If you are going in the gym for a first time, or you are on your first few weeks of training, there is something you need to know. If you want a truly great body you need to start with a strong foundation. The best way to do that is to have 3 short and light trainings with only compound movements.
When you are just starting out, there is no reason to waste your time on isolation exercises. People like to do a bit of biceps curls, triceps extensions and a bit of this and that when they are new to the gym. And of course they really like those machines. Unfortunately, this approach will not help with overall muscle growth and development. You should do good-old compound movements with free weights.
The most important exercises for a beginner are:
- Bench Presses
- Standing Military Presses (Shoulder Presses)
- Triceps dips
Where is biceps, you may ask? It’s not essential in the beginning stage. By doing biceps exercises you will waste time, because they don’t affect your whole body. Your goal is to hit as much muscles as possible with a single exercise. And those exercises above are fantastic compound movements, meaning there are multiple muscles involved in the process.
Even if you are overweight, you shouldn’t focus on abs exercises too, because exercises like squats, deadlifts and standing military presses will overload your core muscles (obliques, abs and some other small muscles in that area) nearly as well as direct abs exercises.
In first few weeks your job is to learn the techniques for these compound exercises and not focus on the weight you’re lifting. A trainer will be good for overseeing you. Also you shouldn’t push yourself too hard – no forced reps, and no half-reps till complete exhaustion, it’s so easy to get injured at this stage. If you feel you can’t do another rep in slow, controlled motion – stop.
Always have a spotter for bench presses and squats (if you have no squat rack). With other exercises you can just stop the movement safely.
How much sets should you do?
Not more than 3 sets per exercise. Perform every rep in a controlled manner, reasonably slow, but not too painfully slow. Should take between 1 and 2 seconds for positive phase (lifting up/moving up) and the same amount for negative phase of the exercise. Just use light weights and do 8-10 reps for each set.
What routine should you do?
Since there are only 6 exercises, there is not much variety. Use any of these 4 exercises on a single training session. Training should not last more than 40 minutes. Since it’s a beginning stage, it’s okay to use squats and deadlifts on a same workout (weight is very small and amount of sets is limited). As we mentioned before, it would be really good to have 3 training sessions per week, 30-40 minutes each.
How long should you use this routine?
For 1,5-2 months. By that time you should have a solid foundation, and you can start with “normal” training sessions, where you train one big muscle group and one small one. Example: Chest-biceps, back-triceps, legs-shoulders. You can do 3 sets for each muscle group, and 6 sets in total, per training session.
And of course remember to adjust your diet accordingly, from the first day you’ve stepped in the gym! You’re growth is happening outside the gym and a great diet is critical component in your success.