By Brandon Blinn
Starting at the gym can be intimidating, but don't worry! Everyone was new once. Create a workout plan that fits your schedule and goals, choose exercises based on your experience level, and track your progress to see how far you've come. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the journey! Maybe even come in for a FREE drop-in today!
Table of Contents
Importance of consistency, practice, discipline, and enjoyment in starting a fitness journey
II. Creating a Program
Options for creating a workout split: push/pull, upper/lower body, bodybuilding, full body
III. Exercise Selection
How to choose exercises based on goals and experience level
Tips for using machines and free weights
IV. Tracking Progress
Tips for making progress and avoiding plateaus
Literally everyone starts somewhere. I get it, you walk into the gym, you see all the machines, you see all the heavy lifting and you have no idea where to start and you may even get intimated. I got news for you! Everyone in the gym is there to do the same exact shit you're about to try and do, get better! If we are being honest a good handful of people in most gyms have no idea what they are doing, but they play it off as if they do. I've seen this from first hand experience when I used to workout at commercial gyms. Don't worry about what you look like or what you don't know because if you look close enough, a majority of people are winging it or doing the old classic "fake it till you make it". I'm here to clear that whole not knowing bullshit. In this article, I'm going to give you a few tips and pointers as to where to start and what to do in the gym when you're just starting out. You'll be able to make your own program that you can enjoy and have fun with and feel confident going into the free weight area!
For simplicity sake, lets imagine it's your very first day at a gym and you just signed up last week and today is the very first day of your fitness journey. One thing you'll always want to have when you walk into a gym is a plan. Don't ever go and just wing it. When you wing it, you can't track progress on the weights you're using and that is going to be critical in our fitness journey. How do we make a plan? By programming of course (this is a fancy way of saying make a workout regimen). You don't need an exercise degree, you don't need a cert or really any experience for that matter to make a workout regimen for yourself when starting out. You need consistency, practice, discipline and the ability to have fun with whatever you're doing so you enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it when you start, you're going to stop within the next few weeks, Iv'e seen it a million times.
Creating a Program
I'm going to keep this very very basic so it doesn't complicate things for you guys. Start off with picking how many days you can fully commit to the gym. I personally recommend 3-4 starting out but you can do more if you're a go getter. You can make 1 day a week work as well if you need too. The next thing to decide is, what kind of split do you want to do. What I mean by split is what do you want to target in each of your workouts? Here are a few options to choose from
Push/Pull Split (my personal favorite)- One day you'll do exercises that only target pushing muscles which will include muscles such as quads, shoulders, chest and triceps. This would include exercises like squats, overhead press, push ups, and tricep extensions. The next day you'd include exercises that only involve pulling muscles such as back, hamstrings and biceps. This would include exercises such as pull ups, deadlift, and bicep curls. See how one day your doing the opposing muscle group of the other day? That is a push pull set up.
Upper/Lower Body Split- This one is one day lower and one day upper and you'd alternate between these two. Very basic and simple if you don't want to put too much thinking into it but it also very effective.
Bodybuilding split - This would be where you isolate a portion of your body on a given day. An example would be something like this:
I see a lot of people using this one but this is probably my least favorite personally but that is personal preference, it can still be very effective. Notice how each day has its own body part? This would be a bodybuilding split.
Full Body- This one is good for if you only have a few days in the week to lift or your're short on time. This would consist of hitting full body each time you go into the gym but you shouldn't do this one if you plan on going 5-6 times per week in my opinion because you'll get burned out.
You can pick and choose to fill in the days how you want according to your schedule but here is my recommendations
1 Day per week
1 Full Body
2 Days Per Week
2 Full body
1 Lower body day and 1 upper body day
1 Push Day and 1 Pull Day
3 Days Per Week
1 Push day, 1 pull day and 1 full body
3 Full Body Days
1 Upper day, 1 lower day and 1 full body
4 Days Per Week
2 Push days and 2 Pull Days
2 Lower Body Days and 2 Upper Body Days
5 Days per week
2 Push day and 2 Pull days and 1 Full Body
2 Lower days and 2 Upper Days and 1 Full
Write this shit down when you make your program so you don't forget this! Have fun with it. None of these are better than the other and none of them will get more results than the other will without consistency. Now that we have our layout of the weeks workouts laid out lets go into exercise selection.
How you pick your exercises, is going to be based off of what split you have chosen. Lets say you've chosen to go with the push/pull split for 2 days out of the week. We need to sit and pick our exercises for those two days so we know what we are doing when we go to the gym. So we are going to search exercises online involving that particular muscle group or in the exercise library of Blinnfitstudio.com. What I mean by this is if we know we have a push day for day 1, we will go ahead and look up exercises on google or in my library for the quads, chest, shoulders and triceps. Write these down in your workout log and remember them (If you need me to upload a specific exercise to my library for reference just let me know and I will do that). So here's what we should have so far. We should have our layout of our week and our exercise picked for day one. Like this
Day 1 Push
Now we need to get day 2, so we will go ahead and search exercises involving the pull muscles which are the hamstrings,back and biceps and abs if you'd like (you can do abs on both days) Now it should look like this
Day 1 Push
Day 2 Pull
Full Body Crunch
Notice now how we have a step by step process for setting up the week based off our schedule and what we can commit too then selecting the exercises to match those days of the week? This is what you'd need to do to create a plan for yourself. You can literally do this step by step with all the splits I've provided above. You don't need to do only free weight exercises either, you can make a workout regimen based around machines until your're comfortable moving to free weight exercises. creating a program just takes a little bit of time but it pays off! Now we need to select our sets and reps!
Sets and Reps
It is very very very very false that high weight and low rep will " tone" you. You want to push and aim to lift heavier weights than the previous week as long as you keep good form! If you can't keep good form, keep the weight and practice the movement. There is no specific set and rep scheme that is better than the other. You could do 3x10 ( 3 sets of 10 reps) for all the exercises and be just fine as long as you're improving the weight you use week to week. For general rule of thumb, I like to keep the reps of my compound movements ( movements that use multiple muscles like squat bench and deadlift) between 3 and 8 and for my isolation exercises (exercises that isolate one muscle group such as bicep curls or tricep extensions) I like to keep the reps between 10-20. It would look something like this
Day 1 Push
Overhead Press 4x8
Push ups 3x10
Tricep Extensions 3x15
Day 2 Pull
Pull Ups 4x10
Bicep Curls 3x12
Full Body Crunch 3x20
Now, you can have fun with the rep schemes but you need to make sure you master the movements you pick before you move on to new exercises or go up weight. You can do 20x10, 7x13, 8x9 , it doesn't matter as long as you're using a weight that you can control and improve on you're good to go! The biggest thing is knowing and understandingwhat exercises your're going to do when you go into the gym. Most of the time, I'[ll run a workout plan for 3-4 weeks then move on to making a new one.
You're in the gym, now what?
Here are some simple steps to get going on your workout
Warm up on treadmill,jump rope, bike, rower, elliptical or stair stepper for 5 -10 Min
Roll out whatever body part you're exercising that day
Before you jump into your first exercise, practice the movement with light weight working up to a challenging yet doable weight. Don't jump straight into your working set right away without warming up! I like to keep my warm up reps between 3-5
Be sure to record the weights you're using on your exercises so you can try and beat them next week!
Feel Free to super set exercises as well to get the heart rate up a bit! Super setting is where you put two different exercises back to back. Have fun with it !
You can have as many exercises as you want in your workout as well! Most of the time I'll try and keep it between 5-8 exercises.
This is all about having fun an getting better. Don't stress if you're not good at something right away, keep practicing! The best way to get better is to get in there and do it. Remember, we are all learning all the time so get in there and kick your own ass and have fun with it! If you need any extra help with this or have any questions, you can reach me on IG @Blinn_Fitness or Brandon@Blinnfitstudio.com. I provide an extensive workout program and exercise library as well.
For strength training & personal training, stop by Blinn Fitness at our Woodinville, WA location today! Serving the Woodinville, Bothell, Kirkland, Redmond, and Seattle area!