In order for any endeavor to be successful, there must always be a plan. For any athlete or fitness person, this includes workout plans. Having the right gym exercises and routines will allow you to get the most results. We all know the people who just show up to “train” and then do a series of random arm exercises. This will get a lifter nowhere fast. Workout plans must have intent and a definiteness of purpose. Otherwise all you are doing is burning calories.
Of all the types of athletes, fitness fanatics and trainers I could write this article towards, I instead choose to write to beginners. Beginner workout plans are where the magic should happen. A newbie has the blessing of quick and easy adaptations due to his/her freshness to sport.
When I see a beginner just copying bodybuilding exercises out of a magazine, it causes a pain in my stomach. All those possible gains are being squandered on meaningless exercises. In this post we are going to discuss what makes good beginner workout plans and how to build them. Thus being the captain over your own results.
Why Are Workout Plans So Hard To Write?
Well the truth is they are not hard to write at all. In fact, as you will soon discover, they are actually pretty easy to write. There is just so much misinformation out there that anybody new to training doesn’t know what is good or what is bad. All of this confusion causes people’s gym routines to become discombobulated. Lifters do not know what to do and they end up going nowhere.
The individual is at a tremendous disadvantage and a select minority is at a huge advantage. Now there is less competition for the elite athletes. Also those in the know can now peddle and sell their fitness products to you and make a very nice profit. You might respond “but Tony, that is just so unfair, how is somebody supposed to get ahead”. Well I have news for you, life ain’t fair. Some people are born genetically gifted to get strong and others are born to have super endurance. Tell me, is that fair?
Instead of playing the victim, put your feet firmly upon the ground and get to work. Everybody has an advantage over somebody, you just haven’t found yours yet. Have you been trying? Or are you just making excuses? Excuses are easy to make up, but results are hard to come by. If you keep pushing and keep grinding, one day you too will become one of those elites.
The First Step For Beginner Workout Plans
Before you can become an elite, you must first build your base. Any tall structure must have a very strong base.
For a beginner, there are two main things to address to build that base:
In order to make it to the elite levels of sport, or elite levels of anything for that matter, one must have flawless technique. It is one thing to lift a house, but can you do it with good form? If not, then you are ripe for an injury. The classic example of a lifter who didn’t take the time to learn proper technique is the guy who wears every kind of supporting gear possible to execute training lifts. Now I’m not talking about elite geared lifters, I am talking about that guy in commercial gyms who needs knee wraps to squat 405 lb. If he took the wraps off he wouldn’t get anywhere near that weight.
For a beginner, his gym exercises must contain exercises specifically dedicated to technique. This includes exercises with light weight and high reps with absolutely perfect form.
As an example, when I first learned how to squat, I used only a broomstick for the first two weeks in order to really learn and understand the exercise. I would perform about 200 reps a day. Something like 10-20 reps every 5-10 minutes, very similar to grease the groove. This built tremendous neurological motor patterns and really added to my squatting skills.
General Physical Preparedness, also known as GPP, is the level of general conditioning of an athlete. GPP is a more specific type of conditioning geared toward the athlete. For example, a weightlifter would do forward sled dragging to condition their posterior chain.
Simply put, the higher the level of general conditioning, the faster an athlete will be able to recover from workouts and more weight will be lifted. Sounds great. Why do so many athletes fail to build their GPP? Part of it is from lack of understanding and another part is from laziness.
Let’s face it, when we have an “off” day from training the temptation to sit around all day and do nothing is very strong. This is mistake number one. Never do nothing unless you truly earned it. Let Bill Belichick of the Super Bowl Champ New England Patriots explain it for me.
Phase 2: Proper Gym Routines
Most beginner workout plans just give exercises but do not go into detain about how to conduct yourself in the gym. They teach nothing about confidence, beating anxiety or how to properly use motivation. Instead they just give you a list and say good luck. Gee thanks!
When in the gym you must rest no longer than 2 minutes for exercises. Top special forces training schools keep most of their cadets moving with very little down time. This is more for mental conditioning than for physical conditioning. If there is too much down time, then negative thoughts will start to creep their way into your mind.
Let me give you a good example. One day I had to go and lift in a commercial gym and I was practicing snatch balances with a fairly light amount of weight. I was blowing through them and then during one of my rest periods some random guy walks up to me and talks about how dangerous this exercise was. After listening to him I unintentionally let his fear creep into my mind and could not do another set of snatch balances. Remember to stay focused and never seek the approval of others, otherwise you will be for the rest of your life.
Lift Heavier Weights
One of the most important things to do in any training environment is to learn to lift heavy. A common fitness goal, especially for guys is to lift big weights. The most effective way to lift heavy ass weight is to lift heavy ass weight. Lifting puny weights for one hundred repetitions will not make you a badass alpha. In order to get bigger you must lift more.
Often times many beginner training programs will advise a trainee to lift medium to light weights for a moderate amount of repetitions. This program will often claim that this is just as good as lifting heavy weights. Well, unless you are a complete beginner, this is not true. Lifting above 90% training intensity is a whole new ball game.
The nervous system responds differently to training loads this big. So it is like a totally different exercise. This makes sense from a practical standpoint. Even if a lifter can theoretically bench press 315 for a max single, unless this weight has actually been lifted, then it doesn’t count. The actual max needs to be done.
Join A Gym, Not A Franchise
Take a mental inventory of what your gym has for equipment. Do they have a reverse hyper, bands, chains, bumper plates, sleds, power racks? How about the million dollar question, do they allow chalk? If the answers to these questions is a no, then find yourself a new gym. Gyms that don’t have or allow any of this stuff are not really gyms, they are franchises.
A franchise doesn’t care about you or your goals, they only care about one thing, MONEY. There is nothing wrong with any of this, especially if you live in America. This is a capitalist society and by living here you are playing by those rules. So you have to realize that at every instant in society, truth is put on the back burner for profit.
Gyms are victim to this as well. Most, if not all gyms start out with good intentions. However, when the time comes to pay the bills you have to bite the bullet and do whatever it takes to survive. Keep this in mind when making your beginner workout plans. Make sure that whatever gym you go to will allow you to execute the workout routines and exercises you need to do.
Phase 3: Creating Goals
Your goals can range from losing weight to going to the Olympics. Whatever they are, you need to know for sure. If you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there. We at Barbell Scholar try to provide you guys with the right tools to start your training journey. However it is up to you to walk the path.
Workout routines need to have a specific goal in mind other than killing a few hours of the day lifting heavy things. So before you begin you have to take an inventory of what you really want. Once you know for sure what you really want you have to stay focused on it and stick with it until the end.
All too often many beginners will often hop around from one workout routine to the next. The hope from doing this is a boost in gains from the new program they are on. Of course, they may make small short term gains because they are doing something new. However, in the long run, their progress will ultimately go nowhere. There has to be some form of specificity in their training. Even the conjugate method has specificity to it.
Keep Beginner Workout Plans Realistic
When people say to me that they want to transform into the incredible hulk in a matter of months, the first thing I tell them is “me too”. The second thin I tell them is to get real. Getting that huge in that short of an amount of time does not happen unless you plan on becoming an amateur pharmacist.
Can you get huge? Yes, of course you can, but it is not going to happen that quickly. It is going to take years of hard work. A good goal is to just concentrate on building a solid base of strength in all of the major barbell lifts. Having this strength will make you better at everything else you do.
Here are some examples for lifts:
Squat: 360-425 lb. (this will vary greatly depending on the type of squat)
Bench: 275-325 lb.
Deadlift: 500-550 lb.
Press: 195-225 lb.
Small Goals First, Big Goals Second
Although having a big long term goal is great, you must have smaller short term goals in between. Otherwise, you will get down on yourself when progress doesn’t seem to come fast enough. Does it make sense to have a long term goal to deadlift 500 lb. and then expect to make 50 lb. PR’s every week on a consistent basis? No, of course not, but this is exactly what most beginners do.
By setting goals we allow ourselves to keep and maintain motivation so we don’t loose our momentum. Long term goals take too long to accomplish this. Short term goals on the other hand fill this gap perfectly. We have our bigger prize in sight, but will enjoy the smaller fruits along the way.
Here is an interesting video about goals and willpower, definitely worth the watch:
To sum up everything we have learned in this post, great beginner workout plans will include:
- A great emphasis on technique
- Short Rest Periods
- Concentration and Focus
- Access To Great Equipment
- Setting Proper and Realistic Goals
- Building Your Base
By following the advice in this post you can really separate yourself from the rest of the training population. Above all else the key is to focus on results. If your workout plan is not getting you results, it’s time to get another workout plan. There are a ton of workout plans out there but more often than not only one of them will be the right one for you. If you haven’t found it yet keep looking. When you do find it, your gym workouts and routines will rise to a whole new level.