5 Easy Steps to Create a Workout Plan as a Beginner

A trainer showing sample workout plan to a fitness enthusiast sitting on a swiss ball.

No matter whether you want to exercise at home or hit the gym, this guide is here to give you the scoop on how to create a workout plan as a beginner.

From maintaining overall health to reducing the risk of certain diseases, the reasons to exercise stay undisputed. Unfortunately, only one in five adults in the US exercise each day [1]Statista: Physical Activity – Statistics & Facts. Although reasons for not engaging in physical activities vary from person to person, recent surveys [2]Study Finds: Life gets in the way: Nearly half of Americans want to exercise, but don’t have time say that most people don’t exercise because they feel too tired at the end of each workday.

No matter what the reasons are, we can’t deny that exercise is important for every individual irrespective of their age. So, why not realize this simple fact and start exercising?  And if you are wondering about how to create a workout plan as a beginner, we are here to help. Whether you are about to hit the gym or simply want to exercise at home, this beginner’s workout plan is ideal to help you get started.

Outstanding benefits of working out

Exercising regularly offers plenty of benefits to the human body and mind. The physical health benefits of a frequent workout routine entail reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and other heart-related events. In addition to this, physical workouts minimize the risk of high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain forms of cancer. 

And the positive effects of exercise transcend heart-healthy benefits. A research [3]National Library of Medicine: Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety has shown that physical activity boosts an individual’s self-esteem and promotes a sense of well-being. Not just this! Regular exercise can improve sleep and reduce depression and anxiety. 

How much exercise do you need?

Before we tell you how to create a workout plan or make you familiar with a workout schedule for beginners, you need to know how much exercise you and your family need. The new guidelines [4]Cleveland Clinic: 80% of Americans Don’t Get Enough Exercise — and Here’s How Much You Actually Need issued by Cleveland Clinic recommends the following to individuals of each age group:

  • Preschool children (ages 3-5) – Should be kept active throughout the day.
  • Kids and adolescents  (ages 6-17) – Should do at least an hour of modern to intense physical activities every day.
  • Adults – Should do 75-150 minutes of high intensity or 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise every week.

How to create a workout plan as a beginner?

The key to creating gym workout plans for beginners or full-body workout plans for beginners at home lies in the following steps.

Step 1: Determine your goal

Do you want to shed that extra fat from your flabby belly? Or do you want to increase muscle mass? Take some time to know what you want to achieve before devising a gym or home workout routine. But make sure to make realistic fitness goals that best suit your lifestyle. For instance – aiming for an aesthetic similar to your favorite supermodel is an unrealistic goal to set. Instead, aim to run often, stretch more, or form a good habit that you can follow for a long period of time.

Step 2: Determine how much time you (really) have to exercise

Ask yourself – “How much time do I have to spend at the gym?” Once you know how much time you can dedicate to your workout each day, it will be easy to plan a workout program. Take your priorities and commitments into consideration and then decide how many days per week you can work out, how long you will work out, and so on. 

Step 3: Opt for a workout split

A workout “split” is simply breaking your workout session throughout the week by body region. As a beginner, you can opt for a full-body workout split or upper/lower body workout split. For instance – you can do a full-body workout on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Allow your body to rest during alternate days. And then start over. 

On the other hand, an upper/lower workout split is a workout routine comprising all the upper body as well as lower body exercises or movements within the same workout session. For beginners, we recommend sticking to a 3-day upper/lower split, which can be performed on alternate days every week.

Tip: During rest days, you can join a dance class or Zumba, do yoga, or go swimming. 

Step 4: Plan your physical workout

Once you have chosen your workout split and considered other factors, it’s time to plan your actual workouts. This should begin with exercise selection for your 3-day workout split. Exercise selection is a crucial step to ensure you are targeting all the major muscles of your lower and upper body. After this, you can decide how many reps and sets you will do for each exercise. Well, it solely depends on your fitness goals. For instance – if you want to gain strength, aim to perform 2-3 sets and 10-12 reps of each exercise. Similarly, if you want to boost muscle endurance, you need to perform 1-3 sets and 15-20 reps of each exercise. 

Step 5: Record your progress 

Evaluating your progress and recording it on an everyday basis will help you judge the efficacy of your training program. It will also help you know where you are lagging and make changes to the program accordingly. So, keep a daily exercise log and record the exercise you did in your workout session, the number of sets/reps you performed, which weights you use, the time you took to do each exercise, and so on. Also, record your measurements such as chest size, weight, waist, etc. to track size increments or decrements. And as you progress, revamp your workout routines and make adjustments accordingly. 

Types of exercises you should add to your workout regime

Before presenting a weekly sample of your workout plan, let’s shed some light on the type of exercises you need as a beginner.

Flexibility training

Stretching exercises help your joints go through a full range of motion and reduce the risk of injuries. They also boost your flexibility and improve your performance during a workout. Make sure to warm up for 10-15 minutes before every workout session.

Cardio 

Cardio exercises get your heart rate up, boost energy, and even improve sleep. Try a variety of cardio exercises, such as burpees, squat jumps, jumping jacks, stair climbing, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Strength/resistance training

Weight training is essential to get stronger muscles and have reduced risk of injury. Well, you have to lift heavy weights or spend a great deal of time working with those resistance bands or weights. Simply add some resistance training exercises each day to target different muscle groups. You can also combine strength training/weight training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT)

A sample workout plan for male beginners

This beginner home workout for males is a full-body workout designed to help beginners gain lean mass and muscle strength. You can seek help from your personal trainer or gym instructor and modify the workout as per your exact needs or fitness goals. Here is a sample workout plan:

ExerciseReps & Sets
Seated Rows10 reps x 4 sets
Seated Chest Press10 reps x 4 sets
Incline Dumbbell Row10 reps x 4 sets
Seated Leg Press10 reps x 4 sets
Dumbbell Seated Shoulder Press10 reps x 4 sets
Triceps Pullover10 reps x 4 sets
Dumbbell Bicep Curls10 reps x 4 sets
Dumbbell Flyes10 reps x 4 sets
Crunches10 reps x 4 sets

Note – Remember to take adequate rest between sets and each exercise to optimal strength development. Ideally, it is recommended to rest for 2 to 5 minutes between each exercise. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends a 30-second resting period between sets for enhanced muscular endurance. 

A sample workout plan for female beginners

This workout plan for females will help them target their entire body while boosting their muscle strength. 

ExerciseReps & Sets
Plank30 secs x 3
Reverse Crunches10 reps x 3 sets
Basic Push-ups20 reps x 3 sets
Seated Shoulder Press10 reps x 3 sets
Leg Raises10 reps x 3 sets
Bodyweight Lunges10 reps x 3 sets
Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extensions10 reps x 3 sets
Biceps Curl10 reps x 3 sets

Note – It is recommended to rest after each exercise and in between sets you perform for optimal recovery and endurance development. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends keeping a 30-second resting period between sets. The typical rest interval between each exercise is between 2-5 minutes in duration. 

How to stick to your workout plan

As a beginner, you may feel a bit intimidated to wake up early in the morning each day and exercise. Fortunately, a few tips can help you stay consistent with your workout plans. 

  • Develop a positive mindset – Say things like “I want to work out.” and “I will do it every single day.”
  • Start with easily attainable and realistic goals. Instead of working out for an hour, start with 30 minutes and moderate exercises.
  • Break your workout session into small chunks. For instance – you can do 10-15 minutes of exercise 4 times a day instead of doing an hour workout at once. 
  • Visualize your success. Imagine yourself getting fit to maintain your motivation. 
  • Track your progress and award yourself after reaching every milestone.
  • Try to stay consistent. Make sure you are exercising as per your plan and at the same time each day. 

Conclusion

Whether your goal is to get in shape, shed extra fat, lose weight, or improve your overall health, you need a good workout plan. Follow this guide to get started as a beginner. You can follow the examples given here or take inspiration from them and devise your workout plan. However, your goal should be crafting a workout plan that fits your fitness levels, goals, and lifestyle. Last but not least – stay consistent with your workout plan to get exemplary results. 

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