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For a beginner's workout to be effective, the full-body program should incorporate high-volume training, increased intensity, and workout splits to achieve significant muscular gains, also known as hypertrophy. This will help you build muscle size and strength.
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Whether you’re a seasoned expert or new to strength training, working out at home is a great option when you can’t get to the gym or need a change of pace.
The at-home workouts below require a limited amount of equipment. Plus, some of the movements can be substituted for bodyweight exercises in which you use your body’s own weight as resistance.
These exercises can serve as a weeklong beginner routine or be cycled to provide several sessions per week for advanced trainees.
If your goal is weight loss, you can add a form of cardio, such as running or cycling, between sessions.
Equipment required: flat weight bench, appropriate adjustable dumbbells based on your level of experience
If you’re just starting out, you may want to visit a specialty store to get expert advice on selecting the right equipment. But if you know what you’re looking for, you can purchase adjustable dumbbells online.
Lateral raises (from “Day 1: Full body” workout below)
Starting out in the gym can seem intimidating, but with proper guidance, the process becomes more approachable — and even invigorating.
As a beginner, you can progress very quickly because almost any exercise promotes muscle and strength gains. Still, it’s important to avoid overexertion, which can lead to injuries or decreased performance.
This workout routine has you in the gym 3 days per week (such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), with full-body sessions completed each day. This allows you to get used to new movements, focus on proper form, and take time to recover.
You can add reps and sets as needed as you progress.
The beginner phase should last as long as you continue to improve. Some people may plateau at around 6 months, whereas others may continue to see results for more than a year.
Overhead press (from “Day 3: Upper body” workout below)
After working hard in the gym for several months, it’s time to step your training up a notch to keep your gains coming.
At this point, you should have good exercise technique and be able to handle more weight on the bar.
This 4-day-per-week intermediate program increases reps and sets to stimulate new muscle growth. When they become too easy, you can gradually add more weight or more reps/sets.
If you do it correctly, you can follow this routine for several years until you reach an advanced level. It may be helpful to switch up your exercises on occasion to keep yourself engaged and prevent burnout.
Remember that soreness is not always an indicator of muscle growth. Now that you have some training experience, you may not get sore after every workout.
Hanging leg raises (from “Legs B” workout below)
Additional volume (sets and reps) and intensity (weight on the bar) are essential for advanced gym-goers to keep gaining muscle. Keep in mind that you should not attempt this routine unless you’ve been training consistently for 2 or more years.
While the muscle gains won’t come as fast as they did when you were a beginner, there’s still room for significant progress at this stage.
This grueling workout routine has you in the gym 6 days per week with 1 rest day in between. It follows a pull-push-legs pattern, hitting each muscle group twice per week, with supersets incorporated for maximum hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Again, you can increase weight on the bar, as well as sets and reps, from week to week to ensure continued progress while following this program.
Equipment required: fully equipped gym
As you age, muscle and bone mass gradually decrease. Nonetheless, you can counteract this loss by following a resistance training program to stimulate muscle and bone growth (1, 2).
The exercise routines outlined above still apply to people ages 40 and older, though you may to replace some exercises with more joint-friendly options — especially if you have any preexisting injuries.
For example, you can do goblet squats instead of back squats or triceps pushdowns instead of dips.
Regardless of your age, it’s best to start with the beginner program and work your way up.
It’s also important not to work out too strenuously, because there’s an increased risk of injury as you age. You may likewise need to extend recovery times to 2 days between workouts instead of 1 day, because your body takes more time to recuperate (3).
While exercise presents some obstacles for those over 40, maintaining a proper resistance training program can provide endless benefits and keep you consistently in shape.
While working out in the gym provides the stimulus for muscle and strength gains, nutrition plays a major role in recovery and exercise optimization.
Thus, it’s important to ensure that your food intake is adequate to meet the demands of your training.
You can do this by ensuring sufficient calorie, protein, carb, and fat intake based on your training intensity and physique goals. You can use a calorie counter to calculate your needs.
In order to gain muscle, it’s best to be in a calorie surplus, or eat more than your body needs to sustain itself. A surplus of 10–20% over your baseline calorie needs should be sufficient to promote muscle gains (4).
If you’re trying to lose body fat instead, maintaining your baseline or adopting a slight calorie deficit is generally recommended (4).
Nutrient timing, which involves eating at specific times to yield results, may also be vital to maximize muscle gains. For example, many experts recommend eating a well-balanced meal or snack within 2 hours of a workout, ideally both before and after (5, 6).
When starting a new strength training program, it’s important to take precautions to avoid getting injured or overexerting yourself.
First, you’ll want to accurately assess your level of experience as outlined above and select the appropriate workout program for you.
It’s always best to start with a program that may be slightly too easy rather than an advanced program that is too difficult.
The workout routines above are broken down into specific muscle groups for each session to provide enough stimulus to achieve results without overtaxing your body.
Whether you’re a new or seasoned gym-goer, workout routines catered to your experience level can help you progress toward your muscle and strength goals.
Over time, you may find that your body responds better to certain movements than to others and choose to adapt your training accordingly.
A proper exercise regimen and good nutrition habits are the first steps to getting in the best shape of your life, no matter your level of experience.
If you have an underlying health condition, it’s always best to check with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program.
Jan 12, 2023 · Level 1 Gym Workout: Your first day in the gym. Level 2 Gym Workout: Cardio Cadet. Level 3 Gym Workout: Bodyweight Brigade. Level 4 Gym Workout: Dumbbell Division. Level 5 Gym Workout: Barbell Battalion. Level 6 Gym Workout: Gym Class Hero. Gym Etiquette: Tips and Tricks. How to build the gym habit. Scared to Work Out in a Gym? Read This First.