You’re a beginner, and you want to lose weight. You’ve heard that going to the gym is a good way to do it, but you’re not sure how to get started or what to do once you’re there.

The truth is, there are a lot of ways to get fit—and when it comes to weight loss, some of them are better than others. If you’re new to fitness and unsure of where to begin, this guide will walk you through everything from choosing the right gym for your needs (there’s more than one type!) to putting together an effective routine that’s just right for your goals.

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Gym Workout For Weight Loss Beginners

If you’re new to the gym and it can hard to know where to start.

Even knowing which exercises will help you achieve your goals is confusing.

Well don’t panic.

In only a few short weeks you will shred body fat. You’ll tone up problem areas and develop lean muscle in all the right places too.

If you’re ready to make some drastic changes to the way you look and feel, let’s get started.

What does this program cover?

GOAL:Weight loss, muscle conditioning
AIMED AT:Beginner levels
WORKOUT DURATION:30-45 minutes
EQUIPMENT NEEDED:Dumbbells, resistance machines

Beginner Weight Loss Starts Here

Whether you’re here because you just want to lose weight, or you’re wanting to drop fat, get fitter or completely transform the way you look, there’s one thing for sure – exercise and diet are key.

In this beginner gym workout routine we talk you through every detail you need to achieve your goals.

If you’ve struggled in the past to lose weight, or this is your first time and you don’t know where to start, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

We’ve put aside all of the science and jargon too. This is a guide that’s not only easy to follow, but easy to understand too.

You’re here to get fit and lose weight, not to pass a biology class, right?

Why is diet important for weight loss?

When it comes to changing the way your body looks, calories are king.

If you eat more than your body needs, it’ll store the excess energy in your fat cells.

And although you can’t control where your body chooses to do this, it’s common for women to store that extra fat in their hips and butt, whereas for men it’s more belly and chest.

The magic happens though when you burn off more than you put in your body. Your brain senses that there isn’t enough energy coming in, so opens the door to your fat cells and let’s all of that lovely stored goodness out to make up the difference.

If calories coming in is lower than calories going out you’ll lose fat.

It’s that simple.

If you’re unsure how to work out exactly how many calories you should be eating each day, check out our calorie calculator at the bottom of this article.

Eat healthily… but don’t be too restrictive

Achieving a calorie deficit is a surefire way of achieving sustainable weight loss.

Now you know this.

But you also still need to make the right food choices too  – particularly now you’ll be hitting the gym and need the right nutrients to get you through your workouts.

Here’s a rough guide of what you should be aiming for with your nutrient intake…

  • Go for 1 gram of protein for every pound of your body weight
  • Aim to consume 0.4 grams per pound of body weight in fats
  • The rest of your calories can be taken up by carbs

This gives you plenty of opportunity to make informed decisions about the foods that make up your calories.

What about actual food choices?

That’s really up to you.

Lean meats, lots of fruits and vegetables and plenty of grains will make up the bulk of your diet.

One thing the research shows us though is that being too restrictive on your diet makes it tough to follow. You’re less likely to be successful in losing weight and you can begin to form negative associations with food.

Having a more flexible approach to your diet works best when you’re trying to lose weight.

If you’ve got calories to spare then by all means have a cookie or some ice cream.

It’ll boost adherence and make you feel just that little bit more content.

As long as the bulk of your diet is healthy you can definitely fit in some ‘cheat’ foods if you like.

  • The key to an effective weight loss plan is to focus on your diet. Controlling your calories and following a healthy, but flexible approach to food will increase your chances of success.

Exercise for Beginner Weight Loss

In principle, you don’t need a beginner gym workout plan to lose weight.

As long as you control your diet and achieve a calorie deficit you’ll lose fat.

The problem is though that your progress will be much slower.

Exercise and physical activity is an important part of healthy weight loss because it provides two very important benefits:

  • Increases the number of calories you expend – this can help you achieve a deficit.
  • Maintains lean muscle while dieting – important for keeping your metabolism high on lower calories.

The energy expenditure bit should be pretty obvious by now. If the key to dropping fat is to burn more calories than you take in, any activity will increase the number you burn.

It helps to tip the scale in favor of fat loss.

And what’s more…

If you burn lots of calories through exercise, you can eat just that little bit more of the food you enjoy and still come in at a calorie deficit.

The metabolism part relates to muscle mass.

When you diet for weight loss without exercise you can often lose muscle mass too. And because muscle is a metabolic tissue, this can lead to a nosedive for your daily energy burn.

And that’s the opposite of what you’re after.

Key Point: A well-structured beginner gym workout routine helps with weight loss by boosting calories burned and maintaining lean mass while dieting.

How to Structure Your Weight Loss Gym Workout Routine

The biggest step forward is recognizing that you’re a beginner.

Many people think that if they choose a more challenging and advanced program that they’ll shred the pounds much quicker.

It doesn’t work like that though.

And while you might be okay for a session or two, those advanced programs quickly start to take their toll. They leave you exhausted, low on energy, sore and much more likely to get injured.

A beginner gym workout routine undoubtedly leads to weight loss.

It’s pitched at a level that compliments your lower-calorie diet and allows you to target all of your muscles without excessive soreness. Or the need for days and days of recovery.

Beginner guidelines for the gym

You might not know this, but the best approach for weight loss is combining cardio with strength training.

We don’t mean aggressive or complex workouts. But lifting weights will definitely help you achieve your goals.

Why strength training for fat loss?

The days of endless cardio are well and truly over.

Strength training is an efficient fat burner and leads to not only a leaner body, but one with shape, tone and curves too.

  • You can use strength training to enhance your body shape
  • More muscle means a higher metabolism
  • Your can get a cardio effect from weight lifting
  • Strength training boosts metabolic, vascular and cognitive health

Regular strength workouts lead to better results

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggest that beginners complete 2-3 strength training workouts per week.

This gives you enough of a stimulus to build toned muscle, but also allows you recovery time too.

Each workout should include between 6-10 exercises that together cover all of the major muscle groups. Using compound exercises helps you achieve this as they work multiple muscle groups at once so let you cover more muscle is less exercises.

Learn the movements before you lift heavy weights

Safety always comes first.

If you’re unsure of any of the exercises in this plan, learn them before you load them.

Using weights with poor technique can lead to injuries, so take the time to nail your form before you start to increase the intensity.

Use full-body workouts for better results

Chances are you’ve got friends who lift weights on a regular basis. And if those friends are bodybuilders they probably use a style of training called muscle splits.

This where you work only one or two muscles each day and over the course of a week, cover all of the major muscles in your body.

It won’t suit you as you’ll need a good 4-5 workouts per week to follow a plan like that.

It’s too tough at this stage.

But by using a full-body, beginner gym workout routine you can cover all major muscles in every session.

It causes less soreness, but burns more calories.

There’s also a lot of emerging research to show that full-body workouts build a hell of a lot of muscle too.

Don’t forget your cardio 

You’ll be absolutely shredding fat with some challenging strength workouts during your beginner gym workout routine.

But don’t forget that you do still have cardio in your weight loss tool box.

Minute-by-minute, cardio burns more calories than strength training.

Even 20-30 minutes of jogging, swimming, cycling or rowing can supplement what you do in the weights room and really ramp up your energy expenditure.

Don’t let hours and hours of cardio take over your life though. Use it as a secondary activity and watch the fat melt away.

Gym Workout Plan for Weight Loss and Toning

This program can be used for anything from 4 up to 8 weeks. At that point you’ll need a new stimulus to keep your body progressing so don’t use it for any longer.

The sequel to this beginner gym workout is our 12 week body transformation workout plan – a longer, circuit-based program designed for those that graduated from beginner level and need a new challenge.

Anyway, back to this plan…

Complete your full-body workout 2-3 days per week.

Once you’ve mastered the technique you need to choose weights that tire you within 8-15 reps. As a beginner, this is a perfect rep range to achieve your fat loss and conditioning goals.

Rest 2-3 minutes between sets to keep your heart rate elevated, helping you maximize calorie burn. Any longer and you’ll recover fully.

Aim to complete 20-30 minutes of cardio on separate days, or after your strength training if you have to.

Choose a type of cardio that you enjoy the most. If you don’t like it you’re less likely to fit it into your week.

And remember, use this workout plan for 4-8 weeks and then make sure you change your routine.

Good luck and see you soon.

1Chest press (or) DB bench press8-1532-3 minutes
2Leg press8-1532-3 minutes
3Lat pulldown8-1532-3 minutes
4Shoulder press (or) DB overhead press8-1532-3 minutes
5Lying leg curl8-1532-3 minutes
6Seated row8-1532-3 minutes
7Leg extension8-1532-3 minutes

Beginners Gym Workout Female Weight Loss

Going to the gym for the first time doesn’t need to be daunting. Adam Hameed, personal trainer at Nuffield Health, offers some beginner workouts to help you feel confident and get the most out of your gym time.

Everyone has different reasons for joining a gym. And lots of people are worried about using the equipment if they’ve never worked out in a gym before. These beginner gym workouts are ideal for various goals, whether you want to lose some weight or burn fat, build muscle and strength or improve your fitness.

And don’t forget, your gym membership will include an induction with an expert personal trainer, so make the most of this time with them. Gym staff are really helpful and friendly so they can show you how to do the exercises and answer any questions.

As a beginner, how long should I do the workout for?

Set a goal to continue with the workout programme for 3 months. Creating a long-term exercise routine is all about forming positive habits, which means giving your mind and body the time to adjust to doing something new.

Each workout should take 45 minutes to 1 hour and you should always leave 48 hours between workouts to rest and recover properly. So a Monday-Wednesday-Friday routine works well for most people.

How much weight should I lift?

As a beginner, the best thing you can do is start at the lower end of the weight spectrum and work your way up until you reach about 60/70% of your max limit (the most amount of weight you can lift for 1 repetition with good form ). That will give you a rough idea of what to start on and you can slowly increase the weight little by little every week.

What are reps and sets?

A rep is how many times you repeat a specific exercise, whereas a set is how many rounds of reps you do. So if you lift 10 times on a bench press, that would be ‘one set of 10 reps’. If you took a short break and then did the same again, you’ll have completed ‘two sets of 10 reps’.

How many reps and sets you go for depends on what you’re trying to achieve. More reps at a lower weight would improve your endurance, while fewer reps at a higher weight would build your muscle mass.

When it comes to sets, people usually aim for between three to five, depending on how many you can complete without compromising your form.

Tips for each workout

  • Go slow – focus on your technique
  • Rest 60-90 seconds between each set
  • Keep moving when you’re resting – a gentle walk around the gym floor will keep your muscles warm and your heart rate up
  • Ideally perform the workout in the order listed, but if equipment is busy then switch the order for convenience.

Beginner gym workout for females

This workout for females is designed to tone the whole body, with a slight emphasis on the legs and glutes (bottom). It’s a myth that women will become bulky if they lift weights. Weight training in fact helps women become stronger, leaner and more toned.

  • Seated leg press (10 reps x 3 sets)
  • Seated shoulder press (10 reps x 3 sets)
  • Close grip lat pulldown (10 reps x 3 sets)
  • Bodyweight lunges (10 reps x 3 sets)
  • Full/kneeling press ups (10 reps x 3 sets)
  • Plank (30 secs x 3)
  • Leg raises (10 reps x 3 sets)

Beginner gym workout for males

This workout is designed to help men gain strength and lean mass. This is a full body beginner workout with an extra focus on the arms and core. You’ll find by the end of this plan that all your numbers (reps or amount of weight lifted) on the exercises should increase nearly every week and you will have noticed changes in your body shape.

  • Seated chest press (10 reps x 4 sets)
  • Seated rows (10 reps x 4 sets)
  • Wide grip lat pulldown (10 reps x 4 sets)
  • Seated leg press (10 reps x 4 sets)
  • Dumbbell seated shoulder press (10 reps x 4 sets)
  • Dumbbell bicep curls (10 reps x 4 sets)
  • Close grip tricep press ups (10 reps x 4 sets)
  • Cable rotations/twists (10 reps x 4 sets)
  • Reverse crunches (10 reps x 4 sets) 

Beginner gym workout for strength

The rep range for strength training is 4 – 6 reps and the idea behind this plan is to exert more energy for less reps (which will mean lifting heavier). If it’s your first time lifting for strength, don’t go too heavy – use a manageable weight for the first few weeks and then increase the load as the weeks go on. Once you think you could lift for 8-10 reps on the same weight, it’s time to increase the weight.

  • Barbell push press (6 reps x 4 sets)
  • Goblet squat (6 reps x 4 sets)
  • Dumbbell single arm row (6 reps x 4 sets)
  • Shoulder lateral raise (6 reps x 4 sets)
  • Bench press (6 reps x 4 sets)
  • Pull ups/assisted pull ups (6 reps x 4 sets)
  • Barbell bicep curls (8 reps x 4 sets)
  • Cable overhead tricep extensions (8 reps x 4 sets)
  • Rotating plank (30 secs x 4)

Beginner gym workout for fat loss

This workout is designed to raise your heart rate and get you sweating. The purpose behind this is to push your cardiovascular fitness – when your heart rate is higher you burn more calories. It also has the added benefit of burning extra calories after you’ve finished the workout, as your body is still working hard to recover back to its normal state of function. So you’re essentially burning more while resting just for training your heart a bit harder during your workout.

  • Plate thrusters (15 reps x 3 sets)
  • Mountain climbers (20 reps x 3 sets)
  • Box jumps (10 reps x 3 sets)
  • Walk outs (10 reps x 3 sets)
  • Renegade rows (full plank/kneeling) (10 each side x 3 sets)
  • Press ups (full plank/kneeling) (15 reps x 3 sets)
  • Treadmill 10 min run/steep incline brisk walk (no hands)
  • Supermans (full plank/kneeling) (10 reps x 3 sets)
  • Crunches (10 reps x 3 sets)

Beginner gym workout for cardio equipment

This mix of steady and interval cardio session with different pieces of equipment will help mix up your workout and stop you getting bored. Applying intervals to your training can really push that cardiovascular fitness and make your heart stronger and efficient. It’s a good way to prep yourself for a HIIT class from a breathing point of view.

  • 5 min treadmill brisk walk (optional incline)
  • 5 min rower (steady)
  • 1 min run/1 min walk treadmill x 10(easy)/15(medium)/20(hard)
  • 10 min stair master (steady)
  • Cross trainer (maintain one pace) – 1 min low effort level/1 min high effort level x 10(easy)/15(medium)/20(hard)

Beginner gym circuit programme

Circuit training is a great way to expend more calories and target multiple areas at once especially those with a time limit on their sessions. You’ll find yourself incorporating weights, high cardiovascular fitness, time efficient, muscular strength, muscular endurance, faster recovery and beats boredom.

  • 2 min rower
  • Alternating side plank (45 secs)
  • Bicep curl to shoulder press (45 secs)
  • Benched tricep dips (45 secs)
  • Squat jumps (45 secs)
  • Press up into superman (full/knees) (45 secs)

Exercise principles to help reach your goals

There are many ways of training and they can all be beneficial depending on your goals.

How ever you choose to train, there are some basic things you can do to help get the most out of your workouts.

  1. Pay attention to what you eat – if your goal is fat loss just remember the basic principle is move more than consume, this is the simple formula which a lot of people complicate when it comes to weight loss. If you’re training for muscle gain, the types of food you eat are also very important, for example, foods high in protein. And what you eat before and after your workout can also help with performance and recovery.
  2. Think about your job – lots of people spend most of their day sat down. So when it comes to exercise, standing rather than sitting will have multiple benefits and really help free up any areas that perhaps aren’t getting the movement through the restrictions of your work.
  3. Warm up properly – when it comes to warming your body up at the start of training, movement-based (also known as dynamic) stretches are best. This means anything that involves not standing still or bringing your heart rate down, for example, lunges, walk outs, simple yoga movements or cardiovascular work such as walking, cross trainer or stair master.
  4. Don’t forget to cool down – static/slower movement stretches are much better for this part of the workout, it’s a great opportunity to try and unwind and release some of those stiffer areas that you just struggle to get to loosen up.

Key takeaway

Starting out at the gym, like doing anything new, can be nerve wracking. By following a workout routine from day 1 and getting a bit of support from the fitness experts at your induction, you’ll be able to hit the ground running.

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