Beginner Gym Workout Routine

If you are new to weight lifting, then you should do full body workouts 3 times a week instead of body splits (i.e training each body part once per week) for your beginner gym workout routine.

Why? Because beginners are neurologically inefficient – your nervous system cannot recruit a big amount of motor units or activate sufficient muscle fibers to lift weights at the gym.

As a result, these exercises aren’t as demanding and so it is easier for beginners to recover.

Another benefit of full body workouts is that frequent exposure to that exercise will help you achieve better form faster.

Try to incorporate one upper body pushing exercise, one upper body pulling exercise, and one compound lower body exercise.

Beginner Gym Workout Routine

Beginner Gym Workout Routine

This routine may look easy but trust me, it isn’t. It takes a lot out of your tank if you do it right.

*Do it with at least 1 day rest interval. e.g. Day 1 – Monday, day 2 – Wednesday, day 3 – Friday.

Day 1

Exercise Set Rep
Squat 5 5
Bench Press/Military Press (alternate) 5 5
Bent over Barbell Row 5 5
Weighted Sit Ups  3  10-25

Day 2

Exercise Set Rep
Deadlift 3 5
Bench Press/Military Press (alternate) 5 5
Pull Ups 3 Max
Weighted Sit Ups 3 10-25

Day 3

Exercise Set Rep
Squat 5 5
Bench Press/Military Press (alternate) 5 5
Bent over Barbell Row 5 5
Weighted Sit Ups 3 10-25

You can add on chin ups or dips (3 x max) for any day you so desire

Other Articles in this Series

How to formulate your own bodybuilding workout routine
6 weeks ectomorph training
- 8 weeks ectomorph workout routine
- 9 weeks ectomorph workout for mass

  • Jay Kent

    i found your article about ectomorph compound exercises interesting and I want to do it right. The thing is, can i do it with 1 day rest interval? example. day 1 – monday; rest day – tuesday; day 2 – wed.?

    • Wayne

      Yup, you should definitely do it with at least 1 day rest interval! Thanks for pointing it out! I shall make the appropriate amendments.

  • alien223

    how many weeks should this workout be used before switching?

    • Wayne

      2-3 months should be good :)

  • rob

    im going to be starting MMA soon , would this be a good foundation until i start ? Is there anything different to the parrelel bar dips ? i dont think i have the equipment to do those :)

    • Wayne

      Yes, this can be a great foundation because it helps you build up on your strength with compound exercises.

  • rob

    what could i do instead of parallel bar dips ? I dont have the equipment, thanks.

    • Wayne

      hi Rob, you could do dips using a bench instead, or you could do close grip bench presses as well.

  • Laura

    I think your website is very informative and by far one of the better ones I’ve come across. I have a few questions though:

    Can women use your Beginner Gym Workout Routine? (and every other piece of advice here).

    If so, does the beginner routine, and meal plans need to be altered according to age, gender, lifestyle etc? (24yrs, 5ft 7in, 120lbs)

    What about muscle milk and other protein powders? Would those be good for women too?

    Finally, I was wondering if it’s ok to divide the exercises during the day. For example, I sit in a cubicle all day, but there’s a bike in work that I take 20 minutes to use. By the time I get home, it’s hours away, so I would probably work on other parts of my body. Is this time in between exercising ok?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Wayne

      Hi Laura, thanks for the compliments!

      I am not the best person to ask if the information here can be applied for women, but after some digging around with Google, I would say yes.

      I recommend you read my article on principles of muscle building, because by knowing these principles, you would know how to adjust your workouts accordingly.

      As for supplements, women can take them too, but only take them if you really require them. e.g. a deficit of it in your diet.

      Yes, it is fine to divide the exercises. As you suggested, you could divide them into cardio and weight lifting. You could also divide them into upper body and lower body. But make sure each workout is intense. I would recommend spending at least 25 – 45 minutes, to capitalize on how your hormone levels change during this period.

  • Rok

    Hi there, i’m training for a 10k 5 weeks from now, i know this won’t help with my ectomorph workout, but i’m starting the begginer workout… So my week looks like this: mon, wed and friday i train for the 10k, tue thu and sat i do the begginer workout minus the leg work, is this ok, should i do something different? Rest more? Thanks for your help and your site!!!

    • Wayne

      Hi Rok, I really can’t help if I don’t know what is your goal. If your goal is to get bigger, it will help but you won’t gain much muscles because your training for the 10k will probably kill your muscle gains. If you are training to help you better run the 10k, I am afraid I won’t be able to advise because I don’t the relevant knowledge in this area.

  • Along

    how about the weight we lift. should it be increase week after week?

    • Wayne

      Hi Along, definitely, you need to progressively overload for muscles to grow. If it’s not possible, try to get a spotter to help, or do a higher volume. e.g. more reps, but not exceeding 10-12 reps per set!

  • john

    do you do the exercises one by one? Example: finish all 3 sets of pull up then moving on to 3 sets of bench press? Or do you do all of them in a rotation?

    • Wayne

      Hi John, finish all 3 sets of pull ups first before moving on to 3 sets of bench presses. You could rotate them via supersetting as well, but if you are a beginner, I would advise sticking to the former option.

  • Arpanparekh5

    How long do we do this workout before moving onto the ectomorph mass building program?

    • Wayne07

      Hi, 8 weeks is a good time frame for this workout. Rest for a full week, and then you can continue for the ectomorph workout for mass exercise. Cheers!

  • Guest

    what do u think of this routine for beginners-

  • Erick

    What would be an appropriate weight we should start off with

    • Wayne Griffins

      Hi Erick, it really depends on what you can handle. A guideline would be to lift a weight where you can just complete the desired reps.

    • Wayne Griffins

      Hi Erick, I don’t have a specific weight for that, rather, it’s really trial and error. Let’s say for each set of squat, you do 5 reps. Try out the different weights and see which one you can squat for 5 times only. Get a spotter for safety.

      Ensure that you can do it at a controlled pace, don’t rush it, don’t use momentum, and all these done with the right posture and using the right muscles.

  • bunifa

    This is one of the best written sites ever. Body building forums, other places, are so tailored to other body types it’s hard to find something like this. 

  • Boggs

    Hi Wayne, I am also an ectomorph. I’ve been working out at the gym for almost 7 months now, but seem to have hit a wall. I stopped gaining weight after my 4th month having gained about 25lbs. I stumbled upon your site looking for ways to overcome the plateau and I was wondering whether I should begin with your Beginner Gym Workout Routine or proceed with another routine? Hope to hear from you. Thanks!

    • Wayne Griffins

      Hey Boggs! Hmm, there could be many reasons for your plateau. There’s no harm trying out this routine, if it represents a break from your usual routine. either way, I would recommend you check out this article “i life heavy but can’t grow”, pinpoint whichever area is giving you problems and work from there!

  • Roberto

    How long would this exercises last? because my friend usually works out for about 2 hours,and I might join him on the gym. I heard us Ectomorphs should workout for about 40-55 minutes,is that true?

    • Wayne Griffins

      Hey Roberto, you could probably spend betw 45min – an hour on this workout. The reason for capping your workout at an hour max is due to the levels of your anabolic hormones such as testosterone. This level normally spikes around the 30-45 mins mark, and goes downhill from there. Another benefit, at least for me, is that forcing myself to be efficient i.e. not taking too long a rest period makes my workout much more intensive, and so much more effective. Cheers!

  • Anssi

    Can I switch weighted sit ups to hanging leg raises?

    • Wayne Griffins

      sure thing. hanging leg raises are a great way to train ur abs as well

  • Mcp_1993

    hi wayne,is there, every day is one type of chest exercise?

  • Roberto

    Thank you for the reply, I actually going very soon. What kind of squats more specifically? Olympic?Power?

  • Matt

    Hi wayne. How long do I need to follow this routine before moving on to the Ectomorph Training routine? Is there an indication i should know? 

    • Wayne Griffins

      Hi Matt, if you’re just starting out, this is a great routine to embark on. nevertheless, even if you’re not an absolute beginner, this routine can still work if you’ve not been doing full body workouts recently.

  • Kieran

    “Try to incorporate one upper body pushing exercise, one upper body pulling exercise, and one compound lower body exercise” – could you explain buddy? 

  • David

    Hey, quick question. Should I pick a weight that I can sustain for all 5 sets, or pick the max possible for each? (which may require reducing the weight on subsequent sets.)

  • Josh

    Hey Wayne Um im 17 and i dont have access to a gym is there a alternative