12 Week Full Body Workout Routine for Beginners

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

Build Muscle
Full Body
Beginner
12 weeks
3
30-45 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female
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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

 

705 Comments+ Post Comment

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

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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Posted Mon, 04/12/2021 - 09:06
Abigail_M&S

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

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

Thank you Abigail.

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

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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Posted Thu, 12/03/2020 - 11:43
Abigail_M&S

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

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

please give me a perfect workout plan for cuts

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Posted Tue, 12/01/2020 - 09:29
Abigail_M&S

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

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

No

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

1) When to do cardio?

2) When should the stretching be done?

3) Should warming be done before sets?

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Posted Tue, 10/27/2020 - 09:35
Abigail_M&S

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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!

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

Hi Lauren. What plan would you advise?

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

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

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

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?

MikeWines's picture
Posted Tue, 07/28/2015 - 10:38
MikeWines

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."

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

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

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

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?

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

can we do cardio with this plan?

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

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

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

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

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

Does this workout apply to women as well as men?

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

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

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

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

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

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 :)

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

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??

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

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

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

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.

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

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?

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

What is a good workout to do after this one?

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

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

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

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

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Posted Tue, 05/13/2014 - 16:29
Angie

Hi Steve,
A group of friends and me are looking for a workout to do together in a small group. We basically have little workout experience and are just trying to shed some weight and tone up for summer. Would you recommend this for us? Thanks.

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Posted Sun, 04/20/2014 - 10:13
Gaurav

Hi, What is the sequence should be followed for 1-6 weeks exercises?? Should start from Legs and end with abdomen??

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Posted Sun, 04/20/2014 - 09:41
Gaurav

Hi, Should I do the work out for 1-6 weeks in sequence it is given i.e starting from Legs and ending with Abdomen?? Can i change sequence??

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Posted Thu, 04/10/2014 - 10:19
Salmaan

Hi Steve
Im looking to build some lean muscle whilst getting fit. I dont want to be too big and bulky so i was wondering if i could follow this routine thrice a week (Monday,Wednesday,Friday) without the arm exercises? And instead have a dedicated day for a full arm session? i train 5 days a week and usually combine my weight training with kickboxing.
i am 24 , i am 176cm tall and weigh 65kg and would ideally like to get up to around 70kg

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Posted Mon, 04/07/2014 - 22:58
Shannon

What would you reccommend we do after completing this? What do we move on to?

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Posted Tue, 04/01/2014 - 01:42
Rudy

Hi Steve. I'm looking to burn fat in a big way. I have lost 35lbs thru diet alone since the beginning of the year. I still have 125lbs to go to meet my goal. I am 5'9 and currently weigh 325lbs. What would you recommend?

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Posted Sat, 03/15/2014 - 09:46
dan

Just starting the last phase of this program. Steve what do you recommend once this program is complete? 3-4 days a week works well for me.

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Posted Thu, 03/13/2014 - 03:19
Nik

Hi there

Thanks for taking all the time to respond to questions here.

This has probably been asked, but for beginners, is the first 6 weeks supposed to be 1 set of 15 reps *to failure*? Close to failure? Assume I have lifted weights maybe 4 times in my life (i.e. basically never).

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Posted Thu, 03/06/2014 - 06:56
Simon

Hi Steve & any other experienced trainer
,
have been training 3 times a week doing your routine which I have had to modify as I have a long term back injury. I hadn't done any exercise in 10 years and weighed 125kgs I am now down to 117kgs and I love the feeling of working out.

Can you please give me some advice on routine to continue muscle growth and reduce fat? I currently perform a fully body circuit doing 4 sets of 10 reps on each major muscle group plus a super set to exhaustion after each group.

I train 3 days per week and do 30 mins Cardio at the end of each session. i have been told to avoid squats,dead lift military press etc due to my back injury but I have found I am weak in the knees front and back. I have been doing goblet squats although my knees are sore after.

Any advice would be appreciated.

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Posted Tue, 03/04/2014 - 12:53
Stacy

Need to lose about 40 pounds. Mid-thirties. Female. Beginner.
Hesitant to start this workout bc it's not specific to women. Shouldn't the workout routine be different for men vs women?

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Posted Tue, 03/04/2014 - 05:53
Christian Cabacungan

Hi Steve!
I'm an avid reader of your column. I'm from the Philippines.
I go to work at 2:30 pm and I get home at 11:30 pm.
I just want to know your opinion, Is it okay to jog in the evening and work out in the morning?
What kind of work out routine can you recommend that suites my lifestyle?

Thanks in advance.

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Posted Sat, 03/01/2014 - 21:26
derbala

what routine do u recommend after finishing this one ??

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Posted Wed, 02/05/2014 - 16:49
Jscheiterlein

@Frank

Because during Week 1 - 6 you you are only doing 1 set each and you want to focus on proper form. Then starting Week 7 and beyond you start on 2 sets while increasing weight each week.

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Posted Tue, 02/04/2014 - 18:45
Frank Hagerty

How come After weeks 1-6 it switches from 15 reps to a rep range which is 6-12?

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Posted Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:18
Travis

On the 7-12 week split it give two exercises with 2 set numbers do I do them both or is one an alternative

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Posted Sat, 02/01/2014 - 13:26
Dave Satterlee

Where can I find links to the back extension and reverse crunch exercises? I tried Googling them and came up with many different exercises. Which ones are you referring to? Thanks!