12 Week Beginners Training Routine

Designed for absolute beginners to get their joints, tendons and muscles ready weight training. If you have never trained with weights, the routine is for you.

Everyone has to start somewhere. If you have never trained with weights before, you need a routine to get your muscles prepared for more serious training. It's essential that you complete a full body routine (like the one in this article) for 12 weeks before starting a split routine.

If you're new to the gym and working out, head over to our forum and get some advice to make sure you're on the right path and don't waste your gym time!

Weeks 1-6: Total Body Circuit Workout

  • Complete the following on two non-consecutive days per week.
  • During the first three weeks, do each exercise for one set of 15 reps: during the last three weeks, do two sets of 12 reps for bodyparts indicated (using a slightly heavier weight on all sets)

WEEKS 1-3:

Bodypart Exercise Sets Reps
Quads/Glutes Leg Press 1 15
Hamstrings Lying Leg Curl 1 15
Upper Back Seated Cable Row 1 15
Chest Flat Bench Press 1 15
Shoulders Dumbbell press 1 15
Traps Dumbbell shrug 1 15
Triceps Pushdown 1 15
Biceps Barbell curl 1 15
Lower Back Back extension 1 15
Calves Standing calf raise 1 15
Forearms Barbell wrist curl 1 15
Abdominals Crunches 1 15

WEEKS 4-6:

Bodypart Exercise Sets Reps
Quads/Glutes Leg Press 2 12
Hamstrings Lying Leg Curl 2 12
Upper Back Seated Cable Row 2 12
Chest Flat Bench Press 2 12
Shoulders Dumbbell press 2 12
Traps Dumbbell shrug 2 12
Triceps Pushdown 2 12
Biceps Barbell curl 2 12
Lower Back Back extension 2 12
Calves Standing calf raise 2 12
Forearms Barbell wrist curl 2 12
Abdominals Crunches 2 12

Weeks 7 – 12: Split Workout with Increased Intensity.

  • Divide your body into two parts (upper and lower), increasing weight training days to three non consecutive days per week (i.e., Monday, Wednesday, Friday).
  • Alternate between the two exercise routines. In the first week, you’ll end up doing Workout 1 twice, while in the second week you’ll do workout 2 twice etc.
  • Do sets and reps as indicated.
  • Rest 60-90 seconds between the sets.
  • Choose exercise alternates on occasion to work the muscles a little differently

Workout 1: Upper Body

Bodypart Exercise Sets Reps
Chest Flat Dumbbell Press
Pec Dec Fly
2
1
10-12
10-12
Upper Back 1 arm dumbbell row
Seated Cable Row
2
1
10-12
10-12
Shoulders Seated dumbbell press
Dumbbell lateral raise
2
1
10-12
10-12
Traps Dumbbell shrug 2 10-15
Triceps Pushdown 2 10-12
Biceps Barbell curl 2 10-12
Forearms Barbell wrist curl 2 10-12

Workout 2: Lower Body

Bodypart Exercise Sets Reps
Quads/Glutes Smith machine squats 1 8-12
Quads Leg extension 1 10-12
Hamstrings Lying leg curl 1 10-12
Lower Back Back extension 1 20-30
Calves Standing calf raise 1 12-15
Abdominals Crunches
Reverse crunch
2
2
15-40
15-30

If you need any help with the workout on this page head over to our muscle building forum. Our experienced members will make sure you're on the right track!

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About The Author
Doug is an ex-competitive bodybuilder with over 20 years fitness experience, specifically diet & nutrition, weight management and training techniques.

50 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 01/24/2010 - 10:32
ira

hello...
im the beginner...i as just joint the gym 4 about 2 weeks...but i refused to appoint a trainer bcoz im a student n i cnnot afford to pay them...so i dont know the workout schedule that can help me to lose weight...so i hope u can help me with the explainations,schedule,n the aid...what equipment should i use in the gym...thanx alot =)

Steven's picture
Posted Sun, 01/24/2010 - 12:30
Steven

Ira...head over to the forum. We'd be glad to help.

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/forum/

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Posted Fri, 05/07/2010 - 08:13
Pam

Where can I find a description of the exercises. Also, am I correct that two non consecutive days per week means just twice in a 7 day period?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 05/07/2010 - 08:32
Steven

The M&S exercise section contains descriptions and videos for every exercise:

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/main.html

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Posted Thu, 07/01/2010 - 13:26
fat_and_ugly

Hi!
1st question: For 1st and 2nd Weeks, - "12 types of excercises daily"?
2nd Question: For 1st and 2nd Weeks, - "After 12 types of excercises 1 day rest"?

Confused.

Thanks.
Bye.

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 07/02/2010 - 13:55
Steven

Yes, 12 exercises daily. I would have 2 days off in between workouts. Possibly workout on Monday and Thrusday.

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Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 06:04
Dustin

I do not work out at the Gym however, I'm a soldier, and I do do pt daily from mon-friday. So, I'm in fairly good shape for endurance. My question is, do I need the two days rest or no since I'm already use to using my upper body on Tues and thursday. Though, Mondy, weds, and friday, all I do is run. So I'm not certain whether or not I should have that long period of rest.

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/14/2010 - 15:03
Steven

Hi Dustin,

Because this is a fullbody approach, I would keep the rest periods as is.

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Posted Thu, 02/10/2011 - 09:41
chilskater

im a beginner too..i straight away doing split exercise with a set of dumbbell 10KG each..my arm was quite weak..shud i follow ur training methid?can u post DB exercise?

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Posted Fri, 02/11/2011 - 08:31
Gagan

M a studnt nd i got a severe injury of trapezius nd deltoideus muscle few days back nd i want to do some workout of legs fr some days till recovery.

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Posted Mon, 02/28/2011 - 04:38
chase

Hi Doug...I'm 51 years young, up till about 4 years ago I lifted everyday. & did so for 5 years still in good shape...my question is I'm ready to get back in the gym & my fear of tearing muscles has me worried, I have a tear on my right bicept its 1 & 1/2 yrs old. Are there any supplements I can take to prevent this?

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Posted Sun, 03/27/2011 - 02:01
timmaktu

what kind of intensity or poundage be used with this program in terms of 1RM and what should be the progression? train to positive failure or just moderate warm up kind pump?

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Posted Wed, 04/06/2011 - 13:13
KS

Hi Doug

I really liked this article. I have a question. Can I alternate between a full body routine such as this one and a 3-day split routine to achieve muscle gains and strength?

I was thinking of doing something like this: 1 week of active recovery then 4 weeks of full body then 4 weeks of 3-day split.

What do you think?

Regards
KS

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Posted Mon, 04/25/2011 - 20:57
tom D

Hi there, not guna lie i'm kinda fat! People keep telling me to go to the gym and bulk up and that muscle replaces fat. Is this true and how can i go about this i.e what to eat and routine to follow, cheers.

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Posted Thu, 07/28/2011 - 19:09
David Sivo

hi Mate:

Please can you send me a 12 week trainning programme that has to do with Forarms and Chest trainning... i really want to built it bigger but am just a begginer as well. Can you send me photos of how is the trainning done.

Please can you tell me which supliment i shoud take as well.

Thanks
David Sivo
Fiji

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Posted Tue, 08/09/2011 - 05:50
christy

this is really great THANKS FOR THE HELP

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Posted Sat, 10/15/2011 - 08:22
miguel

i am 17 i been goin to the gym for 2 years now but i havent had any major change in my body, i also been doin weights could you please tell me a routine to tone aswell as create more muscle for example monday:chest and abs, wednesday: back and arms, and friday: cardio and legs, or smething like that please?? thanks

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Posted Mon, 01/02/2012 - 13:02
Taher

hi i m 21 years old, height is 5'4" and weight is 102 lbs...
i want increase my weight and height as well without joining any gym...
as i m student by profession, i cant afford so much expense of the gym...
so would u please help me for the same...

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Posted Tue, 02/07/2012 - 21:43
Richard

Hey Im new to working out and all and just wanted to ask if this work out will just give me abs and a bit of muscles cause i dont want to be like all those big bodybuilders!

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Posted Sat, 03/10/2012 - 09:55
craig

what about cardio? should i add that in after lifting or on the off days?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 03/13/2012 - 09:49
Steven

Hi Craig,

Cardio can be performed after lifting or on off days. Whichever works best for you.

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Posted Fri, 04/06/2012 - 10:11
cjhodge

Hi I've just started going to the gym myself like everyone else on this forum.

If I'm wanting to gain a few kilos - is the week 1 and 2 routine going to be suitable for me? i know it's a matter of how much weight you use, but assuming I lift relatively heavy for my srength level - would this routine be good for me to attain a balanced out proportionate figure?

Cheers

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Posted Mon, 04/09/2012 - 03:20
ameer

what we do in week 3 cause there is no week 3
there is only week 1-2
then 4-6 ??

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Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 10:22
farhan

can i do this workout. I'm very thin. I'm afraid that i will lose weight. can u tell me steve? but i do take serious mass as my supp.

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Posted Sat, 06/02/2012 - 06:26
Sourav(boltu)

at the next time after the exercise what should I do?

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Posted Sat, 07/28/2012 - 23:57
Nick

hello, i had just joined the gym the my height is 5.11" and weight is only 117lbs so i want grow weight. So according to that please suggest my gym workout and what protein should i need to take. Thanks

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Posted Sat, 08/18/2012 - 10:22
Raymond E Dehn

My son is 11 yrs old and I had him join a local gym with me. He and I need to lose waight and get more fit.I have been out off work for 5 months due to a injury on the job , so I have been pretty still and not able to do much. My son is a great kid and is very tall for his age 5'3", but he is 204 lbs and I am worried about his health and habbits. I need a routine that can work for him to loose waight and get him in shape for his future. I myself worked out reguler as a young man until work and other things keep me from it. At work I am a laborer for a dept of public works.Tree cutting and physical jobs are what I do ,but I also need to loose waight and get fit. If you can send me and my son in the direction it would be much appreciated.

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Posted Mon, 09/17/2012 - 03:50
Raj

What about the 3rd week?? Nothing mentioned about 3rd week.

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Posted Mon, 09/24/2012 - 15:44
Dan

I believe that the first part should say weeks 1 - 3.

So it is a routine of 3 weeks, 3 weeks, 6 weeks.

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Posted Tue, 10/16/2012 - 13:19
Sarah

Hello! I am curious if when conducting a workout program for a 14 yr old boy wanting to build muscle and go out for wrestling that a pyramid approach with repetitions is a good starting point to incorporate in the first 6 wks? Thanks.

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Posted Fri, 11/02/2012 - 13:53
morfusaf

Question, I am completely new to lifting... i run all the time. Anyway.. This line is confusing me.. .

"(using a slightly heavier weight on all sets)"

Is this supposed to mean, Every day increase your wieght.. So week 1, day one.. 50 lbs, Week 1 day 2 52.5 lbs, .... and so on? Or do you mean, after so many weeks, or every week increase? So week 1 do 50lbs, week 2 do 55 lbs, week 3 do .... ?? Super confused.. not sure where to start I wish there was a test of some sort that could be like.. if you want to increase muscle mass, do these exercises at these wieghts this many times. blah blah... but there isn't :(

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Posted Mon, 11/05/2012 - 23:56
zac

hi i need help im looking to get into gym but dont no what to do. im only 16 and i work doing floorboarding i lift alot of heavy wood upto 45kg nearly every second dayive been doing this for about 2 month. is it all right for me to go straight into weight lifting

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Posted Sun, 12/09/2012 - 11:16
suresh

Hello sir im vry thin boy im 21 yrs old my weight is 48 k.g and i have been joining gym around 3 months bt i cant feel good at gym becoz after 30 mins i cant able to do workput for more , n i cant able to take more weight.. plz advice me wht should i have to eat is it any protein powder available give some stamina ,plz reply to my mail id

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Posted Wed, 01/16/2013 - 23:41
swapnil

i have hit the gym a month ago, wanted to know the best routine i can follow to lose weight and get in a better shape. Also i'd like to know, is protein supplement necessary for a beginner?

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Posted Wed, 03/20/2013 - 23:54
onyx

hi there,
I've been working out for more than 2 months now
i'm 182 cm length and 26 years old
when i started i was 76.5 KG
now im almost 80 KG
is that a good rate of increasing my weight ?
what is the ideal weight for me to reach and have a good shape of muscles, not so huge and not so thin like i am now ?
and what is the best program to follow , how do i know i'm making progress ?

thanks ,

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Posted Thu, 05/23/2013 - 08:44
nikhil

i joined before 2 months for 2 months now can i join gym again .. so what to do for that please help yr suggest fast .....

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Posted Wed, 05/29/2013 - 22:10
ockbar

Y not 2 2 2 2 2 2 rest

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Posted Mon, 06/24/2013 - 12:11
Max`

I've always seen that deadlifts should be a part of any routine? would it be ok to tack a set on to the end of day one, or would that be over doing it. I'm not a complete beginner but im not intermediate yet.
thanks, Max

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Posted Fri, 07/05/2013 - 22:22
Jodhan

I was never big on weights when i was younger, and now that I can finally access a gym virtually anytime I want I became exited to see the above program. The only trouble I have is trying to figure where to start with how much weight to lift, and when/how much to increase. I have to drop 60 pounds of fat but build my upper body which has been declining since I spent around 12-15 hours a day sitting for the last 17 years. my legs are in decent shape but my chest and arms are declining.

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Posted Mon, 08/12/2013 - 12:28
Alejandro

I've been working a routine that is mainly upper body for 3 full weeks. Nothing too huge but it was working out pretty well. I'd like to begin this series of workout's for cutting fat and building muscle. This may be a dumb question but with working out off and on for 3 years (lots of cardio and some actual working out in that time) but really only getting serious when I got the routine, how do I know if I'm really a beginner?

I was thinking of starting here anyway just to get the primer effect for my body, it can't hurt going forward. I'm willing to start anywhere.

Thanks.

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Posted Sun, 09/15/2013 - 08:19
Kevin

Which workout should I move to once 12 weeks are complete?

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Posted Mon, 09/16/2013 - 13:13
Alejandro

Just finishing up the third week and combined with eating right already see a weight loss. This is good as my BF% was at 34. (Yikes, but motivated!) My questions here are:

1) I typically wake up and go straight to the gym without eating. Seems the majority of the input on the forums is to have a least a shake (protein and carbs) 30-60 min before training. Any input on this?

2) In this beginning phase do you recommend adding BCAAs or wait until the bulking phase?

Thanks again!

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Posted Mon, 09/30/2013 - 18:22
Umar

Hi Steve,

First of all I have followed your training regimens in the past and they have been great. I have an innately slow metabolism and I don't take any supplements (I have kidneys that tend to be suspicious of too much protein :)) , so weight loss for me can be a challenge. For the past two months I have started a 50 minute high intensity cardio program and I have been trying to stay on it for at least 4 times a week. I'd like to do some weight training on my "off days". I'm not looking for bulk but definition and weight training that speeds up the weight loss process. I am currently at 6'3" 225, and am 40 years old.

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Posted Tue, 10/08/2013 - 16:10
SULTAN

hi, i am overweight about 80 to 85 kg my heigh is 5'8 and have belly fat and how to reduce the belly fat and get back into the shape,please help me thanks.

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Posted Mon, 03/03/2014 - 15:59
India

do you mind telling me if this workout plan will help back and belly fat? If not, can yiu give me a workout plan for that?

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Posted Fri, 03/07/2014 - 14:32
Sid

Hello, My question is that I am going to gym from last week, 10 days to be precise. my trainer told me that do mixed workout for 1 week and than 1 day for one body part. and now as I see This article I am confused in what should I go for, could anyone help me out with this please.

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Posted Mon, 03/17/2014 - 09:27
Kheshav

Hi, Can you please if possible send me the beginners chart with photos on it cause I dont understand some of the exercises mentioned. Thnx..

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Posted Tue, 06/10/2014 - 17:37
Aqib Waqar

Hello Steve, Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
Maybe you have answered this already but what is the optimal # of days that someone should workout. Would 4 times in a 7 day week be sufficient?

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Posted Mon, 07/14/2014 - 22:27
Clay

I have been following this routine for 6 weeks now and I am feeling very comfortable working out. My question relates to week 7+ with the split days. For workout 1 upper body, chest shoulder and back. Are we doing 3 sets of exercises for each part on these days or is it listing a main workout and an alternative?

For example chest is flat dumbbell press 2 sets and pec dec fly 1 set. So is that both exercises or pick on and alternative?

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Posted Mon, 03/30/2015 - 13:23
jEANNIE

How heavy do you life weeks 1-6