Starting Strong: The Ultimate 8 Week Workout for Beginners

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
October 5th, 2017
Updated: January 23rd, 2018
Starting Strong: The Ultimate 8 Week Workout for Beginners
Are you a beginner looking to get big and strong? This 8 week workout program for beginners covers all of the basics needed to build lean muscle mass!
Workout Summary

Workout Description

Building your desired physique isn’t all that complicated. But simple doesn’t mean easy.

This is all too evident with the beginner. Many newbies want to skip over the time-tested trench training and go straight to advanced techniques, marathon workouts, and stockpile a king’s collection of supplements.

But the opposite has never been truer. You can’t carve a pebble; you need to build a foundation of granite before you get mucked up in all the details of advanced lifters.

You need a solid, basic workout program to help you build muscle. Period.

Below is such a program. Try this 8 week workout for beginners to kick start your muscle building quest, and with a little patience and a huge serving of hard work, you’ll say goodbye to the beginner moniker and be on the road to your ideal physique.

The Ultimate 8 Week Workout for Beginners

Perform the following program on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

You can also shift to Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays as long as you have a day of rest between workouts.

Rest for 30-60 seconds in between each set and exercise.

Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets
1. Barbell Bench Press 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
2. Pull Ups 1 x 12 on pull down 3 x failure
3. Back Squat 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
4. Lying Leg Curl - 3 x 6-12
5. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press - 3 x 6-12
6. Floor Crunch - 3 x 20
Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets
1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
2. Barbell Deadlift 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
3. Weighted Dip 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
4. Barbell Curl 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
5. Barbell Romanian Deadlift 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
6. Standing Calf Raise 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
7. Lying Leg Lift - 3 x 20
Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets
1. Dumbbell Bench Press 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
2. Bent-over Barbell Row 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
3. Standing Barbell Press 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
4. Front Squat 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
5. Dumbbell Lunge - 3 x 6-12
6. Seated Calf Raise 1 x 12 3 x 6-12
7. Bicycle Crunch - 3 x 20
Jacob Hoffman
Posted on: Mon, 05/15/2023 - 23:24

I am confused by the rep ranges? How many sets exactly are we supposed to be doing for each exercise? Also how often do we add more weight?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 05/30/2023 - 20:49

Start light and shoot for the top end of the range. Add weight each set and reduce the reps by 1 or 2 if necessary. If you can get more than 12, go heavier. If you can't get six, go lighter. The last set should be to complete failure.

Posted on: Mon, 02/06/2023 - 14:03

I will put out romanian dl and in 3rd day I will do goblet squat is this OK? Also can I change pull up with lat pulldow? And one more dips is for triceps or chest?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/21/2023 - 20:46

The goblet squat uses the quads while the romanian dl works hamstrings. You can do lunges or single leg deadlifts instead. If you insist on goblet squats, go with a very wide stance.

Pullups are great.

Dips are for both chest and triceps.

Posted on: Thu, 10/13/2022 - 16:54

I’ve been doing this routine for about 10 weeks now. I’ve seen physical gains and have gotten a lot stronger! What do you suggest I do now?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 10/14/2022 - 09:55

What is your main goal, Sydney?

Kendrick Agyapong
Posted on: Thu, 06/02/2022 - 10:13

Is it okay if I do this workout routine every other day rather than just 3 times a week?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 06/07/2022 - 20:39

Go for it, Kendrick. If that will help you keep committed to the program, do you. Let us know how it works for you.

Posted on: Sat, 02/05/2022 - 04:33

I've been working out for 7 months. I guess i am at intermediate level now. I was very skinny before after going gym i've gained 5kg only. Currently My weight is 51Kg as my height 5 feet 7.5 is there any productive exercise plan do you recommend according to my body structure? My goal is to gain weight and muscle as well. Thanks

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 02/08/2022 - 18:28

Hello, Khairul. Congrats on the progress you have made! Here is a great program for you to take on to help you add quality mass.

Posted on: Thu, 10/14/2021 - 05:52

Hello i was on my 6th week foe this program "starting strong" and i got sick and admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. Do i continue from week 6 or start the whole program again for the next 8 weeks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 10/20/2021 - 15:54

Hey Valentine, once you get cleared by your doctor to train, start over. Begin fresh and see if you can surpass the pace you was on the first time.

Posted on: Sun, 08/18/2019 - 11:36

Hi. Do i need to do cardio? What do i do on the alternate days? Rest or cardio?

Posted on: Sat, 05/11/2019 - 13:16

Next week will be my first time at gym but I've been doing regularly bodyweight exercises at home for last 3 months. Is this program good for me or should I search for something more advanced?

Posted on: Wed, 04/03/2019 - 02:59

How to I know what load/weight to perform these exercises at ?

Is there a guide of my 1 RM ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/03/2019 - 10:21

Hi Driver,

For most exercises, you'll want to use 75-85% of your working max for an exercise. You may need to experiment a little at first to figure this out. After each set, you should feel as though you have 1-2 more reps left in the tank.

Posted on: Wed, 02/20/2019 - 22:27

I've just started going to the gym regularly the last couple weeks. Still trying to build up strength. If I am unable to do a pull-up is there something I can do in exchange for that?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 02/21/2019 - 08:59

Hi Sadie,

I'd recommend some of these exercises:

Mohammed Ibrahim
Posted on: Fri, 11/16/2018 - 16:20


I have a question regarding the supplements, when should I use each one?

Posted on: Thu, 10/18/2018 - 12:33

How light or heavy should I go when it comes to the weighted exercises? I've only been to the gym a couple times in my whole life so wanted to be sure before I went in head first.

Posted on: Wed, 12/12/2018 - 13:30

That’s different for everyone and you’ll learn it very quickly. Basically the amount that allows you to do the consistent amount of reps with resistance for each set. If you do 8 reps with 30lb, but feel that you can do 15, then you need to increase the weight so you can only do 8. But also with enough comfortability to be able to do 8 for two more sets.

Posted on: Fri, 12/28/2018 - 13:51

Should you increase the weight through out the weeks

Posted on: Wed, 10/17/2018 - 11:10

I've completed this 8 week work out and am very satisfied. Which routine would you suggest after completing this one?


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 10/18/2018 - 09:11

Hi Kareem,

This is the next workout in this particular series:

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sun, 10/14/2018 - 23:21

Just want to say thank you for sharing these programs & love the video demostrations.What is the difference between this plan & the 5 week begginer phase 1 plane ? Thanks

Posted on: Fri, 10/12/2018 - 21:09

Can I substitute Rack Pulls for the Barbell Deadlift and Barbell Romanian Deadlift?
Also, why two different deadlifts in one workout?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:05

Hi Chad,

Sure, you can do that. The RDL isolates the hamstrings a lil more, while conventional requires more work from the quads and back.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Fri, 10/12/2018 - 02:13

I am about 154lbs and have a height of 179cms and I am about to start gym from the next week. Is this program beneficial for me?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 10/12/2018 - 10:53

Hi Shrenyanshu,

This program is great for any beginner.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Fri, 09/14/2018 - 09:56

Quick question!

When clicking on the video for the exercise: Standing Barbell Row (Friday) the video guide for "Military Press opens, is this the right exercise ?


Jonathan Williams
Posted on: Tue, 09/11/2018 - 17:55

Question for the weighted dips...

Is this triceps bench dips or chest/tricep dips with a dip station? It makes sense if it's the tricep variation because chest has already been hit at the beginning of the workout....

Posted on: Tue, 09/11/2018 - 05:18

Does this give you enough time to recover for muscle growth?

Posted on: Wed, 07/25/2018 - 20:59

I am about 70 lbs overweight. Ive been going to the gym off and on for the last couple of weeks and Ive lost a couple of lbs but I can't seem to find a plan that works for me. Is this something I can do and start, combined with HIIT cardio and a good diet that'll help me loose weight?

Posted on: Mon, 07/09/2018 - 09:40

i dont feel comfortable doing bench press and is some other exercise I can do?

Posted on: Sun, 06/03/2018 - 12:46

How many pounds of muscle can a 25 year old guy that hasn't lifted in about 2 years expect to gain during this 8 week program? Considering he gets good rest and follows it up with a good diet.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/04/2018 - 08:43

Hi Waqas,

There's really no way to predict that. Everyone will experience different results due to a number of factors. If you're interested in the program, give it a go, enjoy the process, and reap the benefits long term.

Hope this helps!

Rob G
Posted on: Sat, 05/26/2018 - 18:51

Hi Pat,

I’m headed into my 4th week of this program and I’m definitely noticing an increase in strength! The workout suggest using optional creatine and protein power, currently I’m taking Cellucor Alpha Anino Ultimate, Energy & Metabolism Multi & Fish Oil. I was wondering how much more beneficial is it to switch to the protein powder & creatine? Is it safe to mix the two? Should I drop the Amino altogether?

Thank You.

Posted on: Fri, 05/18/2018 - 00:54

Hi, I see a lot of those plans contain deadlifts the problem is that I have back problems that prohibit me from doing excersises like this I need replacement for the deadlifts and the bend-over rows.

Thank you

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 05/18/2018 - 08:48

Hi Pat,

If you have serious back problems that prohibit you from performing the deadlift, I'd recommend seeking the advice of a personal trainer in person. Reason being, people over the internet won't know the extent to which your back problems prohibit your movement patterns. Blind recommendations may result in injury, which isn't fair for anyone :)

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Wed, 05/16/2018 - 18:07

I went to gym for 7-8 months,but then I left,I haven't been to gym for 2 months,so should I do beginner workout or intermediate workout?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 05/17/2018 - 08:46

Hi Jack,

You'd probably benefit from using a beginner workout.

Hope this helps!

Orville Morales
Posted on: Wed, 04/25/2018 - 16:04

What comes after this? My cousin and I did these workouts for 8 weeks (more like 10 weeks since we fell off here and there). But we def. See the difference and wonder what is next for us?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/25/2018 - 16:31

Hi Orville,

This is the next workout program in this series:

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 12/15/2018 - 09:48

Is this after phase three beginner then head to intermidate or after phase 1 beginner then to intermidate workout?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 12/17/2018 - 10:42

Hi Senay,

Do all three beginner phases of the program.

Posted on: Sat, 12/15/2018 - 09:50

Hey Orville, have you done phase 1 beginner than head to intermidate or you have to finish phase 2and 3 beginner?

Posted on: Sun, 04/15/2018 - 14:06

I'm on my 3rd week and enjoying the program. I can see/feel muscle imbalance on my left side (arm/pec) is it ok to lean more to the left on all barbell lifts and to add 2 extra reps on the dumbbell lifts left side only? Any recommendations? Thanks in advance!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 04/16/2018 - 09:11

Hi Moe,

How significant is the muscle imbalance? It's natural to have some degree of muscle imbalance. Run the program as is and if it's still significantly noticeable, then look to add extra volume via unilateral exercises.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:00

What does it mean by warmup sets and working sets? What’s the difference?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:05

Hi Ross,

Warm up sets are usually performed with 50-60% of the weight you'd use for your working set. Warm up sets do not count towards your working sets as they don't place as much strain on the muscle groups being worked.

Hope this helps!