The trick to getting started is to get started.
The hardest part about working out when trying to get back in shape is just getting to the gym near you and get your fitness program started. Your mind is on other things and body isn’t used to the extra physical exertion, it is important that you make the choice to block out time in your daily schedule to go to the gym, and make the lifestyle change, starting a new habit is not easy but it’s not that hard too, just set your mind to do it.
Despite what you might think, you don’t need to become a total gym rat and live in the weight room just to get back in shape. As long as you keep your workout routine consistent, you will get the necessary workout by visiting your gym near you, at a minimum twice per week for at least an hour per visit. With a little planning, you can map out an excellent gym workout for a beginner in your fitness facility.
Splitting things up
There are generally two ways to break up your workout over your two-day plan. You can split your exercises into cycles, push and pull, focusing on upper body one day and lower body on the second day on alternating days.
Day 1: chest, back, arms, and shoulders
Day 2: lower body squats, lunges, hamstring curls, glute bridges, and other core exercises
The other option is to do a lower intensity full-body workout on both days, making sure you space out your gym days enough to allow your body to recover.
You can experiment a little bit when starting out to see which style works best for you. It’s important to keep exercising. You may want to eventually pick one and stick with it. The key to making the most of your workouts is keeping things consistent and I have many, many personal training clients who tell me that same thing.
Regardless of what workout modality you choose, the workouts you’ll be doing at the gym are going to be basically the same just with different spices. The only thing your two-day plan will affect is which workouts you decide to do when and where. Here are a few exercises that are great for a gym workout for beginners.
Upper Body workouts for beginners
Bicep curls are a great exercise for adding to a beginner workout for working the arms and upper body. You can do this exercise essentially anywhere as long as you have free weights to work with.
Start in a standing position, arms at your sides and palms facing your hips while holding the weights. From there, bend your arm at the elbow, rotating your palms forward as you curl the weight. Try to keep your upper arm relatively still, and move in a slow and fluid motion. Then ease the weight back down to your starting position, maintaining control. Don’t let the weight just drop and release, as this could strain the muscles and ligaments in your arms.
Make sure also to have your elbows in front of yourself (not resting on your stomach/chest) just off. If you want to advance your workout you can add in a lunge, and if you want more challenge a shoulder press. If you want to progress this further our personal trainers can help you further.
Rows are great for working your posterior chain muscles or back ( lats, traps deltoids, and rhomboids). There are many different ways to do this. To start, you can lean on an incline bench on your stomach but not let your chest touch the multi-use bench. Let your arms hang down in front of you while holding your free weights. From there, slowly pull your arms straight back against gravity with your elbow tight on your side, trying to touch behind your back, so that your hands are in line with your waist. Then slowly lower the weight back down to its starting position. You want to make sure you don’t round your shoulders forward.
Push-ups are a great workout for the chest and upper body training, and the best part is you can do them anywhere. Start by getting into a plank position on your knees or your feet (whatever you can hold correctly with good form), hands shoulder-width apart and keeping on your toes. From there, bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest lightly touches the ground. Don’t let your core and mid body sag down so far that your hips are sagging or you are simply laying on your stomach, keep your back straight and make sure most of your body weight is supported by your shoulders, arms and core. At the bottom, when your chest touches the ground, push up and extend your elbows and return to your starting plank position. For best results use a full range body motion, use an explosive motion to launch yourself back up, and ease yourself back down.
Lower Body Exercises for beginners
Squats or Booty lifters
Squats are a great way to work your butt muscles, thighs, calves, hamstring muscles and even a little of your core muscles. This will cause you a tighter firmer bum. You can either hold a free weight like a dumbbell or kettlebell in the goblet position, your hands as you would hold a goblet cup grasping the weight, or using a barbell resting across the back of your shoulders.
If you’re just starting out, using the goblet position is much easier to work with. Stand with your feet about shoulder length apart, feet pointed slightly outward. While squatting, brace your core by breathing out forcefully and maintain that tightness after but maintain breathing, keep your core and body muscles tight and ready, and keep your knees in line with your feet. Bend your knees until your hips are just below your knees or at least close. From there, drive upward pressing your feet into the ground to stand back up and reset your position. If you feel pain at any point of your squat seek a personal trainer or a physiotherapist.
Leg Lifts to lift your butt
Leg lifts are great for working both your core, glute muscles and your thighs. Start on your back, lifting your feet just ever so slightly off the ground. Keeping your legs straight as you can without feeling discomfort in your back, lift your legs until they’re at a 45-degree angle to the rest of your body. Then ease your legs back down to the starting position, making sure to not let your feet touch the ground.
Use slow controlled motions, as the benefit of the exercise, comes from forcing your body to do the work on both the upward and downward motions, (eccentric contraction and concentric contraction) not by just letting gravity take over and dropping the weight once you’re done with the lifting portion. Control is everything right control freaks?
Core exercises for beginners
If you’re looking to firm and tone your posterior, glute bridges are a great way to get your body ready for beach season. Start out laying on your back, knees bent with your heels by your rear end or bum. Keeping your head and shoulders on the ground, lift your hips and lift your bum off the ground or mat, then ease yourself back down to the starting position, if you want to intensify hold your bum up for 5 seconds. You can also use sandbags, dumbbells, barbells or duffel bags laid across your hips to help increase the weight and resistance.
V-Ups or sit-ups with a twist
While most people are familiar with sit-ups, V-ups can be considered their more hardcore relative. A V-up is essentially a combined sit-up and leg lift. Start flat on your back, hands on your shoulders or to increase the intensity of your workout hold them above your head. In one motion, lift your legs and sit up at the same time, trying to touch your hands to your toes. Then let yourself reset to the starting position. These can be absolutely brutal if you’re not used to them.
V-ups are one of the best workouts for your abs and core, and they can be done anywhere since you don’t need any additional weights and if you do giv’er you crazy mo’ fo’.
How many Sets and Reps for a beginner workout
When planning your workout for a beginner or experienced psycho fitness freak, start off small. You’ll want to do about 10 minutes of a cardio workout to warm up, maybe a few (5-10) minutes on the treadmill or doing jumping jacks for about the same time. When it comes time to do the exercises, pace yourself and start with low weight high repetition sets. Pick a weight that you can lift comfortably without straining too hard, and aim for 3 sets of 10 – 15. While it might start off easy, you’ll start to feel it gets hard towards the end. As your body gets used to the weight the more you work out, start increasing the weight to your abilities. Eventually, you can switch to high weight low repetition sets once your body is used to the physical exertion levels and you may want to start bulking up on muscle rather than just toning.
There is always a happy medium, whatever it is you choose to move, do it move it or lose it, would you rather be able to stand up when you’re old or have someone help you off the toilet?