Everyone who works out shares one thing in common: Once, they were a beginner. It’s hard to believe, but even the fittest people in the gym, the ones with jaw-dropping physiques or awe-inspiring strength, started somewhere. And rest assured, they experienced some of the same self-doubts, the same awkward moments, you may be experiencing if you’re launching on your fitness journey.
What steered them in the right direction? Some of the special sauce is definitely internal—things like discipline, determination, and desire. But some of it is external. At some point, they realized they needed to work toward their goals systematically, rather than wandering around the gym randomly lifting things.
In other words, they started a program. And not one that was a huge step up from where they were. It was a program that reflected their abilities and needs, and that they could actually finish—not simply start, do for a while, get frustrated or injured, and then quit.
This is something we stress a lot at Bodybuilding.com: The goal isn’t to just finish a workout. It’s to finish a program—and then finish another one, and another one. BodyFit by Bodybuilding.com connects you with the program you need to get started and eventually succeed. It includes more than 60 workout programs for lifters of all levels—both hardcore advanced lifters and newbies.
However, a number of BodyFit Elite programs—including several new ones—are tailormade for people who’ve never trained before. Here are three of our favorites.
1. Strength and Muscle for Beginners
This no-nonsense approach to building strength and muscle is based on three 30-45-minute workouts per week for four weeks, which is an ideal training frequency for beginners. Train less than that, and you won’t make the sort of progress that becomes self-sustaining; train more than that, and you’re likely to be burned out, not to mention incredibly sore.
I love several things about Strength and Muscle for Beginners. First, it was designed by a leading strength coach, Tony Gentilcore, not some Instagram influencer who doesn’t know the first thing about exercise science. I know that if I follow Gentilcore’s evidence-based plan, results will follow. Second, he doesn’t bury you with tons of random information. Instead, he establishes three simple rules to follow from the get-go, and then cuts to the chase with great workouts that build off of one another seamlessly.
The best thing about a four-week program like this? If you like it, you can just turn around and do it again.
2. The Full-Body Workout for Beginners
Like Strength and Muscle for Beginners, The Full-Body Workout for Beginners is based on three 30-45-minute workouts per week. As the title suggests, each workout hits every muscle group through a combination of dumbbell and machine exercises. Each exercise was chosen with beginners in mind, so they’re easy to perform, safe, and effective.
While moving through your full-body workouts, you may wonder why you’re not devoting five exercises and an hour to one body part, like the Hulkster over at the dumbbell rack. He’s more advanced than you at this point. Not only can his biceps handle that much work, but that volume actually might be required for growth after years of training (although it’s also possible that he could benefit from a little time doing full-body workouts, too). You may reach that point one day, but you’re not there yet.
3. Beginner Machine Workouts for Women
Most gyms have rows of dumbbells and barbells against the wall, and then an array of machines spaced across the gym floor. Machines serves a variety of important functions, and one of them is a reduction in the intimidation factor. You just need to read some simple instructions, usually printed on the side of the machine; position yourself in the machine, which is usually as simple as adjusting the seat in your car; select a weight, usually by sliding a pin into a weight stack; and then perform your repetitions. Now you’ve got a program to guide you, too: Beginner Machine Workouts for Women.
Here you’ll be training three times a week, 30 minutes per workout. That’s it: an hour and a half to get in shape, look great, and feel amazing. You’ll alternate between two full-body workouts, so you can get a head-to-toe workout in a short amount of time.
Build your base this way, and you then build up to more specialized, focused workouts. That’s a great way to achieve success in the gym, build the body you want, and then hold onto it for the long term.