Every week I conduct between 5-10 new member orientations at the gym. Most of the folks coming in are brand new to working out, or are coming back after a very long hiatus. Naturally, most of them are a little bit intimidated.
Common fitness concerns or questions that I receive are:
“I don’t know what to do, and everything seems intimidating. I’ll just ride the cardio bike.”
“What are the best machines to start with?”
“How many days/week should I workout?”
After conducting well over 100 of these orientations, it’s become very apparent that folks have the same general fitness questions, and just need a little guidance to help getting started.
So, to help answer some of these common questions for you I created what I call “The Planet Fitness Workout Program: A full body workout routine for beginners” (which you are currently reading).
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go to Planet Fitness to do these workouts though.
Whatever gym you go to now is fine.
If you have any questions along the way, please feel free to email me at:
Yes to both.
Cardio machines include the following:
• Stair climbers
• Cardio bikes
There are more cardio machines out there, but these are the most common machines you’ll find at a gym. And, honestly, they are fine to start with.
Cardio exercise involves working at a steady pace, for between 15-40 minutes. You should be able to carry on a conversation, without gasping for breath. Cardio exercise is great for getting sweaty, burning calories, and pumping fresh blood around the body.
However, to really start building the of your dreams, you need to add in weight training as well.
And, when I say weight training, I know this is where I start to lose people, but stay with me for a second.
Why weight training?
Cardio is great exercise, and you can certainly lose weight by performing it; but you won’t build muscle.
Muscle costs the body a lot of energy to maintain. Simply put, the more lean muscle tissue you have the more calories you will burn at rest to maintain it. That is good for weight loss, looking good in the mirror, and is also known as increasing your metabolism.
Muscle is what provides the coveted lean and tone look, which so many of us are going for. To build muscle you need to lift some sort of weight.
If you are new to the gym, and working out the best way to start building muscle is by using exercise machines.
Virtually all big commercial gyms have exercise machines for every part of the body. They are very safe, and really, a great way to add weight training into your routine, while also getting comfortable and building confidence in the gym.
Every exercise machine has three key features:
1. The name of the machine
2. Pictures showing you the “start” and “finish” position
3. A little anatomy person highlighting the muscles being used
The photo below illustrates what you are looking for.
The name of this machine is the “Shoulder press” and found on the bottom of the label. You can see the start position on the left photo, and the finish position on the right photo; as well as written instructions how to perform the exercise.
In the top left corner is the little anatomy person, with the muscles being used highlighted in red. The photo on all exercise machines is similar looking to this one (although the label may be set up slightly differently)…
What are the best weight machines to use?
My general advice is to use the upper body machines that involve pulling weight toward your body, but limit the machines that involve pressing weight away from you.
When you pull weight towards you, you are working the muscles of the back and shoulders.
Because most of use spend a lot of time hunched over a computer, driving in a car, texting, or watching TV, the muscles in our back often get neglected, which is a big reason a lot of folks suffer from neck, shoulder, or low back pain.
Pulling weight towards your body is a great way to strengthen those back muscles, which helps improve posture, or can even reduce low back pain.
Here is a quick list of the main exercise machines to use:
•Machine overhead press
•Machine leg press
•Machine leg curl
Exercise machines all have (more or less) the same names, regardless of what gym you are at. The names may differ slightly, but you should still be able to locate the machine based on the name. Again, if you are not sure what machine is what, ask one of the gym staff.
Also, feel free to use more machines that what are on this list. These are just my recommendations for the most bang-for-your-buck machines to get started with.
How do I use the machines?
These machines only move in one direction. If you don’t know how to use it ask a trainer for help. Or, simply look at the picture and you should be able to figure it out.
How many times should I use each machine?
In the beginning I recommend 2-3 sets, and 8-12 repetitions per machine.
A set= The total # of times you use that machine in one day.
A repetition= The total # of times you lift a weight, in one set.
3 Sets of 10 repetitions = 30 total repetitions for that machine.
You’ll also see that written 3x 10. It means the same thing as the above example.
To wrap this all up, cardio machines are great for burning calories, getting sweaty, and pumping fresh blood throughout your body. However, they don’t do much to build sleek, lean muscle.
Building muscle is important, and for that you must turn to weight training. In the beginning exercise machines are perfect. And, because I care about you, below are three workout templates that you can use right away to get started building the body you have been dreaming of.
This is a good question, but really depends on your schedule.
As a general recommendation I think 3x/week (minimum) is a great place to start. If you can do more, that’s great too.
Full Body Workout templates
For your convenience, listed below are three separate workout templates which eliminate the guesswork, and give you actionable plans you can start using today. The templates are for 3-day, 4-day, and 5-day per week exercise routines. Pick the one that best fits your schedule.
|Stair climber: 10-15 minutes||Treadmill walk up hill: 20-40 minutes*||Elliptical: 15-20 minutes|
|Machine row (3x 10)||–||Machine leg press (3x 10)|
|Machine pull down (3x 10)||–||Machine leg curl (3x 10)|
|Machine overhead press (3x 10)||–||–|
*To walk up a hill on the treadmill set the incline to something steep, like 8% or higher. The incline on a treadmill is also called the “grade” and can be set from the home screen; usually by tapping an “up arrow” next to the word “grade or incline”.
Don’t worry about walking fast, just make sure you are walking up a hill.
|Stair climber: 10-15 minutes||Treadmill walk up hill: 30-40 minutes||Elliptical: 15-20 minutes||Treadmill walk up hill: 30-40 minutes|
|Machine row (3x 10)||–||Machine leg press (3x 10)||–|
|Machine pull down (3x 10)||–||Machine leg curl (3x 10)||–|
|Machine overhead press (3x 10)||–||–||–|
|Stair climber: 10-15 minutes||Treadmill walk up hill: 20-40 minutes||Elliptical: 15-20 minutes||Treadmill walk up hill: 20-40 minutes||Machine row (3x 10)|
|Machine row (3x 10)||–||Machine leg press (3x 10)||–||Machine leg press (3x 10)|
|Machine pull down (3x 10)||–||Machine leg curl (3x 10)||–||Machine pull down (3x 10|
|Machine overhead press (3x 10)||–||–||–||Machine leg curl (3x 10)|
|–||–||–||–||Machine overhead press (3x 10)|
First of all, if you have questions please email me and ask:
I personally reply to every email within 24 hours.
Download the article as a PDF, for anytime reading.
After you have found your rhythm and gotten comfortable using the weight machines I suggest that you start adding free weights in to your routine.
Remember the goal is lose weight, while preserving muscle. Free weights are great tools to help you do just that.
I know this can sound like a scary, and daunting task, but using free weights will really help you hit the accelerator on building the body of your dreams.
To help you make the transition from gym novice, to gym expert I created an 80-page e-book, called “The Blueprint To Fitness”, that takes you step-by-step how to do this.
This is exact fitness foundation that I initially teach my own personal training clients in the gym.
If you’re interested in leveling up your fitness game click the link below to read more:
⇒ CLICK HERE to read more about The Blueprint To Fitness workout routine for beginners ⇐
I hope this full body workout routine for beginners helps answer some of your initial questions, and increases your confidence about going to the gym.
Again, if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to email me and ask: