The Beginner’s Basic Strength Workout at the Gym

Are you new to weight training and looking for the best gym workouts for beginners? Or maybe you’ve taken some time off, now you’re back. To be fit, let’s start with the basics.

First, it’s important you recognize what it means to be a beginner in the weight room, how long you’ll be a beginner, and what the benefits and drawbacks are. Happily, there are many more benefits than drawbacks, so beginners can expect a positive experience from their strength workout at the gym!

A beginner is someone who has not been consistently strength-training, and as a result building strength, for 6 months. If you resemble any of these examples, a basic beginning strength workout is for you:

  • Anyone who is starting weight training routine for the first time
  • Runners, bikers, yogis, dancers, swimmers or any otherwise fit people who haven’t been training with weights for the past several months
  • Anyone who was consistently weight-training at one time, but has not done so in the last few months
  • Anyone who has been experimenting with simply doing what they feel like at the gym, without a plan, without tracking progress, unsure of their form, etc.

man lifting weights in an overhead press

There are a few, simple, proven guidelines that should be met by your workout as designed for beginners. These hold true whether your ultimate goal is to lose fat, gain muscle, get stronger, or just improve general fitness:

  • Frequency is every other day/three times per week
  • Lower volume (less reps with more effort)
  • Full body training
  • Just a few basic, compound exercises
  • Consistent progression

The beauty of being a beginner to strength training at the gym involves the physical benefits of rapid improvement. Science says you’ll make the most gains during the first few months of your workouts. Your goals should be:

  • Improve your form and coordination
  • Improve your capacity to increase volume
  • Build your benchmark for strength and endurance
  • Build muscle through recovery (days off are your growth days)

Your basic beginning strength workout alternates days (M/W/F or T/Th/Sat), and you can expect to add weight each time you lift. In the first three weeks or so, these guidelines are general. You’ll need to adjust for your own capabilities, age and gender:

  • Healthy men under 40 years of age can typically add 10 – 15 lbs. of weight to exercises each session—perhaps more for the one set of deadlifts
  • Healthy women and folks over 40 can typically add 5 – 10 lbs. of weight to exercises each session—perhaps more for the one set of deadlifts

Sample Workout

A body-weight-only set of each exercise can serve as your warm-up for the following, alternating workout days (non-consecutive days):

Workout Day A

  • Squats: Perform 5 reps in each of 3 sets
  • Overhead Press: Perform 5 reps in each of 3 sets
  • Deadlift: Perform 5 reps for 1 set

Workout Day B

  • Squats: Perform 5 reps in each of 3 sets
  • Bench Press: Perform 5 reps in each of 3 sets
  • Deadlift: Perform 5 reps for 1 set

Cool down with some gentle stretching, and that is all there is to getting started with a highly effective, easy-to-remember strength training workout at the gym!

After your first few weeks, you’ll be adding less weight per session, but your goal is to stay consistent. Perhaps you would like to add a couple more exercises to your routine at that point—simple choices like chin ups and planks are highly recommended.

And the side effects of your efforts will include fat-burning, muscle-building and increased strength and endurance. After 5 or 6 months, you’re going to look and feel great, and officially move on to intermediate training… Enjoy!

Getting back to the gym can leave you sore the next couple of days. Click here for a complimentary trial 15-minute massage to help ease those sore muscles.

As an XSport Fitness member, you have exclusive access to the XSport App, which provides you with beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts that you can use or customize to your preferences. Click here to request your XSport App activation email.

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