A 12 week full body beginner workout routine designed to introduce you to a range of gym equipment and basic bodybuilding exercises in under 60 minutes.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
    Full Body
  • Training Level
    Beginner
  • Program Duration12 weeks
  • Days Per Week
    3
  • Time Per Workout30-45 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Recommended Supps
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

New to the gym? Never trained with weights before? If so, this 12-week beginner training routine is for you.

This program introduces you to a variety of exercises performed with a barbell, dumbbells, cables, and machines that will not only jumpstart your training but also help you familiarize yourself with the different equipment at the gym.

Recommended: Need help building muscle? Take our Free Muscle Building Course

Weeks 1-6: Total Body Circuit Workout

You should always have at least one rest day between your workouts. A sample week would look like this:

  • Monday: Workout
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

Weeks 1-3:

During the first three weeks, do each exercise for one set of 15 reps. Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 1 15
Lying Leg Curl 1 15
Seated Cable Curl 1 15
Flat Bench Press 1 15
Dumbbell Press 1 15
Dumbbell Shrug 1 15
Tricep Pushdown 1 15
Barbell Curl 1 15
Back Extension 1 15
Standing Calf Raise 1 15
Barbell Wrist Curl 1 15
Crunches 1 15

Weeks 4-6:

Use a slightly heavier weight than you used in weeks 1-3. Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 2 12
Lying Leg Curl 2 12
Seated Cable Row 2 12
Flat Bench Press 2 12
Dumbbell Press 2 12
Dumbbell Shrug 2 12
Tricep Pushdown 2 12
Barbell Curl 2 12
Back Extension 2 12
Standing Calf Raise 2 12
Barbell Wrist Curl 2 12
Crunches 2 12

Asian man in black shirt and pants doing dumbbell curl.

Weeks 7–12: Upper/Lower Split with Increased Intensity.

Weeks 7-12 split the workouts into two parts: upper body and lower body. In the first week, you’ll end up doing Workout 1 twice, while in the second week you’ll do workout 2 twice etc. Here’s what your schedule could look like:

Week A:

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout 2
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout 1
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

Week B:

  • Monday: Workout 2
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Workout 1
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Workout 2
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

Related: Warming Up for Dummies: A Lifter's Guide to Injury Prevention

Workout 1: Upper Body

Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps
Flat Dumbbell Press 2 10-12
Pec Deck Fly 1 10-12
Single Arm Dumbbell Row 2 10-12
Seated Cable Row 1 10-12
Seated Dumbbell Press 2 10-12
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 1 10-12
Dumbbell Shrug 2 10-15
Tricep Pushdown 2 10-15
Barbell Curl 2 10-12
Barbell Wrist Curl 2 10-12

Workout 2: Lower Body

Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps
Smith Machine Squats 1 8-12
Leg Extension 1 10-12
Lying Leg Curl 1 10-12
Back Extension 1 20-30
Standing Calf Raise 1 12-15
Crunches 2 15-40
Reverse Crunch 2 15-30

 

721 Comments
Steven Santos
Posted on: Sun, 03/13/2022 - 14:15

Do you have a beginner workout planet fitness just machines upper/lower body bodybuilding build muscle/lose fat? Thanks

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 03/16/2022 - 21:06

We have something close, Steven. We have a machine and dumbbell PF workout. You can swap out the dumbbell movements for machines that are in your gym if you like.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/4-day-upper-lower-planet-fitn...

Toby
Posted on: Tue, 02/08/2022 - 04:51

I'm only week 5 in and I must say this routine is incredibly easy for someone who hasn't touched weights in 3-4 years. First couple weeks I noticed how weak my joints, tendons ligaments all were, but now I'm noticing strength gains. I'm a big boy, so currently dieting and this has definitely aided in weight loss too.

Thanks for the workout, I'm keen to finish the program and compare my results from start to finish

Don
Posted on: Sat, 01/22/2022 - 11:37

Hi, I am new to doing strength training and lifting weights. How do I determine what weight I should be lifting for each exercise. This looks like a great workout.

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 01/25/2022 - 18:39

Hi, Don. The tried and true method of trial and error is what it takes. Grab a weight that you feel confident in using. If it's too light, go up. If you can't complete the reps with proper form, go down.

Don
Posted on: Wed, 01/26/2022 - 10:56

Hi Roger, thank you for the feedback. This is perfect. I will definitely follow your advice., greatly appreciated.

Eslam Mohamed
Posted on: Sat, 12/11/2021 - 13:07

Hello, I have not been to the gym for two years. Besides, I found many programs for beginners. Please tell me from which program to start??

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 12/14/2021 - 17:43

Eslam, this program would be a great option for you.

An
Posted on: Sun, 11/07/2021 - 21:52

after I complete this, do I repeat this program or start another one?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 11/08/2021 - 18:27

Hi, An. That is up to you. If you feel you're ready to move up to an intermediate program, then you can try one like this.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/intermediate-muscle-building-...

If you feel you need more time before taking this one on, give the beginners program another round. Either way, best of luck!

Matt
Posted on: Sun, 10/17/2021 - 18:07

Hi, I’m 61 years old, 6’0” 200lbs newbie. I started the 1-6 week beginner whole body workout, but I’m new to lifting, and I thought 1 set was 3 x 15. I needed to go a little lighter so I could complete all 3 sets of 15 reps. I am about to start the split workout weeks 7-12. Should I find the heaviest weight I can complete 15 reps with good form, and just go on from there?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 10/20/2021 - 16:17

What's up, Matt? Yes, that is the right way to do it. Make sure the form stays on point, and you'll be good to go.

Matt
Posted on: Wed, 10/20/2021 - 18:04

Thanks for the reply Roger. It seems like most others in the gym were doing more than 1 set. I’m on weeks 7-12 now and will follow the number of sets shown on the plan. Can you suggest something with more sets after completion of the beginner whole body workout?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 10/21/2021 - 18:44

I sure can. Give this a go when you feel you're ready.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/the-next-step-6-week-intermed...

Matt
Posted on: Thu, 10/21/2021 - 22:09

This should keep me busy for awhile!
Thanks,
Roger

Gene
Posted on: Fri, 04/09/2021 - 20:17

So I'm a 60 yr old male, type 2 Diebetic and I want to get bake into shape. Is this a good work out to lose weight while getting tone?

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 04/12/2021 - 09:06

Hey Gene - the biggest factor in losing weight is your diet. Yes, this routine paired with a caloric deficit will help you lose weight.

Gene
Posted on: Mon, 04/12/2021 - 10:15

Thank you Abigail.

Jared
Posted on: Wed, 12/02/2020 - 16:10

Hi,

Would this be a good routine to start back at the gym after lockdown? I've not been the gym since March and have been working out at home, predominantly using bodyweight. I'm an intermediate weightlifter as prior to lockdown I lifted weights for a number of years. I'm just concious about going too hard to fast and picking up.an injury.

Thanks

Jared

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Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 12/03/2020 - 11:43

Hey Jared - this would be a great way to ease back into the gym. Keep your weights manageable and you should be good!

Deepak Nath
Posted on: Tue, 12/01/2020 - 00:41

please give me a perfect workout plan for cuts

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 12/01/2020 - 09:29

Hey Deepak - there's no perfect program out there, but you can take a look at our wide selection of fat loss workouts: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/fat-loss

Evance komanest...
Posted on: Tue, 01/19/2021 - 15:41

No

Murat
Posted on: Sat, 10/24/2020 - 09:59

1) When to do cardio?

2) When should the stretching be done?

3) Should warming be done before sets?

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 10/27/2020 - 09:35

Hey Murat - cardio should be done after your workouts. A dynamic warm-up should be done before your session. You can do additional stretching after your session if needed. You can do a warm-up set before the main sets of each exercise if you feel like you need to.

Ahmed
Posted on: Mon, 03/26/2018 - 11:00

I read this article & got a single doubt , I'm truly "FAT" & wanted to know whether it's okay for me to go through this program or shall i focus on losing fats first then head using this article, Thank you.

Regards
Ahmed

Karsten
Posted on: Sun, 07/17/2016 - 10:37

I really don't understand the set 2 1 thing. And weeks 7-12 don't make sense because your doing so little workouts then before. It seems like you would get weaker. Someone please help.

Chris
Posted on: Fri, 05/06/2016 - 10:59

I'm 8-9 weeks into this workout regimen. Doing the upper body portion of the split workout today my lower back where my spine meets my pelvis started to hurt/ache (still does). I've never had back problems aside from the occasional tweak. Any ideas? Don't believe I'm over doing it. Just wanted to make sure there's not some common mistake I'm making.

Lauren
Posted on: Wed, 04/27/2016 - 02:09

This is an awful plan. I hope people aren't following this. I really wouldn't trust a plan that suggests Smith machine squats and doesn't even mention a deadlift variation! This plan really won't help you progress very far as it barely even covers the basics!

Johnny B Goode
Posted on: Fri, 04/26/2019 - 12:19

Hi Lauren. What plan would you advise?

Dave
Posted on: Sun, 02/21/2016 - 16:58

Can someone please explain what it means where the sets are described as 2 1 or 2 2? Thanks.

carmen
Posted on: Tue, 07/28/2015 - 04:24

is it a good idea to do weights one week then cardio the next? I was told to change my workout...do not keep the same work routine. The body would react to loosing weight and gaining muscle....Also I don't want to bulk up, I just want to define and tone my body....is it true that lifting light weight will get me toned and defined?

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MikeWines
Posted on: Tue, 07/28/2015 - 10:38

Carmen,
Stick to lifting weights 3-4 times per week and perform 1-2 cardiovascular sessions as well depending upon your schedule. "Muscle confusion" is a myth; if you're progressively overloading movements each week (i.e. adding more weight, sets, or reps) then the workout is indeed changing in some form or fashion.

If you ENJOY doing a different workout every time you enter the gym, you can do that but it will just be harder to track your progress in the long run so that's important to keep in mind.

As I mentioned in the comments section of this article (https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/4-week-beginner-workout-for-w...), "...keep in mind that the "toned" look most women are going for is going to be accomplished by adding muscle mass to your frame, not by slimming down indefinitely.

If someone wants to lose weight, that should primarily be accomplished through a caloric deficit, not through excessive amounts of cardiovascular work.

Weight training won't make you bulky or cause you to lose your shapely frame as you don't have the hormones for that to take place."

Michele
Posted on: Fri, 05/01/2015 - 20:15

So weeks 7-12 it says so sets and reps but how do you know how many reps to do.

Ashley
Posted on: Mon, 03/30/2015 - 22:20

Hey Steve - I am not new to lifting but am looking to get some advise in regards to how many calories I should intake daily.. I just found the above routine and thought it would be great to get me back in the routine again as I haven't done any serious lifting since college basketball a yr ago.. What would you suggest my daily calorie intake be? And would you also agree that I am good to drink a protein shake before and after my workouts or just after?

sajad
Posted on: Mon, 03/23/2015 - 07:31

can we do cardio with this plan?

Adam
Posted on: Sun, 02/22/2015 - 23:39

Should I be doing anything cardio wise? Like some cardio on non-gym days or something like that?

Kasia
Posted on: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 16:02

Hi Steve,
The forum has been super helpful but I'm still struggling to pick my first routine- I'm 35 yo f, 21% body fat, 130 lbs. I'm athletic and run but really haven't had a weight training routine. I'm ready to add muscle and in the process, if realistic, cut to 18% BF. I have read enough about supplementation and nutrition and I eat clean already, so am ready to supplement - it seems like the 12 week program with only 2 days a week isn't enough, and I see you recommend the 3 day beginner workout quite a bit but honestly I haven't truly lifted weights before on a schedule. Would you still recommend the 12 week 2 day-er or do the 3 day beginner with lighter weights for a couple weeks to get form down? Thank you so much for diligently replying to people's questions, I think I have learned more through reading the comments than even the article! Look forward to finally picking a program with your help,
Kasia

Amy
Posted on: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:35

Does this workout apply to women as well as men?

Shamsul Ari Fin
Posted on: Wed, 01/07/2015 - 03:23

Dear Sir,
I am trying to gain some wait and at the same time gain muscle. What's your advice??

li
Posted on: Tue, 10/14/2014 - 03:31

Hi i am not be on a gym for 5-6 months do you recomendad to do this program first then 20 week quick start

Moni
Posted on: Mon, 09/01/2014 - 08:11

I AM AT WEEK 9 AND HAVE NO CLUE WHERE TO GO FROM THIS PROGRAM. AT THIS POINT, I FEEL I CAN STAY ON THIS PROGRAM AWHILE LONGER BECAUSE OF THE STRENGTH I AM AT RIGHT NOW BUT THIS MIGHT CHANGE IN 3 WEEKS AND POSSIBLY CHANGE IT UP. CAN I CONTINUE WITH THIS PROGRAM 8 WEEKS AFTER COMPLETION? IS THERE ANOTHER PROGRAM I CAN FOLLOW AFTER COMPLETING THIS ONE? AFTER I HAVE COMPLETED THIS PROGRAM AM I STILL AT THE BEGINNER LEVEL OR INTERMEDIATE LEVEL? I HAVE NO PARTNER AND AM IN THIS ALONE SO IF SOMEONE CAN DIRECT ME INTO THE RIGHT WAY THAT WOULD BE GREAT :)

Caprice
Posted on: Sun, 08/24/2014 - 15:24

I was wondering if this workout was tailored for females as well? Also what would you recommend as far as caloric range for me if I'm trying to lose fat and tone up my muscles??

Chris
Posted on: Sat, 07/05/2014 - 08:49

Hi, I am only 15 and I am wondering if I'm too young to start going to the gym or not. I'm 173cm and I weigh 58kg but I really want to gain some mass and lose some of the fat I have. Also with exercises do you only do the one exercise and that's it because if so, I was thinking of putting all the exercises in 3 days. Like this.
Day 1
Lower back, Upper back, Chest, Traps
Day 2
Quads/glutes, Hamstrings, Calves, Shoulders
Day 3
Forearm, Bicep, Tricep, Abs

Akeed
Posted on: Fri, 06/20/2014 - 10:52

Is this routine suitable for a skinny guy?Will I lose any more weight?Might I hopefully gain some weight?...I'm 6'1 tall but only 60 kg heavy,
Thanks a lot,
Akeed.

Tejas Goyal
Posted on: Wed, 02/02/2022 - 04:37

as long as you are in a caloric surplus you will gain weight;
your workout has nothing to do with your bodyweight

Ethan
Posted on: Fri, 06/13/2014 - 12:28

When I get to the split section, should I do my two sets consecutively then move on to the next exercise, or should I do one set of each exercise and then go back and repeat the entire workout?

Patrick
Posted on: Wed, 06/04/2014 - 12:49

What is a good workout to do after this one?

Dan
Posted on: Sun, 06/01/2014 - 16:34

Im training to be a dancer. been at dance school doing street/hip hop for 2 years now and now wanting to start building my body up. Im 5.6 weighting bout 140 pounds and im skinny but got some belly fat. i have been told to eat around 3000 calories and to bulk up and then get rid of any fat later on.

is that weight plan ok for me to stick to to reach my goals to have a nice strong body for dancing?

thanks

Aodh
Posted on: Sat, 05/31/2014 - 20:02

Hi I started weight training 3 months ago , but the program I followed was the 10 week mass building program I got on this site, not knowing it was for advanced people. I got some gains on it found it hard to do some of the excercises near end of the workout and to up my weight. What would be a good program to follow would this suit me? Or would I go for something else? Iv gained muscle but not a lot and iv defiantly got abit stronger