Charles Glass' "Beginner Essentials" Bodybuilding Workout

M&S Team
Written By: M&S Team
January 7th, 2019
Updated: February 10th, 2020
154.4K Reads
Charles Glass's
Charles Glass is an iron legend and his coaching style is coveted by some of the greatest in the business. This workout is inspired by his coaching style.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

Charles Glass is a legend in the iron game.

His client list is a who’s who in the realm of bodybuilding and even branches over into other avenues such as Hollywood and professional sports.

If there’s anyone who knows how to carve a champion out of a beginner, it’s Charles Glass.

So, in this beginner bodybuilding workout, we’ve put together a training split inspired by Glass’s training philosophies and what he believes to be essential exercises for every bodybuilder to perform.

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Charles Glass’s Beginner Bodybuilding Workout

This workout was designed using the Charles Glass Training Fundamental series we filmed for the Muscle & Strength YouTube channel.

Each workout consists of all 3 of Charles Glass’s recommendations as well as some bonus accessory work to ensure you’re heading in the right direction to step on stage.

The workout is separated into a traditional bodybuilding split and each day will focus on targeting a different body part. An additional and optional core workout is included as well. This core workout can be performed up to 5 times per week.

You will perform the same workouts for 12 weeks, tracking the weight used along the way, and aiming to increase the weight you use during each exercise when able to do so.

Rest periods are simple, simply limit rest to 45 seconds between each set and limit the time per exercise to the amount of time it takes to move from one station to the next.

This workout can be used for either cutting or bulking depending on your diet at the time of performing the workout. With that being said, it is most beneficially used as a prep workout.

Day 1: Charles Glass’s Beginner Shoulder Workout

The first day of the workout will focus on building complete shoulders and targeting all 3 deltoid heads.

The first exercise of the workout is the side lateral raise. As a beginner, focus on performing these the traditional way. As you get more advanced, turn the dumbbells to the side to place all the tension on the medial delts.

You don’t have to go heavy on this exercise to make it effective. The purpose of the exercise is to establish a mind-muscle connection and warm-up the shoulder.

After finishing the side lateral raises, you’ll then move to the cable machine for rear delt cable flys. Set the pulleys at about eye level and grab the ends of the cables. To keep constant tension on the rear delts, stop just before the handles cross at the bottom of the movement.

Once you’ve finished the rear delt cable flys, move onto seated dumbbell presses. Stop the movement once your arms have reached parallel and press the weights back to the top.

For the final two movements outside of Glass’s recommendations, we’ve decided to add two more of Charles’s favorites in the upright barbell row and seated machine lateral raise. The upright row will be another heavier movement to target both the front and medial delts, while the machine lateral raise will be the perfect finisher exercise.

Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3-4 12-15
Rear Delt Cable Fly 3-4 12-15
Seated Dumbbell Press 4-5 10-12
Upright Barbell Row 3-4 10-12
Seated Machine Lateral Raise 3 15

Day 2: Charles Glass’s Beginner Leg Workout

The second day of the workout will be your leg day. And you’ll kick start it with the leg press machine. The purpose of this exercise is to keep tension on the quads. Once you reach the bottom of the exercise, pause for a minute and then press back up.

After finishing with leg press, you’ll move on to the hack squat machine. When you push during this exercise, you want to focus on pushing through the heels.

To target the hamstrings, the next movement for the day will be elevated stiff-legged deadlifts. When performing the exercise, focus on stretching through the hamstrings and pulling all the way through the glutes.

The last two movements added to round out this day are the lying leg curl and the seated calf raise. The lying leg curl will provide another exercise to target the hamstrings, while the seated calf raise will allow you to build bigger calves.

Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 5 10-15
Machine Hack Squat 3-5 10-15
Elevated Stiff Legged Deadlift 3-4 12-15
Lying Leg Curls 3 12-15
Seated Calf Raise 4-5 15-20

Day 3: Charles Glass’s Beginner Chest Workout

Day three is focused on building an aesthetic chest. The first exercise is a bodybuilding classic - the barbell bench press. Charles recommends that you stop just below or towards the lower portion of your pecs.

After barbell bench press, the next movement is the incline bench press. This exercise is perfect for adding mass to your upper pecs. Stop slightly before touching your chest and press the weight back up.

The next lift on this day is the decline bench press. In Charles’s opinion, the decline bench press is the most complete chest exercise one can do.

The final two exercises you’ll do to round out this day are the incline dumbbell fly and the dumbbell pullover. The incline dumbbell fly will help target the upper pecs even more (because no one has ever been penalized for an overdeveloped upper chest) and the dumbbell fly will help provide that rib cage separation needed for pure aesthetics.

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Bench Press 3-4 10-12
Incline Bench Press 3-4 10-15
Decline Bench Press 4-5 10-12
Incline Dumbbell Fly 3 12-15
Dumbbell Pullover 3-4 12-15

Day 4: Charles Glass’s Beginner Back Workout

For day 4, we’re going to focus on building a big and thick back. First up on back day is the behind the neck pulldown. Charles likes pulldowns behind the head because you get a lot more activation in the back muscles.

The main thing when performing pulldowns behind the head is you have to stop just below the ears.

After pulldowns, you’ll move onto the cable row machine to perform seated cable rows. Your size will dictate which cable attachment you should use for this exercise. Keep your chest up and shoulders back while you do this exercise and avoid becoming arm dominant.

The next exercise on back day is the deadlift. You want to make sure to keep your back straight when performing this exercise. You can also use a belt if you feel it is necessary.

For the remaining exercises on back day, you’ll perform Hammer Strength lat pulldowns and high cable face pulls. The Hammer Strength lat pulldown somewhat combines a pulldown with a row to completely activate the back. And the cable face pulls will work both the rear delts and traps.

Exercise Sets Reps
Behind Neck Lat Pulldown 3-4 12-15
Seated Cable Row 3-4 12-15
Deadlift 4-5 8-12
Hammer Strength Lat Pulldown 3-4 10-15
Cable Face Pull 3 15

Day 5: Charles Glass’s Beginner Arm Workout

For the fifth and final day of the week, you’ll be training arms. This day is the perfect way to close out the week with a fun workout and a nice arm pump.

The first exercise of the day is the tricep pushdown. Take a prone hand position on a straight bar and keeping your arms straight, push the weight from your forehead straight down. Keep the weight out in front and avoid bringing it all the way to the legs to keep tension off the shoulders.

From there, move on to alternating dumbbell curls. Turn the wrists throughout the movement to create greater tension on the biceps.

Then, you’ll utilize the barbell curl as your biggest movement of the day. For beginners, be sure to perform this exercise in the traditional way. For those of you who are more advanced, lean slightly forward and perform a modified and standing preacher curl.

Wrap up this workout with seated overhead tricep cable extensions, wrist curls, and reverse wrist curls. The overhead tricep cable extension will cap off the triceps after having been trained indirectly on shoulder and chest days. And the wrist curls will provide detail work to a much-needed muscle for aesthetics.

Exercise Sets Reps
Tricep Cable Pushdown 3-4 12-15
Alternating Dumbbell Curls 3-4 12-15 Each
Barbell Curl 4-5 10-15
Seated Overhead Cable Tricep Extension 3-4 12-15
Wrist Curls 3 15
Reverse Wrist Curls 3 15

Optional Charles Glass Beginner Ab Workout

The following abdominal workout can be performed in conjunction with this workout and can be used anywhere between 3-5 times per week. It is recommended to perform it on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when beginning - and adding in extra days as you see fit.

Exercise Sets Reps
Cable Crunch 3-5 15-20
Ab Crunch Machine 3-5 20-25
Russian Twist 3-5 15-20 Each
Wrap Up

There you have it, Charles Glass’s fundamentals to bodybuilding workout split.

This workout is perfect for anyone who is looking to get started in bodybuilding.

If you have any questions that weren’t addressed in the article, please feel free to comment below.

Posted on: Wed, 06/05/2024 - 17:14

I really enjoyed this workout. After about a month I was already looking and feeling so much better and healthier.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 06/13/2024 - 06:46

That is great to read, Andre! Thanks for being a part of the M&S community, and congrats on your results!

Ollie Bayley
Posted on: Sun, 06/26/2022 - 04:50

I’m a complete newbie. Is there a series of warm up cool down videos that I can follow along side this. Cardio wise I’ve been doing 8 rounds of 30/20 Split on the the stack bike 3 times and then pushing a weighted sledge 5 times. Anything else I can do cardio wise at the end.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/27/2022 - 08:54

I don't know about a video, Ollie, but you can use this article for warming up.

As for cool down, focus on stretches and deep breathing for around 10 minutes. I like the cardio you wrote there, so I say keep that up.

Posted on: Mon, 10/19/2020 - 08:34

Good work out, felt it in all my shoulders, just started. Great for me as complicated advanced stuff just puts me off, nice n basic and easy to follow!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/19/2020 - 09:06

Hey Darrwn - glad you enjoyed it!

Posted on: Thu, 01/16/2020 - 10:31

is that enough to play every muscle group once per week as a natural lifter ?

Posted on: Wed, 04/17/2019 - 02:54

Hi! This workout seems great for me but I am a skinny guy familiar with the gym trying to add on weight and muscle. Would this routine be a good fit to try out with using heavier weights and focusing on a good increased diet?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/17/2019 - 10:19

Hi Jordan,

This program is perfect for someone with those goals.

Thomas Clutterbuck
Posted on: Tue, 04/09/2019 - 20:21

Which workout on this site would be ideal to move onto after 12 weeks ?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2019 - 11:25

Hi Thomas,

It depends on your goals after completing this program. I'd recommend doing a deload week to evaluate what your goals are moving forward, then pick a workout from here that best fits your needs and days you can commit to working out:

Dany D
Posted on: Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:51

How long should I do these splits before I move on?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:59

Hi Dany,

The recommended duration of the program is 12 weeks.

Posted on: Mon, 07/15/2019 - 06:44

The possessive form of any singular noun ends with an apostrophe and then an "s" (regardless of if the noun ends with an "s")
- The cat's birthday
- Jones's house
- The goose's feather

The possessive form of plural nouns end with just an apostrophe so long as it already ends with an "s". Otherwise, it ends with an apostrophe and an "s".
- The cats' birthdays
- The Joneses' house
- The geese's feathers

Posted on: Sat, 03/23/2019 - 17:13

Nah. Correct grammar is "Glass'". Apostrophe does show ownership but if the word ends with an "s" then you don't add another one. "Charlie Glass' Beginner Workout" not "Glass's."

Bob Dinglehoffer
Posted on: Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:07

Hi Josh,

It's not "Glass's."

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:15

Hi Bob,

An apostrophe + S ('s) shows that one person/thing owns or is a member of something. These are Glass's personal philosophies, so it is correct. However, "Beginner's" was incorrect and I appreciate you bringing that to my attention.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/25/2019 - 09:58

Hi Pablo,

We can debate this all day. Both are technically correct here.