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Home » OSL Blog » Best Beginner Workout

Best Beginner Workout

June 28, 2019

Are you a beginner who is just getting started and don’t know where to begin?

Worried about hitting the gym without a plan in place?

You’re in luck, because today we’ve compiled one of the best beginner workouts for you to get started!

When you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, it can be intimidating and a little scary your first time. Especially if you don’t really know how the machines work, what you should be doing, and what to focus on.

We totally get it and understand. No matter where anyone is currently in their fitness goals, everyone started out as a beginner.

An Important Reminder

Remember, even the best and most accomplished Golden Era bodybuilders started somewhere. They didn’t build their muscles in a day and neither will you. If you need motivation, think about how hard they worked every day for their bodies.

Today we’re going to start you out with a gym workout plan that is perfect for beginners. If you aren’t ready to hit the gym quite yet, some workouts can be done at home without equipment.

Key Exercises

These exercises are some of the best for a beginner workout and will help you get ready to hit the gym. Here’s the equipment you’ll need to complete these gym workouts:

  • Dumbbells
  • Barbell
  • Bench (or chair)

But before we get started with the workout, let’s lay down some tips and terms to avoid burnout and injury.

Recovery Days are Essential and Not Optional

Especially when you are just starting out. You can’t just suddenly jump into an everyday routine and expect to feel okay. What will happen is you will

  • Burn out
  • Be really sore
  • Potentially injure yourself
burn out
Overworking the body as a beginner will lead to burn out.

Instead, there will be built in rest and recovery days. We’ll start you out on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule for the first week. Then, we’ll tack on another gym day in the second week. If you feel up to it, add another the third week or wait another week.

Rest day
Rest and recovery days are essential for rebuilding muscles.

Ultimately, you are the only one in control of your workouts and the schedule. Recovery days are there to help your muscle’s rebuild so you can see the gains you are after. Plus, your risk of injury goes way down when you make recovery a priority.

Set Goals to Create a Habit

If you stick with your workout routine, changes will happen. Most beginners decide to join a gym or start a routine to lose weight and/or gain muscle. Setting goals for your workout journey helps to keep you motivated and increases your chances of following through.

Before you know it, you’ll look forward to your workout each day and really start to see results. Those beginners who are using this gym workout to lose weight should start to notice a difference within three weeks. Some even sooner than that. 

Goal Setting
Goal setting will keep you accountable & fuel your progress.

Working towards those muscle gains? Then keep at it and in a few weeks you’ll really start to notice a difference. It’s never too late to start a workout routine, and your health and body will thank you for it.

Weights for Gains and Losses

We know that some beginners, especially female beginners, are hesitant to work with free weights right off the bat. But they are a great way to lose weight and gain muscle, regardless if you are male or female.

Free weights
Free weights are great for losing fat and gaining muscle.

So, ladies and gents, make your way to the free weights section. Or, buy a set of dumbbells for your home gym setup. 

Proper Form is the Key

When it comes to exercising, you aren’t just picking weights up and putting them back down. You also need to make sure you are using proper form for each exercise. 

Weightlifting form
Maintaining a proper form for any move ensures efficient results & prevents injury.

If you don’t, then you will be sure to injure yourself. Engaging your core will help to strengthen it and also help ensure your back isn’t arched when it shouldn’t be. Taking the extra few seconds to make sure your body is in proper position will do a few things

  • Work the proper muscle groups
  • Help you enjoy the workout pain-free (but not muscle pain-free!)
  • Stabilize your spine and core

Diet is (mostly) Everything

No matter how good you are at working out, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. You just can’t! So if you are the king (or queen) of unhealthy foods, you need to overhaul your diet as well. 

Healthy diet
A healthy & wholesome diet will help you build muscle & fuel your workouts.

In order to  fuel your workouts properly, you need to eat the right foods. Your diet doesn’t need to be 100% perfect but making an effort to eat foods that will help you build muscle and provide energy for your workouts will make a big difference in your progress.

We’ve compiled quite a few articles on different ways of eating and proper nutrition for your workouts. If you’re ready to commit to a workout routine, you’re ready to commit to eating right.

Sets? Reps?

When completing your exercises each day, you’ll be doing sets and reps. If you don’t know the difference, you can check out our article where we go over it in detail.

Essentially, a rep (short for repetition) is one completed motion of a given exercise. A set is a sequential grouping of completed reps. For example, if you do three sets of ten reps, you will have done 30 total reps. You would have followed this sequence: 

ten reps > rest > ten reps > rest > ten reps > complete

To begin, you’ll have to find your starting weight for each exercise. You’ll start with the heaviest weight to complete each set. Then, you’ll go to the next weight lower for the next set, and even lower for the following set. 

This sequence will help to train your muscles. If you can’t complete a full set, then go down to the next weight and start over that set. Don’t go too heavy and strain your muscles – an injury will derail your plans before you get started!

Are you feeling ready to get this beginner workout routine started? Because we sure are!

Week 1

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

In week one, you’ll start out with three days of workouts. We’re going to train the full body on each day and then have at least one rest day in between. Expect to be challenged each workout and sore afterward. 

To get you comfortable with the routine, we’re going to start out with mostly bodyweight exercises. This way, you don’t have to immediately worry about equipment and can get familiar with some of the exercises.

Now, let’s get started!

1. Warm-up

Treadmill or elliptical – start out at a moderate incline for 15-20 minutes to prepare your muscles for the workout. 

If you are working out at home without equipment, then do a brisk walk or jog for the same amount of time. You can also do these options:

  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 15 second sprints x2
  • Arm, neck, and torso rotations

2. Stretch

Once you’re done with your warmup, you’ll want to stretch for at least three to five minutes.

A lot of people don’t think stretching is important, but it’s definitely needed when you are a beginner. It will help to get your body loosened up and ready for your workout.

While these are geared more towards the lower back, there are some really great stretches to start with. 

These stretches are great for the arms and shoulders. Pick a few of each to do before your workout, and then a few to end your workout.

3. Beginner Workout

Push ups

push up
A Push up is a great upper body workout.

Muscles Worked: triceps, chest, anterior deltoids (front shoulder)

  • See how many push ups you can do in 90 seconds, then rest for 30 – 60 seconds. 
  • Your second set will be for 60 seconds, with the same amount of rest in between.
  • Your third set will be for 30 seconds, with the same amount of rest in between.

If you can’t make it the full time each set, don’t worry. Just take a rest and then start the next set. Before you know it, you’ll be breezing through these sets in no time.

Whether male or female, this is a great beginner workout exercise. If you struggle with push ups, then consider using stairs for leverage. The incline helps push up your bodyweight a little easier.


A plank is regarded as one of the best full body workouts.

Muscles Worked: Core, arms, quads, abs, posterior chain (back), glutes

This is one of those great full body workouts that looks deceptively easy to do but is actually quite challenging.

We’re going to go with time over reps on this one as well.

  • Get into the starting plank pose (the link above will help with form) and hold for 60 seconds. Try to rest as little as possible between sets, and no more than 60 seconds.
  • For your second set, see if you can hold the plank for 45 seconds, then rest up to 60 seconds.
  • Your third set, you will hold the plank for 30 seconds, then rest up to 60 seconds.

How’d you do? Was it harder than you thought? 

No time to think about it now, on to the next exercise!

Glute Bridge

Glute bridge
The glute bridge is great for beginner who sit for along time throughout the day.

Muscles Worked: Glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors

This exercise is not as hard as the plank but still offers a great way to activate the muscles. This one is especially good for those who sit a lot for work or school

  • Complete 30 reps followed by 10 reps each with one leg extended towards the sky, the rest up to 60 seconds before you start the next set.
  • For sets two and three, do the same as the first set, with up to 60 seconds break in between each set.

Challenge yourself: If you find you need more of a challenge, grab a 5- or 10-pound dumbbell. Place it above your pelvis (holding it with your hands so it doesn’t fall) while you’re doing the bridges.

OSL athlete Angelica Kathleen shows how to do the glute bridge with perfect form in this video.


The superman workout focuses on engaging the core & improving body stability.

Muscles Worked: Back, shoulders, glutes, core, hamstrings

The Superman is pretty easy to do and offers a great workout that focuses on core strength. Your core strength is important to help stabilize your body as you progress through your workouts. These exercises are helping you to lay a strong foundation to take you from beginner to pro in no time.

  • For your first set, complete the exercise and hold for five seconds. Continue your first set for 60 seconds and then rest up to 60 seconds.
  • Do the same as the first set, but go for 45 seconds on your second set. Rest up to 60 seconds between sets.
  • Go down to 30 seconds for the third set, and then rest up to 60 seconds afterward.


The lunges is a great exercise for the lower body & core.

Muscles Worked: Glutes, hips, quads, hamstrings

The lunge is a great exercise to help with stabilization and strengthening your core

A lot of people are wobbly when they first start to do lunges, so don’t worry if this happens to you! Once you really get the form down and are more stable on your feet, add weights or variations. It will increase the difficulty and work your muscles more.

  • For this exercise, complete five reps on each leg per set for a total of three sets. Hold the lunge for 10 – 15 seconds on each rep. Take a break up to 60 seconds between sets as needed.


Squats are a classic lower body & core workout as long as a good form is achieved.

Muscles Worked: Core, glutes, hips, quads, hamstrings, calves

This is another lower body focused exercise that requires perfect form. Once you’ve got the form down, there are lots of variations with different weights you can try.

This is the last exercise, so really give it your all!

  • Complete three 30 second rounds with up to 60 second breaks after each set. Do a total of three sets of these.

Now, don’t forget to stretch for a few minutes after you’re done. It will help reduce soreness and prepare your muscles for recovery.

Week 2

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, + 1 other day

So, how was your first week? 

Still sore? 

Ready to give up? We hope not, you’re just getting started!

For this week, we’re going to take some of the exercises from last week and add some new ones. You’ll need some basic equipment, so you may want to hit the gym if you don’t have it at home.

Here’s your beginner workout routine for this week. Feel free to change up the order each day if you want, but be sure to hit all of them. If you feel it’s too easy or you need a challenge, add more reps or sets.

  • Warm up
  • Stretch
  • Plank
  • Glute bridge
  • Squats – add 5- or 10-pound dumbbells if you’ve got the form down
  • Push ups
  • Bent over row – complete three sets, 45 seconds per arm for the first, 30 seconds per arm for the second, and 20 seconds per arm for the third. Take up to 60 seconds between sets as needed to rest.
  • Bird-dog – this is another beginner workout that’s best to help stabilize the spine while working the abs and glutes. Complete 10 on each leg per set for a total of three sets. Rest up to 60 seconds as needed between sets.
  • Stretch 
Bent over row
The bent over row can be a unilateral workout using dumbbells.

Week 3

Monday, Wednesday, Friday + 1 day (2 day if you think you can handle it)

How are you feeling after the first two weeks? 

Notice any changes in how you feel compared to when you started? 

Are you PUMPED to start your third week? We know we are!

This week, we’re going to change it up again and add some more weighted exercises to challenge you. 

  • Warm up
  • Stretch
  • Lunges
  • Plank
  • Bird-dog
  • Squat to overhead raise – this squat requires a dumbbell to complete. See if you can hang for 30 seconds each for a total of three sets. Rest in between up to 60 seconds if you need to.
  • Standing hammer curls – a great arm workout, complete three total sets of these. Start with a heavier weight that allows you to do ten reps for the first set. Then go down to the next lower weight and do ten more reps for the second set. Go lower still and do another ten reps for the final set. Take up to a 60 second break between sets to rest if needed.
  • Farmer’s Carry – this is one of the best beginner workouts for your whole body. Grab a set of dumbbells and do this for two or three sets. Start with 45 seconds for your first set, then go down to 30 seconds for the second set, followed by 15 for the third. Rest up to 60 seconds if needed between sets.
  • Stretch 
Standing hammer curls
Standing hammer curls are a great arm workout using dumbbells.

Week 4

Monday, Wednesday, Friday + 1 day (2 day if you think you can handle it)

Was last week a challenge for you?

Are you ready to step it up a notch now that you’ve gotten into the habit of working out? 

Do you agree that these are some of the best beginner workouts to get you started?

Let’s really step it up this week to challenge you even further. Try to do four or five days this week, but don’t beat yourself up if you’re too sore. Remember – sore muscles are working hard to increase the muscle thickness so you can see all your hard work.

If they need a little more repair time, give it to them. Then, make sure you check out some of our other articles linked above for more advanced workouts.

The Steps to Take

Now, let’s crush week four!!

  • Warm up
  • Stretch
  • Plank – let’s add some variation here. You can do a side or front plank for the same amount of time you did the original plank in prior weeks.
  • Superman
  • Glute bridge
  • Push ups
  • Lateral crawls – this full body workout is a great beginner exercise that needs no equipment. Start with 45 seconds for the first set, 30 seconds for the second, and end with 15 seconds for the third. Take up to 60 seconds rest in between if needed.
  • T Drills – if you don’t have cones for this exercise, use other small objects around the house. Complete 30 seconds each rep for three total sets, and rest up to 60 seconds between sets if needed.
  • Concentration curl – you’ll need a dumbbell for this one, and a bench or other sturdy surface to sit. Do ten reps and three sets with the heaviest dumbbell on the first set followed by a lighter weight. Rest up to 60 seconds between sets if needed.
Drills constitute a challenging cardio workout.

Awesome, you made it!!! 

We hope you really enjoyed these beginner gym workout routines. Consider recording your progress of how many of each exercise you can do in the time frame. Then you can look back over time to see how you’ve gained in reps and strength.

As you progress, you’ll notice that you need less rest time between each set. Continue to challenge yourself each week with new exercises and reps or sets goals. 

What did you think about our best beginner workout? Are you going to try it out? Keep track of your progress in the comments so

Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
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Old School Labs™ is the maker of premium supplements that carry on the fitness values of the “Golden Era” of bodybuilding. Old School Labs™ products do not hide behind proprietary blends, contain no artificial sweeteners or artificial flavors, and are manufactured using only high-quality ingredients.

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