Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay Cutler, Phil Heath, Dorian Yates, they all started somewhere just like you. Starting your first training program can be exciting and a little daunting however the best way to approach things is through slow, steady, methodical planning and execution.

There will always be a new flavor of the month training program offering the best gains in the shortest period of time however as a beginner there is a tried and true method to building a solid foundation to work from. It won’t be pretty and it’s going to take a whole lot of time and effort but i guarantee this program will get you off to the best possible start.

In this program we’re going to start off with the absolute basics, compound movements aimed at building a solid base of strength that will force your body to grow and adapt like never before.

Beginners Training Program Outline:

  • We’ll target each major muscle group with the most effective compound movement for that specific muscle in order to provide maximum muscle stimulation. 
  • Emphasis on controlling the weight and maintaining form throughout the lift, do not let your ego get the best of you. Strength will come in time and remember everybody started light and worked up. 
  • I have removed Bench press due to the injury risk posed for most beginners, by replacing it with dips emphasizing the chest by leaning forward we strengthen the shoulder muscles and prepare them for the addition of increased pressing exercises in future workouts. 
  • Increase training volume over the duration of the program in order to provide the body with a constant need to grow and adapt.

  • Aim to workout 2-3 times a week, no more to begin with and spread the days out with at least one day between each workout. Added cardio can be done on off days for weight loss goals but for mass gains try to limit your time and spend it on nailing your diet.

Weeks 1 & 2

For this week we’ll be sticking to 2 sets of 6-10 reps on free weight exercises and to failure on body weight. The goal here is to pick a weight you can comfortably perform an exercise with while maintaining correct form for no less than 6 but no more than 8 repetitions. If you cant perform a bodyweight exercise (dips/pull ups) perform the negative portion (start at the top and slowly lower under control) until you can no longer control the speed of the exercise.

Between all sets in this program we will be resting for 60-90 seconds.

Exercise Sets Repetitions
Barbell Squat 2 6-10
Dips (Leaning Forward) 2 To Failure
Pullups 2 To Failure
Seated Dumbbell Press 2 6-10
Hanging Leg Raises 2 To Failure

Weeks 2 to 4

During these weeks we’re going to add in a third set for each exercise, for bodyweight exercises you want to try and add a little weight this is easily done by gripping a dumbbell between your feet. If you were performing the negative portions only then you should aiming to do at least 1 full repetition per set then resuming negatives.

Exercise Sets Repetitions
Barbell Squat 3 6-10
Dips (Leaning Forward) 3 To Failure
Pullups 3 To Failure
Seated Dumbbell Press 3 6-10
Hanging Leg Raises 3 To Failure

Weeks 6 to 8

During these final two weeks we will be changing our rep range to a reverse pyramid style and as the weight gets lighter after the first set we will be adding in extra repetitions. So for the first set pick a weight you can only manage 6 repetitions with, the second set 8 repetitions and the third 10 repetitions. Remember to go as heavy as you can handle for maximum results.

Exercise Sets Repetitions
Barbell Squat 3 6,8,10
Dips (Leaning Forward) 3 To Failure
Pullups 3 To Failure
Seated Dumbbell Press 3 6,8,10
Hanging Leg Raises 3 To Failure

After these initial 8 weeks you should be familiar with the basic lifts and have a solid base of strength ready to add in isolation exercises and increase volume towards a more hypertrophy workout. By starting off in this manner however you will have substantially lowered the risk of injury when first starting a program and will have avoided the over dominance of pressing movements most beginners have through the early phases of training.

   
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