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 🙂


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