Design a workout routine for a complete novice to the gym.

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    Jan 01, 2011 8:10 PM GMT
    What exercises would you suggest to a complete novice...virgin even...to the gym and working out?

    I find RJ's exercise routines to be way too rigorous and complex for a complete beginner. I think they would overwhelm the poor guy.

    So the goal is to keep it as simple, with the least number of exercises, as you think necessary to get someone off to a positive start.

    I would say:

    bench press (machine)
    bicep curls (dumbells or machine)
    tricep extensions (overhead with dumbells, if able, or machine)
    military shoulder press (machine)
    crunches
    leg extensions (machine)
    leg curls (machine)
    toe raises for calves (machine or on egde of something)

    All done at weight the guy can handle comfortably, doing 3 sets of 10 reps, if possible. If not, work up to ten.
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    Jan 01, 2011 8:43 PM GMT
    I usually don't recommend machines for beginners. The problem is that most beginners don't know what muscles they're supposed to be working. Their train of thought is they're supposed to move the machine back-n-forth or whatever. When really, they need to be focusing on which muscles they're trying to stimulate. For an absolute beginner, I would suggest free weights with classic compound exercises. And of course, a trainer to help them learn proper form.

    So pretty much the exercises on your list, but with free weights instead. For legs, maybe do a few warm up sets on the leg press machine. Then go into free weight squats. Either the regular back squat with an unloaded barbell. Or do front squats while holding/hugging a dumbbell or plate.

    OORgY.jpg
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    Jan 01, 2011 9:57 PM GMT
    I have always used a mix of machines and free weights and don't follow any strict rules about when or how much of either although when I first started out skinny as a rail I used mostly machines. I think a greater usage of the machines when used properly at the beginning gets small noticeable results faster and getting those results is important in whether a guy is going to continue on or just give up because "nothings changing" . The key is using the machines "properly" and from what I observe almost everyday at the gym is that 95% don't. Guys hop on a chest press or lat machine for example, load up too much weight and then struggle, never able to complete sets, one if any, get up and walk away. Or else they put on too light or just the right weight and pump the machine as fast as you'd think their life depended on it.. do a set maybe two,get up and walk away again. They're really just wasting their time and energy for nothing.. The other biggest machine mistake is failing to keep resistance against the return movement and just letting the weight come back down on its own. The return movement on most machines should take nearly twice as long as the initial one and on some is the most important part.. ie a top of back machine
    In the few instances where I've chatted to some guys starting out and they've asked for help or advice I've always said they should mix in more of some machines, especially the chest press, lat pull down and shoulder delt machine because getting some results quickly in those areas gives you the beginning of a classic V shape .
    Still in all most just continue to grab dumbells they can barely lift twisting their arms and shoulders into all sorts of contortions because they think that's what they're supposed to do..heavy .
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    Jan 02, 2011 12:02 AM GMT
    When I first started working out, I joined a gym and hired a trainer. She put me through the same program that Caslon suggested. Just added dips and pull ups and squats on a machine also. I did this 3 days a week for month while increasing the amount of weight. Then for the next month she switched it up until I knew how to use every machine and then graduated to using more free weights.
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    Jan 02, 2011 12:07 AM GMT
    first time at the gym...FREE WEIGHTS! build those supporting muscles that machines dont. research research research. If you have the money a (certified) personal trainer for a month or two is a great way to gain knowledge and to kick start your workout.
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    Jan 02, 2011 4:09 AM GMT
    For a novice, I'm with the others on free weights and compound movements.
    I would recommend anything that uses bodyweight: Squats, lunges, pushups, pullups, and anything that helps with balance. Plus doing full body workouts rather than specific bodypart training.
    I don't like isolation exercises (leg extension or hammy curl / biceps curls and triceps extensions) because generally for a newbie, the focus is on building a solid foundation and these don't do it as effieciently.
    Properly performed compound movements use the smaller muscles anyway so for a beginner there is no need to work them specifically.
    Once said person is comfortable, more specific and complex bodypart exercises can be implemented and split routines utilized.
    I'm not a huge fan of selectorize machines since they limit the range of motion and fail to recruit stabilizer muscles as effectively as free weights.
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    Jan 02, 2011 4:11 AM GMT
    I just look at what the hot guys are doing, and follow that. It's kinda like personal training, only they ignore me when I talk to them.
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    Jan 02, 2011 4:42 AM GMT
    I suggested machines because I think free weights can be intimidating to novices. Also, a novice is more likely to hurt himself with free weights. I figure once he gets his major muscles growing and has become comfortable and confident in the gym, he will start reaching for other exercises to do.
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    Jan 02, 2011 4:46 AM GMT
    I would recommend a strength building routine involving compound moves like the 5x5 routine on Stronglifts.com. You want a newbie to learn the ins and outs of these moves and not feel like they need machines or they'll rely on them too heavily. I know I was intimidated and also not sure how to use free weights at first and relied on machines but now I rarely use them.
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    Jan 02, 2011 4:50 AM GMT
    I'm a novice to the gym (only 4 months or so so far). I get embarrassed even stepping close to the free weights...all the big guys are in there (it's right next to the dead lifts in my gym) using it and I have a feeling that they'll be staring evily icon_evil.gif for being in there. So I only stuck with the machines.... luckily, the gym had the machines numbered from 1- 15 so I can just follow the routine. I do want to try the small barbels but the jijutsu guys hang around there and help each other out.


    A question: What's a good number of weight on the machines to do? If I put the weight on a level that I can do, I can do more counts. If I put the weight on a level that I have to really push my body, I can only do 5 or so. I don't really know which one's more beneficial.

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    Jan 02, 2011 4:55 AM GMT
    Pushups, sit-ups, crunches, planks, pull-ups, dips, weightless lunges, weightless squats.
    That will get the beginner's muscles adapted to physical exertion, and strengthen his (or her) core for the heavier weights and machines later.
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    Jan 02, 2011 5:30 AM GMT
    Guys need to get over their insecurities. Really, nobody cares that you can only bench press 50lbs. We've all been there. We know what it's like to start from the bottom. And like others have mentioned, another reason for free weights is to develop those supporting muscle groups. This will reduce the possibilities of injuries in the future.
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    Jan 02, 2011 5:34 AM GMT
    RIPPETOE!!!

    http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/Starting_Strength_Wiki

    New users can make great strides with this program and a lot of people swear by it. I used in in college some.
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    Jan 02, 2011 5:47 AM GMT
    When I first started in high school, I did my high school's program, which was basically Nebraska's training program, minus the deadlifts/cleans/stanley hams, and with close-grip bench press rather than the tri pushdowns, and I just did 3 sets of 8 reps each.

    http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~hockey/Main/workout2.htm

    I couldn't tell you for sure if this is the best workout for beginners, but that's what I did for 2-3 years and it worked pretty well for me.