What Should A Beginners Workout Look Like?
There is a lot of confusion out there for people who want to start working out, and just as much misinformation. When someone decides they want to start exercising by lifting weights, they inevitably end up looking in the wrong place or reading the wrong info. This is because Bodybuilding has become the mainstream and receives more exposure, whether that be in magazines lining the shelves in the shops or online on Youtube and fitness related sites, Bodybuilding is in the public eye.
But is bodybuilding the ideal way for someone new to weights to work out? The answer is a resounding no. What function does bodybuilding serve? The majority of people who begin lifting weights just want to look good, big arms, big chest and a six pack, that’s why Monday is usually chest day in the gym(ending with triceps or biceps to finish the work out off) but the problem with bodybuilding is that it involves a lot of isolation work which beginners do not require.
I am not going to give bodybuilding a bad rap, I started off using weights to help my cricket but as my back injury became more and more apparent resulting in less and less cricket I shifted my attention to bodybuilding until it eventually took over and I enjoyed it and got myself into good condition, but if I knew then what I knew now, there is no chance I would have continued down the same road with bodybuilding.
As a beginner, you do not need to do as much isolation work as bodybuilding requires. The biceps for example, makes up a very small percentage of the overall mass of your body, why would you want to spend so much time in the gym working out the smaller muscles when your time would be far better used working out the larger muscles which will give you much better overall gains in much quicker time? You are not going to get 18in arms whilst weighing 11stone by pounding the arms three times per week no matter how much you are curling, but if you concentrate on compound movements three times per week, gradually lifting more and challenging yourself your body will be forced to grow to accomodate and you will then just end up with bigger arms to compensate!
So what are the compound lifts? The Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Military Press, Bent Over Rows, the Overhead Squat – these movements will force your body to use the largest muscles in the body, the back and legs for example make up an estimated 70% of your body mass – doesn’t it make sense that if you work these muscles hard enough that your whole body will be forced to adapt as a result? That means bigger, stronger, leaner, whatever your goal is. I don’t want to be big and muscular I hear you say – well you won’t turn into the Incredible Hulk overnight but you will get closer to your health and physical goals so this is a variable you can control. If you find you are growing too quickly for your own liking, simply either maintain the weights you are lifting, scale back the amount you are eating or increase the cardio you are performing. Perhaps you want to be leaner and not bigger, well weight training develops lean body mass which in turn burns more calories even in a resting state so you will become leaner and lose fat too.
Whether your goal is to get bigger or get leaner, the compound movements I have mentioned above will remain the same, the big compound movements such as the Squat or Deadlift increase testosterone and growth hormone, both of which help you become leaner. These movements should always provide the base and groundwork of your weight training routine, whichever goal you choose, the compound movements will help you reach it that much quicker.
If you want to move into bodybuilding by all means begin the isolation work and more bodybuilding orientated routines once you have built up a sufficient strength base level, which could be between 6-12 months of consistent training, having this as your background will help you go that much further whenever you decide to choose a new goal or direction.
The compound movements also lend themselves much better to sports related training, if you are training for a sport then it is very unlikely you will require big muscular arms and you will not in most cases be required to train for hypertrophy as bodybuilding calls for. Exercises such as the squat and deadlift will give you a much better platform to train for speed, strength, power and explosiveness – check out my articles for more details of specific types of training. As the saying goes, training with the compound movements provides the foundation of a great physique. The problem lies with people in many cases not having a proper goal or direction, if you play a sport then you will know which movements you need to work on with the weights to build speed, strength, power etc but for those who do not play a sport and simply want to look good then bodybuilding inevitably comes to mind because it is the more common way of training in commercial gyms and has become the mainstream, that’s fine if looking good is your goal, but as I have mentioned above, begin with the compound movements and once you have made some gains if you want to start bodybuilding then by all means go ahead, but working with the compound movements is the quickest and most direct way to success even if your goals happen to be bodybuilding.
So give the compound movements a shot, whether you are male or female, young or old, want to lose weight or gain weight or are new to weights I can guarantee working out with compound lifts will help you get closer to your goals. I won’t suggest a routine, there is enough out there which provides a good template to follow if you are using compound lifts such as the 5×5 and its variations(Rippetoe, Mad Cow etc) If these aren’t enough exercises for you, then feel free to add in dips, pull ups and chin ups(invest in a belt and you can perform these with weights) and even burpees, there’s enough there for you work with and challenge yourself!
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Writer for the Ringside Report Boxing Author of: (Available for download on Amazon) The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit! Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle