This Gym Workout Plan For Beginners Will Help You Build Strength and Endurance
Walking into the gym for the first time can be intimidating, not just because you want to fit in amongst a sea of regular gym goers. There may be machines you've never heard of that you want to try, and even choosing the right free weights can seem daunting if you've never lifted before. That's where this gym workout plan for beginners comes into play. Created with Holly Roser, an NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Holly Roser Fitness in San Matteo, CA, this gym plan for beginners provides a week's worth of newbie gym workouts to get you started, and you can build on this routine to keep challenging yourself and get stronger over time.
This gym workout routine is not only great for people who are heading to the gym for the first time, but also for those who haven't worked out in a while. The gym workout plan contains two strength circuits, three days of cardio, and two days of active recovery. "For the first two weeks, your new program should have two strength training days that are three days apart, with cardio days in between," Roser tells POPSUGAR. As you build your endurance, move up to three cardio days and three strength training days. For the latter, you can use a mix of moves from the circuits in this plan, or check out other strength training workouts such as this basic dumbbell workout or this full-body circuit workout. (You can probably take that step about three weeks after getting comfortable with this routine, Holly says.) Make sure to switch up your forms of cardio, rotating between exercises like running, swimming, dance cardio, and indoor cycling to hit different muscle groups and keep from getting bored.
Ready to move? Follow this gym workout plan for beginners, and you're sure to feel like a pro in no time.
— Additional reporting by Lauren Mazzo and Alexis Jones
Gym Workout Plan Day 1: Cardio
You'll start this weeklong gym workout routine with a cardio day. Feel free to choose whatever kind of cardio you'd like — if you love indoor cycling classes or dance cardio, go for it. If you need a little guidance, Holly says the perfect cardio for beginners is walking or jogging on the treadmill for about 25 minutes. "Start with zero incline and get your heart rate up to where it's hard to hold a conversation," she says. "The speed should be comfortably challenging." After the first two weeks, try one of these treadmill workouts to kick it up a notch:
Gym Workout Plan Day 2: Strength Training
Warm up by walking or running for 10 minutes on the treadmill, then move on to the circuits ahead. Do 15 reps of each exercise (unless otherwise noted), with a 45-second rest between moves. Repeat each circuit three times total before moving on to the next one. When you're finished, cool down with this head-to-toe stretch sequence.
- Forward Lunges (do 15 reps on each leg)
- Cable Machine Lat Pulldowns (aim for 30 to 40 pounds)
- Triceps Extensions (use a 5-10lb. dumbbell)
Gym Workout Plan Day 3: Cardio
It's another cardio day! Again, you can choose the type of cardio you want to do for this gym workout plan, but we also have an idea from Roser in case you're not sure where to start.
"Indoor bike workouts are great for your joints and are one of the best ways to get a killer cardio workout," Roser says. To start, warm up for five minutes at a moderate speed and intensity, then move on to intervals. "Amp up your speed so you're going as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then recover for one minute, then back to a spin sprint for 30 seconds," she explains. "Try sticking to this pattern for the next 25 minutes, then cool down for five minutes at the speed of your recovery pace." Or, try one of these indoor cycling workouts.
Gym Workout Plan Day 5: Cardio
Now that your body is getting accustomed to cardio, it's time to up the intensity with a 26-minute rolling hills treadmill circuit that mixes incline with speed.
- 5 minutes: 3.3 speed at 5 percent incline
- 2 minutes: 3.6 speed at 7 percent incline
- 1.5 minutes: 4.5 speed at 5 percent incline
- 1 minute: 3.6 speed at 5 percent incline
- 2 minutes: 4.5 speed at 5 percent incline
- 1 minute: 5.5 speed at 7 percent incline
- 1 minute: 4.5 speed with no incline
- 2 minutes: 4.7 speed with no incline
- 1.5 minutes: 5.6 speed with no incline
- 1 minute: 5.0 speed at 5 percent incline
- 2 minutes: 4.7 speed 5 percent incline
- 1 minute: 4.0 speed 5 percent incline
- 5 minutes: 3.0 speed with no incline
Gym Workout Plan Day 6: Strength Training
For your next strength workout in this gym workout routine, start with this dynamic warmup: 30 high knees, 30 mountain climbers, 25 jumping jacks, 10 inchworms. Once you're loosened up, move on to the circuits ahead. Do 15 reps of each exercise (unless otherwise noted), with a 45-second rest between moves. Repeat each circuit three times total before moving on to the next. When you're finished, cool down with a full-body stretch session.
- Plank (hold for 20 seconds for four rounds)
Gym Workout Plan Day 7: Active Recovery
Just because you're not doing a gym workout doesn't mean you can't move your body, Roser says. These exercises can help tend to those sore muscles and joints on a rest day. You can also go for a walk or hike, do a casual bike ride, enjoy some relaxing yoga or do a low-impact pilates session