I am at the gym and I don’t know what to do…

I get this type of question a lot. Usually from kids who have come from gymnastics with mostly bodyweight training who are transitioning to the gym and need some guidance. I have a couple of links to lots of information on the sidebar THIS IS GOOD and for diet SO IS THIS. Well, it’s pretty easy as a process so let’s have a look.

Set a goal. What is it you want to do? I will assume that you know endless cardio is damaging to your system and so please spend no more than 20 minutes at a time on the cardio machines otherwise you will flood your system with stress hormones and kill your hard work. That said, a 10 minute warmup is ideal before weights then a 20 minutes higher intensity stairmaster or stepmill session is best.

Split your workout into 3 or 4 days so you can start to become regular with your work. I recommend at least 4 days a week in the gym so you don’t spend all your time sore from resting too much. Every split should have one day as leg day and then usually a push day for chest and triceps a pull day for back and biceps and an extra day for shoulders and core. You don’t have to know how to do a thousand exercises to make this work, start basic and then transition as you go.

No matter if you are a 15 year old girl or a 25 year old guy there are certain exercises that you should do no matter what. Among these are squat, bench, overhead press, curls, dips and deadlift. Don’t get freaked out by the deadlift, it is just picking stuff up and putting it down.

So lets take a quick look at the work to be done as a beginner just starting out. This will last you about a month until you start wanting to do more varied exercises by which time you will have picked up some tips from watching others and will be able to add things to your routines.

Every set will be done to 12 reps with the last 2 reps being difficult to finish. Once they aren’t difficult, increase the weight. Don’t worry about getting bulky, that takes a major commitment on the eating side of things to happen and if it really was that easy, everyone would be a bodybuilder.

Day 1: Chest and triceps

Flat Bench 3×12
Incline Bench 3×12
Tricep cable push downs 3×12 (replace this with dips once you get strong enough)
Dips (if possible, this should be your goal)
If you can get to a point where you can do 10 dips in a row then that is enough for triceps (3×10)

Day 2: Back and biceps

Lat machine pulldowns 3×12 (replace these with inward facing grip chinups when you can)
Seated rows 3×12
Deadlifts 3×12 (you can use dumbbells or a preweighted barbell, no need to use a free barbell if you don’t want to)
Barbell curls 3×12

Day 3: Shoulders and Core

Overhead press 3×12 (Barbell or dumbbells)
Side raises 3×12
Barbell upright rows (also called high pulls, bar to chin)  3×12
Hanging leg raises 3×12
Incline situps 3×12
Vsnaps 3×12

Day 4: Legs

Barbell squats 3×12 (get in the squat rack for these)
Dumbell lunge walk 3×12 steps
Seated leg extension 3×12
Seated hamstring curl 3×12
Standing calf raises 3×12 (start without weight on a step, increase by holding a weight in the same hand as the leg being worked)

This should be enough to get you started and comfortable in the gym. Remember that your gym time is an investment in your health not in your relationships so focus on your work and save the chatter and socializing for afterwards.

This post is dedicated to Nikol 🙂


G-Day 5 – Legs and Back

So here is my interpretation. It is basically the same as doing the DVD in fact, I have only substituted a couple of moves. I cannot nail down the best way to work in the incline leg press so it may never make it in to the workout.

I posted this before the workout, so here it is again with the numbers included. This was a long (48min without warm up) and difficult workout. Surprisingly one of the hardest things was the Chair Pose on the BOSU ball. I was sweating bullets after that one and shaking like a leaf while attempting it.

Legs and Back


24 24 Balance Lunges
30 30 Calf-Raise Squats
13 FULL Reverse Grip Chin-Ups
15 15 Super Skaters
4x15s 60s Wall Squats
7 FULL Wide Front Pull-Ups
20 20 Step Back Lunges
20 24 Alternating Side Lunges
12 FULL Closed Grip Overhand Pull-Ups
6×10 60s Single-Leg Wall Squats
8 12 Deadlift Squats – SINGLE LEG SQUATS
9 FULL Switch Grip Pull-Ups
25@50 24 Hamstring Curls Machine
14 24 Stiff Leg Deadlifts – No Weight on bar
9 FULL Reverse Grip Chin-Ups (again)
2x30s 60s Chair Salutations or Squat hold on BOSU
20 12 Toe-Roll Iso Lunges
9 FULL Wide Front Pull-Ups (again)
5 20 Free Squat 4 count down 4 hold 4 up
47 20×3 Calf Raises
7 FULL Closed Grip Overhand Pull-Ups (again)
20 20 80/20 Siebers-Speed Squats
10 FULL Hammer Grip Pull-Ups

G-Day 3 – Shoulders and Arms

Here is the plan for today, shoulders and arms G90X styleeee!

Shoulders and Arms
First Circuit:
Alternating Shoulder Presses
Straight Bar Bicep Curls
Tricep Cable Pushdowns
Second Circuit:
Deep Swimmer’s Presses
Full Supination Concentration Curls
Feet Up Bench Dips
Third Circuit:
Upright Rows – Straight Bar
Static Arm Curls  – Straight Bar
Overhead Dumbell Tricep Extension
Fourth Circuit:
Standing Front and Side Shoulder Fly
Seated Concentration Curls
Tricep Extension and Close Grip Bench Finish
Bonus Circuit:
Hero Flys (Shoulder Fly to Y Position)
Straight Bar Curls with French Curl Finish
Free Dips on Dip Station

I will fill in the weights and other details including the obligatory whining about how sore my arms are going to be later…

G-Day 2 – Come back Tony, all is forgiven

Day 1 of G90X was great. No, wait, it sucked. Well, at the time it was great, now, 2 days later and I am facing Plyo while unable to walk properly I can tell you it was awful. I thought for sure I wouldn’t get sore, after all I had been doing pushups and pullups, what would a little weights be after that?

Well, as you can see below I didn’t use heavy weights, in fact I should have used the pink Olympic bar my bench was so light. In any case, I subbed what I could and did chin ups on the chest fly machine… An enormous double stack of weights with rowing machines and lat machines attached. The cool thing is that it faces the mirror wall and unlike my basement all the mirrors line up properly so you don’t look like a Salvador Dali painting as you are sweating your nuts off.

It was odd being back in the gym especially since I was there NOT doing my gym workout. Instead I had a list to get through. That list is here:

Day 1 Chest and Back


Set 1

Set 2

Flat bench 25 @ 135 20 @ 135
Wide Front Pull Ups



Narrow Grip Bench 25 @ 135 10 @ 135
Reverse Grip Chin Ups



Wide Fly Press 20 @ 25 15 @ 25
Closed Grip Overhand Pull Ups



Incline Bench (OR INCLINE DB PRESS) 20 @ 40 12 @ 40
Heavy Pants or Seated Cable Row 15 @ 150 12 @ 150
Diamond Push Ups / CABLE FLYS 20 @ 50 20 @ 50
Lawnmower 20 @ 30 20 @ 30
Dive Bomber Push Ups



Back Flys with machine 10 @ 110 10 @ 110
2 days later and I am in critical condition I am so sore.