simple as sound sleep, during sleep your growth hormone levels peak. This will speed up your muscle recovery and strength.

Lack of rest can lead your body to catabolic state. This will breakdown your muscles and reduces your strength.  This can also lead to reduced performance, elevated blood pressure, feeling fatigue and exhausted.

How much rest is optimal for muscle recovery?

This study suggests 48 hrs of rest is enough for recovery. Plan your workout on alternate days, One day on and other off.

Try to get eight hours of sleep and be consistent with time you get on bed and wake up.

This study shows that light intensity exercise on your non training days has positive benefit on your recovery process.

Massage and yoga can speed up your recovery process. Massage will boost the blood flow to your muscles and also helps to reduce stress.

The research cannot be applied in all conditions, because the ability to recover can differ from person to person. So it is best to watch for signs of overtraining; take rest, get a massage and correct your nutrition if you are over trained.

Injury prevention

Major share of muscle related injuries are due to improper exercise form and technique. Muscle elated injuries are more common in bodybuilding field as you will under physiological strain during training.

Injuries can hinder your workout gains, can end your career.

You can prevent injuries by:

  • Flexibility: This study shows that muscle tightness or reduced muscle flexibility will increase the risk of muscle injury.
  • Warm up and stretching is shown to reduce muscle injury. Warm up as we discussed earlier will increase body temperature and blood flow to muscles thus reducing sports related injury.
  • Too much weight can cause injury: if the weight is too heavy it can be out of control during exercise. This can cause muscle tear (chest muscle tear during heavy bench press) or joint injury (shoulder injury).
  • Lack of concentration can easily invite injury. You have to focus on what you are doing. This will help you to practice in proper form and technique.

Proper Form

From start we have been talking about proper form and techniques. By the time you know that it is important for effective workout and injury prevention.

Let’s correct some mistakes that are common on lifting floor. Do you read the form and technique section on the workout plan?

If don’t then go through and learn proper form. We have put together the proper form for doing all the workouts specified in the workout plan.

Progressive overload – using Reps - weight - sets and time

To get the desired results from weight training you must use progressive overload.

In progressive overload you have the option to either increase weight lifted, number of sets or reps performed.

For beginners the progressive overload will excite as they can increase weights or reps every week.

  • Week 1: You will lift the weight for required number of reps (50 lb X 8 reps)
  • Week 2: increase the weight by a small increment and do the same reps. (55lb X 8 reps)
  • Week 3: using same weight to do more reps. (55lb X 10 reps)
  • Week 4: if you had done more reps them add a small increment in weight and repeat the whole process. (60 lb X 8 reps)

Cardio workout

Cardio workouts are done to improve your cardio vascular health. Cardio vascular system refers to the heart and blood circulatory system.

Cardio workouts can be anything that can strengthen the circulatory system. Few cardio ideas that come in our mind will be running, walking, jogging and swimming. These exercise have the ability to increase our heart rate to about 50%.

Cardio has many benefits:

  • It will aid in fat loss, as more calorie will be spent during cardio than weight lifting.
  • It makes your heart and circulatory system more efficient. Thus you cardio vascular system can deliver more nutrients.

Compound workout

Compound workouts are multi joint exercise which hit several muscle groups. While doing bench press your chest muscle will do the majority of lift and the triceps will be recruited as secondary muscles.

Compound workout will enable you to lift more weights. As multi joints more muscles are recruited and this added strength can push more weights.

Compound workouts thus cause maximum muscle recruitment and nervous system activation.

Compound Workouts

Bench press: chest muscle as primary and triceps as secondary.

Squats: quads as primary muscles and glutes, lower back and hamstrings as secondary.

Dead lifts: lower back muscles and hamstrings as primary and other muscles of lower and upper body.

Shoulder press: shoulder muscles as primary and triceps as secondary.

Isolation workout

Isolation workouts are single joint workouts that targets single muscles while the involvement of other muscle groups are minimized.

Isolation workouts are effective in training any lagging muscle groups. As isolation workout helps to train that specific muscle alone.

Isolation Workouts

Biceps curl,

Triceps extension,

Dumbbell fly,

Pec - dec fly,

Seated leg extension, etc.

Grips

Grip changes can add a variety to your regular workout session. The same exercise when done with different grips will work different muscle groups. The biceps curl when done with different grips targets different muscles.

Pronated grip

The grip in which arms faces away (palms facing down) from you. Let’s look at the dumbbell curl using this grip.

Grab the dumbbell with palms facing down. Curl the dumbbells up and you can feel your forearms muscles doing the major lifting.

Dumbbell curl using Pronated grip works the brachioradialis.

Supinated grip

The grip in which the palms face towards you (palms facing up). The same bicep dumbbell curls using supinated grip.

Grab the dumbbell with palms facing up and curl. This will isolate your biceps muscles (biceps brachii)

Neutral grip

In this grip the palms faces each other. Let’s see which muscle acts when done with neutral grip

Grab the dumbbell with neutral grip and curl. This exercise is known as hammer curl and works your brachialis.

Dumbbell or barbell?

Dumbbells and barbell are two common free weight exercise equipments found in all gym across the world.

Dumbbells are good for beginners, dumbbell workouts help to improve muscle co ordination and stabilizing muscles.

Dumbbell workouts help to correct any strength imbalances. If you have strength imbalance and use a barbell, the stronger one will do extra work to compensate for weaker. This will worsen the strength imbalance. In case of dumbbells both limbs have to lift independent.

If you are lifting heavy weights, barbell will be a good option. Barbell also allows you to add small increments which mean a lot during your progressive overload.

Foam roller(self myofascial release)

As breaking muscle were saying "Foam rollers can be used to self massage to release the tightness of your muscle". This technique is similar to deep muscle massage but this one can be done by you.

Foam rolling can be used for

Calf muscles

Glutes muscle

Back muscles

Thigh muscles

By using foam roller you are applying pressure to that targeted muscle group, thus enabling recovery.

How to:

Place the foam roller on floor and place your targeted muscle group against foam roller. Add pressure on the muscle by using your bodyweight. Now roll the foam roller without any change in pressure.

You will feel the pain when you hit the affected part (tight muscle). You keep the foam roller on that spot for 20s and continue. During this time try to keep yourself relaxed.

Training Goals

  • Strength training goals can be achieved with 4-6 reps and taking 2-5 minutes rest in between rest.
  • Hypertrophy goals can be achieved with 8-12 reps and taking 1-2 minutes rest in between sets.
  • Endurance goals can be achieved with 12-15 reps and taking 30-45 seconds rest in between sets.

THE FOUR WEEK BEGINNER WORKOUT ROUTINE

WEEK 1

  • day 1
  • day 2
  • day 3
  • day 4
  • day 5
  • day 6
  • day 7

Week 1- Full Body Workout

EXERCISESetsReps
LAT PULL DOWN38, 8, 10
DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS38, 8, 10
SHOULDER MACHINE/ DUMBBELL PRESS38, 8, 10
TRICEPS CABLE PUSH DOWN38, 8, 10
BICEPS CABLE CURL38, 8, 10
CRUNCH310, 10, 10
LEG PRESS38, 8, 10
LYING LEG CURLS38, 8, 10
SEATED / STANDING CALF RAISE38, 8, 10

WEEK 2

  • day 1
  • day 2
  • day 3
  • day 4
  • day 5
  • day 6
  • day 7

Week 2 - Lower Body Split Workout

EXERCISESETSREPS
LEG PRESS38, 8, 10
LEG EXTENSION48, 8, 10, 10
LYING LEG CURLS48, 8, 10, 10
SEATED LEG CURLS38, 8, 10
SEATED CALF RAISE38, 8, 10
STANDING CALF RAISE38, 8, 10
CRUNCH48, 8, 10, 12

WEEK 3

  • day 1
  • day 2
  • day 3
  • day 4
  • day 5
  • day 6
  • day 7

Week 3- Upper Body Split Workout

EXERCISESETSREPS
DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS38, 8, 10
DUMBBELL FLY38, 8, 10
LAT PULL DOWN38, 8, 10
ONE ARM DUMBBELL ROW38, 8, 10
DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS38, 8, 10
DUMBBELL SIDE RAISE48, 8, 10, 10
TRICEPS CABLE PUSHDOWN38, 8, 10
TRICEPS DUMBBELL KICKBACK38, 8, 10
BICEPS CABLE CURL38, 8, 10
BICEPS DUMBBELL CURL38, 8, 10

WEEK 4

  • day 1
  • day 2
  • day 3
  • day 4
  • day 5
  • day 6
  • day 7

Week 4- Chest, Biceps, Forearms

EXERCISESETSREPS
BARBELL PRESS ON FLAT BENCH48, 8, 10, 10
INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS38, 8, 10
PEC-DEC MACHINE FLY38, 8, 10
BARBELL CURL38, 8, 10
PREACHER CURL38, 8, 10
WRIST CURL38, 8, 10