As a beginner you have the greatest potential for fresh muscle growth. All newbies will see a rapid increase in muscle and strength as the body is hypersensitive to the new stimulus provided by resistance exercise. In other words your body has never been introduced to this so it will respond quicker then when you eventually become a more seasoned lifter. But to maximize your results and build a solid foundation I have provided a beginner workout routine, which will most definitely set you onto a path of success in the short term and for many years to come.
Base exercises on compound lifts
As mentioned previously in my article (10-workouts-to-build-muscle-mass)’ the bulk of your training should consist of compound exercises. These exercises will work many of your muscle groups simultaneously. For example the squat will activate your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, lower back and even your arms and shoulders to a lesser extent.
Another awesome aspect of compound lifts is that they enable us to lift heavier loads as muscle groups work together to lift the weight. In comparison isolation exercises work individual muscle groups meaning we can lift less load and our potential to increase size all over the body is reduced and restricted to only one body part.
Compound exercises are very functional allowing us to perform everyday tasks with ease. Walking up the stairs, bending down to pick up an object of the floor, carrying heavy furniture and jumping become much more easy.
What I like best of all is that compound lifts make my time at the gym more efficient. I am very busy and have a very limited amount of time to dedicate at the gym. Working out multiple muscle groups using compound lifts means I do not have to do lots of different isolation exercises in the gym. This would take up much more time.
It is very important to keep your form good, do not lift heavy if your exercise form is not correct. This will help prevent injury now and for many years to come. Remember ego is false confidence, when ego dies progression will follow.
Do not jerk the weight and always make sure you have a neutral spine, when doing all exercises. If you are unsure on how to do the exercises with correct form you can watch many videos on YouTube, but I would recommend hiring a personal trainer to show you and also correct your movement patterns.
By maintaining correct form, you will build up correct movement patterns and gradually build up your strength. The opposite is true for incorrect form. You will build up strength and muscle however because your movement patterns are not good your chances of injury will be very high once you begin to increase the load on the exercises.
So many exercise routines which one is right?
There are literally thousands if not millions of exercise routines on the internet and it can make it difficult for you to choose the right exercise plan being a newbie or hard gainer. Remember this, training only acts as a trigger.
Training = Signals the body that muscle growth is necessary.
What exercises should I do?
The answer to this is compound lifts. We will focus on Bench press, Deadlifts, Standing overhead press, Squats and Bent over rows.
Being a newbie or hard gainer we will keep away from gym machines. These do not target stabilizer muscles and are more geared towards isolation exercises.
How many reps should we do?
In most cases we will not go above 12 reps the reason for this is once you go towards a higher rep range your training focuses more on endurance rather then muscle strength and size.
Endurance training does not trigger as much muscle growth as strength training will. As a beginner aim for 8 – 10 reps for the first month. Studies have shown that in the case of compound lifts it is best to use higher weight and a lower rep range. As you progress onto your second month your rep range will decrease further to compensate for the heavier loads that will be lifted.
How many sets per exercise?
You should aim for about 3 to 4 sets per exercise. Especially as a beginner you do not want to go crazy and do many sets as your body has not yet adapted to an increase stress level.
How long should a session last?
Hardgainers and newbies like yourself and even seasoned lifters should keep sessions only 45-60 minutes. This is the optimal time window for muscle growth.
Now without further ado I will go into the meat of this article which is of course your beginner workout routines.
Workout routine: 3 day split
Day 1: Full body workout 1
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Full body workout 2
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Full body workout 1
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest
The next week alternate exercises, for example instead of doing full body workout 1, start with full body workout 2 as shown below:
Day 1: Full body workout 2
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Full body workout 1
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Full body workout 2
Day 6: Rest
In the third week continue to do the same exercises but lower the rep range to 6-8 reps. This is important for the majority of lifts especially for the squats, dead lifts, bench press and military press. To compensate for the lower rep range you will use heavier weight. The load should only allow you to do a maximum of 8 reps and no more. What this will do is put you in the 80-85% range of your 1 rep maximum. This range will not only build strength faster but is also great for beginners, as you can easily apply progressive overload and trigger maximum muscle growth.
If you find the routine easy which is unlikely you can add an extra set of isolation exercises. Perhaps a bicep exercise for workout 1 and a triceps exercise for workout 2.
Exercises for Workout 1 and Workout 2.
3 sets of Barbell Squats (8-10 reps)
3 sets of Bench Press (8-10 reps)
3 sets of Bent Over Rows (8-10 reps)
3 sets of dead lifts (8-10 reps)
3 sets of pull ups / Lat pull downs (8-10 reps)
3 sets of Standing Military Press (8-10 reps)
Rest 2.5 – 3.5 minutes between sets.
The weight lifted should be light enough for perfect form but heavy enough so that you cannot do more then 10 reps. Do one rep short of failure. This is the best method to build up your strength. Focus on strict form during the first month. Remember do not bounce the weight and keep a neutral spine and feet planted firmly.
I hope you enjoyed my Top 2 beginner workout routines. These are great routines that hardgainers and beginners tend to respond to the best. It is the routine which I used as a beginner and still continue using to build muscle and strength. You will go from skinny to muscular and strong as you build up your strength levels over time.
Remember to warm up before exercises and cool down after, if you are not sure about these type of exercises please refer to my previous article (Home workouts to build muscle mass).
Give the routine a try to as always I would love to hear about your progress and suggestions.