Beginner

Beginner weight training program

Suitability

  • Beginners
  • Lifters with less than three months of consistent weight training experience
  • Experienced lifters who haven’t trained for more than three months

Description

This 12-week beginner weight training program is designed to:

  • Introduce your body to physical exercise
  • Introduce you to a variety of exercises, training equipment, and training splits
  • Train all of your major muscle groups
  • Strengthen your core and primal movement patterns
  • Encourage body-wide neuromuscular adaptation
  • Develop a strong foundation of muscular endurance

The beginner weight training program is very important because it will lay a strong foundation upon which you can safely build in the subsequent programs. Without this strong foundation, you will be at risk of injury. By the end of the program, you should have developed significant strength (mostly due to neuromuscular adaptation), muscular endurance, and muscle tone, as well as dramatically improved your overall fitness.

The program is divided into four microcycles, each one lasting for three weeks. The first two microcycles focus on full-body circuit training, which means that you will be training your entire body in each workout and having minimal rest between exercises. The last two microcycles focus on split training, which means that you will be dividing your body and training different parts in different workouts. The microcycles are designed to help you to advance from circuit training to set training and from simple exercises to more advanced exercises.

Please read the Overview before you start this program.

Instructions

You will notice that for each exercise, I have given you the number of reps to complete in the form of a rep range. For example, in microcycle 1, you must perform 15–18 reps for the dumbbell curl. Choose a weight that makes completing the 15–18 reps challenging. If you can’t manage 15 reps without breaking form, the weight is too heavy. If you can complete more than 18 reps without breaking form, the weight is too light. In a couple of workouts’ time, once the 15–18 reps become easier, it’s time to increase the weight. Add a maximum of 5 lb or 2.5 kg to upper-body exercises, and a maximum of 10 lb or 5 kg to lower-body exercises—just enough to make the rep range challenging again.

Complete the exercises in the order provided. Try to master the proper form of each exercise, including proper breathing technique. As you train, try to develop a mental connection with your muscles. If, for some reason, you can’t perform one of the exercises, see the Overview for alternatives.

Don’t forget to warm up before, and cool down after, each workout. Each workout, including warmup and cooldown, should take no longer than an hour.

Once you have completed the beginner weight training program, you must take a deload week (a week during which you must either rest or train lightly). Only then can you move on to the next program or repeat the same program.

Specific instructions for each microcycle are presented below.

Microcycle 1 (3 weeks)

  • For microcycle 1, you will perform a full-body circuit
  • For the first week, complete 1 circuit 3 days a week, with 1 day of rest between each workout (AXAXAXX, where “A” means workout day and “X” means rest day)
  • Take minimal rest between each exercise
  • For the following two weeks, complete 2 circuits instead of just 1
  • Rest for 3–5 minutes between the two circuits
Exercise Reps
Dumbbell squat* 15–18
Lying leg curl 15–18
Wide-grip lat pull-down 15–18
Cable row 15–18
Dumbbell bench press 15–18
Seated dumbbell overhead press 15–18
Cable face pull 15–18
Dumbbell kickback 15–18
Dumbbell curl 15–18
Hyperextension 15–18
Lying leg and hip raise 15–18
Bicycle crunch 15–20
Machine standing calf raise 25–30
*Bodyweight squat instead of dumbbell squat for Week 1

Microcycle 2 (3 weeks)

  • For microcycle 2, you will perform a similar full-body circuit
  • Complete 2 circuits either every other day (AX) or 3 days a week (AXAXAXX). Make sure that there’s at least 1 day of rest between each workout
  • Take minimal rest between each exercise
  • Rest for 3–5 minutes between the two circuits
Exercise Reps
Barbell squat* 13–15
Romanian deadlift 13–15
Seated leg curl 13–15
Reverse-grip lat pull-down 13–15
Bent-over dumbbell row 13–15
Barbell bench press 13–15
Barbell overhead press 13–15
Cable face pull 13–15
Bench dip 13–15
EZ bar curl 13–15
Hanging leg and hip raise 13–15
Bicycle crunch 20–25
Machine standing calf raise 20–25
*Without weights for Week 1

Microcycle 3 (3 weeks)

  • For microcycle 3, you will perform a 2-day pull–push split. This means that you will train all of your pull muscles in one workout and all of your push muscles in another workout. What’s more, instead of circuit training, you will perform set training, which means that you will complete all of the sets for each exercise before moving on to the sets of the next exercise
  • Recommended schedules: ABX or ABXABXX
  • Rest for 30–60 seconds between each set, and 60–90 seconds between each exercise
Workout A (Pull)
Exercise Sets x Reps
Barbell deadlift 2 x 13–15
Lying leg curl 2 x 13–15
Close neutral grip lat pull-down 2 x 13–15
Bent-over barbell row 2 x 13–15
Dumbbell lateral raise 2 x 13–15
Cable face pull 2 x 13–15
Dumbbell lying external shoulder rotation 2 x 13–15
Dumbbell curl 2 x 13–15
Bicycle crunch 2 x 25–30
Incline straight leg and hip raise 2 x 13–15
Workout B (Push)
Exercise Sets x Reps
Barbell squat 2 x 13–15
Dumbbell lunge 2 x 13–15
Dumbbell bench press 2 x 13–15
Low cable cross-over 2 x 13–15
Arnold press 2 x 13–15
Overhead barbell triceps extension 2 x 13–15
Front plank 2 x 45–60 s
Machine standing calf raise 2 x 20–25
Machine seated calf raise 2 x 20–25
s = seconds

Microcycle 4 (3 weeks)

  • For microcycle 4, you will perform a 3-day split in which you will train your back, biceps, and core in Workout A; your chest, shoulders, and triceps in Workout B; and your legs and core in Workout C
  • Recommended schedules: ABCXABX CABXCAX BCAXBCX or ABCXABC XABCXAB CXABCXX
  • Complete all of the sets for each exercise before moving on to the next exercise
  • Rest for 30–60 seconds between each set, and 60–90 seconds between each exercise
Workout A
Exercise Sets x Reps
Barbell deadlift 3 x 12–15
Wide-grip lat pull-down 3 x 12–15
T-bar row 3 x 12–15
Barbell curl 3 x 12–15
Dumbbell preacher curl 2 x 12–15
Wheel rollout 2 x 10–12
Cable wood chops 2 x 12–15
Workout B
Exercise Sets x Reps
Barbell bench press 2 x 12–15
Incline reverse-grip barbell bench press 2 x 12–15
High cable cross-over 2 x 12–15
Dumbbell one-arm overhead press 2 x 12–15
Dumbbell lateral raise 3 x 12–15
Cable face pull 3 x 12–15
Dumbbell Cuban rotation 3 x 12–15
Bench dip 2 x 12–15
Workout C
Exercise Sets x Reps
Barbell front squat 3 x 12–15
Barbell lunge 3 x 12–15
Seated leg curl 3 x 12–15
Bicycle crunch 2 x 30–35
Hanging straight leg and hip raise 3 x 12–15
Machine standing calf raise 3 x 15–20
Machine seated calf raise 2 x 15–20

Medical disclaimer

Just to be safe, please consult your doctor before starting any training or dietary programs. WeightTraining.guide will not be liable for any incidental, consequential, or other damages arising from the application of the information presented on this website.

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