Workout Plans for Beginners – 3 Steps to Start your Workout

ConfusedOne of the most overwhelming things when first starting out is, what do I do? Am I doing this right?

Yeah, it’s nerve wracking so you’re not alone. Many people feel this way. Even the most advanced fitness buffs stall in their workout routines from time to time. Needless to say, you’re in great company!

So, let’s talk about making a good workout plan. It’s pretty straightforward once you get the hang of things. But I’ll mention a few things first before going into the step by step.

Go Easy on Yourself

If your workout plan includes two hours a day benching 300lbs each day then I’ll ask you to dial it down… No one starts out like that unless you’re the Hulk.

Put down exercises you know you can do and then challenge yourself when you get into the workout. Once you’ve completed a workout go over it in your mind and ask: how do I feel? Could I have done more? Was that too much? If so, what needs to change for next time?

You may start out doing three sets of one push up with a minute of rest in between. But hey! That’s a great start!

Reward Yourself For Improvement

If you want to continue working out, make sure you reward yourself when you make an improvement. Say you did three pushups instead of one…GREAT! So do that happy dance, give yourself an extra 30 seconds rest, or listen to your favorite song.

The goal here is to improve, not compare yourself to gym rat Joe who’s squatting twice your weight.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way here are your steps to making a workout plan:

1. Begin with an End Goal

Starting with the end in mind will shape your workout routine. Are you training for a marathon? Are you trying to lose weight? Are you trying to gain muscle? Or are you just trying to get into shape?

Whatever the case, begin with that goal. Use the SMART goals method if you’re at a loss on where to start:

Specific: Is your end goal specific? I want to run a marathon in four hours… That is specific. I want to run really fast… Not specific. Or I want my bench press one-rep-max to be my body weight. That is specific too.

No matter the goal, make sure that it is a target you can reference. If you’re into target shooting, not having a specific goal is like shooting at nothing. So, you don’t have instant feedback on whether you’re hitting the target.

Working out is the same thing. Make a goal that you can hit that specific enough to see and go for it!

Measurable: Your goal must be measurable. It can be time-based, rep-based, weight-based, or any other metric you choose. But you must be able to constantly measure what you’re doing.

One of my goals is to hit 20 pull-ups in a row without stopping. I haven’t made it yet… I’m up to 12 right now. But that is a measurable goal as I make progress towards 20. So today I do 8, tomorrow I do 10, the next day I do 6 and so on until one day I hit that 20 pull-ups.

It is possible to make a measurable goal.

Achievable: Your goal must be achievable. Forget about benching 300lbs for two hours a day again. Look at doing small stuff and then adjust as you see fit.

Relevant: Oh yes, let’s not bench 300lbs if we’re training for a marathon. Sometimes we’ll get wrapped up in ourselves that we forget the relevance of the goals we’re making.

Time-based (Timetable): Set a deadline. What’s really easy is if you sign up for something. Maybe there’s a strength competition, a race, or triathlon. That’s a hard deadline. But we can make soft due outs for ourselves to keep us honest. That’s what improvement is all about

Another thing is to have a friend take care of that for us. Go to your friend and say, “friend, I want to do 20 pull-ups in a row by December 31, 2019. Will you keep me honest?”

How could they say no to that! Plus, now their invested in your improvement

Now that you just read that, here’s what a smart goal would look like:

I want to do 20 pull-ups in a row to prepare for my work’s fitness competition on August 20th, 2019.

This goal is specific (20 pull ups in a row), measurable (counting pull-ups), achievable (provides leeway to make small goals to reach 20 in a row), relevant (for my work’s fitness competition), and time-based (there’s a deadline).

2. Set Up Your Workout

Now it’s time to set up your workout. I talked a lot about this in my previous post about different exercises you can do, but I’ll hash out some different things here.

This will depend on what you’re going for. When beginning a plan, think about your goal and what you want to accomplish. Usually that will revolve around strength training and cardio for beginners. Here’s a good starter shell for a plan.

For Cardio:

Monday: Short runCardio

Tuesday: Strength train lower body

Wednesday: Sprints

Thursday: Strength train upper body

Friday: Long run

Saturday: Very light cardio then deep stretches.

Sunday: Rest

I cannot emphasize rest enough… It may seem counter-productive but I guarantee you’ll need it.

So, your runs should vary from week to week. A long run for you might be two miles. A good rule of thumb for the short run is to take the long run you plan to do and cut that in half and go at a conversation pace (or a pace where you can talk).

Your sprints are the most important run you’ll do during the week (some beg to differ, but it’ll help in the long run…literally!). To start, do 4 sets of 200 meters with one minute of rest. Increase the sets and distance as you get better.

You can do this with just about any cardio workout: swimming, biking, rowing, jump roping…etc. The intent is to plan out your long session then backwards plan from there. I’m just using running as an example.

For Strength Training:Strength Train

Monday: Chest and Triceps

Tuesday: Short cardio session

Wednesday: Back and Biceps

Thursday: Long cardio session

Friday: Legs

Saturday: Very light cardio then deep stretches

Sunday: Rest

Strength training is all about form! Make sure you do your research and learn proper form for each exercise. Just a reminder, read this for a list of possible strength training exercises and how many to do in one day.

3. Assess Your Workout – Stay on Target

The first two steps mean nothing if you don’t go over what you just did. Reflect on how the workout went and what you can do to make it better.

Did you need to add weight? Was the cardio too easy?

Make mini SMART goals to reach your big SMART goal at the end. Once you review your workout with yourself you’ll be well on your way to a stronger you!

Just like a marksman with a target, your workouts must be geared towards your Big SMART Goal. That’ll be your target to hit.



Are you overwhelmed? Maybe you still don’t know where to start. If anything, choose two or three exercises and do those for one workout. Work day to day in order to get yourself a routine and then once you get a feel for it then make a full-blown plan.

Don’t get wrapped around the axles about which is the BEST exercise to do… Just do it and you’re just one step closer.

Let me know what you think! Do you have a good plan you use. Comment below, Garage Gym Goers and I’ll see you next time!



  1. Hi Bobby,
    Great Post! I think you mentioned the important part, and that’s about having goals. So many times, when I’m in the gym, I start to see the same individuals come in over and over again and they’re just going through the motions. You mentioned the pull-ups goal of twenty in a row. One of my goals has been to hit around 15-20 pull-ups in a row, and 25 pushups in a row. So I started small, in trying to hit 12 in a row, and then I build up from there. I’m not there yet, but getting closer with each workout.

    • Isaiah,
      I’m glad to hear about your success about your push ups and pull ups! It’s the little things that count when it comes to working out. Thanks for your comment!

  2. I am a complete fitness newbie! It is always challenging knowing where to start. I love the idea of small goal setting and that just doing three sets of one push up could be a beginner goal.
    I guess it is all about just starting.
    I also appreciate you mentioning about not going too big. I have fallen in that trap more than once. Nothing like not being able to walk the next day because you overdid the leg exercises the night before. Thank you for writing this post. I can not wait to read more.

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you found value in getting started working out. Yeah, we all fall into the “go big or go home” trap every now and again. It’s nice to keep perspective and know that little efforts go a long way when working out. I look forward to hearing more from your successes!

  3. Great and detailed post!!
    I am long time into workouts and I remember how i was struggling to start training, to set my goals and everything.
    I was always in “strength training” mode haha 🙂
    Anyone who wants to start and doesn’t have motivation should see this post 🙂

    Thanks for bringing great informations.

    • Petar,
      Thanks for commenting! You’re right that sometimes we just get zoned in on one thing and forget everything else exists. Feel free to share with friends who may benefit.

  4. Bobby!
    Exceptional advice that you’re giving. I’m in the same niche so I know and experienced what you speak about in the intro. When I started to implement what you wrote about there was an instant impact. Especially your 2nd tip . Setting up your workout is where most people make a mistake because it’s either they go to gym and do whatever or they go to gym and do what they feel . I’m extremely happy that you pointed that out because I feel tons of people will benefit from it. Thank you for the awesome advice!

    • Junaid,
      Absolutely! I feel like if people have purpose, motivation, and some direction coupled with the right training and resources then they can do a lot with their workouts…even if they’re basic at first! Feel free to share with others who are struggling to make a good plan. Thanks for posting!

  5. Hi Bobby, I’m so glad I have found this post. I’m trying to workout to lose weight and to be healthy. Sadly, I’m struggling to keep up. My body would hurt so much after 3 days workout even though I want to exercise 5-6 days a weeks. I feel a little discouraged. I workout from home and at the gym. and everyday I work out for about 30min or less. I do cardio and some light weight lifting and push up/crunches. What should I do to keep it up? and, How long does it usually take people to get used to it?

    • Rachel,
      Those are great questions, and I’m so sorry you’re discouraged. First, in your case I would look at how your warm ups and cool downs work for you. Sometimes we jump right into a workout and forget that’s only one part. Warming up well and cooling down properly will help ease your soreness post-workout.
      Second, be gentle with yourself! You’re KILLING it right now by doing 3 days straight for 30 minutes each workout. That is SO MUCH more than what you were doing before.
      Third, think day to day instead of week to week. When you’re in the workout, think minute to minute. You’re consistently going to be too sore, tired, rushed…etc to work out, but you’ll thank yourself later. When people do difficult things take it just one rep at a time. One rep turns into a set, which turns into several sets, then it becomes a workout, and suddenly you’ve done three days in a row…then five.
      Finally, observe your rest days. Those are important days too. If you need two rest days, then do it! That is ok. You can even do more stretching, light yoga, or other light cardio to keep moving.

      Aside from that, building a habit will take as long or as short as you want it to take. The more you observe your workout time, the more likely you will create a habit. It will take time, but again, take it one day at a time.

      I hope this helps, Rachel! I know you can do it and I’m proud of you for what you’ve accomplished!

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