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[WOTM, 08/2013] The “HELP ME! I Have No Idea What The Hell I’m Doing” Newbie’s Workout Plan

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Welcome to the iron jungle, newbie.

Whether you’re coming from a background as a yoga guru, exclusive ultramarathoner, or full-time sedentary Kardashian’s critic — man or woman — your first rendezvous with this crazy thing called weight-training will always be daunting.

When it comes to taking your first initial baby steps on the gym floor, all fitness backgrounds (or lack thereof) converge at the same unflattering reality — in the weight room you’re a floundering newbie; a wide-eyed, overwhelmed, uninitiated beginner playing in a brand new sandbox.

Take it slow and drop any figment of intimidation. August’s WOTM — The “HELP ME! I Have No Idea What The Hell I’m Doing” Newbie’s Workout Plan — is designed to kick the tires, awaken your hibernating muscles, and guide you through a series of staple, ESSENTIAL movements to help lay the foundation for an elite physique.

You’ll get your feet wet — not just from the sweat dripping down your skin — build strength, endurance, AND know-how; and open up a a brand new lexicon of advanced, exhilarating tactics to sculpt your body in ways your mind couldn’t even fathom.

Get ready, we’re throwing you right in.

*If you’re already a pro, this plan has LEGS. It works swimmingly as a framework routine for all skill levels; just up the weight and upgrade any exercises you find too easy (e.g. lat pulldowns for pull-ups).


 

The “HELP ME! I Have No Idea What The Hell I’m Doing” Newbie’s Workout Plan


Here’s the schedule — broken down into Workout A and Workout B — with details of each laid out in-depth below. To start, complete 4 workouts per week plus 1 short day of circuit cardio, following the cadence below.

If you unexpectedly need to skip a day, in particularly when you first kick-off the plan, pick up in sequence where you last left off. Feel free to take an optional 2nd off day at the end of each cycle if you’re insanely sore, otherwise restart the schedule.

  • Workout A: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs[WOTM, 08/2013] The "HELP ME! I Have No Idea What The Hell I'm Doing" Newbie's Workout Plan
  • Workout B: Back, Legs, Biceps
  • Workout C: Circuit Cardio
  • OFF
  • Workout A: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs
  • Workout B: Back, Legs, Biceps
  • OFF
  • *OFF (optional) or restart schedule (Workout A)

 

Before you hit GO, here are a few rules of the road to make sure you’re safe, efficient, and maximizing growth:

– Cardio warm-up: lightly jog on the treadmill, or use an elliptical/rower/bike for 5 minutes before every workout. This helps get blood pumping, which increases flexibility, power, and decreases the risk of injury,

– Rest: take a 30s – 1 minute break in between each set.

Tempo: like in music, lifting has tempo. Follow a 2-1-2 cadence — for a bench press that’s 2 seconds down, 1 second pause at the bottom, 2 seconds up; for a row that’s 2 seconds pulling in, 1 second squeeze, 2 second release back to start.

Reps & Weight: unless otherwise stated, use a weight that lets you complete 12 reps per set. It’s a balancing act — the weight should feel challenging, but it should also let you bang out 12 good reps. It’ll likely take a few workouts and a lot of trial/error to figure out where your baseline strength lies; for each exercise start on light side, gauge how your body reacts, and increase the weight on the next set if it’s too easy.

Progression: without challenge, there will never be change or growth. Once you hit 12 reps with a given weight, increase by the next available increment for your next set; that’s 5lbs for dumbbells/10lbs for barbells. For body weight exercises like push ups, aim to add 3 extra reps every time.

 

Workout A: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs


[WOTM, 08/2013] The "HELP ME! I Have No Idea What The Hell I'm Doing" Newbie's Workout Plan

*Click each exercise name for a video demo.

 

1. Flat Dumbbell Chest Press

Protocol: 3 sets, 12 reps

Target Muscle(s): Chest, Triceps

Flare your arms out at a 45° angle from your torso; lower the dumbbells down in line with your nipples until your arms are parallel with the floor.

Powerfully press up and squeeze your chest together at the top.

 

Flat Dumbbell Chest Press

2. Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

Protocol: 3 sets, 12 reps

Primary Muscle(s): Upper Chest, Triceps

Set the bench at a 45° angle.

Lower the weights down along the top half of your chest; they should reach about chin height. Powerfully press up and squeeze the top half of your chest by your collarbone.

Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

3. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Protocol: 3 sets, 12 reps

Primary Muscle(s): Shoulders, Core

Stand tall, tighten your core, assume perfect posture, and keep your back straight.

Powerfully press the dumbbells straight overhead (B), hold for 1 second at the top, and lower back down until your elbows are slightly below parallel (A), Don’t let your back arch or bend at all — if you have to lean backward the weight’s way too heavy.

 

Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

4. Ab Planks

Protocol: 2 sets, 60 seconds (or failure)

Primary Muscle(s): Abs

Prop yourself up on your forearms and toes — your body should form a flat bridge. Your elbows should be in-line with your shoulders.

Squeeze your abs and keep them TIGHT; don’t let your lower back droop whatsoever (it can cause back pain).

Ab Planks

5. Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions

Protocol: 2 sets, 12 reps

Primary Muscle(s): Triceps

Lie on a flat bench and press 2 dumbbells straight overhead with your palms in a neutral grip (palms facing each other).

Without moving your upper arms, bend at the elbows and slowly lower the dumbbells to the side of your head; your forearms should drop slightly lower than parallel.

Powerfully contract your triceps and squeeze at the top of the movement.

Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions

6. Swiss Ball Ab Crunch

Protocol: 3 sets, 15 reps

Primary Muscle(s): Abs

Lie on a Swiss ball with your knees bent, hands behind your head, and the arch of your back contoured along the top.

Powerfully crunch up and squeeze your abs together (B). Hold for 1s and release so that your upper back falls over the back half of the ball (A).

Swiss Ball Ab Crunch

7. Cable Triceps Pulldown

Protocol: 2 sets, 12 reps

Primary Muscle(s): Triceps

Set up a cable station with a V-bar attachment; a rope or straight bar work also.

Pin your elbows against your torso — don’t move your upper arms — and powerfully pull the bar down. Contract your triceps at the bottom and slowly raise back up.

Cable Triceps Pulldown

8. Front & Lateral Raises

Protocol: SUPERSET — 2 sets, 10 each

Primary Muscle(s): Shoulders

1. Complete 12 front raises — keep your arms straight and raise the dumbbells up to neck-height in front of your body.

2. Immediately do 12 lateral raises — keep your arms straight and raise the dumbbells out to the side, forming a big “T” with your body.

Front & Lateral Raises

9. Pushups & Dips

Protocol: SUPERSET — 2 sets, 10 each

Primary Muscle(s): Chest, Triceps

1. Complete 10 push ups in a row; your arms should be at about 45º and your chest should touch the floor.

2. Immediately complete 10 dips in a row; your triceps should reach parallel with the floor. You can also do bench dips if regular dips are too tough.

If 10 & 10 is too easy/hard, add/subtract reps from each exercise and gradually build your way up.

 

Pushups & Dips



 

Page: Workout A | Workout B | Workout C & Printable Recap

 

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto

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