The first visit to a gym can be something of a daunting affair. We look around as we enter the room only to see all these gorgeous people pumping iron, with their pumping muscles seemingly gleaming from the exertion. In comparison, we feel somewhat inadequate to these gods and goddesses of weight training. Neverheless, weight training bought not to be intimidating.

For anyone who is new to the weight training territory, or purely desires something of a change in routine, you should have a look at this particular routine. It will allow you to familiarize yourself with the gym, but at your own pace, and on your own terms.

I recommend that you do a single set of each exercise, with 10 reps. Once you are feeling comfortable with that, you can then perform the amount of sets and reps in the program below.

Remember to rest for one minute between each set.

For those who are at the intermediate to advanced stages, you can perform the reps depending on your particular goals. If you're looking to put on muscle bulk, I suggest you train with eight to 10 reps for each exercise. If you are looking to max on the power, aim for two to five reps each time. For endurance, look to perform 15 to 30 reps.

Day One

Chest & Triceps

Chest and triceps tend to go well together in terms of a workout. When you are working out the chest, the triceps are warm up, so it makes sense to focus on both together. Focus on the chest first though.

Chest

Exercise One

Incline Dumbbell Press

Women are often hesitant about working out the chest area because they feel that exercising the chest will make it smaller. That depends on the type of exercise, and this case, that will not be the case. For men however, it's a different matter altogether! Begin this exercise by introducing a warm-up set with light weights and about 15 to 20 reps.

When using dumbbells, the advantage is that you can lower them below chest level on each side of your body, which means that the chest is stretched and stressed that little bit more than otherwise. But do not be tempted to add too much weight too soon.

Performing this exercise with a barbell when lying on a flat bench is an excellent exercise for the chest. It can really pile on the muscle mass, is easy to do, and you can work with some heavy weights, which is particularly good for the men, of course.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Exercise Two

Incline Dumbell Flys

Incline dumbell flys may be performed on an incline bench or flat bench. In this case, we are using the incline bench. Lying on the bench, arms slightly bent at the elbows, lower the weights in a circular motion, going through your chest and parallel with the ground. Keep going until you feel your chest stretch.

Next, aim to push or pull the dumbbells up until they meet.

Performing flys is a good way to exercise both inner and outer pecs, and it also provides for an excessive stretch within the chest.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Exercise Three

Push-Ups

The ladies may wish to begin with “women's push-ups”, with knees on the floor, until they have developed more strength to then go on to working out with “normal” push-ups. Whatever type you choose, keep your body straight, from your head, right down to your feet.

Put your hands on the floor, keeping them in line with your chest. Lower your body, wherey your arms should now be at a right angle to your chest. Your head should almost touch the floor – only one or two inches above.

Beginner: 3 sets 10 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets to maximum

Triceps

Exercise One

French Press (Skull Crushers)

Using a cambered bar or an EZ curl bar, hands placed about 10 inches apart in an overhand position, lower downwards until the back of your hand is able to touch your forehead, and then push upwards. This exercise can be difficult, so it's best to use light weights.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Exercise Two

Cable pressdowns (“push down”)

This exercise is performed using a close grip and standing within two feet of the weight stack (never more), and with your stance at about shoulders-width, knees a little crooked. Keep the abs tight, and if you want to, lean forward a little. At the top of the movement, your forearms should be parallel to the ground, so do not allow the weight to pull any higher than that. It's fine to “lockout” your arms at the bottom, and they should be perpendicular to the floor at the bottom of the exercise movement.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Exercise Three

Kickbacks

Not many guys tend to do this exercise, and the reason? Simply because you can not use any weights. And the guys tend to enjoy the weights!

Take the same place as you would if you were performing dumbbell rows. With the arm that is holding the dumbbell, bring it back so that it's parallel to the ground.

Then, bend the arm at the elbow and lower it so that it now makes a right angle. Next, using your triceps rather than the weight's momentum, “kick” the arm back up to its' original position.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 12 – 20 reps

Day Two

Back & Biceps

Today, we focus on the back and the biceps. Both on the same day and for the same reason that we trained the chest and triceps on the same day. That is, when working out the back, the biceps also receive a bit of a workout, so it's sensible to combine both on a single day.

Back

Exercise One

Lat pulldowns

It's not only men who should want to develop their lats. Women should too because with the added width – giving the “V” shaped look – it makes the waist appear smaller.

Go for pull ups if you train with weights quite often. Otherwise, the next best is to use lat pull-downs. For the ladies in particular, take your time with this exercise because you probably do not yet have a developed back, unless of course you've already been using weights.

Pull the bar towards your upper chest, with chest held high and holding the bar with a wide grip, and knees firmly positioned. And do not let your back hunch over as you pull the bar down towards you. Not only is this unsafe, but it's also not very effective. Be aware of your chest lifting as you pull downwards on the weight.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Exercise Two

Cable Rows

In order to get more of the lats involved, try to keep the weight low as you pull it towards your stomach. Do not let your arms and shoulders do the work, but instead, let your back take the strain. And do not be tempted to swing back and forth because that will work the lower back muscles instead of the lats. Stay upright and as the weight comes in close to your stomach, squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Exercise Three

One arm dumbbell rows (bent over rows)

To perform this exercise, place your knee and arm onto a flat bench, while the other arm holds the dumbbell and the other leg is supporting your body with your foot placed firmly on the ground. Raise the dumbbell and bring it in towards your body at hip level. Slowly lower and then repeat over. Make sure it's your lats that are doing the work, and not your arms and shoulders.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Biceps

Exercise One

Barbell Curl (straight bar curls)

You can use an EZ-Curl bar for this if you prefer. With feet shoulder width apart, and standing up straight, hold onto the barbell – palms upwards. Keep your hands about shoulder width apart also, or perhaps a little closer if that's more comfortable. Knees a little bent, and torso held tight, bringing the barbell slowly up toward your chest.

Do not touch your chest with the bar however, as this will take the pressure off your biceps. Instead, stop when you have the bar about six inches away. And at the bottom of the movement, do not bounce the bar against your thighs.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Exercise Two

Dumbbell Curl

You can either stand or sit to do the dumbbell curl. However, if you are a beginner, it's probably better to stand because it's easier. Let your arms rest at the sides of your body. Wrists in a neutral position. Bring one dumbbell up towards your shoulder and rotate the wrist inwards.

Once at the top, squeeze out a peak contracting and then bring the weight downwards and reverse the action so your wrist sits in neutral at the end of the curl. Perform with the opposite arm, and alternate through the set.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 20 reps

Exercise Three

Cable Curl

In this, the final exercise with regards to the biceps, it can be performed with either one or both arms. Here, I will describe using both arms.

Make a stance like the one when performing barbell curls. Tighten your abs, then raise the weight up towards the chest, and lower slowly.

With cable curls, there's constant tension applied to the biceps which causes the biceps to work through the whole movement, which is different to when using free weights.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 20 reps

Day Three

Legs & Shoulders

You may not noticed that we focus on working the larger body muscles first. Well, that's because it requires more energy, which means you should still have enough reserves to take you right through to the end of the workout.

Legs

Exercise One

Leg Press

For the quads, leg presses are really good as a compound exercise (using more than a single joint). This exercise will work the hamstrings as well as the glutes to some extent, while isolating the quads and providing them with a powerful workout.

You can use any width of place you prefer. For those ladies who wish to focus on the glutes instead, simply place your feet a little higher up at about one foot distance from each other.

Squeeze the glutes, keeping them tight, and then press the weight upwards, increasing the tension. Keep your knees in line with your toes as you then begin to lower the weight.

Do not be tempted to lock out your legs once you reach the top of each rep because this may damage your knees. Instead, keep a slight bend at the knees.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 20 reps

Exercise Two

Leg Extensions

You will find that when performing leg extensions, you'll feel a real burn. This is an exercise more for gaining definition than for mass. Make an effort not to rock your torso back and forward – keep it locked upright. The legs should lock out at the end of the extension.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 20 reps

Exercise Three

Hamstring Curl

This exercise may be performed either lying with your face down on a machine, or seated. Try hard to bring the back of your ankles up to touch your buttocks.

If you choose to lie down, assert to press your hips into the bench as you curl your legs upwards, and point your toes out for extra tension on the hamstrings.

Do not flex your feet during the exercise because that will mean your calves are taking on part of the work load. If you do find your toes flexing, you should try again but with less weight.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 20 reps

Exercise Four

Standing Calf Raise

Here, you want to be working out your calf, specifically a muscle called the gastrocnemius. Get the pads on your shoulders, body underneath the weight, and keep the knees in a locked position.

Go up on your toes, and then as far down as you can. Do not be tempted to squat – it's the calves you want to work on at the moment.

If you find that your calf muscles fail to grow, then try performing high reps in one set then low the next. For example, 15+ reps in set one, and dropping to five to 10 the next set.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 20 reps

Exercise Five

Seated Calf Raise

This exercise will work the soleus muscle because the legs remain bent. The soleus resides beneath the gastrocnemius in the calf. Sit down and place your knees under the pads with feet on the platform.

In order to get the best from this exercise, and indeed in any calf-focused exercise, is to flex the muscles on the way up. Go as far up on your toes as possible, then come down as far as you can, like with standing offerings.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 20 reps

Shoulders

Exercise One

Seated Dumbbell Press

In this exercise the emphasis is placed on the medial head, whereas in barbell shoulder presses, the emphasis is more on the front head. The stabilizers are directly involved because the arms / shoulders are independent from one another. Unlike with the barbell press, you will be unable to help the shakeer shoulder with the strength of the stronger shoulder.

Once listed in an upright bench, and without locking your elbows at the top, push the weight up until the arms are almost straight. Then lower slowly until the weights are only inches from your shoulders and then repeat.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 20 reps

Exercise Two

Front Lateral Raise

This is a good exercise to target the front delt heads. Begin by holding the dumbbells directly in front, and without swinging them, one at a time, slowly bringing them up so they are just above the level of your shoulders. You may do both arms together if you prefer.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 20 reps

Exercise Three

Rear Lateral Flys

Using a machine, ensure that the handles are positioned so that they are closest to the machine. If necessary, raise the seat so that when your hands are on the handles, you can raise your arms to chest level. Sit with the pad in front of you, arms straight out and holding the handles.

Move your arms until they are wide open and in line with your body, then squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep your back straight and your chest held up.

Beginners: 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps

Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 – 20 reps

Important Tips

Drink lots of water while performing your exercise routines and between each set, take a moment to stretch the body part you are working.

Workout your abs on each second day of the training program.

Cardio should take up at least 20 minutes, on three to six days each week, ideally after your weight session is concluded.

It's best to change your routine around after every three months so that your body does not adapt too much.