So you’ve never been inside a gym before, or maybe you’ve been dropping in and out for a couple of months; but the whole thing is still new and scary and you just aren’t sure what you’re doing.
Well, hold tight, friends. This might just be something to help you.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet, but if you want M O R E – head over to my insta-post on the same topic and leave me a question in the comments section.
How to structure your own programme
It’s important not to over-complicate things.
Someone who is new to the gym and to lifting weights, won’t require a massive amount of work to build muscle. This means you can get away with just doing 2-3 sets of each exercise three times a week.
Focus on learning the shapes rather tha annihilating yourself each session. If a workout is so hard that you can’t walk for the rest of the week, you are unlikely to do any other sessions until you feel better. You’re also less likely to walk up the stairs or around the block or any other number of daily moving that you might have otherwise done – which is going to impact your overall NEAT.
NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and just means the calories you burn in the day not exercising. Like walking between places and standing on the bus ect.
And while we are at it: if your first time in the gym leaves you unable to walk for a week, how long do you think it’ll be realistically before you even go back? Don’t be that person paying for a gym membership they never use.
The basic shapes
What exercises come under each of those shapes? I hear you cry over the interwebs.
Squat: Bodyweight squat, weighted squat, overhead squat, split squat, bulgarian split squat, walking lunge, reverse lunge, leg press
Hinge: Deadlift, Romanian deadlift, hip thrust, bridge, kettlebell swing, good morning
Push: Bench press, overhead press, dumbbell press, push ups, dips
Pull: Pendlay row, bent over row, seated row, lat pulldown, bodyweight row, pull up
Carry: Farmer’s walk, front rack carry, overhead carry
There are many more exercises that could go under each category – this is by no way an extensive list. It’s just to give you an idea of what things come under which shape, so you can start thinking about how you would craft your programme.
I would recommend beginners start with full body training, rather than focussing on a particular body part at a time.
See if you can fit three full body sessions into your week, then write yourself three workouts. Each workout should include each shape.
This is a pretty good place for you to start, to give yourself a chance to become proficient with each shape. Keep it simple.
At the start of each session include a warm up and at the end of each session include a finisher. This is your chance to get a sweat on and check out of your workout with a bang. This can be whatever you want it to be. I quite enjoy some kind of cardio and abs circuit. An example could be: 60s ski erg, 60s dish hold / deadbug for 3-5 rounds.
You could do a different finisher whilst keeping the rest the same each week. Now repeat those three workouts each week for the next 8-12 weeks and see where you’re at at the end.
Firstly, I’d like to encourage you to keep a record of your training. You can do this in an actual notebook if you want, or in an app. I use a free one called Fitnotes that I really rate. It let’s you keep track of the weights you’re using and then tracks volume and maxes. You can see what you did last time and also how things have changed over time. It’s very cool. There are probably loads of similar apps out there though.
Focus on form. Honestly the best way to do this is either hire a coach (hi *waves*) or grab a friend that’s been training for a couple of years and knows enough to help you out a bit. It’s really easy to get things wrong if you’re mostly learning from watching strangers in the gym or via youtube videos.
And if you’re brand new you can either learn how to do things right from the start – or what most people do: learn how to do them your way and then spend twice as long undoing what you learnt the first time to learn new movement patterns.
If you are going to go it alone, film yourself doing the exercises so you can see what they look like. Maybe show them to a friend or find who knows their shit and ask for pointers.
Stick to your plan for the 8-12 weeks. If you only do it for a couple of weeks and then switch it up, you’re going to really limit how much progress you can make.
Consistency is basically the most important factor in any of this.
If you can hit the gym three times a week consistently and do those three workouts every time, a tiny bit heavier each week as you build strength and proficiency: then you’ll get stronger. You’ll also get more confident and more competent and you’ll be ready to level up.
If you’d like to see an example of a weekly plan, you can find one to bookmark on my instagram.