Women’s 3 Day Beginner Weight Training Routine

Women's Beginner Weight Training Routine

Rachael wants to start exercising and toning up. She has a basic idea how to eat healthy and she knows that in order to reach her goals that she will have to get to the gym and start weight training. She goes to the store and buys a few fitness magazines and when she is finished reading them she is more confused than before she started.

Just like Rachael, most people want to change everything in their life overnight because they think that’s the only way to make progress to their goals which is not the best way to go.

But what should you do then?

Small changes in your habits will lead to success, trust me.

The gym is overwhelming, no wonder people give up after a few weeks, let me show you what works for my clients.

Looking to add more ab work to the mix? Check out this 2 day workout routine for abs at home.


I tell my clients that you cannot out exercise a bad diet. “Going on a diet” and your diet (what you eat) are two different things; I want to change what you see as regular foods.

Moderation is the most important word that you need to learn next to planning. You can eat the cake, donuts, and ice cream in moderation especially when you plan your meals.


If you want to eat something that will embarrass you to admin you’ve eaten, you need to plan it out and eat accordingly the rest of the day. Having a donut or two once a week and cutting down on the other amount of sugar and carbohydrates you eat throughout the week will not completely ruin everything that you have worked towards… but going on a random binge will.

If you can get 80% of your food through fresh meats and vegetables that you prepare, the other 20% can be whatever you want. Bad things happen when you start depriving yourself of foods that you’ve grown to love.

Healthy Proteins

Proteins should be priority number 1 in your meal planning. You need to eat plenty of protein to recover fully from all of the exercising and weight training you do.

  • Supplementsprotein shakes or protein bars are easy and can be had on the go
  • Chicken – boneless skinless chicken breasts, boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Eggs
  • Beef – ground beef, steaks
  • Turkey – ground turkey is a leaner substitute to ground beef if you need to cut fats or calories

Healthy Carbs

Carbs catch a bad rap because there are so many myths that people believe are true. Carbs are a source of energy and are important, but when eaten in excess they are stored as fat.

  • Rice – white, brown
  • Oatmeal

Healthy Fats

Fats make you fat, right? Wrong. Healthy fats are extremely important for a healthy body because they help regulate hormones, they are satiating, and frankly they make food taste better.

  • Olive Oil
  • Avocado
  • Real Butter

As with all of this, moderation and planning are key. There’s no reason to stop eating your favorite foods you just need to adjust the rest of your diet accordingly.

Check out these 39 fat loss myths debunked while you’re at it.

Gym Essentials

Whether you are looking at this workout to get ideas on how to structure your own home routine, or you are going to be going to a gym to complete this, there are some pieces of equipment or gym essentials that I recommend you trying to get.

With the holidays coming up, if you know someone who likes to go to the gym, I will show you some great gym essentials I feel everyone should have in their gym bags.

I would like to let you know that all of the links below are in fact affiliate links to Amazon. If you would like to support the website and help me produce more content for you, please use them. I will not try to sell you anything I don’t use or recommend. I promise. Click the images to check out the item.

Don’t have a gym bag?

Gym bags are nice to have to bring a change of clothes, towels, and other accessories you may need on your trip to the gym.

This Adidas gym bag is by far my favorite because it has a separate compartment to put my sweaty clothes for when I end up having to change at the gym. It is a bit more expensive than the regular gym bags you may see around but the quality is well worth the cost.

This bag is one I had last year and I really liked this bag. It looks great and it fits a lot of things in it.

If you want to have a gym bag but don’t want to carry a lot of stuff in it, this bag is perfect. It’s a bit smaller than the other two that I’ve recommended. This is great for a towel, some gloves, water bottle, and some headphones.

Now lets see some of the accessories I keep inside my gym bags!

Gym Gloves

I have three different gloves that I recommend trying. Two of the pairs I’ve had friends give me and then I bought one of the pairs. They are all reasonably priced and they all hold up to anything you can throw at them.

Wearing gloves helps keep your hands from getting torn up from the weights and look great with the right outfit.

These are the gloves I purchased when I first started exercising. They are Harbingers and this brand has been around a long time. These are washable which is a huge plus.

A friend of mine gave me a pair of these gloves. I really like that there are a lot of colors. These hold up really well and I think you would like these.

This is another set of gloves that a friend gave me. These are washable and very durable.


If you work hard at the gym you know that you’re going to work up a sweat. Instead of using the gym towels or a paper towel, you should invest in a great towel. I have had a few of these towels and they really do help you stay cool.

Water Bottle

Walking the water fountain wastes a lot of time, bringing a water bottle helps cut down the time you spend at the gym and helps cut down on the germs you may encounter if you use the water fountain much. This is one of my favorite water bottles I’ve ever had.

Bluetooth Headphones

Headphones are important to help keep you focused and in the zone. Bluetooth headphones are great because you won’t get the wires caught up while you are trying to work out. There are a lot of awesome Bluetooth headphones out there and these are what I use.


No more hours of cardio!

Spending hours on the cardio machines do nothing but burn you out and make you wish you never started going to the gym in the first place (trust me I know).

So here’s the deal…

  • 5-10 minutes warm up when you first get to the gym – this is going to get your blood pumping and prime your body for exercise. Choose something that isn’t too hard on the body such as walking, bicycling, or the elliptical.
  • 15-30 minutes after you are done weight training – this will boost your metabolism and help your body start to recover from the abuse you just put it through. Here is a good article about the effects of cardio on muscle growth; check it out.

For your post workout cardio you can tackle it in one of two ways; hard and fast or nice and slow.

  • Hard and fast – 15-20 minutes of high intensity interval training. This means running for a certain amount of time and then walking for a short break, rinse, and repeat. I won’t go into detail about HIIT training but if you do not know what it is, check out this article about HIIT training from Muscle & Fitness Magazine.
  • Nice and slow – 20-30 minutes of lower intensity cardio. Think of this as a brisk walk or slight jogging. Something that you can do so that you are breathing hard but not so much you couldn’t regularly carry on a conversation.

Do this and get out of the gym.

I invite you to find something you can do outdoors away from the gym that will keep you active. Choose anything that interests you like picking up a sport, bicycling, or hiking… use your imagination. The reason you are going to the gym is to look and feel better, right? Go have some fun.


Weight Training

Here comes the part you’ve been dreading; the weight training. The gym is intimidating especially to those who haven’t actually even been in one or used any of the machines yet.

If you haven’t picked out a gym yet, check out these 6 tips for picking the right gym.

First thing’s first; everyone has been there and no one will laugh at you. Don’t be afraid to ask a nearby patron for advice or help if you are unsure how to do something.

To those who I meet that have never set foot into a gym, I give them a week to get used to the environment. This means I let them try the machines, pick up free weights, and try everything out. This helps keep the mood high and the disappointment low.

Once you are more comfortable with the equipment in your gym, it’s time to start with the routine.

If you do not plan on having anyone train with you, I advise checking out YouTube or the links I provide with the workout names to see how they are done. I’ve chosen exercises that are not hard to get the movement correct.

If you are interested in building a home gym, the fellas over at Strength Junkies are knowledgeable and will not sell you something you do not need. Cutty from Cutty Strength owns the store and will not lead you in the wrong direction.

What weight should you pick?

After you get into your routine, you will need to take another week testing out weight to see what is suitable for each exercise.

Write what you do in a log!

You are going to want to pick a weight that isn’t so heavy you cannot complete all of the reps safely and not so light that you barely break a sweat.

Remember, you have to struggle and push yourself to change, nothing will come easy.

Check out this short article about free weights and how much is too much. I went into better detail about how much weight you should choose and why.

Woman barbell


The reason your body get stronger, builds muscle, and gets leaner is because your body adapts to the condition it is being put in.

If you are forcing your body to press 25 pounds, your body will adapt and make it easier to press 25 pounds… That is when you start pressing 30.

The progression scheme is easy:

  • Add more weight to the exercise when you complete all reps.
  • The weight you pick will be done throughout every rep of every set.
  • This means if an exercise is 3 sets of 8 reps, you will keep that same weight for all 3 sets.

Routine Schedule

Schedules are hectic and I get that. The great thing about training is there is no absolute “set in stone” rules for when you train. There are some guidelines you should follow when choosing your workout schedule, but nothing you need to worry about.

The ideal schedule would look like this:

  • Sunday: Off
  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Workout 2
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Workout 3
  • Saturday: Off

They key points to take away from this is if you can get a day of rest in between a workout, that’s great.

I would not suggest doing all three days one after the other because you will be very tired and unable to recover quick enough.

Weight Training Routine

Workout 1
Exercise Sets Reps
Chest Machine* 3 12
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 2 8
Incline Dumbbell Chest Fly 2 10
Close Grip Bench Press 4 5
Seated Dip Machine 3 12
1 Arm Tricep Extension 2 15
 Planks 3 ALAP


Workout 2
Exercise Sets Reps
Back Machine* 3 12
1 Arm Dumbbell Rows 2 8
Seated Close Grip Rows 4 10
Shoulder Machine* 2 6
Cross Body Hammer Curl 3 12
Curl Machine* 2 15
Decline Situps 3 AMAP


Workout 3
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Walking Lunges 3 10
Leg Extensions 2 15
Leg Curls 2 15
Goblet Squats 3 8
Standing Calf Raise 2 20
Medicine Ball Crunches 2 20
Ab Machine* 3 AMAP

Workout Tips

  • Machine* – Pick a machine you like and feel comfortable with. Be sure that it works the body part in the workout. Most machines are clustered together so finding one that you like that works the body part you are looking for will be easy.
  • ALAP – As long as possible. Do this exercise for as long as you can… Feel the byrn.
  • AMAP – As many as possible. Do this exercise for as many reps as possible. Only stop when you feel you can no longer safely do more reps.


This routine is designed to be tough but easy to learn. This routine is great for beginners to learn with and get comfortable in the gym so enjoy it and watch how well it transforms your body.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave them below, I’ll answer them all!

221 thoughts on “Women’s 3 Day Beginner Weight Training Routine

  1. For the cardio that you do after weights, do you do it right after for 15-30 minutes? Or wait 15- 30 minutes and then start it? Thanks!

    1. Kristen,

      Ideally doing it right after weights would be best, especially to keep the time spent in the gym down. It doesn’t hurt to go dry off and get a drink, but there’s no need to wait.

      If you have any more questions let me know!

  2. Can this routine be done at home? I don’t have machines but I have free weights. I’m unable to join a gym at this time but would like to start living a healthier life.

    1. Yes, you can run this at home. For any exercise that says machine just do the regular free weight exercise.

      Keep me updated on your progress!

  3. I workout Monday through Friday switching up strength training and HIIT training every other day. Do I really need those rest days in between? I don’t think I can do that, lol. I love my weekly workouts.

    1. You body will acclimate itself to being active. If you’re able to keep up that pace then go for it. Once you start slowing down and noticing strength and endurance taking a hit, start taking a day or two off every once in a while.


  4. So, I have managed to lose 50 lbs since January with proper eating and exercise. I joined a gym and have a personal trainer. I am currently working out 2 times a day every day. Morning routine is upper body and abs one day, other day is lower body. Night routine is always cardio of some type.
    I understand this may be too much, but what are the physical risks of doing this? I want to be sure I am not wasting my time. Any thoughts?

    1. Wow Melissa, great job!

      You will notice you will start feeling sluggish, weaker with flu-like symptoms. You risk injury from fatigue and you could cause some metabolic damage. It sounds like it is working and I don’t want to tell you to switch something up, just know that once you start getting those symptoms you may need to take some time off or cut down to once per day to see how you rebound.

      I think you are doing well and I think you can make the same progress without being in the gym as much but you’ve found a system that works and I would hate to tell you to change it and ruin your progress.


      1. You have said exactly what I have been thinking as well as feeling. I am just fearful that I would gain the weight back once I calm down. I will reevaluate the current workout schedule. Thank you!

    2. Melissa,

      I would love if you are willing to guide some light on your workouts and what your routine looks like once you get to the gym during your weight lifting sessions.

    1. Go ahead and do each exercise and all of the sets for that exercise in one sitting. This will push you the most and will keep you from taking up all of the gym.


  5. I usually take Zumba for cardio for an hour, and I usually do it after weight training. If I am doing weight training before cardio, will it slow my progress or cause injury?

    1. Rosa,

      The only injury you would incur is overuse, which if you have been doing it with no issues I would not worry about it at all. The only way it would slow progress is if you aren’t eating the right amount of calories to reach whatever goal you are working towards.

      If you are trying to add some lean muscle, be sure you are eating an additional 50-100 calories a day to give your body the building blocks. If you are trying to slim down, cut your calories by 100-150 a day to slowly lose weight and not cause any metabolic damage.

      Hope this helps!


  6. Would you ever suggest going to the gym 6 days in a row just working out different body parts every other day? If so what would those work out look like

    1. Tracy,

      It’s possible but I think that you could spend time doing something better going to the gym 4 or 5 days and then prepping meals that 6th day, doing an activity outside, etc. If you want to do a 6 day I would recommend doing something like:
      Core, Calves, Arms

      Personally I wouldn’t recommend 6 days of training, although exercising and doing circuits or something similar to a P90X would be a good substitute as well.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

  7. My aunt and I are beginners, why trying to lose weight, how would you do the reps for beginners, and each workout day how would we split it up, so our muscle doesnt turn to fat?

    1. Nicole,

      When starting out, getting to the gym, becoming active, and learning the exercises is going to be the most important. You can still eat the same foods and you will start to notice a difference. Once you start getting into a routine and are able to consistently exercise, start dialing in a diet of eating fresh foods and preparing your meals.

      Your muscle won’t turn to fat fortunately, but as long as you progressively try to lift more weight or do more reps, you are going to build lean muscle and burn fat.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

    1. Sole,

      Free weights are much better than machines but you can still achieve your goals using machines. The problem with machines is it lets your body isolate a muscle without working the stabilizer muscles associated with it. I think you would still benefit from going to the gym and using machines though, so don’t let that deter you.

      If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!

  8. What dumbbell alternatives can you suggest for the Curl, Ab, Chest and Back Machines? I workout at home and only have dumbbells, but am not having luck Googling alternatives for the machines.

    I can’t wait to get started on this! Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Cris,

      For Curl machine, try concentration curls. For abs, find whatever you feel works best for you, crunches, sit ups, scissor kicks, etc.. Find something you like and stick with it. For your back, go ahead and do 1 arm dumbbell rows.

      Let me know if you have any more questions. I will write an article for workout alternatives to machines here soon, thank you for bringing me the idea!

  9. If I wanted to tone up and lose a little weight before the beginning of December, would this routine be a good choice for me? I would try to throw in some zumba like I do now, and I’m trying to eat better, but finding healthy yummy recipes is hard..any suggestions? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Rori,

      Any activity especially adding in weight training will be beneficial and you should see progress by December. It’s all about making the right food choices and staying active. It is hard to find recipes that are flavorful and healthy but it is possible. That may be one of my next articles I write.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  10. This is by far the most helpful article I have read. I love the work out plans and how you have included links to show you form and how to correctly do each set.

    My one question is what do you consider ecerise at the beginning of each workout?

    1. Jessica,

      Thank you for the kind words. I am glad to hear I am providing useful information. 🙂

      I’m unclear on what you are asking, do you mean what do I consider cardio at the beginning of each workout or are you referring to the part about me saying to find activity outside of the gym?

      Thanks again!

  11. Byrn,

    I just wanted to say how excited I am to have stumbled upon your page! I have always been curious about weightlifting but never knew how to get started. Guess my hubby was right! I do have a question regarding the workout I’ve been doing. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the 5 X 5 program, but that’s what I’ve been doing for a month now. Would you recommend d adding more to that or is that good enough? Thank you so much for any kind of advice you have to offer.

    1. Kathy,

      The 5×5 program is great. The only reason I would advise anyone against it is if they are not familiar with the proper form.. I would have them do something with more reps and lighter weight to get used to the form. The 5×5 is great and Cutty from Cutty Strength uses it a lot in his programs.

      Let me know how things progress!

  12. I love this article! I’m just wondering do you do workout 1,2, and 3 in the same day or workout 1 one day workout 2 one day and workout 3 another day? Thank you!

    1. Hannah,

      Thank you for the kind words! Each workout should be done on their respective days.. So Workout 1 goes on Day 1, etc. I generally tell people to try Monday/Wednesday/Friday, but making it work with your own schedule is the most important.

  13. I want to start doing weekly meal prep. Is there a website you recommennd for that. I am not sure where to start at all. Please guide me! Thanks!!!

    1. Honestly, My Fitness Pal is good so you can get ideas on what nutritional value is. Other than that, if you need recipes and things like that I think some poking around on the internet would be best.

      If you write down different websites, what you’ve found on them, and how they’ve helped you and send it to me… I would make an article out of it if that sounds like something you’re interested in. 🙂

  14. I’m so excited to have stumbled upon this (on pinterest BTW )! I’ve been wanting to start weight training because I’ve been doing cardio and resistance training and not seeing the results I want. I’m looking more for overall fitness as opposed to weight loss. My goal is to be toned! For someone who’s NEVER lifted weights and who’s arms look like small twigs, how much weight would you recommend starting at? Thank you!

    1. Amanda,

      I’m glad to hear you’ve found the information to be helpful. I want to help you carry that excitement to achieve some results! I would recommend starting with a lighter weight to get used to the movement and then you move up from there. A good rule of thumb that I use is if it was too easy to complete the reps, then it’s not working. So if you are doing a set of 8 on an exercise.. you should only be able to get 9 maybe 10 max… the goal is to push yourself to adapt.

      Clean up your diet, get a good feel for the weights and once you get comfortable with the exercises, you can start progressing in weight and seeing results.

      I hope this helps, let me know how you progress!

      1. I just wanted to send you a really quick update to thank you for this article!
        I’ve been following these guidelines for 3 weeks, tweaking it of course with my schedule and my other fitness activities, and following a “cleaner” more protein enriched diet.
        In the three weeks I have noticed my metabolism going again, more energy and best of all… the beginning of some good muscle growth! My “twig” arms are already starting to get some good definition!
        Thanks again for writing this piece. I am definitely the type of person that needs to have things written out in a definite and understandable way.
        You rock!

  15. Hi,

    Could you please post some dumbbell alternatives for the machines or ways to transition away from the machines and on to free weights?


    1. Kate,

      My next two articles will be for (1) Dumbbell alternatives for machines, and then (2) how to transition away from machines to free weights. Thank you for your input. If you have any other articles you would like to see, please feel free to let me know!

  16. Thank you so much for the article.
    So Ive been going to a group circuit training that is mostly focused on body weight lifting and some weight lifting for 45 minutes 5 to 6 days a week for the past 5 weeks. I eat pretty much the items on the list you provided plus vegetables, fruits, PB2, almonds, and Greek yogurt. I try to drink a recovery protein shake and a normal protein shake in a day. I’ve seen a lot of imprivemtns but not as much muscle definition. I really Iike to have defined absolutely and upper back muscles. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you again!


    1. Neelou,

      Congrats on going to a group circuit training; it seems as if you’re on the right track for success. I would recommend sticking with what you are doing until roughly 12 weeks have passed. I know that seems like a long time, but while you put your time in the classes, you are improving your cardiovascular health, muscle endurance, and will keep improving as you go. The reason I say wait a total of 12 weeks (or however long the classes go) is because generally you won’t start actually seeing the results until then. You may notice things fit different or you look different, but most of my clients don’t actually notice definition and muscle building until after the 12 week mark.

      Once you finish with that and you want to get more defined, I suggest looking at how many calories you eat and your overall weight goals. You most likely will need to build more muscle by way of weight training and maintaining a leaner body with cardio and exercise like you are now. While it is possible to become defined through what you are doing, you’re going to need to lose a lot of body fat (regardless of weight) because you will not have a lot of muscle mass to show off.

      If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!

  17. Byrn,

    It was great to stumble upon this article just as I was getting back to the gym 2 weeks ago. I train alone and over the past 2 weeks have found it every easy to learn. So, I’ve completed each workout twice and so far I’m feeling great and know what amount of weight to use for each exercise. But I’m curious, when should I try using more weight? And how much would you recommend adding?

    1. Crystal,

      I’m glad to hear that you’re gaining confidence and learning as you go. It’s important to learn and be confident in what you are doing – it will ensure you progress.

      As for adding weight, if you’ve completed your exercise and achieved every rep of every set, the next week you should try to do more weight.

      Since fitness is a life-long goal, doing smaller increments is better than larger increments. Generally I recommend going up 5 pounds on dumbbell exercises, the next plate on machine exercises, and 5-10 on barbell exercises. Some gyms do not have 2.5 pound weights (which I would recommend buying some if you don’t have any. These 2.5lb plates would be great). They are a little expensive but they are worth having because it can take a while to successfully jump 10 pounds on the barbell.

      But you should always try to increase the weight some or add reps if you cannot complete all of the reps at a higher weight. The goal is to do better than you did the last time you came in.

      If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!

  18. I only have 3lbs and 5lbs weights and a medicine ball. I’m just starting out and I would like to know if these weights will work or should I get something different. I can’t afford a gym membership right now. I do have a treadmill and just started walking on it.
    Thanks April

    1. Yes for starting out it would work out well. When you exercise, I would do the exercise until you can’t do it anymore. This is called going until failure. Since the weight is lighter, you will need to increase the amount of reps that you do to make it effective.

      You could certainly start making progress towards your goals using that equipment. I would recommend saving up and getting a set of adjustable dumbbells next so you can continue exercising at home and still make progress.

  19. This is for sure the best written workout advice I have read in such a long time. The fact that you have included an attached site to show how to do a workout is the best and the sets & reps . I really like the schedule you have outlined I think its great. I usually tend to go full force on any workout and end up quitting after a few weeks. I can and will definitely be able to follow this schedule. I also like the nutritional advice.

    1. Alma,

      Thank you for the kind words; it brightened my day up. If you have any article suggestions or questions, feel free to ask! 🙂

  20. Could you please suggest an alternate free wt. exercise for the machine ones? I will be somewhere that does not have machines.
    Thank you.

  21. Hi
    Just wanted to say great article, glad I found it!
    I used to do weights and running, but stopped to try a different hiit only based programme. Really disappointed with the results and can’t wait to get back to my weights / hiit combo!
    Keep up the good work

    1. Sam,

      Thank you for the kind words. There really is no substitute to weight lifting and cardio. I hope to hear you start seeing the results you want!

  22. Byrn,
    I notice this schedule is only three days a week. Do you recommend any activity at all on these 4 off days that we would have? I am more concerned about fatloss than anything at the moment. Also, I should mention that I am 35 so it’s getting more difficult for the fat to drop off. :/

    1. Daune,

      You could always do any type of exercise outside of the gym. I would look for something fun to do like a sport or start walking around the neighborhood. Picking up some sort of aerobic exercise class (like P90x and the like) would also be great to do. Any activity that keeps you from sitting on the couch is going to help you reach your fat loss goals.

  23. Is it bad to increase the weight a little every set but decrease the reps? Will it slow the results? Also, one more thing do you need a spot for free weights even if you feel comfortable doing that weight on your own?

    1. Jillian,

      You should increase the weight or increase reps but don’t decrease reps as you increase weight. There is some positive for it but in your case it won’t help with results. Being able to do more reps at a certain weight or increase your weight while doing the same amount of reps shows that you are progressing.

      Depending on which exercise you are doing, you don’t really need a spot. I will say that it’s ideal to have a spotter on most exercises because there’s always the possibility weight could slip or you could get stuck under the bar. Bench pressing with a barbell is one I highly suggest you having a spot for. Squats are next but if you set up your rack correctly, you can drop the weight or it will catch and not land on you.

      Hope this helps!

  24. Hello
    i want to lose weight but where should i start. i cant go to the gym to workout
    so what are my options
    i dont want to do weight training but cardio is that okay and will that help me lose weight

    1. Increasing your activities and doing cardio along with eating healthier will help you lose weight. You will get the most benefit from incorporating weight training with your cardio but you will lose weight if you start doing cardio and eating healthy.

      You could also start doing body weight exercises as well such as push ups, jumping jacks, sit ups, and dips to help build muscle and benefit from anaerobic activity which will help you lose more weight.

  25. Is all 3 workouts for each day of the week that I work out or should I do one workout for the days of the whole week?
    Like is it Workout 1, rest, workout 2, rest workout 3, rest?
    Or is it Workout 1, rest, workout 1, rest, workout 1, rest, and ect.?

        1. As long as you come in the next week making progress, run with it. Too often people switch routines before they really start to see results and then think the routine(s) do not work. Once you stop noticing progress either in the mirror, scale, or able to lift more, run it. Once you get to the point where you aren’t able to progress then you may want to look into another routine or I can help you with that when you get to that point 🙂

  26. Byrn,

    Thank you so much for an amazing article. I wish I would’ve found this earlier! I hope you’ll have an answer for me… I’ve been reading a lot of conflicting theories regarding heart rate during cardio. When I work out on the arc builder or elliptical, I tend to stay around 170-185. I like to take pre-workout which really gets me going and my heart rate can go as high as 200, but I would say it averages at 180-195. Sometimes machines have a “fat burning zone” of 140-160. I’m concerned that I’m spending 30 minutes at 180 HR for nothing. I am 20 years old, 5’8, female, overweight. When I try to work out and keep my heart rate at 140, I feel like I’m doing nothing and I’m not sweating. I like feeling exhausted after going to the gym. But does this mean that I’m not burning fat?

    My main concern is that I’m bulking up without losing fat.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Renee,

      Thank you for the kind words. Doing higher intensity cardio is alright and I think it will help you get your resting heart rate and conditioning in a much better state. So instead of being out of breath just going up a flight of stairs (most people that don’t work out have this problem) you will be able to take it in stride and not lose a beat in your conversation. Personally, I don’t think that there is as big of a difference between your different heart rate zones simply because they aren’t taking into account someone’s conditioning level. I know people who have a resting heart rate of 120bpm and I know marathon runners with 86bpm heart rate. The marathon runner may have to almost kill themselves to reach 140 compared to someone who may hit 140 just from standing up and walking some.

      30 minutes of exercise is never going to be a waste. If you keep your diet in check and keep up the hard work, you will lose body fat. Keep protein intake up especially if you are weight training and you will have nothing to worry about at all.

      I hope this helps!

  27. I love this plan! I just started it this week but I am the type that just needs to follow clear instructions so this is really great. Some exercises are too hard for me to finish the recommended reps per set (ahem… Seated Dip Machine for example) So I just do what I can and am working my way up to it. I am a true beginner and don’t use any protein shakes or supplements. I am looking to lose weight but also be strong and look fit. I have a desk job which limits my movement during the day. I love cardio because it makes me sweat but I don’t see results. How long will it be before I see results with your routine? Do you have an intermediate workout plan? Maybe something with a different variety of exercises for when I’ve done these all for a while? Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Results come from exactly what you are doing – do what you can and strive to do better next time. You will start to SEE results within 5 weeks of the training routine. Others will notice changes within 3-4 weeks.

      Cardio is certainly important to those that have a desk job, you may not see results but a healthy heart is just as important as seeing your body changing how you want it to. An intermediate workout plan would take into consideration a lot more than just changing exercises and I would recommend sticking to any routine at least for 8-12 weeks before moving on to another. Many people “program hop” and never see results because they never get to the part of the program that actually pushes their body to change.

      I’ve had people run a similar program using mostly the same exercises for a year (maybe change the rep ranges) and they see phenomenal results. Doing the same routine day in and day out can get boring but there is a lot to be said about consistency. I would invite you to check out the other workouts I’ve written and see if any of those may seem more inviting to you.

      Good luck!

  28. Thank you so much for the information in regards to weights for beginners. I am going to try your program for my 2016 goal. I will let you know how it goes, Thanks again.

  29. That’s for breaking it down and making it digestible information! I have a question. I rock climb at an indoor gym twice a week to stay in climbing shape for outdoor trips. I also love to lift weights but am not sure how to work it all out schedule-wise during the week. So far it has looked like this: M- kettlebell workout T- cardio W- rock climb T- cardio F-rock climb. So I am substituting gym weight lifting days with rock climbing, and focusing on full body moves during the kettlebell day. I am afraid of having too many strength days back to back if I try something like the 3x a week weight lifting program. What do you think?

    1. Marguerite,

      It sounds like you have a great schedule already and I agree that adding in 3 strength days may be a bit much. Might I suggest this 2 day full body workout and then either just alternate the days on your Mondays or add in that second day sometime throughout the week. Either would work well.

      I think doing everything the same and just alternating days on your Monday instead of kettlebell workouts will give you some great results.

  30. Thank you for posting this 3 day workout. After 12 years of being mostly out of the gym and having 4 kids, I am back but 3 days is just about all I can handle right now. My husband and I get up before he goes to work and get to the gym on M, W, F. I used to do the 6 day workouts 12 years ago and now I just don’t have either the stamina or the will. I need the off days to recover! I do have a question though… Do you have a 3 day workout that focuses two days on lower body and one day on upper body? I am a pear shape, leggy person that would love to have killer legs. My upper body could use the tone, but not as much as my lower. Plus, I know my large muscles in my legs will burn more calories so I am wanting to focus there without overtraining or injury. What say you?? Thanks again!

    1. Samantha,

      I’m glad to hear you’re getting back to the gym and working on your goals. I will write a separate workout here soon that will focus more on lower body than upper body. I do think you would have a lot of luck with adding 2 sets to each of the lower body workouts as well. This will be a bit challenging but I think you will like the results. This workout has been written to be well balanced and you can focus on progressing with weight on your lower body faster so you can work on getting some killer legs.

      I would recommend running with that for 8 weeks to see how you feel, otherwise give me a few days to get out a workout that is more lower body focused.

      Keep in touch!

  31. I have 30 pounds that I NEED gone. I was a marathon runner before I got pregnant and never really lost or gained weight and ate what I wanted to. I stopped running during pregnancy and broke my ankle the day after I had my baby, so it’s been hard to get the weight off to say the least. And my baby turns 1 at the end of the month. I am going to run a half marathon in March, so could I do these routines on my low mileage days? Would lower weight to keep the soreness down still be effective?

    1. Krista,

      Coming back from a broken ankle can be hard, even more so after pregnancy so I feel your pain. I think this would be good for your low mileage days. Pay attention to your energy levels and make sure that you are able to recuperate fully between days and that you are able to stay healthy while running. If you start feeling fatigued and noticing a decrease in your running, I would recommend trying out this 2 day full body routine. You can run the days in an alternating fashion so you can get as much weight training in as you need and still stay balanced in your training.

      Let me know how training goes!

  32. Since college I have found it hard to stay in shape without having an organized activities, so I ended doing my best by doing P90X and other workout videos. However I find that I can only maintain doing the routines for so long before I need an extended break and also life doesn’t let me workout for an hour 6-7 days a week anymore (hello I had a baby). So finding this page (and subsequent additional routines) is refreshing and I am looking forward to starting.

    What is the best time to eat and drink water before and after a workout? I do well staying hydrated all day and I tend to graze instead of having 3 huge meals, but I didn’t know if there was any ideal timing.


    1. Angela,

      Thank you for your kind words, I’m glad to help you get a fresh start. Grazing is fine but I would recommend making your meals in advance to graze on instead of going “free range.” (bad pun intended)

      For instance if you don’t eat an actual meal but you like to graze on some vegetables or chips – you can create you a serving size of whatever you want to eat on. This will help you keep from overeating.

      Some like to workout on an empty stomach while some like to eat about an hour before – try both and see what you like. I prefer an empty belly then I eat well after I workout. Timing isn’t as important as picking sensible choices and making sure you can control the amounts. I’ve had a lot of grazers that I have shown how to prepare a day’s worth of food in advance and they have had great success.

      Good luck and let me know how you progress!

  33. How many weeks do suggest doing this plan before you change to another plan? Also, can you do cardio on the days you are not strength training?

    1. Jenn,

      I would recommend doing this plan for at least 12 weeks before deciding to change to another routine. I also would like to add if you’re seeing constant results and progressing towards your goals that you shouldn’t switch routines until you stop seeing results. 🙂

  34. Lol I’m sorry but I had to stop reading when I got to the gloves section. Cute. Good luck the day you forget them! Build some calluses and lift for real.

    1. I don’t train with gloves but when the majority of my audience and clients prefer to use them, I thought I would provide a suggestion for a popular pair I know many like.

      Thanks for stopping in.

    1. Everybody’s conditioning level is different so I would start with about 90 seconds between sets. If you’re still struggling to catch your breath, go longer. Ideally if you can keep between 45-60 seconds on lifts that use the barbell like lunges and 30-45 on the machine lifts. The trick is to find your sweet spot that keeps your heart rate elevated but not so much you are not “ready” for the next set. Push yourself, but no need to force it.

      Once you start lifting for a while, you’re going to find that time where you just know you’re ready. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!

    1. Kayla,

      I started a product review page that I will keep adding more products to as time passes. Check out my product reviews here. If you would like to do your own homework (which is what I’m trying to keep everyone from doing), I would recommend going into a supplement shop and asking for supplement samples and trying them out. Pre-workouts for example, can have a lot of harsh stimulants that make you hot and possibly jittery, some that strive to achieve a good pump, and some that have no stimulants at all. So either trying them out or reading up on reviews and then trying some would be your best bet. If you want to try one now, I would try Hottie by LeCheek Nutrition.

      If you have any more questions, keep them coming!

  35. Switching to this due to multiple stress fractures and tendonitis in my rt foot. (I run ) So, zero impact and in a boot. I plan on doing swim alternating days and skipping lunges, etc. thoughts? Would this be beneficial? Any recommendations on relacements for squats, lunges, etc? Also, i am limited to recumbent bike and row machine. Either of those appropriate for the cardio portion of the plan?

    1. Danielle,

      Sorry to hear about your injury. I would just skip the lunches and squats for now, do what you can with the rest of the routine. The recumbent bike and row machine along with swimming will be plenty for cardio. Keep active and in the gym as much as you can but keep a priority on letting your foot heal. No need to push to the extent where you are slowing healing progress.

      Good luck and let me know how the foot heals!

    1. Kat,

      I would advise not switching routines as long as it is working. But generally I would say run this routine for 8-12 weeks at least.

  36. Not sure if someone has asked this but I see on workout 1 it mentions “seated dip machine” but links to a “chest dip”. Is this a mistake? I cannot honestly see myself dipping my full weight on day 1. I haven’t stepped foot into a gym in 2 years and I am a stay at home mom. I just don’t want to injure myself and then get turned off by the idea of working out.

    1. Kristina,

      Ask any questions you have, I’ll answer them. The reason I linked to chest dip is because it is a good video to show how to do a dip, regardless of if it is a machine or body weight. Body weight dips are very hard and take a lot of strength and skill to master. Use the machine and start slowly to get back into things. It’s not a race and as you said, there’s no reason to try to do something you shouldn’t try and get injured or burned out before you ever get started.

      I hope this helps!

  37. Bryn,

    I have to say I have read many many articles I have also had personal trainers and nutritionalists and this was the best article I have read in a long time!! Thank you so much for giving us an exact workout without pushing for any money. You are truly helping people and it is a great service us! My last trainer gave me a workout plan that I lost and I have been looking for something that was similar and this is right around what he had given me but I believe better. I can’t wait to start this program tomorrow!! I am going for weight loss and of course toning and I am sure this is a great fit for My schedule. Thank you for making it simple and making it seem achievable! I found this article on pintrest and would like your actual website!!

    Thanks again!! Lets do this!!!


    1. Katy,

      I’m glad you found my writing helpful. Achieving your fitness goals is most certainly something everyone can accomplish, it just takes finding the right information, the right motivation, and the right amount of action to get there. I wish you the best of luck and I invite you check back frequently and let us know how you are doing. Share this with your friends to help grow this website. I am going to start writing more frequently and get myself on a schedule to deliver more content.

      If you have any questions feel free to ask!

  38. I noticed that this article says “Beginner Weight Training Routine”. How long would you suggest using this? I have always been pretty active, played softball growing up as well as into my adult life. Body wise I have really great genetics but do the gym thing off/on. I’ve done P90X, Insanity, general workouts, LOTS of cardio. I have given up on anything fitness related for a little while and now I need to get some weight off. I came across this article on Pinterest and it makes a lot of sense! I get burnt out because I workout too much/too hard I think. I am 33 yrs old, 5’3, 150 lbs. The best adult weight/shape that I have been in is 140 lbs and I wore a size 4/6. My first goal is to get back to 140 but then my second goal would be 130. It really isn’t even about the weight as much as it is about the way I want to look. I know that some 5’3 girls can weigh 115-120, I just don’t think I would look healthy at that weight. Anyways, my original question is how long should I do this workout before switching to something else or switching it up since it says “beginner” and what should I switch to? Thanks so much! 🙂

    1. I think your goals are going to be easy to accomplish since you’ve been able to do it once before. This routine will be great for you since most “beginners” generally don’t need to worry about anything advanced until they’ve been working out consistently for over a couple of years. This time is easy to progress and add weight and/or reps and really for the majority of people training this will suffice even after you’ve been training for a couple of years.

      I would invite you to try to focus on spending less time in the gym and doing “workout” related things such as gym, cardio, P90x etc and focus on expending more energy while you are in the gym for the hour or hour and a half it will take you to complete this. For example, instead of spending 2-3 hours a day exercising, exercise so intensely during that hour and a half that you just simply cannot put out any more energy afterwards. This will help you keep from getting burnt out and will help you enjoy more of your life.

      There’s nothing wrong with doing activities like sports and staying active, but spend less time with the focus of “exercising/working out.” Trust me, it will help.

      In regards to your question, I would give yourself a good 12 weeks to assess how your body is adjusting to the routine. I really think that the majority of the readers who come here will benefit from this workout and they will not have to worry about switching up at all. If, however, you start to get extremely fatigued from the weights and are unable to continue to increase your reps or weight after taking a break for a week, I’ll help point you in a different direction. Until then, train on 🙂

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  39. Do you think I could combine the routine with cardio? Doing each exercise for 30 seconds, and the 1 minute of cardio (like rowing)?

    1. I don’t know how well that’d work together but it would be worth trying. Let me know how it goes, I’ve never thought to do that before.

  40. Hi
    Started workout one last night and I’m gonna stick to it. I’ve never tried weights before yet this article inspired me to try. My only problem is I suffer with knee problems therefore squats and lunges are not an option for me, what can I do instead?

    1. Try out the leg press machine and see how that feels. Otherwise try out other leg machines and see if you can find something that will work.

      Good luck and keep me updated!

  41. Hey! I’m definitely a beginner and could use some advice on what amount of weight I should be using for the exercises in your workouts! I’m 5’4″ and about 130lbs and am looking to get in shape around going to school, work, and my social life! I’m working on the eating healthy part but I’ve noticed I’m more motivated to eat healthy when I workout. I like the idea of a 3 day workout plan, but I just don’t want to over do it with the weight I use so that I’m in absolute pain or pull anything! My lower back already has minor issues. What would you suggest for a beginner my size who hasn’t done a lot of these exercises before?

    1. Jillian,

      Glad to see you wanting to get started! Starting out you can go slow so your body has time to adapt to the new stressors you are putting it through. The reason you get so sore after working out is because when your muscles break down it creates lactic acid and that’s why the day or two after training it hurts. I would suggest starting off the first month or so learning form, learning how to use machines, and playing around with weight. Start light and get used to the movements and let your body get acclimated with the exercises before you really start pushing yourself.

      Once about a month has passed you should have enough confidence about your form and your body should be ready to really start pushing hard. Once you are past the first month, take a week and use heavier weights for all exercises and find a weight that you feel you could complete 3 more reps in a set when you finish. This means if you are supposed to do 12 reps that set, pick a weight that you complete the 12 but feel you could do 14 or 15 if you needed to.

      This will be your base line.

      Once you have your base line weights you want to strive to increase the weights each time you go. So if you start off using 20s on incline dumbbell bench press, strive to use 25s next week. If you aren’t able to complete all reps for your sets, try 25 again the next week and you should be able to get it. Check out these 10 tips for transitioning from machines to free weights to get a few other tips that apply to beginners as well!

      If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

  42. Hello!

    I started your beginners routine last week. Leg day was definitely a killer. 🙂

    For the barbell lunges, my gym’s barbells are too heavy for me, can I just use dum bells?

    I noticed that I had a very difficult time completeing the medicine ball crunches. I could barely lift myself up. Do you have any reccomendations?

    Thank you for this awesome workout routine!


    1. Tara,

      Great to hear! As for the lunges, using dumbbells will be just fine 🙂

      For the crunches, start out with just regular crunches and maybe try to add in a few reps with the medicine ball after you are able to do the regular crunches easily. Ab work is really hard so don’t get discouraged.

      Thank you for the kind words and good luck on the routine.

      If you have any more questions feel free to ask!

  43. How long should I keep up with this? Does it need to change up after 6 weeks or so or if I’m adding more weight then it’s good to keep going? Didn’t know if there’s another stage for not so beginners?

    1. I’ll be putting out more workouts this year, the next being what to go to once you’ve done this routine.

      I recommend using this routine until you can’t keep adding more weight. Most lifters can train like this for at least their first year. Otherwise, I recommend running this routine for at least 12 weeks.

  44. Hi,
    My name is Linsee and I am trying to get my own routine down. I am a body type that gains in the waist/ stomach area Is there any recommendations for toning my whole body and keeping my stomach flat?
    Thank You

    1. Linsee

      Toning up happens from training with weights in properly and then eating nutritious foods and plenty of protein. Keeping your stomach flat happens from eating nutritious foods and keeping your activity levels up. Your body happens in the kitchen more than in the gym. Any workout program should work as long as you eat properly and keep your activity levels high. 🙂

      1. Thank you, I guess my main thing is not getting full I feel like I have a lot of proteins and good portion sized meals but don’t feel satisfied. Or I will be satisfied for an hour then feel hungry again. Any recommendations there for snacks?

  45. Hello Again,

    I’ve been doing your workout consistently for about 4 weeks now and I like it aloyt. But I feel maybe I should be doing HIIT to lose weight faster. I know this is a strength training plan but can cant I still lose weight with your plan? Or is it just that HIIT would maximize my weightloss results?

  46. I am 45 and recently started lifting to tone after many years away from the gym. I’ve been going to the gym M, W, F and was looking for a program then I found yours, it seems perfect for me. The only reservation I have is my legs are my biggest issue and that’s only one day a week. Is that really all I need? I’ve been doing a whole body approach three times a week. Thoughts ?


    1. Kristie,

      Glad to see you are back at it. I suggest trying the routine for a few weeks to see how you respond. It usually takes my clients’ legs that time to recover with all of the volume you do on Friday but if you find that you could do more, replace the dip machine on monday with 1-2 leg exercises of your choice.

      Let me know how it works out for you!

  47. I am new to the weights. I have been a runner for years, but now because of arthritis, I have been advised to limiting my running, and seek more weight training to strengthen my supporting muscles for my bones. I stumbled upon your routine and have been doing this for a few weeks now. I absolutely love it. I have seen growth in my frame, along with getting stronger and adding more weight already. I find I am more hungry now though, I do not eat meat such as chicken, turkey, or beef… though I do eat fish and egg whites. Even though I consider myself to be a good cook and am fairly good with my nutrition as well, I struggle with good recipes for my protein intake, and could use some suggestions if you have any, please.

    1. Let me get you some good ideas written down and I’ll send you a reply tomorrow. I will get you some ideas to help you get in some protein and hopefully get you some different tasty variations you may not have thought about. Being able to increase your nutritious fats some will help with curbing appetite as well as maybe some caffeine.

      I’ll reply with a list tomorrow of some things to help you get more protein without using chicken, turkey, or beef.

    2. Hello, I didn’t forget about you but I got in a bit later than I had hoped so here is a short but comprehensive list of some things to try to spice up some recipes and get some variety in your diet.

      First, here’s a good list of vegetarian and vegan protein sources that should open your mind up to some new ideas: Alternative Protein Sources and is written by Cutty of Cutty Strength, he is good people to me.

      Secondly, there are different condiments and other seasonings I like to use in dishes to make a blah dish taste great:
      Any fats can enhance flavor in a dish such as sour cream or olive oil.

      For instance if you like to eat egg whites, a great combo with those that I like is to add some sour cream and then hot sauce to taste. This is a filling and tasty snack that will keep you full for hours.

      You could always add red wine vinegar to dishes, avacado is a great source of fat and will liven up any dish. Another recipe from Cutty Strength that I really like is a chili lime chicken recipe. I know you don’t eat chicken but I would recommend replacing the chicken with a nice white fish. It’s a great and tasty recipe. Check out the recipe.

      Adding some salsa and other fresh veggies to a blah dish will liven up your dishes. I love eating some grilled asparagus with sauteed mushrooms in a lovely cream sauce.

      If you have a hard time eating enough protein, you can always supplement with a whey or soy protein. There are also vegan choices out there if that is more your style.

      I plan on adding recipes and other cooking ideas and tips to the websites and our social media accounts. If you are an adventurous cook and are open to new things, I think you will find some exciting new alternatives.

      Let me know if anything I’ve written has sparked any interest. If you’ve tried it let me know how you like it!

  48. Hi Bryn, I just started this routine last week. I have to say, this is the best for me so far. I was really nervous about going over to the weight area. It was a part of the gym I avoided. Now I just walk on over and do my thing. I’m lucky, because my job has a schedule that I can be in the gym and it’s not that crowded.

    My question to you is about stretching. I was wondering if there is a stretch routine you would recommend or an article I didn’t see on the website here regarding post-workout stretching. Any advice you can offer I would surely appreciate. Thank you for helping me gain more confidence and taking charge regarding my health.

    1. Tina,

      Glad to hear you’ve made it over to “no man’s land” and found it’s not that bad. Being able to go at a slow time is one of the tips I give in this article on transitioning to free weights (check it out for more tips)

      As for stretching, there isn’t necessarily a routine I would suggest because most people don’t have to increase their mobility or have a reason to stretch necessarily. I will write an article on some active recovery techniques and some stretching that may be up your alley.

      Once again I’m glad to hear you are gaining confidence and taking charge of your health. Keep in touch and check back soon for the article!

  49. I love the structure of your blog! Can you write up a version of this weight training without the gym machines? Between work and family I can’t always find time to make it to my gym but I do have various hand weights and barbell with weights at home…

    1. Chelsey,

      I’ve been slacking on writing lately, been busy with other things and I haven’t put much time into writing.

      Check back by the end of Monday (today for me) and I will have a workout designed for minimal equipment and working out at home!

      Thank you for the kind words!

  50. Hi Byrn,

    Great article! What would you suggest if you needed to loose close to 80 pounds? I just joined the gym and have started eating clean. I’m confused to where to start. Other people have told me to focus on cardio first to loose the weight and then once I’ve lost some weight, start focusing on weight training to tone. I’m very confused on what’s the best way to loose the weight.

    1. Martha,

      Thank you for the kind words! Eating healthy and getting exercise is going to help you lose weight. I highly recommend weight training while you do cardio because there is a synergistic effect when you exercise and weight train.

      It takes a lifestyle change (slow change is recommended) to lose weight and to get in shape. Consistently eating better, lifting weights, and exercising will help you lose weight and tone up. Taking the first step is the hardest so even if you aren’t completely sure of what the best way for you to lose weight is, just do it and adjust as needed. 🙂

  51. I just read your article and have been inspired to take this routine on ASAP. I’m a bit confused on the workouts #1,2,3.I see that there are 3 sets of workouts,but are they to be completed all in one gym session or is there a specific amount of time/weeks you need to do each workout?

    1. Workout 1, Workout 2, and Workout 3 are each a day. Ideally going on Monday (workout 1), Wednesday (workout 2), and Friday (workout 3) would be the best.

      The time depends on how long you take, if you are a beginner it will probably take longer than someone who’s been weight training for a year so don’t worry so much about time.

      Rinse and repeat every week, at least 12 weeks to give the routine time to help you reach your goals.

  52. Do you have a workout for chest? I need to tighten and lift my breasts i can loose weight and tone everywhere else but there
    Any suggestions.
    Thank you

    1. I’ll write a chest workout today. I’ve been really slacking on writing articles due to outside distractions but I will write a routine for you. Check back later tonight! 🙂

  53. This is a fantastic article! Thanks so much for sharing. Tomorrow is going to be day one for me for this workout. Looking forward to it!

    1. Which bow flex do you have? I’ll write up a workout routine article for you. If you are interested in getting some equipment I have someone I could refer you to, they are starting a new store and would give you some good prices on whatever you needed. 🙂

      1. I have the bowflex extreme 2. (It is the one with the chair that has the removable seat, so no bench that lays flat). I might be interested in more equipment. I also have a recumbent bike and a treadmill. Thanks!

  54. This is a good primer article. My question is why don’t people such as yourself ever post exercise articles for people who can’t to squats, but still want a good beginning workout to lose weight? I have two arthritic knees and have been told to stay away from squats/ lunges/ jumping etc.

    1. Lynn,

      Thank you. I can’t speak for others on this topic but generally I write workouts for what I would say is my general demographic. The demo here is generally females 16-45 brand new to the gym or have been exercising on cardio or machines. I try to write to give the best “bang for your buck” energy wise to making a change so having injuries or some other “anomaly” (for lack of better words) doesn’t make sense.

      Now, I would like to say that I will write an article for you that you can follow that will help you begin working out and losing weight that takes the knees into account. I honestly would rather write articles I KNOW that my readers would like to read and would find useful instead of sometimes “taking a guess.”

      I’ll have to do a little research on some additional lower body exercises that will be effective and safe for you to use. I would consult with your doctor after the workout is posted to make sure things seem like they will not further cause pain to your knees.

      Thank you for reaching out and commenting, sorry if the reply is a little long. I would look for this article to post sometime this week or weekend so we can get you started ASAP. If you have any more questions feel free to ask!

  55. I go swimming or running every morning for about 40 minutes and around noon I do a workout routine at home of HIIT or wheight training which usually takes about 30-50 minutes. The rest of the day I go for short walks or a bike ride. In order not to gain a lot of weight and at the same time keeping my muscles toned, I eat around 1500 kcal with a lot of proteins, heallthy fats and carbs. If I eat more I am afraid to get too bulky around the waist and legs. I am wondering if this is something my body can keep up for a long time. Truth is that I have been doing this for about four years now. It frustrates me that regardless the amount of training, I still don”t have the abs I would want. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Start to slowly increase calories maybe by 50-100 a day and start watching your results after a couple of weeks. Generally to have abs you have to be lean enough to see them and have muscle there to show. Without seeing your physique I can’t give much insight. It certainly sounds like you are active enough and you take care of yourself so I would try to start building some more muscle.

  56. Hi! Can you recommend good supplements to take? I feel like no matter how hard I try I can’t gain muscle. Partly because of my long and lean body type. I’m thinking supplements would help? And how often should I go up in weight? Thanks for the article. I plan on starting your suggested workouts next week! 🙂

    1. I suggest eating more food before going to supplements. It is much easier and cheaper to add in a few extra calories of food than it is to buy protein and drink it.

      I would suggest adding some more fats to meals like cheeses, sour cream, maybe some butter, olive oil, etc. This is going to give your body the extra calories it needs to start building muscle. Of course protein powders will work but I’m a huge fan of fixing your diet before you start spending a lot of money on supplements.

      Go up in weight once you’ve successfully completed your workout. So if you use 10lbs for curls and successfully complete all reps and sets, next week strive for 15lbs. Go up in weight when you can – if you don’t complete all of the reps, use the same weight next week. The goal is to strive to get more reps or use more weight.

      Good luck with the workout, let me know how you like it!

    1. This routine is something you can essentially run for as long as it works but generally most people will run for 12 weeks. You ideally try to up the weights each week, 5 pounds or so depending on what you are using. The goal here is to keep progressing and striving to do more reps or add more weight and keep the same amount of reps.

      So follow the rep scheme and increase weight each week once you successfully complete your workout.

  57. First of all, thank you for making a plan that’s easy to understand for us beginners. Much appreciated!

    Couple things I have been wondering while trying to make a workout plan.
    1) Is it better to go workout 3 times a week for an hour + 1/2 with rest days in-between or is it better to work 5 days a week (alternating exercises to give parts of the body a break) but only work out for 45 minutes? Which one is going to give me the best results?

    2) What is the best way to do split exercises? Like do I work out arms/abs one day, legs/back another. What split would you recommend?

    Thanks again, I can’t wait to hear from you!

    1. Generally going 3 times a week will give your body and nervous system enough time to rest and recover – this means you will actually see results instead of getting burned out.

      5 Day a week training can work but I have had more luck with 3 and 4 day routines with clients more so than 5+ days.

      Splits are usually upper/lower or breaking down into sections like bench/tricep, back/bicep, legs.

      Hope this helps!

  58. I have been working with weights for about 9 months and have seen some strength improvement, but I want to lean out. I do cardio regularly, varying between running, hiit, and distance swimming and I still can’t loose the muffin top! I love weight training and am wondering if there are any exercises I can do to focus on lower back, sides, and hamstrings.

    1. If you’ve been holding roughly the same weight it may be time to start dropping a few calories a day. Take a week and track your calories and see your average and then eat about 100 less a day and see if you start to notice some improvement.

      For exercises really deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, stiff leg deadlifts, squats, side bends, and lunges are all good for those areas.

  59. For the past year and a half j have been working on losing weight. I did cardio only for a year and lost 40lbs! But then I got stuck…I have been doing this routine for a few months now and have gained 5 lbs but my measurements are the exact same. I have been eating much healthier than I had been and watching my calories but I still have not seen any real physical difference. Any suggestions to getting the rest of the fat off?!

    1. The weight gain with the same measurements is a result of building muscle so that’s good – muscle helps your metabolism stay stoked.

      I would have to see a log of your meals to give you a better account for why you aren’t losing weight. If you have been eating as well as you say you have and staying active then my next guess would be that you may be eating too much. Try to cut out 100 calories per day and weigh yourself in about a month to see if you have noticed any progress. Losing weight takes some time, even moreso when you start getting more lean.

      Try cutting 100-150 calories a day and make sure to push yourself in the gym and during cardio and see what the next few weeks bring. Try to log your food and exercise and we can go over it later.

  60. Thank you for this! I like the idea of a 3-day plan. Great tips and nutrition advice. I tend to overthink it and then overwhelm myself and this is perfect.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Linda. That’s why I’ve made this site to try to provide clear and concise workouts and tips to help get you started training and making progress.

      If you have any questions you can feel free to ask!

  61. Super excited to have found this workout! Exactly the guidance I need getting back into the gym post-baby. How long should you rest in between sets and then again between exercises? Thank you!

    1. I’m glad to hear! Rest is more or less per individual but for the bigger compound lifts you should try to be around 45-60 seconds (but can be more if needed) and for the smaller accessory type exercises you can aim for 30-45 seconds. Again, there’s no rule and the shorter rest times will increase intensity. No need to rush into the next set or exercise before you are ready. 🙂

  62. Hello–I just came across your article and I really enjoyed it (as well as all the feedback you have given people in the comment section). A couple of questions I have: I have been training pretty intensely for the past couple of years (kettle bell, crossfit stuff) with a trainer. I am giving up my trainer (too expensive) and will be doing a lot on my own and at a gym that has machines and free weights. I am also going to install a punching bag in my basement because I’ve recently started some boxing (which I love). I am toned and strong and want to continue to tone and stay strong. I know machines target and isolate—do you seriously think it’s possible to stay toned using machines? I’ll add in free weight workouts as well but i am super concerned about losing what I have worked so hard to gain.

    Any advice or feedback or encouragement is welcomed 🙂
    Many thanks!

    1. If you maintain your diet and maintain the exercise you should see a baseline maintenance. If you can get in a good mix of machines and free weights I don’t think you will have any issues… just don’t completely stop.

      It takes a long time to lose what you gain – your strength may go down on certain lifts but will come back fast. I’ve taken off a month from training to rest up and I had no issues jumping back in and staying on track.

      I hope this helps, if you have any more questions, feel free to ask!

  63. Great workout routine. Just started at a new gym after being gymless for 4 months. This routine is just what I am looking for and will be starting this on Saturday
    On the 2 or 3 of the off days I plan on doing a 1-2 miles power walk. Would that be advisable?

    1. Christine,

      That is a great idea. If you start noticing being fatigued after a few weeks, drop the amount you walk because it is affecting how quickly you can recover.

      Let me know how the routine goes!

  64. Why include only animal-based proteins as the only options for protein? Protein is not a food group, but a macronutrient. There are many plant-based proteins that are far healthier, such as lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa, oatmeal, vegan protein powders, edamame, green peas, hemp seeds, chia seeds, nutritional yeast, nuts and seeds.

    1. Zeek,

      Thank you for your input. I honestly never thought about adding in protein as a macro. I’m about to add in a section to mention those. Thank you!

  65. This really seems like a doable
    Workout routine for a beginner like myself. I have tried the gym before as well as the 21 day fix but seem to fall off the wagon everytime. I am 32 and at my heaviest right now which is 136 I would love to get to 125 and tone my body .. if I stick to this do you feel as though I will see the results I am looking for? Also how long do you feel I should follow this routine ?

    Thank you so much for writing and excellent article and responding to everyone !

    1. Generally I tell someone to run a routine for at least 12 weeks. This is something you need to adopt into your life so you can maintain the body you want. Work on cleaning up your diet and finding what will work for you. I know people who have been extremely overweight, lost 120lbs and kept it off and once they stopped living the lifestyle they’ve created, they’ve gained it back.

      I would say with proper diet (what you eat) and consistency with this routine you will certainly notice a great difference.

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  66. Hi!

    Thank you for this. I have a question im very over weight.. im 220 pounds and 5’5 height. I was worried that introducing weights with my workout would make me look even bigger because of the fat thats already there. how much weight should i be lifting in pounds? do i start off with lighter weights or heavier weights for my current weight now? there is so much information out there and i just dont know where to start from. I do HIIT at night and weights at the gym during my lunch break. Was just wondering how much weight is okay for me to life strating from a beginners point.

    Thank you

    1. The amount of effort it takes to build muscle is going to be more than you can even imagine. Here’s an article on what weight you should use. Lifting weights is going to help you get in shape and get your body mobile and able to do every day things easier.

      Let me know how things progress!

  67. This is such a great article! I have always been fit but I just had a baby and not being able to lift anything during pregnancy really made me lose a lot of strength. I searched and searched for a simple and realistic workout… this is so perfect for getting back into things! One question: how long would you recommend between sets? Thanks again for this great post!

    1. Kelli thank you for the kind words. I recommend to run any routine that you choose for as long as you see progress. As long as you are progressing in weights, getting closer to your personal fitness goals, and are able to complete the workout, I would run it.

      As far as time between sets, it’s kind of varying between people but for big compound movements I like to try to stay under a minute and then smaller accessory movements I like to try to stay around 30 seconds. Just go when you feel ready – if you’re not sitting on your phone or talking to people, you’ll know when you’re ready. If you want to work on your conditioning, try to start a little earlier than you used to.. so try 50 seconds instead of a minute, etc.

    1. Honestly, you can go with this program as long as you are progressing. I always tell everyone to give it at least 12 weeks. I’ve had someone run a similar routine for over a year that worked. I’ve run a routine I designed for about 6 months before I stopped progressing like I thought I should.

      A problem many people have is they switch routines up so often they never really get into the part that the routine was designed to help with. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!

  68. I am a runner recently recovered from an injury and I’m looking to do this plan plus some running to get back into the groove of things. Should I run on rest days or after the workouts? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks you!

    1. If you are fully recovered and are looking to get back in the swing of things, do everything as normal and run when you feel up to it. Running on rest days would probably be easiest to get started, but if you have to run on a day you’ve trained that’s okay. I personally would have you run on rest days.

  69. I started working out (mostly cardio and a few HIIT classes) in January of this year. This seems simple to follow. I’ve got about 150lbs to lose, my question is on the days you don’t do the workouts is there a cardio routine you like for weight loss??? I’ve been going to the gym 6 days a week lately. Thanks!

    1. That’s great you have started, keep it up. You do not have to kill yourself with 6 days a week, I’ve had people lose 100+ pounds on a 3 day routine. The days off they spent enjoying new activities such as hiking or a ball sport. Focus on changing your lifestyle instead of fixing your current one in the gym. If the first thing you think of when losing weight is to trudge along on a treadmill, think outside of the box and try new things outside. Once you find something you like (even something like frisby golf) you will automatically start moving more, losing more weight, eating healthier, and making huge improvements in your life. The gym can only do so much for you 🙂

  70. Hello!

    Wow… what a great article. You created an all in one article for those of us that want some direction on how to get started on working out. Thanks!

    Question: I’ve lost 25lbs… without working out. It is NOW time to workout before I become all flabby. LOL. I want to start a couch-2-5k program (app). If I did that three days a week (tues,thurs, sat) and I follow your strength training program three days a week ( mon, wed, fri). Do you think that would be ok for a beginner or do you think it would be too much?

    1. I apologize for not getting back with you in a reasonable time. I would pick one or the other. All of the work that you do needs to have time to recover.

      I hope that you have been working out!

  71. I’m so excited to have found this and try it out! My only questions are, for the planks, decline sit-ups, and ab machine of choice, how many seconds do you recommend holding the plank for each set, and how many reps for the other?

    1. Start with 20 seconds and strive to go for longer. This is a full body workout so your whole body’s performance and appearance will change with this program. Ideally doing actual dips would be best, but find a tricep machine if you do not have a seated dip.

  72. Actually I forgot some questions! What do you suggest as an alternative for the seated dip machine? And I noticed that a lot of these exercises are arm orientiened, but I really wanna see most change in My leg and core area. Will I get that with doing all of this?

  73. I’m really excited to have found your post. I’m about to start the workout plan you have up top but I’m concerned about my left arm. It’s my non dominate arm and it’s pretty sad when it comes to weights. Do you have tips or workouts that can get it up to speed with my right? Aslo, is there any type of replacement for the medicine ball crunches? Thanks alot for your posts. I love them. 🙂

    1. Glad to see you around Emily! There’s two ways you could go about your non-dominant arm: You could just push through and do what you can with it using the same weight as your other (not quite as ideal) or you could lower the weight so that your weaker arm can complete the reps and sets and then use the same weight on your other arm. This will relatively quickly build up strength in your non-dominant arm and maintain strength in the other.

      If there’s a noticeable difference, you may want to talk to your Doctor or a chiro.. Many times our body gets out of whack and when it does, we lose strength on one side.. so if you’ve been working around an injury on one side or something, ask your doctor to see if there’s any pinched nerves or anything they can do to help.

      1. Thank you so much for the advice. I’ve started to do the lighter weights with both arms. There’s no injury, it’s just not as advanced as my right. I’m starting to feel the improvement a bit. Again, thank you for the advice, it’s much appreciated.

  74. Hey there,

    I usually run 4 miles every other day but am trying to incorporate weights too. would it be a good idea to run in the morning and then do weights in the afternoons? or should I do them together?


    1. I would say slowly incorporate weight training into your routine. Don’t change the time that you run, your body is already going to be conditioned for that… add in the resistance training in another part of the day. If you run that much I would have to make the conclusion you are relatively conditioned, but I wouldn’t recommend combining the two… your nervous system won’t be able to handle it.

  75. Love the article! Its a great starter for someone like me who’s working to get back into working out daily. I used to do morning yoga fairly often and love hiking and outside activities. Any ideas on being able to focus more on endurance and being ready for a fitness test to get into the firefighting academy? I just recovered from surgery 2 months ago and Im struggling to find something thats going to help me. Thank you in advance!

    1. Our brother site actually wrote an article about firefighter training, from someone in a similar situation. Higher rep lower weight workouts will help you with muscle endurance and some longer LISS or endurance cardio will help with conditioning and overall fitness levels.

      Check out the article here.

  76. I only have opportunity to get to the gym 2x a week. The other days I work out (no weights) at home. Any advice on fitting the three workouts into two?

    1. You can always just train the next day next time you are in the gym. So complete Day 1 and 2 first week, Day 3 and 1 the next, etc. That would work well with working out at home.

  77. I have been active my whole life. I am never lost for what to do at the gym, but over the past 5 years as I continue to learn to live with a chronic auto-immune condition, I have lost focus. It’s so bad that I’ll get to the gym planning to do one thing, only to get there and change my mind and do something totally different. I found your program this morning with the goal of “starting over”. It’s one of the more comprehensive ones I’ve found, and given that I run and cycle, it is the perfect blend for my legs. I love that I can take the “pressure” off myself and know that I can get to the gym 3 times a week. Thanks!

    1. I’m glad to hear this routine is helping you reset and start over. I would recommend printing out or writing down in a log every exercise, what weight you will use, and the sets/reps and just go robot it out.

      I love doing that, it takes the guess work out of everything and I know exactly what I am doing next. Good luck and keep in touch, let me know how you progress!

  78. This is by far the most helpful article I have read. I love the work out plans and how you have included links to show you form and how to correctly do each set. Thanks for sharing.

  79. I am an active person and I eat clean and prepare my meals. I’m trying to lose some of the stubborn fatty areas with taking on lifting. I am having a hard time figuring out how much protein I should be ingesting to show results? Everyone keeps saying that I should eat more carbs, the only carbs I eat come from vegetables and fruits. Just a little lost on if I should change what im eating to prepare my body for lifting. Any thoughts would be of much help!

    1. Maintain your current diet and start lifting. Gauge how your body responds. I don’t know your exact diet, but try to get plenty of fats into your diet since you are relatively low carb. It’ll help regulate hormones and will help you feel fuller for longer.

      If you are eating mostly fruits and veggies and the rest of your calories come from protein then I think you’ll be fine.

    1. Look at your rest day as recovery days. Doing light to moderate cardio or conditioning on your rest days will help prime your body for the next session. The exercise will help get rid of DOMS and improves your mood.

      Save the higher intensity exercise for your gym days and enjoy a leisurely walk, hike, or even meditate.

      Cardio on off-days help improve gains and blood flow.

  80. I am in absolute aww in how you respond to and conduct your message board. AMAZING!
    I have accidentally run across this detailed and helpful article more then once and decided to give it a go.
    This will be for a friend and I so we hold each other accountable.

    Yes, i read every comment and reply so i wont try to repeat previous questions.
    We will do this for the suggested 12 weeks, to start. Adding 2.5 – 5 lbs per workout 1/2/3 session. We have shift work with off days FRI/SAT and both agree Sun is REST day. She is a cardio freak (Navy Vet), I am not. I prefer hiit and weights. I know she will do light cardio on “rest” days, i WONT. Catch me at a dance class or conditioning (wods).
    I have 80 lbs to go, fingers crossed.
    Has anyone ever sent you updated pics or transformation results out of curiosity?
    Teach me master Jedi!

    1. That’s great to hear, Sara. I am excited to hear the passion and motivation. Make sure to cultivate motivation daily so “the bad days” won’t even slow you down.

      Accountability helps quite a bit. Dialing in nutrition and getting active will make drastic changes. Lifting weights and doing specific workouts will help even more.

      Keep the rest times lower between your sets, treat it more like a circuit or just try to maintain an elevated heart rate. Your choice of cardio doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy it. I love dancing around and doing simple aerobic things. Anything that gets you on your feet and moving is great.

      I’ve not received many transformation pics. I’ve received a couple and I felt so good knowing that I helped these people. Keep in touch and let me know how things go. Every unhealthy habit you replace with a healthy habit will make sustaining a healthy lifestyle much easier.

  81. So for each day, once we complete all of the workouts do we go back and do them again? Or do we go straight to cardio then we’re done? I’m level 0 fitness and have never stepped foot in a gym until a few weeks ago so any advice helps!

    1. When I write a workout, here’s what I would expect the majority to do:

      Get to the gym and get ready for exercising. Spend a few minutes stretching, doing some lunges, or otherwise prepping themselves for some cardio.

      Jump on a cardio machine you’d like for 10 or 15 minutes, jump down into the workout. Complete each exercise for however many reps you need to do per set.

      Move onto the next workout, finish them. Ideally jump on and do some more cardio or do some stretching.

      A week goes by and you do the same exercises you have been, but add 5 or 10 pounds to the workout. So if you did a certain exercise with 35 pound dumbbells, try 40lb this time.

      Fitness is all about making yourself better and better each day. The more you get acquainted with working out and the whole fitness thing, the more confidence you’ll have.

      Good luck, let me know if you have any more questions!

  82. Hi there!

    I’ve never stepped foot in a gym and have been doing what I can at home and have a good diet but I really want to try a strictly weight training routine. This sounds doable and plan to start this week but I’m so nervous of being in the gym alone. Do you have any advice on first time gym goers and what weight is a good beginner weight to start with?


    1. I’d invite you to bring a friend. Ideally one who has been in the gym and knows what they are doing. They can be your teacher and show you the ins and outs of the gym. Having someone else that has never stepped foot into a gym is okay too – that way you can both rely on each other for that support.

      I’d also say to at least try to get a free training session from a personal trainer and try to learn everything you can. You can look up how-tos on any exercise I’ve posted with detailed information on how to do them. Just jump right in and go to the gym, many machines show how to use them.

      Two articles our brother site has written at Tiger Fitness may also help. 10 ways to combat gym anxiety, and 10 tips to get over gymtimidation.

      Let me know how things go!

  83. On the chest machine for day one what chest machine are you referring to? There are so many different ones I feel like I need a little more explanation.

    Thank you!

    1. Pick the one you like best. The one that simulates a flat bench press is ideal – but pick one you are familiar with.

  84. Hi Byrn,

    Great article. I just have one question. What are decline sit-ups? I imagine they are opposite of incline, but can’t picture how would that work.


  85. LOVE this page/article. I’ve been reading it bits and pieces over the last couple days and I just absolutely love the way you break it down.
    So, I turn 30 this year and that has hit me hard. For some unknown reason, lol. I quit smoking 3 months ago and decided I was going to grow up and try to be healthier and happier. I’m trying to not only get off all my depression and anxiety medicine but actually build some confidence, something I’ve never really had.
    I started eating clean-ish about 2 months ago and joined planet fitness about 3 weeks ago. This far I haven’t really had a “routine”. I just go in and wing it. I’ve read SO many articles trying to figure it all out.
    Everything I read asks your goal as either lose weight or strength train.. I want both. I’m 5’5″ and weigh 151. I wear size 6/7 jeans. I don’t necessarily want to ‘get skinny’ but I want to tone up and be firm not jiggly and actually feel comfortable and confident with my body. For whatever reason I have a goal weight of 135-140 in my mind. I have 3 kids so my biggest insecurity is with my flabby wrinkly mom pooch. All weight I gain goes straight to my belly.
    Currently I try to stick with about 1600 calories a day @ 40% carb 30% fat and 30% protein. I do really well about 4 or 5 days a week then the weekends i always go over my calories and under my protein. I got to get that in check I know. I try to go to the gym every other day so I have a recovery day in between. I do elliptical for 15 mins to start, then the 30 min express weight machines (lifting 30 pounds), then 10-15 mins of treadmill.
    So I wrote you that novel all to ask, am I doing this right? I’m going to start next week following your 3 day workout listed on this page and see if I can feel more “structured” with my workouts. The calorie thing is so confusing too. You said to gain muscle I need to not be in a deficit. This far my goal has been to be in about a 300-500 calorie deficit everyday bc I thought that was the goal when losing weight. How can I lose weight/fat AND gain muscle?

    1. Sorry for the delay in a reply, it’s been hectic over here!

      Congrats on getting to the gym and making some more health-conscious decisions. For the weekend, you should try to maintain the same sleep schedule. If you’re getting shorted on sleep, that can be a reason why you crave things. Otherwise, plan out your weekend by tapering off calories before the weekend.

      Just start working out and getting on the routine. If you have been basically maintaining weight with what you’re doing now – exercising and getting in some weight lifting will start changing your body. No need to change anything yet.

      Once you start making more progress, you may need to dial calories back once you start losing weight so you can maintain that calorie deficit.

      Just start exercising – your body will start building muscle, burning up fat, and make you feel better. Learn your body as you go, and keep a journal.

      I hope this helps, just get started and you’ll make it happen.

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