Basic exercises are ideal for the beginning weight lifter.
Weight training, like many forms of exercise, is not an easy path that provides immediate results and, unlike other forms of exercise, it can seem extremely complex. This complexity can confuse and intimidate the beginner, preventing the development of a proper training regimen. To get the best weight lifting workout for a beginner, it isn't so much about what exercises you do, but how and how often you do them -- and how you structure your goals for long-term progress.
Pencil It In
Usually, the most difficult aspect of a weight training workout is understanding it completely enough at the outset to remain committed to it consistently. To be successful, a beginner must hit the gym regularly - this means at least three times each week - otherwise the learning curve won't be overcome and progress won't be made. The best workout is the one that you stick to for the long haul. At the beginning, you need to create the habit provided by a routine. For the first three to six weeks, schedule three full-body workouts each week, and space them apart with at least one day in between. That one-day buffer is essential to getting enough muscle-recovery time.
Need a Lift
A beginner's workout should be intense enough to make consistent progress and establish a foundation of basic strength necessary to move on to intermediate and advanced weight training routines. For the first few weeks, use weight-training machines for exercises that engage all of the major muscle groups in the body. Begin with large muscle groups like the back, chest, core, hamstrings and quadriceps, then work your way to smaller muscles like the biceps, triceps, deltoids and calves. The machines will teach you proper form for each exercise that you can later use to transition to the free-weight counterparts of those exercises.
The performance of each exercise should be basic when you start out. Keep your sets limited to no more than 12 repetitions of a particular exercise. For a full-body workout session, you may only have time to perform two or three sets of each exercise. Focus on the basic exercises: bench presses, lat pulldowns, biceps curls, triceps extensions, shoulder presses, leg presses, leg curls and leg extensions. After the first two weeks, add an exercise each week that works a different muscle group. For example, in Week 3, add cable flyes for the chest. In Week 4, add bent-over rows.
The best beginner's weight lifting workout must transition you from a novice to the next level. Adding additional exercises helps, but you need to chart your progress as you go. In a short amount of time, you should be able to increase the amount of weight for the majority of your exercises, and these weight levels should increase multiple times as you progress. After about six weeks, you may hit performance plateaus for some or all of your exercises. This is the perfect opportunity to make the transition to free-weight versions of the exercises you've already been doing.