A Weekly Gym Routine For Beginners (With Videos)

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If you're just getting started in the gym (or starting over), use this routine for 4 weeks straight. It will create intensity, consistency, and longevity that you've never had before in your workout program. The problem with people talking about "hard work" and "habit" and "discipline" is that it always lacks specificity. What hard word exactly yields the results? Lots of people try really hard, use ineffective methods, and walk away from fitness altogether: "It's impossible. I just can't do it."

This program explains the right way to work out for beginners in a way that is informative, but not overwhelming. Master these simple fundamentals, and there won't be much left to learn about fitness. 

Foundations for Weight Lifting

1. DON'T BE HALF-HEARTED

Give this thing everything you've got. Be consistent. Be diligent. Exert yourself. Don't leave any doubt in your mind that you tried as hard as you could. Most importantly: Trust the system. Seriously, you can do this. I'm telling you — paired with the right diet, this program works. The only people who are in great shape who don't use this program are genetic freaks who can just look at a kettle bell and instantly be in good shape. Do every single exercise listed here, and hit every single rep. Look at this program as a debt that you must pay every single day. And, when you finish the workout, your conscience is clean. 

The worst thing you can do is try one workout program for a week, get lazy, and say, "I'm gonna try the Rest Six Days a Week Program. It's apparently all the rage." No. Work hard. Hit every day. 

2. WHAT THE WORDS MEAN

Barbell: One long bar, on which you add weight to each end. Requires two hands to pick up.

Dumbbell: A short bar with pre-attached weights. Requires only one hand to pick up.

Exercise: A specific movement with a specific piece of equipment. For example, "Barbell Bench Press" is a different exercise than "Machine Bench Press." Also, "Machine Shoulder Press" is different than "Machine Chest Press." 

Rep: One single "repetition" of an exercise. If I lift up a barbell on the bench, bring it down to my chest, and push it back up, that is one single "Rep."

Set: A single series of "Reps." If I pick up the barbell, do 10 "Reps," and put it back on the bench, that was "A set of 10." So below, when the program instructs you to perform "3 sets of 10," that means you pick up the bar, perform 10 full repetitions, and put it back down. Take a 30-second break. Repeat another 10 reps. Take a 30-second break. Perform another 10 reps. That's "3 sets of 10."

3. IT'S OKAY TO SUBSTITUTE EXERCISES

If a certain piece of equipment isn't available (either the gym doesn't have it, or it's crowded) that's okay. Substitute an approximate exercise. Tons of people show up at the gym, can't get the equipment they need, and then just abandon their workoutsDon't do it. If you can't get on the barbell bench press, just grab some dumbbells and do that instead. Or if you have to, jump on a bench press machine. If you can't get the piece of equipment you need, try to look for another weight or machine that can mimic the same movement and work the same muscle, and substitute it. It's better than getting frustrated waiting, losing momentum, and leaving the gym.

1. CHEST DAY

WEIGHTS (if you can implement :30 second breaks)

  1. Flat Barbell Bench Press, 3 sets of 10
  2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press, 3 sets of 10
  3. Machine Chest Fly: 3 sets of 10
  4. 50 push-ups for time
  5. ABS (see ABS section at bottom)
  6. CARDIO (see CARDIO section below)

2. BACK DAY

  1. Seated Cable Row, 3 sets of 10
  2. Seated Lat Pull Down, 3 sets of 10
  3. Machine Row, 3 sets of 10
  4. 50 bent-over Dummbell Rows for time, each arm
  5. ABS (see ABS section at bottom)
  6. CARDIO (see CARDIO section below)

3. SHOULDER DAY

  • Seated Dumbbell Military Press, 3 sets of 10
  • Seated dumbbell flys, 3 sets of 10
  • Seated dumbbell front raises, 3 sets of 10
  • 50 Seated dumbbell military press again, for time
  • ABS (see ABS section at bottom)
  • CARDIO (see CARDIO section below)

4. LEG DAY

  1. Leg Press Machine, 3 sets of 10
  2. Hamstring Leg Curl, 3 sets of 10
  3. Quad Leg Extension, 3 sets of 10
  4. 50 BodyWeight squat jumps for time
  5. ABS (see ABS section below)
  6. Cardio (see CARDIO section below)

5. ARMS DAY

  1. Dumbbell Curls, 3 Sets of 10
  2. Dumbbell Skull Crushers, 3 Sets of 10
  3. Rope Cable Curl, 3 Sets of 10
  4. Rope Arm Extension, 3 Sets of 10
  5. Preacher Curl, 3 Sets of 10
  6. Bent Over Arm Extension, 3 Sets of 10
  7. ABS (see ABS section at bottom)
  8. CARDIO (see CARDIO section at bottom)

ABS

Do this routine after every single weight training session twice, and with zero breaks at allSo, in total, you do two 25-second planks (50 seconds total), 2 sets of 15 leg raises (30 total), and 2 sets of 21 total bicycle crunches (42 total).

  • 25-second plank
  • 15 laying-down leg raises
  • 21 bicycle crunches 
  • Repeat.

CARDIO

  • Incline treadmill walk at 4 degrees, at 4 miles per hour (4 speed) for 25 minutes. If you need to go slower, that's okay. If you start working up a good sweat in 5-10 minutes, you know it's the right speed. If you feel like you're going to die after 60 seconds, it's a little too high. 
    • You might be thinking, "Walking? Really? But I want to get in really good shape. I want to run. I want to do Crossfit. I want to do high intensity interval training." But the problem is, those exercise techniques are intended to help people who already have their routine on lock down to ratchet up the intensity. All that complicated stuff isn't necessary for 95% of fat loss and muscle gain is to help people go from 95% to 96%. But you don't even need it to get from 70% to 80%.
    • Watch these videos below to get pumped about incline treadmill walking (I do it every day).

FINAL TIPS

1. These Exercises Should Be Hard To Complete.

These sets should be hard for you. If you can complete all 3 sets of 10, that means you should increase the weight slightly until you are unable to complete every rep. If you can do both 45 second planks, turn them into 1-minute planks. The beauty of this workout is that you can keep doing it forever, and you'll just keep getting stronger and stronger. The "advanced" version of this workout is 90% the same. If you can nail this routine for 4 weeks straight, you've established a fitness skillset that you can use to reach any fitness goal you desire.

2. How To Complete A Workout When You Don't Want To.

If you really want to quit mid-workout, it might be because you're slogging through your break times between sets. Try using a stopwatch or your iPhone clock app to keep yourself at 30 second breaks between every set. Not a second longer. This will make your workout feel harder, more intense, but much quicker. And, short breaks can sometimes be better for building muscle. Many report that, while doing this makes the workout physically harder in the moment, they feel like they did a lot more work when they're done with the exercise.

3. Don't Take Any Days Off.

On your "rest days," do three sets of anything. Try these, for example:

  • 50 push-ups for time and a brisk 20 minute walk.
  • 3 sets of 15 burpees, and a brisk 20 minute walk.
  • Just walk for an hour at a brisk pace

Whatever you do, don't just sit at home. It's not your "day off." There's no such thing as a "day off." It's just another day. Keep that time block you've reserved for working out, and dedicate it every single day to pushing yourself — even just a little bit. This will fortify the habit in your mind, and even one of these mini-workouts on your day off will make your "days on" much easier.

4. Stay Off Your Phone

If you need to use it as a timer, that's fine. But put it in airplane mode and turn off the wifi. The more you're on your phone, the longer you'll be in the gym, and the more you're going to hate working out. Having your phone on during your workout ruins your exercise intensity, and depletes your willpower. If you need your phone that badly, leave it in your car, and use addiction as motivation to finish the workout as fast as possible.

The only time your smart phone doesn't ruin your workout is on the treadmill. At that point, you're walking at a fixed pace for a fixed amount of time. Might as well listen to a podcast to pass the time.

5. Don't Do This Alone

Join dozens of other people doing this exact same workout routine, and get free workout and diet tips, motivation, submit podcast questions, and get private coaching if you need it at the TheoFit PATREON. If you join the annual membership, you get a bunch of free downloads, including ebooks and audio coaching albums. 

Start Now.

Now, GO. Do it. Start today.

You have no excuse. You know exactly what to do. The only other things to consider are diet and, if you are deeply committed to avoiding a gym, the bodyweight version of this fitness regemin. 

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