Being new to the gym can be a daunting experience.
Whether we’ve been training for years at other gyms or at home, the new territory can leave us feeling lost. New spaces have new faces, different equipment, and a different layout.
All factors require you to adjust your training flow. For beginners, these effects are compounded.
The new environment is also met with confusion about what to do.
“How will I fit in?”
“Will people be able to notice that I haven’t trained in a gym before?”
This is something that I used to see regularly over my career as a trainer and it’s something I love to help with.
If you’re a beginner or just need a fresh start, you’re in luck!
Today, I’m sharing a 7-day gym workout plan for beginners with a PDF. It’s a solid schedule to kick start your weight training journey.
Let’s jump in.
How should a beginner start at the gym?
When first starting their training, a beginner should aim to target a variety of muscle groups.
A beginner’s program should begin with a three to five-minute warm-up, followed by a resistance training program consisting of compound lifts and some isolation exercises.
This will allow the beginner to target more muscles and will introduce them to a variety of different exercises.
Things to Consider When Deciding on a Gym Workout Plan as a Beginner
Choosing a workout plan as a beginner can be confusing with so many different opinions floating around.
Below is a list of things to consider when deciding on a gym workout plan as a beginner.
First, we need to establish training goals.
Do you want to pack on size, lose weight or improve performance?
All these factors can greatly differ when exercises, sets, reps, and overall duration.
Those looking to promote hypertrophy and lose weight will both want to increase lean muscle mass.
That requires lifting between 8-12 repetitions at 60-80% of one repetition maximum and increased training volume.
Plus, differences in overall body mass are made in the kitchen. Increasing mass requires calories and protein surplus. Weight loss requires a calorie deficit.
Meanwhile, individuals seeking improvements to performance need mass-building followed by sports-specific exercises such as balance and stability.
Gender can play a role in how you select your training programs. However, it does not influence it as much as it used to.
In the past, men’s and women’s training styles would differ greatly.
The idea that men should lift heavy and women should perform more reps for toning is a thing of the past.
Now we see both genders lifting how they would like, with many women pushing serious weight and training to build lean muscle.
It’s been scientifically noted that men do see a greater increase in muscle thickness and lean body mass during training. However, this should in no way influence your training goals and exercise choice.
When it’s time to begin your fitness journey, age is likely to be a factor at the front of your mind.
When we’re young, we want to jump in early. When we’re older, we think it’s “too late” to hit the gym.
Age, like gender, used to be regarded as a major factor when choosing exercises. We now know that gym training can be very beneficial for older adults.
Research has identified that resistance training can improve and reduce the developing conditions of aging. There are benefits for bone, muscular, and mental health.
Ultimately, lifting weights is by far one of the best things you can do, period. Lifting is for all ages, as it is a part of life.
Just be sure to modify your resistance and your workload to your experience level and go at your own pace. Focus on large compound lifts based on correct hip function and proper lifting techniques.
Being available to hit the gym is almost as important as setting your goals.
After all, there’s no point in choosing a 7-day gym workout plan if you only have three days to get to the gym.
Be honest with yourself and consider how training will fit into your weekly schedule. This will go a long way to sticking to your routine and achieving your goals.
Type of Training Splits
A 7-day workout plan can be a demanding task for anybody, especially beginners.
This is where split programming comes in.
Split programming allows you to target opposing muscle groups on different days.
Splits allow you to increase your training frequency and volume while still getting the rest required to recover.
Below is a list of potential split programs.
PPL (Push, Pull, Legs)
The push, pull, and leg split is one of the best ways to train. Rather than targeting muscle groups, it trains movements.
An example of a push day includes a variety of squats, lunges, and presses.
While the pull, is rows, chin-ups, and deadlifts.
And leg days are simply for training legs.
Upper-lower split refers to training the upper body one day and the lower body the following day.
This can be great for four days a week, allowing you to hit muscle groups twice per week with three days of rest.
The bro split refers to the training of muscle groups rather than movements.
A typical bro split includes chest Monday, back Tuesday, legs Wednesday, shoulders Thursday, and arms Friday.
The Number of Exercises Per Day
Related: How Many Exercises Per Workout?
Choosing the number of exercises can greatly impact the result you gain from your training and how long you spend in the gym.
For beginners, a repetition range of 8-12 performed for three sets is recommended to promote muscle growth.
A good rule is six to eight exercises per session. On average, each will take one minute to perform, followed by a one-minute rest.
Three sets should then take you six minutes. Multiply that by six to eight exercises and the total equals a 36-48-minute workout.
Performing six to eight exercises per session allows for three large compound lifts, two medium compound lifts, and two isolation exercises.
Below is an example:
- Three Large – Bench press, chest press, chest fly
- Two Medium – Shoulders press, lateral raise
- Two Isolation – Triceps kickbacks, tricep pushdowns
These can be interchanged to suit your needs and training goals.
Of course, more advanced lifters would typically increase these numbers. The trick is to make sure you are increasing your number of exercises where it counts.
Make sure to manage it so that the increased duration isn’t too much for your schedule.
Are you wondering what workout split will work best for you? Check out The Most Effective Workout Split For Women
The Best Beginners’ Exercises to Include in Your Gym Workout Plan
Below is a list of the best beginner exercises to include in your 7-day gym workout plan.
1. Goblet Squat
The goblet squat is an excellent starting point to learn about your hip hinge mechanics.
With many of the movements in and out of the gym revolving around our hips, this is essential to your success in the gym.
The goblet squat helps you to remain more upright. The use of light weight is all you need to provide the counterbalance required to lower yourself into a squat.
How To Perform Goblet Squat
- Standing upright, holding the dumbbell vertically, cupping the top weight plate.
- Keep chest up and elbows high.
- Begin by leading back with the hips and bend your knees.
- Lower hips down toward the floor until the knees are bent at 90 degrees.
- Once this position is reached, push up with legs to the upright position.
- Helps teach correct squat technique
- Improves depth
- For a beginner, start with a light weight and focus on technique.
- Keep elbows up throughout the entire movement. This stops them from dropping forward as you lower into the squat.
2. Dumbbell Alternating Lunges
Related: 12 Battle Rope Exercises
The lunge is a functional movement that helps us to build unilateral strength through the lower body.
How To Perform Dumbbell Alternating Lunges
- Standing with a dumbbell in each hand, take a stride forward with one leg.
- Drop the back leg directly down toward the floor.
- Lower until both knees are flexed at 90 degrees.
- Push up with both legs, push off with the front foot, and return to the standing position. Alternate legs. Repeat.
- Improves balance
- Build unilateral strength
- For beginners, take a stride forward and perform a half repetition to start. This will help introduce the movement. From here, you can gradually increase with each rep.
- Focus on breathing. Inhale as you lower, and exhale as you push up.
3. Barbell Deadlift
One of the most efficient movements for building strength and muscle mass in the gym is the barbell deadlift.
This movement may look daunting to a beginner, but I assure you that despite its complexity, it is just another movement.
One that will help you improve your overall function, and that’s why it’s on this list.
- Weight Plate
How To Perform Barbell Deadlift
- Stand in front of the dumbbell with shoelaces directly below the bar.
- Bend knees slightly and lean forward at the hips.
- Grasp the barbell with both hands and drop hips.
- Gently pull the bar and squeeze lats back and down toward the hips to create tension through the body.
- Push with legs and begin to lift the bar, straightening the knees.
- Once the bar passes the knee, begin to thrust forward with the hips until you reach the upright position.
- Once you reach the top, lead back with hips and allow the barbell to lower down the front of your legs.
- Once the barbell passes the knee, allow the knees to bend and lower the barbell to the starting position. Repeat.
- Teaches correct lifting technique
- Build strength and mass
- Gently grasp the bar and squeeze your lats before lifting. This will create tension throughout the body and improve your capacity to lift.
- Focus on your breathing, breathing out as you lift and inhaling as you lower the bar.
4. Lying Leg Curl
Related: Top 10 Inner Thigh Exercises
The lying leg curl targets the hamstring muscles that run on the back of our thighs.
These muscle fibers are important to lower body function and stability.
- Lying Leg Curl Machine
How To Perform Lying Leg Curl
- Lie face-down on the lying leg curls machine and place your legs under the ankle pad.
- Grab the support handle under the bench, engage glutes, and brace the core.
- Begin by curling your ankles toward your hips.
- Curl until your heel almost makes contact with your glute.
- From here, gradually lower until your ankles reach the starting position. Repeat.
- Improves lower body function
- Build strength and mass
- When lowering the resistance, do not allow the weight plates to touch. This will ensure you maintain tension through your muscles for the entire set.
- Before each repetition, engage your core and exhale as you curl your heels toward your hips. This will help improve your stability throughout your body and improve the contraction of the hamstrings.
5. Bench Press
The king of upper body movements, the bench press is a great builder of strength and mass for the chest, shoulder, and triceps.
- Bench Press
- Weight Plates
How To Perform Bench Press
- Lying face up on the bench, position yourself so that the bar meets your eye line.
- Place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Push the barbell up and take the weight of the bar, holding the bar directly over your chest with straight arms.
- Begin by bending the elbows and lowering the barbell down toward your chest.
- Lower until your elbows bend at 90 degrees.
- Push the bar up until your arms are up straight and at the starting position. Repeat.
- Build strength
- Build upper body mass
- Perform the movement with a spotter. This will allow you to lift confidently and reduce the risk of dropping the bar.
- Be sure to have your feet firmly placed on the floor. This will create a stable base to lift from and improve your ability to lift.
6. Cable Fly
Cable flys are an excellent way to round out your chest training.
Cable machines give us a way to adjust the point of resistance and target the fibers of the chest, even with a light weight.
- Cable Machine
- Single hand grip
How To Perform Cable Fly
- Adjust cables to head height.
- Standing in the middle of the cable machine facing away, grab a handle in each hand.
- Bring the handle in front with arms outstretched at the midline of the body.
- Assume a split stance and lean forward.
- With a slight bend at the elbow, gradually allow your arms to release back.
- Once they reach 70 degrees at the shoulder, pull hands back to the midline of the body. Repeat.
- Target chest
- Improves chest activation
- When performing the fly, focus on the contraction of the chest and not the arms. This will help improve targeting the fibers of the chest rather than simply moving the arms.
- As you fly and bring your hands to the midline of the body, exhale and engage the core. This will improve stability and help train your core activation.
7. Lat Pulldown
The lat pull is great for building size and improving physique. The lats are large muscles that span from the lower back up to the mid-back and out to each arm.
Increasing this muscle’s size and strength will help you improve your lifts and your overall size.
- Lat Pulldown Machine
How To Perform Lat Pulldown
- Take a seat on the lat pulldown machine and place knees under knee pads.
- Reach above the head and grasp the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- With the chest up and slightly leaning back, pull the bar down toward the collarbone.
- Once the bar reaches the collarbone, release the bar to the starting position. Repeat.
- Improves physique
- Great for strength and mass
- When performing the pulldown, focus on pulling with the elbows. This will help you forget about your hands and allow you to focus on the lats.
- For high-quality contractions, lean back slightly to allow for the bar to come down.
8. Cable Row
A simple and highly effective way to target the muscles of the upper back, the cable row is essential to any workout.
- Cable Row Machine
How To Perform Cable Row
- Take a seat on the cable row machine and lean forward to grasp the bar.
- Place feet on the platform in front of you and push back so that your torso is upright.
- To begin, gently engage the shoulder blades and pull the bar toward your belly button.
- Pull until your thumbs make contact with your body and then slowly release the cable back to the starting position. Repeat.
- Improves physique
- Great for strength and mass
- Prior to each rep, pull shoulder blades together without bending the arms. This will help you target the muscles of the back.
- Exhale as you row and inhale as you release the bar.
9. Dumbbell Seated Shoulder Press
The dumbbell seated shoulder press targets the shoulder and triceps. This is a great way to improve overhead strength while increasing mass.
- Adjustable Bench
How To Perform Dumbbell Seated Shoulder Press
- Set the adjustable bench to an upright position.
- Take a seat and place your feet firmly on the floor.
- Pick up the dumbbells and press them directly overhead at the midline of the body.
- To begin the movement, unhinge the elbows and lower the dumbbells.
- Lower out toward the sides until elbows are bent at 90 degrees.
- Once this position is reached, press the dumbbells back overhead and to the midline of the body. Repeat.
- Improves overhead strength
- Improves physique and mass
- When pressing above the head, control your press and don’t let the dumbbells hit one another. This will help you maintain control for the duration of the set.
- If you are lifting heavy weights, use a spotter. This will help you reduce the chance of injury and allow you to push more weight confidently.
10. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Dumbbell lateral raises target the middle deltoid, which is the outermost side of your shoulders.
Even though these fibers are small compared to other muscles in the body, increasing their size can give you a broader look through the upper body.
How To Perform Dumbbell Lateral Raise
- Stand with a dumbbell in each hand with arms resting at your sides.
- With straight arms, lift dumbbells up to the side of the body.
- Once the arms reach 90 degrees in relation to the body, slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat.
- Build shoulder width
- Improves shoulder strength
- The middle deltoid is a small muscle and only a small weight is required. This will allow you to focus on the contraction of the fibers rather than just moving the arms.
- Before each lift, exhale and engage your core, This will allow you to lift from a stable platform.
11. Dumbbell Biceps Curls
The dumbbell Bicep curl, what workout is complete without it? It’s the perfect movement to start your arms training.
Biceps are an important component of many movements in the body and a great way to improve our overall physique.
How To Perform Dumbbell Biceps Curls
- Stand with a dumbbell in each hand and palms facing forward.
- With elbows locked to your side, lift one dumbbell up, curling it toward the elbow.
- Lift until the dumbbell almost reaches the shoulder and slowly lower back to the starting position.
- Alternate sides. Repeat.
- Increase arm mass
- Improves physique
- Engage your core and exhale as you lift the dumbbell. This will help minimize movement from the body and improve performance.
- Breathe out as you lift and breathe in while lowering.
12. Bench Dips
The bench dip is a great movement for developing and strengthening the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
How To Perform Bench Dips
- Take a seat at the side of the bench and place your hands on the bench at your sides with fingers grasping the edge.
- Lift with your arms to take your body weight.
- Shift your body forward so that you are in front of the bench.
- Begin by bending your elbows and lowering your hips down toward the floor.
- Lower until your elbows are bent 90 degrees.
- Once you reach the bottom, push up with both arms until you reach the starting position.
- Targets arms and shoulders
- Improves physique
- Beginners should start with feet closer to the bench; this will assist with lifting your body weight.
- To increase resistance, straighten legs.
13. Cable Tricep Pushdown
The cable tricep pushdown targets the muscles that run down the back of the upper arm.
Pushdowns can help define the upper arms, giving you the cut look.
- Cable Machine
- Bar Attachment
How To Perform Cable Tricep Pushdown
- Set cable to the highest point and position the cable machine to meet the midline of the body.
- Grab the handle and tuck elbows to your sides.
- To begin, push the bar directly down toward the floor until your arms are straight.
- Slowly release and allow the bar to return to the starting position.
- Targets triceps
- Defines upper arms
- When performing the pushdown, exhale and engage the core. This will help you stabilize the body and focus on contracting the triceps.
- At the bottom of each rep, hold for a second and focus on tensing the muscle. This will help you target the fibers.
Core training is a key component of a gym workout, as it allows us to stabilize our body through every movement in the gym.
The plank is a simple and effective way to activate these muscles.
How To Perform Plank
- Get into a push-up position, balancing the body on hands and toes. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders.
- Keep hips parallel with the floor and hold for 20 seconds.
- Once the time is up, gently lower to the floor. Repeat.
- Engages core
- Improves physique
- Beginners should aim to focus on technique, focusing on keeping hips parallel with the floor.
- For the duration of the exercise, focus on breathing and activating core muscles. This will improve your ability to activate overall and improve other lifts in the gym.
15. Side Planks
The side plank targets the abdominal muscles that run down either side of the body. Activating and strengthening these will help you maintain control throughout your movements in and out of the gym.
How To Perform Side Plank
- Lie on your side with your elbow making contact with the floor and knees and feet together.
- Lift your hips up off the floor so that your weight is resting on your elbow and feet.
- Hold this position for 10-20 seconds,
- Gently lower to the floor. Switch sides. Repeat.
- Engages core
- Improves unilateral core strength
- Start with a short duration and focus on the contraction of the core muscles.
- Concentrate on breathing and tensing abs for the duration of the side plank.
7-Day Gym Workout Plan for Beginners
Related: 67 Gym Slang Terms
Below are two 7-day workout plans, one for muscle building and one for weight loss.
Warm-Up (Duration: 10 mins)
The following warm-up should be completed prior to both workouts listed below.
This will help increase blood flow to working muscles.
Plank and side plank will be your ab workout and core activation which will help your lifts during your session.
|Cardio||1||3 – 5 Minutes||–|
|Plank||2||30 secs||45 – 60 secs|
|Side Plank||2||20 sec each side||30 – 45 secs|
Muscle Gain Workout Plan for Beginners
The following gym workout plan for beginners is based on a push, pull, legs split. This may sound challenging, but it will give you the rest you need to train.
There’s added time during each session to focus on building muscle.
Program Weekly Schedule
Push (Duration 40 – 45 mins)
|Goblet Squats||3||8-10||45 – 60 secs|
|Alternating Lunges||3||10||45 – 60 secs|
|Bench Press||3||12||60 secs|
|Cable Fly||3||10||45 secs|
|Dumbbell Seated Shoulder Press||3||10||45 secs|
|Dumbbell Lateral Raise||3||10||45 secs|
|Bench Dips||3||8-12||45 – 60 secs|
Pull (Duration 30 – 35 mins)
|Barbell Deadlift||3||8-10||45 – 60 secs|
|Lying Leg Curl||3||10-12||30 – 45 secs|
|Lat Pulldown||3||8-12||45 – 60 secs|
|Cable Row||3||12||60 secs|
|Dumbbell Bicep Curls||3||8-12||30 – 45 secs|
Legs (Duration 25 – 30 Mins)
|Goblet Squats||3||8-12||30 – 45 secs|
|Barbell Deadlift||4||8||45 – 60 secs|
|Dumbbell Alternating Lunges||3||8-12||45 – 60 sec|
|Lying Leg Curl||3||10-12||45 – 60 secs|
Weight Loss Gym Workout Plan For Beginners
The weight loss gym workout plan is based on a full body training routine.
Many of them will largely be the same. The main difference is that each session will target the body, with a day off in between for either cardio or rest.
To maximize weight loss, maintain a calorie deficit.
The recommended calorie intake for weight loss in men is 2,000 calories and 1,500 for women.
Program Weekly Schedule
Full Body Workout (Duration 45 – 50 Mins)
|Goblet Squats||3||12-15||45 – 60 secs|
|Alternating Lunges||3||10-12||45 – 60 secs|
|Barbell Deadlift||3||10 -15||60 secs|
|Lat Pulldown||3||10 -15||45 secs|
|Cable Row||3||8 -12||45 secs|
|Chest Press||3||8 -12||45 secs|
|Dumbbell Seated Shoulder Press||3||8 -10||45 – 60 secs|
|Bench Dips||3||10 -12||45 – 60 secs|
Cardio (Duration 30 Mins)
Cardio will be completed on days between the gym. These sessions can be done at the gym or outdoor, using your choice of equipment
|Cardio ( e.g Walk, Run, Cross Trainer, Rower)||30|
Tips for Training Your Body as a Beginner
Below is a list of tips for the beginner to help you improve your training.
Set Goals and Follow a Plan
Setting goals and following a plan is the best way to ensure results.
Too often I have seen people talk about their goals, but there’s no plan or schedule in place to achieve them.
Therefore, they get mediocre results and may stop training altogether.
The gym is an incredible space to be in. It’s very empowering as our mental and physical health improves. However, without a plan and schedule, we fall out of routine.
Before heading to the gym, be clear about what your goals are.
Set a goal for the month and another for three months. Check in regularly with your progress.
This will allow you to reflect on your hard work and motivate you to keep going.
Increase Protein Intake
Building muscle requires correct nutrition and sufficient amounts of protein.
The recommended protein requirement to increase muscle mass is 1.6-2.2g per kilogram of bodyweight.
This will help you recover, build lean muscle, and help you stay fuller for longer.
Leave Your Ego at the Door
The gym can be a competitive environment and a place where we can get caught up in trying to lift more than we’re capable of.
When entering the gym, understand that the only person you are competing against is yourself.
Avoid lifting with your ego, and focus on correct technique and muscle contractions.
This will help you to get the results you want, and reduce the occurrence of injury.
Get Enough Rest
When we hit the gym the first time, the blood begins to pump and our muscles swell and those initial gains have us rushing back for more.
When this happens, we can find ourselves heading back without properly recovering.
Rest is a vital part of the gym. It allows our body to recover, repair, and build new muscle.
Research suggests that 48 hours is required for adequate recovery, meaning that you should have a day in between training.
A way around this is split programming.
Split programming allows you to train opposing muscles on different days. This allows you to rest one muscle group and train another group the following day.
What is the best schedule for the gym for beginners?
The best schedule for beginners is the one that suits their needs and goals. That said, full-body programs are great for beginners as they introduce a variety of movements to new lifters.
If the split program is something that suits your goals, this may be a better approach as you will be able to increase volume while still being able to recover.
How do I create a workout plan at the gym?
Creating a gym program should start with compound lifts followed by smaller lifts.
Large movements such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are logical starting points as they require the most energy.
Follow this up with smaller movements such as rows and press movements.
Finish off with an isolation movement.
What should I do on rest days?
Rest days should be used to allow the body to recover. If you are struggling to remain still during those days, you can head out for a gentle walk or some light cardio.
This will increase blood flow and loosen up muscle tissue without putting too much strain on the body.
Hitting the gym for the first time can feel like being the new kid at school. The people, equipment, and unfamiliar atmosphere can be overwhelming.
Just remember that we were all beginners once.
The best thing you can do is head in with a workout plan, listen to your body, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
The gym is an amazing place to be and your body will thank you for it.
So, what are you thinking of hitting for the first time? Why not try our program and let us know how you’re doing?
Let me know what you think of the program in the comments, and share the plan with a beginner who needs some encouragement.