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12 Week Beginners Training Routine

Average: 3.9 (246 votes)
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A twelve week full body beginners routine designed to get your body ready for an intense split routine. Includes a detailed week by week plan.

Workout Summary

Main Goal:
Build Muscle
Workout Type:
Full Body
Training Level:
Beginner
Days Per Week:
2
Equipment Required:
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
Target Gender:
Male & Female
Author:

Workout Description

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:

Weeks 1-3
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:

Weeks 4-6
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

Workout 1: Upper Body
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

Workout 2: Lower Body
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!

Related Workouts View all Muscle Building Workouts

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    Average: 3.9 (246 votes)
  • About The Author
    Doug is an ex-competitive bodybuilder with over 20 years fitness experience, specifically diet & nutrition, weight management and training techniques.
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Comments (668)

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Paul Vaughan
Posted Sun, 03/13/2011 - 10:56

Hi,

I've recently joined a gym and been doing the '3 Day Workout For Beginners' for about 3 weeks now. I've not previously done weight training before.

The '3 Day Workout For Beginners' covers different muscle groups over 3 day sessions, where this one covers more muscle groups in one session.

Would you advise to change to this workout rather than continuing the '3 Day Workout For Beginners'??

Cheers,

Paul

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Javi
Posted Sun, 03/13/2011 - 16:03

if the days you chose are say Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the 12 week training? what is done on days Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday?

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Carolyn
Posted Tue, 03/22/2011 - 08:25

Doug:

Thank you for this circuit for beginners. I did my first day earlier this week and was concerned that it only took me about 20 minutes. I added in some steps with weights and lunges and had done my half hour of cardio prior, but somehow I felt that I had done something wrong. One set of 15 reps didn't take me long even with the diverse exercises... Could you advise on how long this is supposed to take?

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fatima
Posted Wed, 03/23/2011 - 16:19

hello steve I am 5'1 and weight 181.45. I just had a baby 3 months ago and I am trying to reach my goal of 140 pound and also build muscle. Would this routine work for me?.

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fatima
Posted Thu, 03/24/2011 - 11:00

Hello Steve
I just started the gym this week and was wondering if I can stick to this routine. I am 5'1, 181 pound and just had a baby 3 months ago. Should I lose the weight first before doing this routine?

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harry
Posted Tue, 03/29/2011 - 22:48

hi im 13 and am 5 9 or 5 10 will weight lifting stop my growth

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Tracy Gilliam
Posted Wed, 03/30/2011 - 13:05

I am going to start this routine and would like to know when and how to incorporate cardio into it. Opposite days?

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monica
Posted Wed, 03/30/2011 - 19:49

what would you recommend for weight amounts and resp for women on this routine?

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Andrew
Posted Sun, 04/03/2011 - 22:40

I'm also wondering if it's ok to do this workout 3 days a week?

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Tracy Wright
Posted Fri, 04/15/2011 - 11:11

Hi Steve, I have been training for about seven years and was gaining size. about a year ago I was hospitalized and found out I am a type 1 diabetic. I am doing great now, eating right but I really have to watch my carb intake, I am 44 years old and a slim build. I really like your website, I am in week # 4 of your 12-week beginners work out trying to ease back into training. Cardio is important to my daibeties, but I love to lift weights. Can I do both and still gaing muscle. Which work out do you recommend next.

Thanks for your help,

Tracy

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Adam
Posted Tue, 04/19/2011 - 21:12

I'm relatively new to weight lifting.. Done it in the past but want to get back in the routine of it. I'd like to take up running however, what can i do to run but also build muscle and bulk up a bit at the same time? Is this a good routine to follow? or is there a routine that I can follow without dropping in weight? thanks for your help!

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Hunter Harper
Posted Mon, 05/02/2011 - 20:35

I am a freshman in highschool, I lift during my athletic period Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I was wondering if this workout will still be good for me. Does it still work like if you're a beginner?

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Erica
Posted Tue, 05/03/2011 - 21:37

Steve,
I have some lifting experience though have not lifted on my own in a few years. I had an amazing trainer who moved and now am on my own again. I am very short (4'10)and don't fit machines like the laying leg curl well. I am looking to replace that exercise with something else. Also at this point I am concerned about my bench form as well as my squats with the regular bar. What suggestions do you have for me?

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Ronnie
Posted Fri, 05/06/2011 - 16:13

New to this sport. WHat two days a week would you suggest? What warm up would be a good one to do before this exercise session? Would you suggest doing anything the other 3 days of the week like cardio? Thanks.

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jose castillo
Posted Sun, 05/08/2011 - 01:14

my friend wants to do weight but he hasnt lift in a year his current weight is 325lbs and his height is 6'2 what do you recommned for him! does he need to do some cardio before going into lifting?

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Andy L.
Posted Tue, 05/10/2011 - 11:18

Hi! Steve,

Today is my first day of gym in the past 27 years (literally) and I have tried out the beginner program (1 set of each exercise). I found that my legs are much stronger than my upper body, say I can leg curl 50kgs (15reps), while barbell curl only 10kgs (15 reps) & 22.5kgs for chest press.

So, as a full body workout, I wonder whether I have to adjust the relative intensity of the leg exercise, or JUST hitting the max. weight at which i can achieve 15 reps at each exercise!? Thanks.

Cheers,
Andy L.

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Tony
Posted Mon, 05/16/2011 - 14:42

Hi there I am new to free weights, I have been using nautilus
machines for awhile. I want to move on to free weights to see if there will be a difference. First of all I am intimadated as all hell buy the guys who know what they are doing because I have no real experince with free weights and dont want to look to stupid. I was wondering if I could do this work out for two of the three days in a row because I have a weird work hours for my job.And I assume that 45 mins of cardio with this is also good?

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Tracy
Posted Tue, 05/17/2011 - 03:09

Hi, I have been doing this routine and I am on the last couple of weeks with it. Which routine would recommend I proceed to next? I am a woman and looking to tone up some more and to continue to increase my strength but not build mass.

Thanks,
Tracy

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John P
Posted Wed, 05/25/2011 - 16:08

Im 5 11, ive been stuck at 150, some fat and havent moved from there since jr year in highschool. What would be the best workout to increase muscle mass? My goal is to reach at least 160-165 pounds of mostly muscle mass, ive looked through diets as well but im a little lost on that too

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Tue, 05/31/2011 - 14:57

Hi John,

You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eat to maximize muscle gains. Here is an article that can help:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

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Patrick Dickey
Posted Mon, 05/30/2011 - 06:19

Realizing that free-weights are preferred, will this workout work with machines also? At least in the beginning, I would probably want to use machines (since my bench is really low), but will move on to free weights in the future.

Also, what percentages of your 1RM do you recommend starting at (or do you recommend starting at your 1 RM and working up from there)?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 06/06/2011 - 12:55

Hi Patrick,

With regards to weight...Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

I can't recommend replacing any movements with machines.

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Rohan
Posted Thu, 06/02/2011 - 11:06

Hey, Im a skinny 14 year old who is trying to gain weight (6 feet, 135 pounds). I really want to gain some mass (maybe 10 pounds or so) before I start basketball and football at school. I have about 4 months to do this. This is my first time weightlifting by the way. I have access to adjustable dumbbells from 5-55 pounds, a chin-up bar, and an adjustable bench. Should I do this workout, with only these items or can u recommend another one?

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Z.B.
Posted Thu, 06/02/2011 - 21:58

Hey, Im a skinny 14 year old looking to pack on some mass (6 feet, 137 pounds). Im a beginner with only dumbells (5-55 pounds), Iron Gym pull up bar, and adjustable bench. Can I make good gains with this if i substitute certain exercises with the equipment I have? How much can i gain if i eat a lot of food that are clean? Sorry for all the q's, but im new and dont know. BTW, i have gon through puberty already last summer.

Thnx a ton

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Jeremy
Posted Wed, 06/08/2011 - 00:42

How many days should you do cardio? Im also a beginner 5'10'' 180 what would be a good weight to start out with? 30 or 40lbs?

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Mushhood Sheikh
Posted Wed, 06/08/2011 - 13:33

Hi,

I am totally new to workout. I weight 108lb and i am 21 years old. I really need to gain weight and build muscle mass. What are the recommendations for me? Please help!!!

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wali agha
Posted Mon, 06/13/2011 - 02:42

I am new wtih build muscles, i have started 12 weeks begginer workout. workout for four 4 days, becuse i have time to do, and its not hard for me.

hope u will help me
Thanks,
Wali Agha

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wali agha
Posted Mon, 06/13/2011 - 03:11

What are the risk if I workout for four days a week? i have time and ability to do it.

please advice me
Thanks

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deepak kashyap
Posted Sat, 06/18/2011 - 04:50

HELLO STEVE

I AM NEW TO THIS ... BUT VERY DETERMINED TO HAVE A GOOD BODY
TALKING ABOUT MY CURRENT FEATURE I AM 6ft TALL AND WEIGH AROUND 58kg (127lbs). WAS READING YOUR 12 WEEK BEGINNERS TRAINING ROUTINE AND WAS VERY IMPRESSED BY THAT . PLEASE SUGGEST ME ABOUT THE DIET THAT I SHOULD TAKE DURING THIS ROUTINE AND. SHOULD I TAKE ANY SUPPLEMENT WITH GUIDE.

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abhay chamoli
Posted Tue, 06/21/2011 - 21:11

itz been 4 months since i hav started wid my exercises....was a bit buffed up before but still need 2 get into shape...though dere is bit of effect shown....which workout will u prefer for muscle gain n for shape??

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Nick
Posted Wed, 06/22/2011 - 21:13

Hey Steve,

I have been doing the beginner dumbbell workout for the past 6 weeks and wanted to change things up by jumping into this workout at week 7. Instead of alternating every workout between upper body and lower body every workout, would it be all right to do upper body twice a week every week and lower body once a week every week if I am happy with the size of my lower body?

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Nick
Posted Fri, 07/01/2011 - 22:53

While I've never lifted weights, I play sports and have a little muscle, although still quite little by weightlifting standards. I simply feel that by spending over a month at such a low workout frequency would be a poor use of the time. Would it be uncalled for to increase the workout frequency of the first 6 weeks to 3 times a week?

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SA200
Posted Wed, 07/06/2011 - 21:46

Hey Doug. I just joined the forum and have been looking at all of the beginner stuff. Ive got a couple of questions though. I am recovering from a broke back and Im in physical therapy 1-4 days a week. I showed my therapist your routine and Im looking forward to getting started on it. He said it looked like it would fit my goals perfectly. My questions are, since I can go to therapy up to 4 days a week or I can go to the gym, can this routine be broken up into sets to fit a 4 day schedule? If so what would be the best way to do that. The number of days I go to therapy is up to me. I just dont feel Im accomplishing much if Im not doing atleast something. When I start my therapy each day now I start off on the treadmill for atleast a mile at a fast pace with a strecthing routine along with core developement to follow. I want to keep these aspects when I get started on your routine. Thanks

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Todd
Posted Wed, 07/06/2011 - 23:41

Doug,

I'm just starting to try and build some muscle. Athletic build but not much muscle mass. 170 5'11 , Baseball player 22 years old. I have a lot of time to spend in the gym. I've been going 6 days out of the week trying to come up with my own full body workout routine to try and start preparing my muscles for a split workout to really get pumped. So my question is, can I do this workout 4 days a week as long as they are not consecutive days? (with an extra day of rest at the end of the week) Or how can I spend my time in the gym on the other days while I have the time to be there? Thanks!

Todd

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Todd
Posted Fri, 07/08/2011 - 14:24

Along with increasing this workout to multiple days per week, how should I incorporate cardio with this routine? Thanks!

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lizett
Posted Sat, 07/09/2011 - 08:14

steve,
I need help. About 5 yrs ago I was pregnant and gained alot of weight. I gave birth weighing 215 pounds and that put alot of pressure on my bones. During delivery I strained both my knees, and since that, I'm scared to do certain workouts. Squats are difficult and lunges. Is there any alternative exercise I can do? I can't afford a trainer, but I just need a positive motivator that can get me started.

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Anton
Posted Thu, 07/14/2011 - 13:21

In the 2nd part of the workout it soays to split and do it 7-12 weeks. Can you keep doing it after 12 weeks just add more weights to keep biulding muscle. Or can you move onto another 3 day or 4 day split?

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Jessica
Posted Sun, 07/17/2011 - 10:40

hi, 23yo female, 5'4 275lbs, im ready for a lifestyle change, the last time i worked out was over seven yrs ago. i've invested in a gym membership but its extra for a trainer so here i am. would this be a good starting place for me or would you recommend another routine. obviously my main goal is to lose fat and get in shape. i want my life back! :) any advise please?

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Scott
Posted Thu, 07/21/2011 - 00:41

Hi im 17, 6'2", and around 185-90 lbs. Ive played football for 4 years but im not this year and i need to start weight lifting again. Ive weightlifted for about a year and a half, but i havent got after it in a couple of months. I mainly just want to gain strength and mass but i want to keep some definition at least. Should i do this twelve week program(or one like it) to start again, or can i go to a heavier workout like Dougs 4 day split?? Any input would help! Thanks alot

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Maddy
Posted Fri, 07/22/2011 - 11:12

Hello

This is Maddy, 28yrs & 5'10" & 155lbs.

I started going to Gym 2 years back but for the last 9-10 months I didnt go to gym due to family problem.

Now I am going to start again. If you could let me know what should be my workout plan. I have also bought 'WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE'. When do I need to take this and what would be my diet plan.

Thanks in advance.

Regards,
Maddy.

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Drayken
Posted Sun, 07/24/2011 - 13:45

Hi, I am kinda starting all over. I lifted weights way back, but not for a long time. I am 5'9", 212 lbs. I was 250 lbs about 5 months ago. I have been on low carbs since. Although I am happy with my weight loss, I don't want to be all flabby and weak, when I reach my goal. I would like to add some strength and muscle, so I can burn a little more calories throughout the day, without having to do lots of cardio all the time, which I despise! lol.

I have a bowflex, and want to do a 3 day routine. I am comfortable with my form on most exercises. A question I have is, can I do the weeks 7-12 routine, or should I go to another routine like:

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/3day-beginners-workout.html

I kinda like the 7-12 routine, because I get to work either upper or lower body twice in a week, where it seems most other 3 day routines work a smaller section, and only once a week. I am NOT looking to BULK up, I am looking to try to build some muscle, but still lose weight, which I have been reading, is hard for most, besides newbs, which I am, lol. I know less is more, but I have been on the 7-12 week routing for two weeks now, and I like it. I am not feeling drained or too sore, but the next workout. Should I stay on it, or do you recommend I look for a more split routine?

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Sam Khan
Posted Sun, 07/24/2011 - 16:37

Hi Steve,

I started hitting the gym a couple of weeks ago with a goal to gain lean Muscle Mass. I am a 74Kg, 5'9' 22 year old guy. I want to achieve something similar to the picture link below. Can you please advice me on a diet plan as I already have a workout routine which is showing good results but my current diet plan sucks. Also can you please advice me if i need to do an interval training (if yes, then how much) and the protein intake??

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=4258

Thanks

Sam

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Brian
Posted Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:00

Hi Steve, I am planning on beginning this workout. Would you use a weight where 15 reps are manageable per each set? Or would you use a slightly heavier weight and gradually work to be able to do 15 reps?

Thanks.

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Harsh
Posted Wed, 07/27/2011 - 22:38

I have been doing intense cardio with a balanced diet for more than 6 months now. In the process I have lost 6-7 kgs and am very close to my ideal weight. I want to tone my body and develop a good physique by doing a certain amount of weight training along with my cardio. Is this the right place to start ?

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ant
Posted Wed, 08/10/2011 - 17:58

Hi after the 12 week programme, what Should I move onto next? thanx, ant

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Fri, 08/12/2011 - 15:17

Hi Ant,

If you make good gains you may be able to try one of the intermediate workouts on the site.

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sam mcgovern
Posted Fri, 08/12/2011 - 05:58

i was wondering if this is an appropriate workout for me i am 15 years old and fit, i am about 5'9.

if not would you recomend any workouts for getting started because i need a workout formy gym membership

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Fri, 08/12/2011 - 15:17

Hi Sam,

This workout would be a great place for you to start.

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Jatin
Posted Thu, 08/18/2011 - 03:44

Hi... I am 5' 10" , 20yr . i haven't done any workout earlier. i want to gain muscles and put on some weight. so please tell me which exercise would be better for me ? will this workout help me out?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Mon, 08/22/2011 - 16:54

Hi Jatin,

This workout is a good choice. You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eat to maximize muscle gains. Here is an article that can help:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

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