You gotta love beginners. Their combination of enthusiasm and lack of knowledge/experience often leads to some of the dumbest diet and training related questions you’ll ever see.
It’s cool though, we were all there once asking the same silly noob things.
But one of the least dumb questions I get from beginners all the time has to do with their beginner status itself. More specifically, at what point can a beginner consider themselves an intermediate and move on to a more advanced workout routine?
In my experience, there’s usually 3 answers to this question… but only 1 truly makes sense.
1. The “Time Frame” Approach (And Why It’s Dumb)
The most common answer you’ll hear to this question is likely time frame related. As in, you should use a beginner workout routine for X number of weeks or months. When that amount of time is up, move on to an intermediate routine.
Doesn’t sound too bad, right? I’d agree completely, except there’s one major flaw to this approach: who’s to say you wouldn’t have kept progressing just fine well past this specified time frame?
For example, let’s pretend you heard you should use a beginner routine for 6 months. Now let’s say you’ve been progressing amazingly well (like most beginners using an intelligently designed routine do) and today officially makes it 6 months exactly.
Are you just going to stop this awesome run of progression because it’s been 6 months? Are you going to abandon a workout routine that’s already working perfectly for you right now just because the time is supposedly up on it and a more advanced routine is waiting for you? If so, I think you’re a dumbass.
No offense, but if your routine is working and producing the results you want right now, the last thing you should do is stop using it in favor of something more advanced solely because it’s been X amount of time. This beginner routine may have continued working for you for the next X weeks or months just the same, and likely better than any intermediate routine would have at this point.
But with this approach, you’d never know that. You’d just move on to something more advanced and unknowingly sacrifice your results in the process.
2. The “Strength Level” Approach (And Why It’s Dumb)
The next most common answer a beginner will get to this question is based on their strength levels. As in, you should use a beginner routine until you can bench press X, squat Y, and deadlift Z.
Again, it doesn’t sound too bad, right? But again, there’s a flaw that’s pretty much identical to the one we just covered: who’s to say you wouldn’t continue to progress and use this routine to exceed all of these specified strength levels?
For example, let’s pretend that a 185lb bench press is whatever magical percentage of your body weight that you’re supposed to be aiming for before moving on to a more advanced routine. Do you really think that’s the EXACT maximum point you’d reach with this routine? I sure as hell don’t.
I’d say there’s a really good chance that you can just keep doing what you’re doing and progress to 190lbs and beyond without a problem. Of course, you’d never know that. You’d be too busy making less progress on some intermediate routine you had no reason to switch to yet.
3. The “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” Approach (And Why It’s Best)
Now, while I don’t completely disagree with the two approaches we just covered… I definitely don’t agree with them either. They’re both flawed, so when I get asked this question, I base my answer on something else altogether: common sense.
Simply put, you should use a beginner routine until it stops working for you like it should.
Assuming everything is being done correctly, a significant and sustained drop off in progress is the best sign that you’re ready to move from your beginner routine to a more advanced intermediate routine.
I don’t care if that’s after 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, or 2 years. I don’t care if you bench, squat and deadlift some magical percentage of your body weight that some guru pulled out of their ass, or 100lbs more than that. As long as the beginner routine is still working well for you… just keep on using it.
Ride that program out for as long as it works and as far as it takes you. No time limit to set. No strength levels to meet. Just keep on going for as long as progress is still being made and use your results (or lack thereof) as your guide.
Basically, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s an idiom that can (and often should) be applied to most aspects of diet and training, especially those pertaining to you silly beginners.
166 thoughts on “When Should A Beginner Move To An Intermediate Workout Routine?”
I’ve been doing a beginner routine for about 9 months now on a 1000 calorie a day deficit to lose weight, and have made significant gains in strength. However, now I’m seeing a sharp decrease in progression, and am curious what my next step should be. Should I even bother switching to an intermediate routine on a deficit, or should I just stick with my beginner routine to maintain my strength until I get down to my target weight, and then continue with the beginner program on a small surplus at that point until it no longer gives me progress again?
Now would definitely NOT be a good time to start making big changes to your workout, especially if that change is to move from a lower volume beginner routine to a higher volume intermediate routine. A deficit is not the time or place to make that switch.
Instead, stick with the beginner routine and focus on, at the very least, just maintaining your strength levels until you hit your fat loss goal. If you can still progress here and there, go for it. But if maintenance is all you can do, that’s perfectly fine for now.
Once you’re ready to switch over from a deficit to a surplus and start a legit muscle building phase, I’d say stick with the beginner routine during those first few weeks and see how it goes. If you’re able to progress, stay with it. If progress is still stalled, switch to the intermediate routine.
Do you think it is possible that one can stall their progress by moving to an intermediate/ advanced routine to soon?
I have been running an alternating upper/lower split 3 days a week now for the last year and eating plenty enough to get fatter but my poundage’s haven’t increased much if at all. I keep hitting the same top loads for the same reps (yes, I’m having regular deloads and following a sensible routine!)
Thing is I never really followed a beginner routine like listed in your book and my strength levels are average at best, 175×6 in the squat at 85kg body weight. I’m thinking it may be best to start from scratch as if I’m a complete noob, that way I know which way to go if I’m still stuck…towards the exit 🙂
Yup, moving to a more advanced routine than you’re actually ready for or would benefit from could definitely contribute to the type of problems you mentioned.
But whether or not that’s the sole cause of your problems is impossible to say without knowing a lot more about you and exactly what you’ve been doing. There’s honestly a lot of potential causes and potential solutions for them.
But one thing I can say for sure is that if you’re successfully creating a surplus and gaining weight at a sane rate, and you’re not making any strength progress during this time, something somewhere is definitely wrong.
Hello, I am a 58 year old woman who has been working out for quite a long time. I decided I needed a new workout and did not want to hire yet another trainer, so I found your website and downloaded you book. I started your intermediate this week and it seems okay. The problem that I am having is that I always did 4 exercises for a both part with 12 reps and your program is completely different. I feel as though I am not accomplishing anything. Is this a normal tought patter for a “seasoned” person? Also, how many questions can I ask? Thanks.
Funny you ask this, because I just started writing an article with the working title of “Are you sure I’m doing enough in my workouts?” It will definitely answer your question and address your concerns. And although you didn’t mention your goals, here’s my general shorter answer to hold you over until that article gets finished.
Yes, every routine you ever see me recommend is definitely “enough.” If any more was needed or beneficial, trust me… I would have already added it myself. But the truth is, every one of those workouts are already proven to be as effective as possible. Adding more to them will almost always hinder (or completely eliminate) that effectiveness.
Another important point you need to keep in mind is that “feeling” like you accomplished something and actually accomplishing something are 2 VERY different things, especially when it comes to weight training. You can do 1,000 sit ups and it will “feel” like you did something, but it most definitely didn’t (other than waste your time and burn a couple of calories).
Also remember that your goal isn’t to “feel” like you’re doing enough to get results. Your goal is to actually get results. Which means, don’t base the effectiveness of your workout on how it felt. Base it on what really matters… which is the amount of progress you made.
Hey. I love your site. I’m 47 and like another poster, I have worked out on and off since I was 12. I have been doing the split upper A lower A, upper B lower B work out and I love it. So far I’ve only progressed except barbell curls. Had to stay at 70 pounds because I got 10, 10, and 8 reps instead of 10 10 10.
I had been following a periodization schedule that went x weeks at 50% max, then moved up in weight/ down in reps at say 65% max. i was only working each group once a week. I like split you recommend much more. Already I have seen progress. So…is the idea to EVER move to a 5×5 or some other porgram using higher weight and lower reps? Is this kinf of info in your book? HAven’t bought it yet but I plan to next pay.
Hmmmm, I’m not 100% sure I understand what you’re asking? Some forms of periodization involve going into lower rep ranges like sets of 5, others don’t. So if you’re using one that doesn’t, then it obviously won’t happen.
If that’s something you want to do though, you’d really just need to switch to a periodization schedule that suits it. Or, if you’re mostly just interested in 5×5 itself, you can just use one of the handful of good 5×5 programs that are out there.
As for my book, it contains a bunch of different routines for different schedules, goals, splits, and preferences, and it definitely covers methods of progression to use with them. However, it doesn’t specifically tackle periodization.
That’s certainly something that’s on my to-do list to cover in the future, though.
First of all, great site with a lot of useful info. I wish I would have read this early on. I was on a routine that was working great for me (very similiar to the 4-day split routine you have posted) and then I dropped it for another routine thinking I need to step up and press myself harder. All that happened was I starting losing muscle in some places (overtraining) and I hated the routine. Now I am using your 4-day split and much happier with the results.
Very happy to hear it!
Thank you for this website! I appreciate it very much. Can you tell me why you are anonymous and why there is no pictures of you?
I thought I’d start with your beginner’s training program. The problem I am having is 8-10 reps seems like a lot and it is different than what I read in Starting Strength. Deadlifts for me are extremely taxing and I cant do more than 5 reps. Does 8-10 vs. 6-8 make a difference? Can I do Deadlists 5 reps?
I have been working out for about 4 months, did Starting Strength tuff for about 2 months then did a 4 day split routine for the rest of the time. Why is it so important beginners start with the 3 Day body split? It is little boring to me, and your intermediate workout seems very exciting.
It just isn’t clear to me why Rippetoe, the 5X5 guy, and you insist on beginning in this way. What if you went straight to the 4 day intermediate? Continues a progressive loading.
My goal is not to be a power lifter, but to lower body fat and and look good and be healthy. Good cardiovascular system and look and feel great.
Thank you for your time, and I eager await your kind response.
If preferred, you can switch the 3×8-10 to 3×6-8 (or even 3×5 if you really want to). 3×8-10 is my default recommendation because it tends to be ideal for most beginners.
As for why so many people recommend simple, basic, boring 3 day full body programs for beginners… it’s pretty simple. It’s just what works best for beginners. Can other programs work? Some, sure. But usually not as well.
As for pictures of me, I’ll probably get around to it sometime down the road.
The information you provided here was exactly what I needed at the moment, thank you for posting such effective articles! I have a few questions though and sorry if they sound ignorant, but I am a beginner with this whole healthy eating and exercise lifestyle!
So you said in a previous comment, “Also remember that your goal isn’t to ‘feel’ like you’re doing enough to get results. Your goal is to actually get results. Which means, don’t base the effectiveness of your workout on how it felt. Base it on what really matters… which is the amount of progress you made.” Is this the same thing as never doing the “minimum” when working out? Sometimes I feel so sleepy and mentally drained and I go to the gym and do the minimum needed for me to hopefully see results, such as 60 minutes of cardio. I’m a beginner so I’m guessing I wouldn’t see results until a few more weeks, right?
Also, when I do cardio workouts at the gym, should I focus on how long/type of exercise I do OR where my heart rate is at? I can speed walk on an incline and my heart rate will be at the “maximum cardio” level. According to the machine it shouldn’t surpass HR 160 since I am 21 years old. So should I focus on running to get it high or just do anything that will get it high, such as speed walking in my case? I jog for about 3 minutes and it surpasses that rate, sometimes I speed walk on an incline and it reaches the 160 HR (when I run I start feeling lightheaded, versus jogging that is a pace I can keep up with for about 3 minutes).
Thank you so much in advance for any feedback!
Well the majority of what I’m talking about here refers to weight training, not cardio.
With cardio, especially when it’s being done for the purpose of fat loss/burning calories, there’s really no such thing as an ineffective workout. There’s just a workout where you do enough to burn X number of calories, or workouts where you don’t do enough to burn as many calories.
As for when you’d see results from cardio, assuming you mean fat loss results, that all depends on your deficit and how big it is and whether you’re successfully creating one in the first place between the cardio activity and your diet. If you are, you should be losing some fat pretty much every single week. If you’re not, you won’t be.
And regarding your last question, that would honestly take a full article to fully answer. But, it’s on my to-do list.
The most people who is in a weight program is overtraining.It´s very hard to convince people that less is better.They don´t want to believe it.The only thing that I could switch to your beginners routine A and B (I didn´read your book yet),is that in the first three weeks the number of reps must be 15 to 20.Why? Because a person who never had lifted need a period of adaptation.Then the next two weeks could be 12 to 15 reps.And after these weeks you can do 8 to 10 reps.
The human body is pretty amazing. It will adapt just fine regardless of what rep range is used.
Ok first of all I just found this site and I’m really excited to do exactly what you have described here. (Well, maybe not exactly, will just tailor reps, amount of weights used to myself!)
I’ve been working out for quite a while now and obviously not seeing results, so I am gonna do what you’ve said in this website for a few months and I am staying positive to think that results will come!
My main goal is fat loss and since December 2012, I’ve been doing more and more cardio. I do the cardio classes in the gym, mainly ones like Body Attack and Body Combat and sometimes cycling classes (don’t know if you’ve heard of these classes). These classes usually involve pretty intense running around and moving around so it’s pretty good cardio.
I was wondering, with your 3 days a week work out, is it ok to do cardio on the days in between the weight days? So a day of weights, a day of cardio, a day of weights, a day of cardio, a day of weights, a day of cardio, REST. Is that viable? Or is that a bit too much?
I actually really enjoying doing the cardio classes so I am wondering how I should fit that in within all this!
Thanks 🙂 Great site!
It can work. And if you like doing the cardio AND need it for your goal, then it’s worth trying to make work.
The only way you’ll know if it’s truly “too much” is if you do it and it seems like it’s too much (body feels tired, weight training progress stalls, etc.).
Hey man! Just bought your book thingy and I can’t thank you enough for the plethora of information for such a damn low price! One problem though, I feel that the beginners workout routine seems too piss easy. I’ve been doing the p90x hypertrophy variation for awhile now and from what I’ve read, I’m still a beginner (I haven’t passed the 6 month mark yet but my diet is very solid and I have been progressing pretty well). I tried the beginners workout today and lets just say the transition between p90x and the routine you have provided seems too large. Should I keep doing the beginners workout or should I stick with the p90x variations considering I have seen nice results so far with the program. Thanks!
Also may I ask how much calories the beginner workout burns?
Glad to hear it dude!
Regarding the fact that the beginner routine may not “feel” like enough, read this one: https://www.aworkoutroutine.com/am-i-doing-enough/
As for how many calories the beginner routine burns, I honestly have no idea. Not very many. But remember, it’s not a routine designed for burning calories. It’s a routine designed to allow beginners to break into weight training and make progressive strength gains as fast as possible.
Wow thanks. Missed that article haha. One more question though, can I add cardio and yoga days in between the workout days to stay fit?
You can add cardio if it fits in with your goals and preferences. Exactly how much, how often, what type, etc. depends on too many factors to get into here. One of these days I’m going to do a series of articles on cardio that will cover it all.
Also how do you feel about cleans, front squats, overhead squats, and snatches as I have not seen them in your guide?
All useful tools for a variety of goals. Although, of the exercises you mentioned, front squats are really the only one I’d use for someone whose primary goal is building muscle/looking awesome.
I’m so worried this site will magically disappear by the time I’m ready to advance to intermediate.
I’m a ‘certified’ fitness trainer, I use quotation marks because although I have the piece of paper, I still feel pretty clueless about what works and what doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I studied the course materials thoroughly and I passed everything with flying colours… I just don’t believe that half of it was useful or effective. Nor do I have a body that will ever inspire clients at this rate because I am yet to develop significant results of my own. So I have given up on pursuing fitness as a career (for now), but I am not giving up on myself.
I got myself a gym membership at a different gym to the one I was working at and I’m going to try the simple Beginner ABA BAB workout. Here goes nothing! I think the hardest part will be trying to pry my boyfriend away from the crazy (and as I’ve read time and time again, ineffective) workouts in Mens Health Magazine when we go to the gym together. We tried Strong Lifts together a while back but starting on such low weights killed his motivation and took too long to progress in the initial stages, I don’t know if I’ll be able to convince him to try such a similar approach.
Hopefully you’re still here after 6 – 8 months (or however long it takes), I’ll report back! 🙂
I promise, this site isn’t going anywhere. 😉 Definitely feel free to report back on how well you’re doing.
Also, regarding (what I’m assuming to be) those typical bodybuilding workouts your boyfriend finds in magazines, have him read this one: https://www.aworkoutroutine.com/bodybuilding-workouts-suck/
Thanks for the website. after being out of lifting for 20 years I am 6 weeks back into it. Progressed with my own routine at first but liked yours after loking at it and went with it( 5 exercise beginner program) I also need to loss weight(75lbs).
Question 1: I am on wheybolic extreme 60 and mens mega vitamin from GNC. I am also doing calorie deficit for the weight loss. It appears to be enough nutrition to gain muscle and lose weight for now, will it be for the longer term? (lost ten pounds and am starting to see signs of muscle definition so far)
Question 2: is this beginner routine ( i believe it is) OK for a 14 year old to start with as well. he is a slender kid who is trying to bulk up for football and on a whey protien as well. He has difficulty getting the extra calories because he just doesn’t eat alot. any suggestions/comment.
1. Building muscle and losing fat at the same time is something most people won’t be able to do at all, and the few exceptions who can (mainly fat beginners and people regaining lost muscle) won’t be able to do it long term. So if you’re indeed one of these exceptions, ride this short term ability out for as long as it lasts, and when it stalls, focus on one goal at a time.
2. As long as he is be taught correctly and his form is perfect and everything is done slowly and gradually (again with a focus on technique), it should be. And as a former 14 year old who didn’t eat a lot and couldn’t gain weight, the only real advice is to just eat more. There really are no secrets there. Find foods you like, ideally ones that are easy to consume on large amounts (rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.) and eat ’em.
Your site is really helpful. I am a 27 year old guy from India who just started in Nov 2012 to seriously consider hitting the gym and lose fat. In June 2012, I completed an entire round of the Beachbody Insanity series as athlete level training for a squash tournament. Unfortunately, I became so thin that I looked scrawny. Worried, I focused on gaining weight and did so but ended up with gaining belly fat as well. My ability to exercise at this point was hampered by a slight knee injury while playing in the squash tournament.
After complete recovery, my goal was initially to lose fat (belly fat mainly) and just gain muscle to look good. I weighed 65 kg at the time I started and joined a gym nearby and hired a trainer.
After about a month of doing basic warm-up sets, cardio exercises, he suddenly switched me to a workout program exactly similar to the intermediate program prescribed in your site.
I initially struggled a lot and had body aches periodically, but he said it was normal and pushed me harder. Now its almost 6 months since I started and have gotten used to the sets and have noticed an increase in strength. I now weigh 71 kgs with just a slight increase in muscle at biceps and shoulders. However, I notice no improvement in the belly area as the belly fat is still there. He said its normal and I should have reasonable expectations as it will be the last area where fat will go. Visibly I am not convinced as I still feel I could have gotten in shape by now and feel dejected looking at my belly fat.
My question now is, should I scrap this workout program altogether and go back to a beginner’s workout as mentioned on your site? And what kind of nutritional policy should I follow if I do switch. I am currently on a diet program prescribed by him to gain muscle (and it looks like a calorie surplus diet).
Sorry if the post is long and thanks for your site.
I think your issue has much less to do with your workout and much more to do with your diet.
It sounds like your goal right now is to lose fat, and in order to make them happen, you need a caloric deficit. Simple as that.
I’ve been working out for a while but was probably overdoing it. Was using supersets and I think maybe my job which is physical suffered. I’ve gone right back to your beginner workout and love it.
Glad to hear it man!
Hey man. I’ve been doing the beginner workout routine for a few months now and my results seem pretty stagnant. I have been progressing really well until this point though (It’s been about 2 weeks with no gains). My body is not exactly as fresh as other “beginners” due to P90X bullshet which I feel destroyed my body up this point (Did like every workout in the program to failure) for about 2 years. I tried a 4 day rest before hitting the gym again but everything felt pretty same. Is this a sign to move on to intermediate or am I just being stupid?
It’s possible, but read this one first.
Hi, first of all, i love your site and your info is pure gold, thanks!!!
I’ve been doing the typical 1 body part per week split (chest day, back day, leg day and so on) for about 2 years, so i think i fall in the beginner stage anyway.
I read Starting Strength and liked it but to be honest with you, Im not interested at all in doing power cleans, besides there is no way i can get bumper plates into my gym/home, so I think the “practical programming” exercise selection is better for my goals.
Today I read your begginer routine and i think it is best balanced than Rip’s.
3×8 is way to much volume so i would definitely get into 3×5.
Which one would be more beneficial to me, im very confused? My goal is to build muscle and get really strong.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either. You’ll get stronger and build muscle just fine with both. Pick your favorite.
Hello, how do you feel about adding a couple of finishing moves ( like weighted carries, farmers walks etc) OR just holding the farmers walk position after the designated workouts you listed, IF SO how much time under tension for these weighted carries, great info brother !!!! Thanks
If your primary goal is to build muscle, I’m not really a fan of “finishers” especially if it’s solely for burning calories and/or conditioning purposes. But if you’re specifically training to improve grip strength, stuff like farmer’s walks can be useful.
Hey, I’ve been reading a lot from your site for the past week or two & I must say it’s really informative and helpful! I have a few questions though due to my goals and experience level. I practice Martial Arts and I mostly follow the teachings Bruce Lee left behind. Not sure if you know much about him, but he used weight training in his workouts so I needed a weight training workout for myself. I was already starting to plan it, and then I found your site (thank God). According to what you’ve written here, I’m a beginner and my goals are a bit complicated in a way. They pertain to performance, but also require a bit of looks. Performance-wise I want to gain strength, and increase endurance. But I also need tons of flexibility for Martial Arts. So in order to get that flexibility and stay nimble/agile I need to stay lean and not get big, so I need to lose fat and not get bulky as well. I know it’s pretty much myths to get bulky like you’ve said, but I just wanted to make sure. So, I’m planning on following the guide you made here and making my weight training workout in order to gain the strength I need. I know from a previous comment I read that it’s okay to do cardio for endurance and fat loss in between the weight training days. But how would the diet work when I want to gain strength but also gain endurance, lose fat, and stay as slim and lean as possible. I know that to lose fat I need a calorie deficit, and to gain muscle and strength I need a surplus. So how would I balance the diet to gain strength on the weight training days, and lose fat/gain endurance on the cardio days? Do I use the surplus on weight days, and use the deficit on cardio days? Or is there another way to it?
Also, in the beginner workout routine you wrote on here (https://www.aworkoutroutine.com/the-beginner-weight-training-workout-routine/) you gave the two versions of the 3 day full body split. If you HAD to choose, would you recommend version 1 or version 2? I’m also willing to listen to your recommendations and not mess with the workouts. I’m letting you know that because I read how people would complain that version 1 would be “too little”, but I’m willing to listen. If you recommend version 2, would you say it’s okay to work out the abs on the cardio days and replace abs with something like shrugs, posterior deltoid raises, forearms, or another exercise? & If that’s okay to replace abs, how much volume for the chosen exercise would you recommend? & If you recommend version 1, would it be okay to add abs to the 3 days of the week, or keep abs on the cardio days? & If you recommend to work the abs on the weight days what volume would be best? The reason I ask is because I want to build strong abs and a strong core. & I mention forearms, shrugs, and posterior deltoid raises because I notice the muscles being worked in those exercises are sometimes neglected.
I know all this might be troublesome to answer so I apologize if anything. Much thanks and keep up the great work on here!
Regarding both building muscle AND losing fat, read this one.
As for the second question, both versions of the routine are fine. If you want the tiny extra bit of accessory work that version 2 includes, use version 2. Otherwise, use version 1. And no, dropping the ab work from version 2 and replacing it with other stuff wouldn’t really be something I’d recommend.
After a lot of searching, For a beginner workout and being bitterly disappointed, I found this site. It’s been very helpful the 3 day a week workout makes good use of the basic equipment that I have and I enjoy doing it. I have two goals which is loose fat and gain some strength. I’m not looking to set any records here I just want to be healthy again. I have been spending 5min on a bike before I start on the weights and I am spending the 2min rests on the bike too. Is this a bad idea?
A few minutes of light cardio as a warmup before weight training is fine. But between sets? That will have a pretty significant negative effect on your performance during those sets. I’d keep the cardio and weight training separate if possible.
I guess there’s that finding bad info on the net thing again. I read that keeping the heart rate up would be beneficial. Thanks for clarifying that.
As a complete noob, it’s hard to sort through all the info and know what is and isn’t good advice.
I mean, if your primary objective is just doing some form of conditioning work and your goal is to keep your heart rate up, it could potentially be beneficial.
But if your goal during weight training is getting stronger/building muscle, cardio between sets would only hurt performance.
Hey man. Just hoping for some clarification.
You said that the best time to go from a beginners routine to the intermediate routine is when the beginners routine stops working for you, and your results start to slow.
If we are going by your recommended beginners and intermediates guide, when you go from beginner to intermediate, you will still be doing mostly the same exercises that were in the beginners guide, with more exercises tacked on. So my question is, how would that help your progress start back up again? Basically, if your results start to stall on say, a bench press, how does adding a different exercise to the routine keep your results going, if your bench press results have stalled?
I love your site and hope to hear from you soon. I also hope that I put my question in a way that makes sense.
One of the reasons a beginner eventually stalls is because they just become too advanced/strong for a beginner routine and all of the components of a beginner routine (full body workouts, hitting body parts 3 times per week, only compounds, etc.).
The intermediate routine makes changes that better suit someone who is past this beginner stage (drops back the frequency to twice per week, adds in some accessory lifts, changes/adds new rep ranges, breaks up the body into different workouts, etc.)
Great Site! Iam 17 years old and i did full body workout for two months consecutively then i stopped and did some bodyweight training and then i left for 6 months amd then iam back doing 5 day split workouts for 2 months now so can i jump to your beginner workout routine or continue what iam doing
At this point you’re still a beginner, so I’d go with a beginner routine.
I am a 28 year old woman looking to build strength AND endurance. I don’t need to lose any weight, but I’d like to do cardio to build endurance.
1). How can I build endurance while not losing weight? If you recommend working on “one goal at a time” rather than building endurance and muscle at the same time, what does this look like? Say I did a routine for several months that built muscle thien focused on endurance building. How do I keep up my strength during that time? Any recommended books, videos, articles on the subject?
2). I tend to lose weight when I start exercising more. What books/articles do you recommend on keeping weight up in a healthy way? By that I mean avoiding refined food, sugary protein bars and powders, etc. i’m all about making my own from scratch.
1. If you want to do a lot of endurance work but NOT lose any weight, it’s really just a matter of making sure you eat enough extra calories to compensate for the calories being burned. As for the other parts of this question… they’ll need a full article to properly answer.
2. Pick foods you like eating/want to eat, and eat enough of them to ensure you remain at your maintenance level and therefore avoid losing weight. That’s really all there is to it. And if you are unable to do that with the amount of calories you need to consume, you might have to consider some less “healthy” options.
Hey, you’re website is amazing. I’m 15 and I consider myself as an advanced beginner.
So I’m doing a full body split and I was wondering if it will be wrong if I train every other day. That means Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday and then Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and again. I’m asking this because in one of your articles it says that you should train Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then rest two days.
It’s possible you might be able to make that work, but I think most people will benefit from that 1 extra day of rest at the end.
Hey I just started the beginner workout and I am excited for whats to come in the future. My question is how does biceps come into play when doing your beginner workout. Also should I do an ab day as well along with some of the workouts?
Read version 2 of the beginner routine.
Though i am still doing the beginner routine (5th month so far), im seriously thinking on moving on to the intermediate plan because i am hitting bed almost dead and i wake up tired and im always sleepy. I sleep 7-8 hrs and eat 250 calories above maint (maybe more on cheat meals 😀 )
Which one do you recommend better, the 4 day version or 3day? Since the beginner routine is a 3 day split, that one makes more sense to me, but you are the guidance here!
Pretty much whichever one best fits your schedule and capacity to recover.
Thanks for the awesome info on this site!
I have started with the beginner course; however, I want to know if it is ok if I don’t follow the sequence in each workout (Workout A and Workout B).
Example, if I do Workout A, I sometimes do Bench Press first, then Squats and then Rows last.
Is this ok, or must I adhere to the sequence?
Squats are a more demanding exercise than bench press or rows, so it generally makes more sense to start with the hardest exercise (and end with the easiest). But, switching it to the order to mentioned probably won’t matter much, if at all.
I would however recommend keeping the order the same every workout. Meaning, don’t start with bench press this time, then squats the next time, then bench press the next time, etc.
I’ve had a look at your beginners programme and when to step up to intermediate articles and they look great!! However I just have a query regarding my own personal level:
I have been doing crossfit sessions as well as a whole lot of free weight and body weight workouts for about a year now and I’ve just made the transition to the gym for some muscle building weight training. I am just wondering if you could provide me with some guidance as to where I should start with the programs: Beginner or Intermediate? I feel like my form is good, but I’m not sure if time is needed to get used to the different techniques and equipment to ensure the most effective workout and max gains.
That would depend mostly on what kind of strength/size progress you made over this year. If you built a decent base level of strength and muscle, you might be ready for an intermediate routine. If not, start with the beginner routine instead.
a very interesting article!
Im a total newb who just lost 25 kgs and has about 10 more to go.
Exactly two months ago I joined my local gym.
I have been doing the “starting strength” program that is very similar to yours, except that I go 5×5 on my exercises. Now, I’ve been getting some nice gains with that, but I always kinda felt like I would be better off if I took my reps to the 7-8 range. Since my goals are 50% strength, 50% looks.
So, with that in mind, I was planning on leaving weight where it’s at for now and focusing on getting my reps to said range.
I would end up doing, for example 5 sets of squats for 8 reps.
Do you think this is a sensible way of going about it?
My MAIN focus right now is to lose those extra 10Kg im carrying around, but I dont mind if I get a little stronger in the process.
Thank you SO MUCH for your articles.
Well the first thing that stands out in your question is the 5 sets of each exercise. Starting Strength only calls for 3 sets of each exercise (and only 1 set for deadlifts).
I doubt 3×8 instead of 3×5 will be a problem, but 5×8 probably will.
Thank you for your commitment to provide us novices with practical fitness education. I recently came across your articles and was set on starting the Muscle Building Workout, until I clicked on The Beginners Workout. So I figured I’d seek clarification rather than set myself up from experiencing the strength and muscle gain results I’m striving for. My experience with weight training has been sporadic. I’ve attempted to weight train, but like most who are not experienced, eventually give up because they lack a solid routine that will yield real results. In terms of my goals, I’d like to gain muscle definition and toning, strength, and endurance. Visually, I’d like my physique to resemble a balance between bikini and fitness models. Currently my exercise routine exercise includes mostly cardio to help me train for 10K mud runs. I am a very petite gal: 5’1”, 110 lbs, wearing a size 0-1. My ideal clothing size is a 2 so my goal is to gain weight rather than loose it. Based on my weight training experience, current measurements, and fitness goals, do you recommend I start with the beginner’s workout or muscle building workout? Thank you.
Since you appear to have little to no consistent weight training experience on a solid program, the beginner routine is probably what you’ll progress best with for now.
I just bough you workout routine guide and started following the beginners routine. This is an awesome guide especially for the beginners and intermediate person like me.
I have a question regarding the squat. Can I replace the back squat with front squat? The reasons I like the font squat is that it trend to forces little bit on a core and stabilize your core as well. I also injured my shoulder rotator cuff six month back and I am not recovered 100 percent yet. Is the front squat put less stress on the rotator cuff than the back squat?
Replacing back squat with front squat should be fine.
Looking at version 1 of the beginner workout routine, will doing dead lifts and the other workouts provide a good base for abs or should I focus on them separately. Or should I not worry and follow the program as is.
The “not worry and follow the program as is” one. 😉
Although throwing in a couple of sets of abs won’t kill you if you really wanted to add it in.
I have been desperately seeking a solution. About 4 months ago I started back to the gym with the goal of losing 30 lbs of fat and toning up. I was mostly doing cardio 5 days a week (elliptical for 30-60 min at moderate intensity) and 3 days a week added upper/lower body split routines. I initially lost 10 lbs, then gained it back…NO CHANGE in size/measurements. It’s like my body refuses to budge. Now I’ve got 30-40 lbs to lose and 3 dress sizes. I read that focusing on weight training only (no cardio) initially was the easiest and best way to get results. I just don’t understand why all that exercise and proper diet for that long yielded NO results. :-/
It’s pretty simple actually. You’re not in a caloric deficit. More here.
I totally agree with you. I was on a 5×5 routine for 4-5 months, and I was really progressing well but I finally hit a wall, and my bench/rows just wasn’t moving up. Only squats were moving up, and I believe it’s because I personally just lose way too much energy after squats that I cannot keep up with the rest of my lifts, like literally I just want to go home after squats. ( When they got heavy, my 1rm is like 230-240lbs @150 pounds).
I started looking into routines, and I found your muscle building routine, I can’t be happier with the squat frequency, and being able to give my chest/back my all in my training.
Happy to hear it man!
-I have been doing your beginner routine for quite some time (7 months)
-I have made progress until last couple of weeks,where I stall for a while even after deloads
-I am stuck for a month now.In term of diet I had been cutting at around 20% from my maintenance level(ideal) from the start until now
1. Is it time for me to move on to the fat loss + muscle maintenance solution? Or is it I just stick with the beginner routine and maintain the weights until I reach my target body fat %
2.When you mean stop making progress, what does it mean specifically?(overload progression have stop? or what?)
3.Is most of the upper lower split is best for bulking not cutting?
1. Stick with the beginner routine until you’re done cutting. Switch to an intermediate program for the start of your bulk.
2. Progression would be the main factor.
3. Not sure what you mean?
What I meant is that most of the routines in your best workout routines are best for cutting or bulking?
The fat loss plus muscle maintenance solution for bulking? Or eating at maintenance level? I am little bit confused
The Fat Loss + Muscle Maintenance Solution is ideal for exactly that… maintaining muscle while losing fat (aka cutting). Virtually everything else in the guide is ideal for bulking/building muscle.
Hey, I’ve been doing the upper/lower split (The Muscle building workout routine) and am getting great results. I was just wondering about the frequency of squats. I normally prefer to do squats at least 2 times a week. Would adding squats to Lower A be ok? do I then need to drop another exercise like the leg press? Thanks,
Glad to hear it dude! Keep the updates coming.
As for your question, it could be a bit too much lower back for some, especially with RDLs in that workout (which is why I prefer/recommend keeping squats to just once per week).
But if you were to ignore me and do it anyway, it would need to be in place of leg presses, not in addition to them. Also not sure if this helps at all, but front squats in place of leg presses would fit even better than back squats.
Great, I’ll be front squatting then. Thanks
Hello, over the past year I’ve lost 85 pounds by pretty much running only. I’m doing well with it and have competed in races which I thought I’d never be able to do. However, I realize that I need to get into weights. I’m going to start the beginners routine, would it be ok to still do my cardio workout on the same day…say run in the morning and then weights at night? I’m 5ft 11 and 188lbs and still have fat to lose….will this program help get rid of my extra fat in the stomach and chest areas?
If cardio fits with your goals, then yes, you can/should do it.
As for losing stomach/chest fat, that’s primarily going to be a function of your diet, not your weight training workout.
Hi I just came across your website because a buddy of mine at the gym told me “less is better” and it made me thinking so I searched for an answer. Great articles I found here but I need to ask you specifically because I’ve been working out for about 6 months with good forms and a low frequency (the least recommended by you), working out 5 days a week with two body parts a day. My full work out schedule is as follows:
Monday – Upper back (lats), traps and biceps
Tuesday – Chest and triceps
Wednesday – Legs
Thursday – Lower back (rows, DL) and biceps
Friday – Shoulders and chest
I’ve gained a significant amount of strength and decent amount of muscle. Gained 15lb in that time span. I’ve adapted this schedule from a guy I used to work out with. He is really built and fit. And he’s been working out for about 12 years. Obviously I started as a beginner and used this schedule for 6 months. My starting bench max was 120lbs and now it’s 225lbs. I’ve gained about the same amount of strength in everything else too. I work that two particular parts of the body for the given day really hard. 3-5 different exercises for each muscle with 4-5 sets for 6-8 reps. Am I still considered a beginner? What would you recommend me to do? Should I stop the way I’m working out and start the beginner’s or the intermediate work out routines? Also, I’m used to focusing on a specific muscle a day and it takes me about 1.5 hours to finish working out each day, so if I start your program I’ll cut out a whole lot and feel like I’m not doing enough. Would it still be ok and give me a good result? Am I over working?
Thank you so much in advance, because I know you will answer as you did to each of these many people’s previous comments. Can’t wait to hear back from you.
If you legitimately added 105lbs to your bench press and made similar strength gains on other exercises, I’d say you’re past the beginner stage.
And if what you’re doing is working and you’re happy with how it’s going, feel free to stick with it. I personally wouldn’t consider it ideal at all, though.
I actually do want to cut back a little bit. Feel like I’m doing too much. I mean it would be awesome if I can do less and gain more. I’m about to start school soon too so I need all the time I can get. Should I start on the intermediate work out routine then? I was actually hoping that you’d say “just stop and do the beginner’s or intermediate work out routines I’ve posted here”. Because I’d be glad to do that and it’d be a good excuse to just give myself some break. Haha. I know you’re being nice and thinking I’m a dumba** for working out like that. So please be honest and just tell me what you think I need to do to gain the best result with the least amount of effort. Thanks for the reply. You’re awesome.
I’ve been doing your beginner program for a month now. I wouldn’t count the first two because those were my learning months and they were irregular (I was also testing out my patience). Basically, I was using machines on the first two months to get stronger so I could transition to free weights. So now this is the first month where I am doing all the exercises regularly (from your beginner workout program, version 1) with free weights and perfect form, except for the pull-ups; I’m still stuck with lat-pull downs but I’m confident that I’m improving!
My question though is this; would it be okay to switch to version two even though I am steadily having improvements using the version one? The reason is because I want to work my abs too, ’cause you know, summer is nearing. I wanna get those juicy abs on my arsenal.
Also, I want your advice on cardio. I’m trying to gain muscle mass, so how should I manage this? I’m not exactly trying to lose fat, cause I have 9% body fat (not sure about this % cause I just got it from some random site). I just want to know how much cardio I should do to maintain a good muscle endurance and not lose hard earned muscles.
I’m 16y.o. 165cm and 128lbs. Thanks.
Another thing I forgot to mention is about rep ranges. If the rep ranges from 8-10, and I can do 8 3x with perfect form, should I add weight or aim for 10 reps for 3x? Thanks.
Get at least 10, 9, 8 before increasing. Getting 10,10,10 is fine as well.
Switching to version 2 should be fine.
Regarding cardio when the goal is muscle growth, that’s something I cover in SMG if you’re interested.
I have a question. I’ll be taking up the beginner’s workout, because I was doing the “Shortcut to Size” program and it fell under the “stereotypical bodybuilder’s workout”. I want to get in some plyometrics in addition to this new workout (I’m doing taekwondo). If I were to do this, should I schedule these plyometric exercises on the same days as my weightlifting workouts? And how much should I probably be doing?
Read this one.
Firstly, I have to say this is a very comprehensive informational website; thank you. I am a beginner, I started in November 2015. I’ve accumulated a couple months of training and had overuse injuries here and there, particularly in shoulder area. Currently, I am 19, 5 feet 11 inches and somewhere around 180 pounds at around 15% bodyfat. When i first started training (154 pounds at 11% bodyfat), I hired a personal trainer and he gave me a very different split than the full body split i read on your site. Basically, the split was: Day 1, chest, back, shoulders Day 2, legs, arms, abs. Is this kind of split at all good for a beginner who wants to get stronger and build muscle? In addition i was training usually 4x/week. Should i switch to the full body split or keep with my current routine?
Beginners do best with a basic full body beginner routine. That would be my default recommendation.
First I would like to thank you for the detailed and clear explanation of whole topics about fat burning, I also purchased your book, The Best Exercise Routines and it is awesome!
My question is, I am aiming to lose fat and using your beginner workout programme. You said that beginners should increase weights continuously, but since I’m on a caloric deficit, will it be possible for me to build muscle and increase weights?
Yup, beginners are one of the few people who can lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Details here.
Hey, great site. I’ve been using your beginners program for 3 months now, and the results are pretty good. I have had to drop a day though as I noticed my muscles were just too tired by the 3rd workout. So now I do A on Monday, a 30 minute swim on Wednesday and B on Friday. It still seems like I’m progressing at the same rate as before. Any ideas as to why this is happening or what differences I’ll notice due to only doing it twice a week?
That would depend on what you mean by your muscles being “just too tired” by the 3rd workout? Are you referring to soreness or something else?
I mean that I don’t progress, in fact it seems to go backwards, by the 3rd day I’m barely able to lift the same as I would’ve been lifting on Monday, but after the 2 day rest at the weekend my Monday lifts generally are improved
I’d suggest reading this one, especially the parts about diet.
I understand that if my form is correct, I am progressing and if I feel confident as an athletic 24 year old – that doing 6-8 reps for squats can be recommended in the beginner workout.
My question is could this also be possible for the secondary exercises such as dumbbell press, rows, shoulder press etc and would it be potentially more beneficial considering the above circumstances?.
Or is the 8-10 rep range for them still prescribed?
You can apply that to any of the compound exercises in this routine.
Great so like squats and deadlifts?
Do you mean I can apply this also to things like dumbbell press, rows etc ?
And which rep range would you recommend for me more, the 8-10 or 6-8?
I have been following your beginner routine for more than 3 months and i have also read some of your good articles on over training and i wanted to ask few questions which may help me and others also here :
Some Background :
-I have been lifting for more than 6 month. 3 month of do whatever i like routine (split mostly) and then 3 months of your beginner routine till now.
-Diet is not so strict (Which maybe answer to one of my problem according to your article). But i try to eat high protein and low carb and avoid fat. Unfortunately not counting.
Progress from your beginner routine :
-First 1 and a half month good progress. Though i wasn’t a good lifter and so my stats aren’t good but i did got stronger than before.
-Increased squat from empty bar (20kg barbell i believe) to 40 kg / 88 lbs added weights. I am progressing in squat in general even if its slow,
-Pull up 6-8 in every sets. I couldn’t reach 10 in each set. But each rep is perfect. Progress stalled. But what i do is good.
-Deadlift is very poor. Ignoring the barbell weight i could add 25 kg / 55 lbs.
-Bench press was good initially now stuck with 30 kg / 66 lbs.
-Row is 20 kg / 44 lbs.
-Apart from squat. I am not making progress in others.
-I am exhausted after working out. And this was not the case initially.
-Also, i can’t seem to loose fat around my abdomen. Apart from diet I read this may happen due to over training. At the moment i lift so less and this really confused me.
Though i feel diet can be one issue. So i will be changing it. Apart from that is it possible to over train in beginner routine? I dont feel i have become intermediate trainer yet. But is it possible that diet is the only thing keeping me from making progress.
I thought if i keep this diet and increase weight then i may end up burning more calorie and as a result loose fat but i cant seem to progress in either burning abdomen fat or weights apart from squat. Though i don’t look fat but i do have fat around the abdomen.
As a result of this i am getting slightly bored with the routine. So i was wondering if i can change the sets and reps. I mean try 5×5 instead of your 3×8-10. You specifically told not to mess with your routine which i understand. But you know if i can’t enjoy the workout then i don’t feel like going to gym.
Ps. Your beginner workout is great and i was enjoying it till i got stuck.
First, eating low carb is unnecessary and detrimental to performance and recovery. Avoiding fat is mostly just… stupid.
The answer to your main question is yes, it’s extremely possible your diet is the reason for every problem you’re having.
Thank you for the reply.
Do you have any post on the point
“eating low carb is unnecessary and detrimental to performance and recovery.”
Basically i wanted to create calorie deficit and also build muscle. So for that i believe i need a certain amount of protein and rest can be carb/fat.
I asked you a question about 5×5 set but then i read some of your comment in other post where you mentioned about stronglift. So i changed my mind and rather improve the diet.
Thank you for the quick reply.
Read the diet guide.
Hello. I’ve been working out diligently in the past 4 months using a 5×5 program but without progression in my weights. should I switch to your “Muscle Building” routine or should I use the beginner program you listed here? as a student with a lot of free time on my hands I feel like I could workout more using a 4 day split outlined in your muscle building routine. what is the exact timeframe that I a beginner should keep using this program before progressing to a more advanced routine?
would want to hear from you 😀
by the way, such an awesome site. 😀
If you’ve made no meaningful progress during the 4 months you’ve been lifting, you belong on the beginner routine.
I have just recently lost parking in my building which means I’m have two 20 min walks (one downhill the other uphill) every Monday to Friday, should I reduce the beginner routine to compensate?
cheers, going to go with the beginner, might swap the squats with leg press since I’m not sure my knees can handle squats at the moment, or maybe just do them every other week.
Quick question about the miffin maintenance level calculator, would I count myself as very active since I’d be starting the beginner routine or do you enter your activity as you were before you start? (eg lightly active)
Read this one.
I have been doing the beginner routine for about 5 months now. Progress was good for a while, then it started to slow down. Its really slow now, but it hasn’t completely stopped yet. It takes about a month (maybe a workout or two less) to progress on my lifts. Should I move on to the intermediate routine or should I wait until progress completely stalls?
First read this one.
I haven’t really hit a plateau, but progress has slowed a lot. Normally it would be OK, but since I’m on the beginner routine, I was wondering if it was time to move up to the intermediate routine. Or should I just wait until I completely stall?
If things are still progressing well, albeit slower than previously, stay with the beginner routine.
I am following the second version of your Beginner Workout Routine. I usually finish the 3 sets of each exercise within 25-30 minutes and then there’s nothing to do. I feel like there’s still more left in me at that point. So should I just stop, packup & leave or continue doing some random isolation exercises to tire myself out further? Most of my gym buddies usually don’t finish before 1.5 hours as they are doing all sorts of things and I end up feeling like I’m not pushing myself hard enough.
Read this one.
Thank you Jay. Read both your articles today and I’m convinced. Even yesterday, I finished too early and started doing the whole routine again from start to finish for a second time just to tire myself out. Bad idea I guess. I will keep it simple & to the point from now on.
I’ve been doing your beginner work out routine for a couple of months now and feel like I’m starting to Plateau slightly. E.g I’ve been stuck on 50kg for 3×10 bench press for 4 sessions now and can’t quite hit it. My other lifts are definitely nearing that plateau stage also.
Do you have any advice for how to mix it up a bit. I was thinking of doing the same lifts but in a 5×5 structure for a month or so to improve my strength before coming back to the 3×10 structure.
Appreciate any thougths/feedback.
Bringing the rep range for each primary exercise down from something in the 8-10 range to something in the 5-8 range would be one option to try.
Absolutely great article. I just am currently wondering if it’s worth thinking of switching to an intermediate programme. I’m 18 years old, 5′ 11″ and I’ve been running Allpros Beginner Routine since February going from 136lbs to 156lbs (after spending 6 months before that on a terrible homemade routine where I didn’t milk my ‘noob gains’ anywhere near enough and didn’t progress much at all) and my current lifting stats for my working sets are:
Squat: 65kg to 80kg
Bench: 47.5kg 60kg
Row: 40kg to 50kg
Shoulder Press: 22.5kg to 30kg
Stiff Legged Deadlift: 80kg to 110kg
Upright Row: 31.5kg to 43.5kg
Calf Raises: 70kg to 105kg
My squat got up to 85kg which felt almost too heavy for 12 reps but I deloaded to 80kg where I have been for 2 cycles now, my SLDLs have also been stuck at 110kg for 1 cycle, my Bench Press has been stuck for 1 cycle and my Shoulder Press has been struggling to get past 30kg for a couple of cycles. Everything else is consistently progressing.
I feel as though I could bust through these plateaus with patience and staying on with this routine especially considering my lifts are still relatively light for someone of my size and height, but the more I read up (and overthink, haha), the more I’m unsure as to whether moving to an intermediate workout would be more beneficial. What do you think? Thank you
6 months training like shit followed by 6 months on a proper beginner routine, and you’re currently stalling on a handful of exercises after deloading them? Unless you’re in a deficit (in which case strength gains will eventually stall for that reason alone), I’d say you’re ready for an intermediate routine.
I love your beginner routine and have just begun it this week, but I have one question. I have found out that I am very quad dominant, meaning that virtually every leg exercise I do, my quads take over. The one exercise that helps me focus on glutes and hamstrings is the leg press, so I’m substituting that for the squats. The thing is, my squat form is actually pretty good and I like doing them – so question is, should I stick to the leg press to help me focus on a particular area, or should I go with squats since they are a superior exercise?
Squats are in that workout to be a quad dominant movement, so it’s a good thing if you feel it as a quad dominant movement. Deadlifts are in the other workout to serve the same purpose for hamstrings and glutes. However, if you want a bit more ham/glute focus there and less quads, Romanian deadlifts can be done instead of conventional deadlifts.
Hey, I have been following your Beginning Workout Routine i.e. the classic 3 day Full Body Workout Routine for almost 6 months now. While I’m very satisfied with the strength gains, muscle gains are overall disappointing since many other beginners who started with me now have much bigger muscles at similar strength levels. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I push myself very hard on the treadmill on the Off days. I love running, have great stamina and that is something I’m not willing to give up on despite the fact that my weight has gone down from 70 to 63 kilos since starting the workout routine 6 months back. Do you suggest I do anything differently or should I just keep at it?
I had to stop doing the deadlifts and barbell rows as I suffered serious lower back pain. It’s been 1.5 months since I have stopped doing them and still my lower back hasn’t recovered fully. My trainer always said I had great form while doing these exercises, so I have no clue what went wrong. I have been doing isolation back exercises with the help of machines and dumbbells to compensate. Is it good enough? If not, can you please suggest a better alternative? I don’t foresee myself going back to deadlifts and barbell rows again.
Well, you’re losing fat, which means you’re in a deficit… and muscle growth is hindered quite a bit by being in a deficit. That’s probably your biggest problem when it comes to muscle growth.
As for everything else, I am unfortunately unable to give any specific advice when it comes to training with or around an injury.
Thanks again. What you’re saying makes sense. I have been eating more lately to compensate for the calorie burns during cardio sessions.
Actually to be honest, my injury has almost healed. I’m 95% good so to speak. I don’t quite feel the lower back pain anymore. I just want to know if you have a good substitute exercise for the deadlift. Currently, I have substituted it with Lunges (3x(8-10)) but I want your opinion. Other than the deadlift, I am following your plan exactly as specified.
The best replacements for deadlifts are typically other deadlifts and exercises that mimic a similar movement pattern (which can sometimes be similarly problematic). For example, hyperextensions are good (the way it’s shown here), as are cable pull-throughs (here). If neither option is doable, leg curls and/or barbell hip thrusts would be the next best choices.
I was initially reluctant to post this here while reading the comments from the beginning, because I was’t sure you’d respond. But then I saw that you’ve been answering people as recently as two days ago and I figured I’d ask since I’m stumped and honestly frustrated.
I’ve been working out consistently for 16 months—doing exclusively body part splits, changing it up every 6-8 weeks (sometimes earlier when I got unbearably bored of the routine I was doing).
I’ve seen very noticeable gains, but I was told fairly recently by a number of people on Bodybuilding.com forums that I am still a novice trainee (after they saw my lift numbers) and that I should take up a beginner routine.
My stats: 26, male, 1.73m and 75kg
Squat: 110kg (242 lbs)
Bench Press: 70kg (154 lbs)
Deadlift: 100kg (220 lbs) [I have sciatica so I don’t push myself too much on DL, although I’m fairly certain I can do more]
I would like to get your opinion. Do you think I should take up a beginner routine or am I ready for your intermediate upper/lower split?
How much muscle have you gained since you started?
I started your beginner workout routine 3 1/2 months ago basically because it was the simplest workout I could find (and you convinced me that simple was best for a beginner). I’m 42, never really exercised in my life and was completely out of shape. At 205 pounds and 25% body fat my initial goal was to lose 30 pounds without losing whatever minimal muscle God blessed (i.e. cursed) me with and then work to gain muscle. Today I’m at 179 pounds and 17.5% body fat and can’t thank you and your site enough, not only for the great information, but for the motivation it provided. Anyway, I’m not at my goal weight yet and want to keep going, but I have hit an unexpected snag. My wife tells me I’m getting too skinny! I haven’t been one of those lucky few that loses fat and gains muscle at the same time (example: if I’m doing 10 reps I’m stuck at 100 lb. bench press), so I am looking a little scrawny even if I still have some work to do in the mid-section area. so, question is, would it be a bad idea to start bulking up now and then try to lose that last bit of fat later on, or stay on the course I’m on?
Congrats on the progress dude! Glad anything on this website helped in any way!
As for the second question, that depends on your body fat percentage. For a guy, 17% warrants continuing to lose fat. Closer to 12% would be the ideal time to switch goals. (My book has a whole chapter explaining these recommendations, by the way.)
Been really enjoying reading you website and it is really challenging my thoughts and perceptions. I have two question. Yours is the most clear advice I have read on the net.
1. I have been using strong lifts 5×5 since mid October 2016, I cannot get over my over head press weight (35kg) am I plateauin? I am still making small gains on all other lifts (deadlift, bench press, barbell row, squat) I was thinking about changing to your beginner workout, would it be more useful as there are new exercises?
2. The purpose of me going to the gym is to gain muscle mass, I’m 6’1 and 75ķg (165lb) I haven’t put a kg on since I started working out, is there any diet advice you can give me?
3. I believe that I worked out my calories needed to be just under 3000, is this possible in a day when I work shift work?
1. Read this one first.
2. Yes. Create a small caloric surplus and eat a sufficient amount of protein. Read this.
3. I’ve eaten 4000 calories per day at times. It takes some planning, but it’s doable.
Can i do hip thrusts with a barbell instead of a deadlift as i currently cant deadlift atm however i plan to slowly progress onto them when i’m able.
I know it wont be as good as the deadlift and hyper extensions can work but i was looking for something else which targets the glutes and hams where i am able to progress and move heavy weight eventually?
I’ve been doing your beginner routine for about 1.5yrs (eating at a deficit) and have now come to a point where I’m close to my ideal bf%, very slowly losing weight and maintaining my lifts. I love how each session trains my entire body, is crazy simple to remember and gets me out of the gym asap. Lately, have been wondering if I should switch to your intermediate routine and continue eating at a deficit while maintaining my lifts. Since I’m no longer a beginner, is there any benefit to doing that? Will it be easier to maintain my lifts with the intermediate routine as opposed to the beginner routine (since the latter hits the body too hard)? My goal is on fat loss and aesthetics, less so on strength.
If you’re happy with how everything is going with the beginner routine, I’d suggest sticking with it.
When you reach your fat loss goal (by the way, if you ever feel like showing off your progress on the website/facebook page/instagram when that happens… just let me know) and are ready to move on to some other goal as your main focus (like building muscle), that would be the perfect time to move to the intermediate routine.
I think I know the answer to my question as it was stated in the article but I’ll go ahead and ask anyway. I’ve been out of the game for a while, but don’t feel like I’m a beginner. I went to university studying exercise science and was evolved in college and semi pro hockey. I know good form and used to work out regularly. I still play ice hockey but at a recreational level. My question is should I stick precisely to the beginner work out or should I go to an intermediate routine?
If you haven’t consistently done intelligent strength focused weight training for the last 6 months at least, you should start with the beginner routine and ride it out for as long as it allows you to progress. After that, switch.
I have done gym about 1.5 years. However, I didn’t follow any well-designed routine consistently. I used to train every muscle group once a week and every big muscle groups came with about 140-160 total reps. I have gained weight from 60kg to about 70kg through this period.
Recently, I found your awesome website and got ready to go with your solid routine. But I am wondering should I go for beginner routine (since I didn’t follow any designated routine and train for 2x a week) or the muscle building routine (for intermediate).
Looking forward to yours response!
If you haven’t worked out consistently since 1.5 years ago, you should definitely start off with the beginner routine and use it for as long as you progress well with it. When that stops, switch to the intermediate routine.
As with others, I very much appreciate the wealth of information provided on your site.
I’m just about to start the Beginner program, have 2 questions for you:
1) I’m in my early 50’s, in reasonable shape (due to consistent aerobic activities like biking, running etc. – I’m 6’0″, 175 lbs, 20% body fat), but have never really done any weight training – something I realise I should have. Given my age and lack of previous weight training, is there anything I should do different from the prescribed workout (e.g. higher reps, other)?
2) I have a home gym that is a hybrid machine – i.e. I can used fixed motion, but also can use handles/cables as well. For exercises like the bench and shoulder press, is it ok to use the fixed motion, or better to use the cable (since its not on a fixed plane)?
1. Nope, not really. As long as you are physically able/cleared for weight training, the same guidelines and recommendations would apply for a beginner on pretty much any age. Take your time learning proper form, and then focus on gradual progression.
2. Whatever suits your body the best and allows you progress the safest.
Hi i’m a 32 years old female and I’ve started my training 3 weeks ago and unfortunately started with an intermediate routin. I work out 3 days a week and do various exercises including 100 squats ( I started with 30).Do I still benefit more from my work out if switch to beginner routine?
Yes, you should be using a beginner routine.
I’ve got a hip injury that requires surgery later this year and therefore cannot do the squats or deadlifts, or really and leg driven lifting in the near term. Is there anything upper body that you would suggest could supplement these exercises in your beginners routine?
Beyond this, I really can’t give any advice when injuries are involved. Sorry man!
not an incredibly important question, but just something I’ve wondered. when someone says they bench 200 lbs, does that include the weight of the bar, or just that they have 200 lbs of weight on the bar? so if I have 60 lbs on the bar, and the bar is 40-45 lbs, do I say I’m benching 100-105 lbs?
Yup, the weight of the bar is/should be included in the total.
Hey, thanks for all the information. You have a way of simplifying concepts which is refreshing. Just to further my understanding, any specific reason you’ve provided for 8 – 10 reps on squats in the beginners routine when Ripetoe provides for only 5? Also, some weeks would have deadlifit twice. Can that be too taxing on the body?
Mostly because A) 8-10 is slightly better suited for hypertrophy than pure strength like 5 reps is, and B) when sending a beginner into the gym on their own to learn to squat for the first time, 8-10 reps (and the slightly lighter weight that rep range would comparatively necessitate) is a safer choice in my opinion.
And nope, no problems deadlifting at this frequency.
I’m about to finish the 4 week beginner program and I’m not sure where to go from here. There are so many different workout routines. I’m 20 years old, 6’1″, and weigh 170 pounds. I’ve seen some results but I’ve got a ways to go on upper body and abs. Any suggestions on a workout routine that would suit me? Thanks for your time.
What 4 week beginner program?
Thank you so much for your website, it’s been a huge help to me in the past.
I have a question, I hope that you can help me out.
I’m a little unsure as to whether I’m a beginner or intermediate.
I’m 21 years old, female. I began using your intermediate routine after it was recommended to me by my boyfriend last year, and it seemed to be working pretty well. I wanted to maintain my weight and gain muscle tone. However, I’m afraid I’ve never paid much attention to proper form, and since the summer (having less time and energy to work out) I’ve totally fallen off working out consistently. I’ve also gained a little weight and been less fit in general.
My question is, should I start from square 1 with a beginner routine, or should I try to jump back into the intermediate routines and make an effort to be consistent?
Start back with the beginner routine and give it a month or two. If strength is progressing well, stick with it longer (until strength progress stops, basically). At that point, switch to the intermediate routine.
“Simply put, you should use a beginner routine until it stops working for you like it should.”
So, what’s parameters if workout routine stops working for me?
Strength progression. For a beginner, this will be very consistent early on, and then gradually slow down a bit over the span of a few months. When that progress slows to a crawl or stops completely, and the advice here doesn’t help, it’s most likely time to move to the intermediate routine.
“Simply put, you should use a beginner routine until it stops working for you like it should.”
What mean stops working?
What’s parameters if workout routine stops working?
quick question on scheduling. most weeks I am able to hit the gym M-W-F, but some weeks are crazy and the only way I can get in 3 days at the gym is if I go two days in a row at some point. So my question is, what is optimal – trying to get in 3 days by doing something like W-Th-Sa or just skip a day and only go twice that week? and if squeezing in 3 days is the better choice, would that be true even if that would be the usual schedule every week? In other words, is it ok to not have a rest day in between workouts (for the beginner routine), and if so, only occassionally or consistently? Thanks as always!
The beginner routine needs at least 1 rest day between workouts. So, basically, whatever best suits your schedule and allows for anywhere from 1-3 days between each workout will be the best option.
Comments Are Closed
If you have a question or comment about this article, or just want to give me your feedback on it, feel free to contact me directly by using the contact form here.
Comments are closed.