Complete Gym Guide for Beginners
Photo by Jelmer Assink on Unsplash


Back in December 2021, I decided to go to the gym. And I did. Over time I became a strong, healthy, fit, and confident person. And don’t even get me started on the mental health benefits. They are priceless.

As of August 2023, I am still working out and I keep reaping the benefits by the day. I went from this-

image of physique before transformation

to this.

image of physique after transformation

In this post I am writing down the exact same workout routine that I followed to build my physique. Good luck.

How to use this workout routine:

This workout routine is aimed at new lifters, but beginner-intermediate lifters will also benefit from it. If you follow it, you will build yourself a strong and aesthetic physique. It is designed for all-round development of the body. The exercise selection ensures that all muscle groups are targeted. Without further ado, here’s the routine:

  1. Shoulders + Triceps
  2. Back
  3. Chest
  4. Legs
  5. Abs
  6. Biceps + Rear Delts
  7. Rest

You will exercise 6 days a week, and take one rest day.

I have linked each exercise to a video to show how to perform it. If you need more clarity, ask someone in the gym.

(Note: Whenever you’re short on time, just do the exercises marked by ✅. These are the important ones that you shouldn’t skip. Besides, it’s always better to go to the gym and do something than to not go and not do anything. Consistency is key.)

Warm up: neck rotations, wrist rotations, hip rotations, shoulder rotations, pushups. 20 each. Add anything else that you like, the aim is to just get the blood flowing. Shouldn’t take more than ten minutes.

Shoulders + Triceps

  1. DB Lateral raises (DB=Dumbbell)
  2. Straight bar cable pushdown
  3. DB Seated Overhead Press
  4. Cable overhead tricep extension
  5. Front raises
  6. Single arm cross cable tricep extensions
  7. Cable lateral raises- lightweight, AMRAP (AMRAP=As Many Reps As Possible)

Back

  1. Seated horizontal rows (prefer using a v bar)
  2. Lat pulldown
  3. T bar rows (if T bar machine is not available do chest supported DB rows)
  4. Shrugs (use dumbbells or barbell or Smith Machine whichever you prefer. I use Smith Machine)
  5. Hyperextension

Chest

  1. Decline DB bench press
  2. Flat DB bench press
  3. Incline DB bench press
  4. Machine chest press (optional)
  5. Pec flyes

Legs

⭐️ Proper legs warm up is important

  1. Squat (or hack squat or Smith Machine squat) (do 2 lightweight/free sets before main sets for warm up)
  2. RDL
  3. Leg extension
  4. Seated/Lying Hamstring curl machine
  5. Weighted calf raises (use whichever machine is available or use Smith Machine)
  6. Single leg calf raises

Abs

  1. Crunches
  2. Cross crunches
  3. Double crunch
  4. Leg raises
  5. Plank

Biceps + Rear Delts

  1. DB curls
  2. Hammer curls
  3. Preacher curls
  4. Reverse pec deck
  5. Face pulls
  6. Reverse grip curls (use cable machine + straight bar) - lightweight, AMRAP

FAQs

Q: How many sets and how many reps should I perform?
A: Perform each exercise for 3 sets of 15 reps.

Q: How much weight should I use for each exercise?
A: Choose a weight such that you should reach failure or almost reach failure on the 15th rep. What is failure? Failure is when you cannot do any more reps, no matter how hard you try. What is almost reach failure? Almost reaching failure (on the 15th rep) means you can do 17-18 reps, but not more than that.

Q: How to breathe?
A: Use the holding your breath technique. Take a deep breath before performing the rep, hold it as you perform it, exhale when you complete the rep. Repeat.

For example, for a squat, take a deep breath at the top, hold it, do the squat, come back up, exhale. Similar for other exercises. If you get confused how to breathe, just remember this line- breathing is before the rep. For bench press, your rep begins at the top, so you breathe at the top. For shoulder press, it begins at the bottom, so you breathe at the bottom. Easy.

Q: Hold on. I am completely new to exercise. Don’t you have any special instructions for me?
A: If you are completely new to exercise, follow this circuit training for the first two weeks. This training will get your body gradually used to exercising and prevent you from suddenly overloading it. It will also help you develop the habit of going to the gym. You can start following the workout routine after completing this training. DO NOT skip to the workout routine without completing this training.

CIRCUIT TRAINING
Upper body day:
    1.  DB bench press
    2.  Lat pulldown
    3.  Standing DB overhead shoulder press
    4.  Straight bar cable pushdown
    5.  DB bicep curls
Lower body day:
    1.  Empty Barbell squats
    2.  Hamstring curl machine (seated or lying)
    3.  Single leg calf raises
    4.  Crunches

Do this for two weeks. That’s upper-lower-upper-lower-upper-lower-rest, x2.

Use only light weights for this circuit training. DO NOT USE HEAVY WEIGHTS.

Q: What about diet?
A: Chicken.

Q: No seriously, what about diet?
A: I am not going to talk much about diet in this post. Too much emphasis is laid on diet and sleep. Does it help to have proper diet and sleep? Sure. But let me tell you a fact. The only thing that determines whether you’ll put on muscle or not is what you do inside the gym. If you are not working out hard enough, you will not build muscle. If you track your macros down to the last calorie, sleep for 9 hours, but don’t work out hard enough, you will not build muscle. If your workout is shit, you will not build muscle.

But here’s what you can do- If you want to lose weight and build muscle, eat less and take enough protein. If you want to gain weight as well as build muscle, eat more and take enough protein. If you want to maintain your weight while losing fat and building muscle (this is called body recomposition), eat just enough and take enough protein. Try to take 2x(your weight in kg) grams of protein every day. (Note: If you are overweight, this number might be too high. In that case, try to take grams of protein = your height in cm.)

Eating less= staying in a caloric deficit.
Eating more= staying in a caloric surplus.
Eating just enough= staying at maintenance or in a very slight caloric surplus.
There is no need to obsess over your calories. Just keep your goal in mind, be conscious of what you eat and count your protein. That’s it. Cut out junk, avoid sugar, and prefer whole foods.

You are free to research more on diet, it will help, but remember, if your workout is shit, you will not build muscle. And if you don’t go to the gym, you will definitely not build muscle. The most important thing is getting your ass to the gym. I personally know dudes who eat only four eggs a day and are still jacked as fuck, with physiques to die for.

Q: Do I need protein powder?
A: No, you don’t need protein powder to build muscle. However, if you are finding it difficult to hit your protein goal, you may take whey protein.

Q: When will I see results?
A: Trust the process. The results will follow. I’ll be straight with you- It may take 2 months. Or it may take 6 months. It might even take the entire year to see any visible results. I don’t know. I don’t have the answer. It is different for every person. Because it all depends on the person. How bad do you want it? How hard will you work for it?
I know this is not the answer you wanted. But this is how it is. Be brave, accept the uncertainty and continue to put in the work. Trust the process and the results will follow.

Notes

  • NEVER SKIP LEG DAY.

  • Squatting- Squatting is fun, but it can take up a lot of time and mental energy. If you want to save time and make squatting safer too, you can use a hack squat machine or the Smith Machine. All three variations will work, do what you prefer.

  • FULL SQUAT. ASS TO GRASS. SQUAT LIKE YOU SHIT. This is the only secret to leg growth. Don’t ego lift, keep the weight low and focus on getting your form correct first. Always prioritize safety and use available safety measures when squatting.

  • Here’s an alternate routine-

    1. Legs + abs
    2. Shoulders + triceps
    3. Back
    4. Chest
    5. Legs + abs
    6. Biceps
    7. Rest

    Choose this ☝️ routine if you enjoy leg days or want to grow your legs faster. Hitting legs twice a week is always good anyway. Growing your legs is what is going to give you that highly desired X-frame look.

  • Calves- If you want to grow your calves faster, you can train them 2x/week. If you’re doing legs 1x /week, add calves to any other workout day of your choice.

  • Abs- If you are doing legs 2x /week, 8-10 sets of ab exercises will be more than sufficient for abs. Your abs are already getting worked when you do all the other exercises. But if you want visible abs, it’s all about body fat percentage. BF% is the name of the game. Aesthetics aside though, doing ab exercises will strengthen your core, which is highly beneficial not only for lifting but for everday life.

  • Rest Days- Take your rest day whenever you feel like your body needs rest. It’s not like you have to take it only on Sunday. For example, if you are sore and tired after a Monday leg day, take rest on Tuesday. You can take an additional rest day whenever you feel like it. No shame in taking an additional rest day. Your body will let you know when it wants to rest and needs time to recover. Listen to it. Push yourself hard, but be safe. Remember, your body builds muscle when it is resting. Try to get enough sleep.

  • Progressive Overload- Let’s say a few weeks into following the routine, you find that “Hey, hitting 3 sets of 15 reps of this exercise at this weight feels way too easy now. Plus my body doesn’t even hurt anymore.” This is a sign that you should start applying progressive overload to your workout. What is progressive overload? Once you are able to do 3 sets of 15 reps, increase the weight by 2.5kg. Rinse and repeat. Simple.

    Q: When should I start progressive overload?
    A: Don’t think about it too much, you’ll realize it yourself. But DO NOT start progressive overload before at least four weeks of consistently following the workout routine using your initial chosen weights (that’s four weeks AFTER completing circuit training). Your body needs time to get acclimatized to working out. Yes, that much time. Then you can start lifting heavier.

    For some exercises like lateral raises and single leg calf raises, you’ll find that you are not able to lift much weight and it is very difficult to progressively overload. That’s completely normal. No need to start questioning your manhood here. For exercises like these volume is more important than lifting heavy. Increase the reps to 15-20, keep the weight reasonable and focus on your form. Don’t ego-lift and swing the weights.

Bonus content: Awesome people I trust

  1. Jeff Nippard - Jeff Nippard is one of the best content creators in the bodybuilding world. No bullshit, extremely knowledgeable, dedicated to the art and science of bodybuilding. I trust him because I haven’t seen a single video of him promoting stupid tips and fads for views. His videos are an invaluable wealth of information on topics such as exercise techniques, scientific explanations and more. Highly recommend.
  2. Natty Life - Entertaining + educational bodybuilding and fitness content. No-bullshit guy.

Disclaimer: If you fuck up I am not responsible. Push yourself hard, but be smart. Don’t take unnecessary risks and don’t injure yourself. Patience is key. Slow and gradual growth is where it’s at. If you don’t know how to do something, ask someone in the gym. You’ll be surprised how some of the biggest bros in the gym are also some of the nicest dudes on the planet.

Acknowledgements: The credit for my physique goes to my gym trainer, Mr Deepak Pawar. If he hadn’t guided me when I was a noob, I wouldn’t be here. Thanks to my friends Aditya and Rushabh for being my inspiration.

I will update this routine whenever I learn new stuff.

Have questions, suggestions, criticisms? I’d love to hear from you. Please give me feedback. I’d love to hear about the littlest thing that came across your mind that you think can improve this guide. Email me at ab (at) ashutoshbhosale (dot) com.

⭐️ Most importantly, have fun at the gym and enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being strong, healthy and hot 👊

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