Beginner Gym Workout for Strength Training


If you’re new to Anytime Fitness, welcome! We’re so happy you’re here. You’re about to embark on a journey to become a healthier and happier version of yourself, and we’re here to support you.

If you’re a gym beginner — or haven’t had a membership for a while — it can be overwhelming and a bit intimidating at first. But the hardest part of any fitness journey is making the decision to make healthy happen, and you’ve already done that.

To help make the next leg of your journey easier, here are some tips for achieving your wellness goals and making the most of your gym workouts, plus a beginner strength-training workout routine.

Let’s get to it.

You’re not alone!

Contrary to popular belief, you, brave beginner, are in good company. In fact, millions of people have gym memberships across the country, meaning you’re surrounded by gym-goers of all skill levels. And we’re here for all of you.

So, if you don’t know much about the facility and machines (how exactly does a rowing machine work?) or how to build the right strength-training workout, you’re in the right place.

Our health and wellness resources offer everything from targeted workout plans (with modifications for people of all fitness levels) and “how-to” tips to coach Q&As and inspirational success stories from other members.

And of course, fitness and diet go hand in hand, so check out our many deliciously healthy recipes.

Getting started at the gym

Take a moment to think about why you want to focus on your health, and fitness and write it down. Use this to motivate and drive you each day. And when you have a day of doubt and wonder whether all of the time and energy you put into your workouts are worth it, come back to that guiding principle. It’ll help put things into perspective.

Choose a fitness or training goal

What would you like to accomplish? Are you hoping to lose weight? Maybe you want a workout routine that will build muscle. Or it could be that you’re simply aiming to get to the gym two or three times a week.

When determining your workout goal, it helps to think SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Let’s break it down:

  • Specific: You might say, “I want to work out more.” That’s fantastic! But a little vague. Try to get a tad more specific, like: “I want to feel stronger and have more energy.” Or, you could get even more granular and say, “I want to get stronger and be able to do 20 push-ups within six weeks.”
  • Measurable: Again, rather than saying, “I want to work out more,” you might say; “I want to start going to the gym three days every week and work out for 45 minutes each time.”
  • Achievable: “I want to work out for two hours every day” is unrealistic (not to mention, hard on your body). If we consistently fail to meet our goals, it’s human nature to become disheartened and lose motivation. It also becomes easier to make excuses for ourselves. So, start with a challenging but achievable goal that may not always be easy, but is positive and possible.
  • Relevant: It’s important to consider things like lifestyle, current fitness level, and other time commitments when setting a health goal. If you’re a beginner to working out, find gym workouts that are aimed at beginners (like the one below!). If you know you can get to the gym during the weekdays, but weekends are always packed, make sure to keep that in mind during the planning phase.
  • Timely: Setting a (realistic) timeframe for meeting your goals is a huge motivator. If your goal is to get to the gym three days a week indefinitely, it’ll feel huge. Instead, set the goal for the next four months, and see how you feel at that time.

And remember: Goals can be creative and fun! Feel free to go beyond just building endurance or adding repetitions. As long as it’s achievable, the sky’s the limit!

Once you’ve decided on your gym goal, write it down. Share it on Facebook. Tell your best friend or your mom (who might be your best friend). By vocalizing your gym goal, you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable and find success.

Making the most of your time at the gym

Now that your goal is set and your mind is right, lace up those tennis shoes and grab your water bottle. It’s gym time. Here are a few tips for that first day.

Try a beginner fitness class

Gym workouts and fitness classes are both great ways to challenge yourself, improve your performance, learn something new, and meet people who are also on the health journey. Sign us up!

Be patient

Remind yourself that you’re not going to see major results right away because progress can’t always be measured in things like pounds or how much weight you’re bench-pressing. Even if it feels like the process is taking a long time, just know that each step you take toward making healthy happen is a step in the right direction. And you should be proud of that!

Always be kind to yourself

You will come across a rough patch at some point in your fitness journey. That’s OK. Don’t let it stop you from continuing to work toward reaching your goals. If a day didn’t go as planned, don’t be hard on yourself. It happens to all of us, and it’s more important to refocus your thoughts on getting back on track the next day.

Strength training for beginners

When most people start going to the gym, they’ll resort to what they’re comfortable with. Oftentimes, that’s a cardio machine. And while we’re not here to say that cardio isn’t a key component of your workout program — it is!  — we are here to say that your gym workout shouldn’t consist exclusively of cardio workouts.

Treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes can offer great full-body workouts. They’re great for interval training and active recovery, and they’re a great tool to improve heart and lung health. But the secret to getting in overall better shape is resistance training, also known as strength or weight training.

Five reasons strength training is important

Here’s why you should incorporate weight training into your workout routine — even at the beginner level:

  1. Burns more calories. Lifting weights boosts metabolism, which in turn burns calories, which of course means fat loss. See how that works? But that’s not even the best part. Once your workout is over, your body will continue to burn calories thanks to something called “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.” And the more intense your workout, the longer it takes your body to return to its normal state. Which means more weight loss and calories burned, baby.
  2. Protects bone health and muscle mass. As we age, we lose muscle mass and bone density, so strength training can help you combat the effects of aging to make your bones, joints, and muscles healthier and stronger.
  3. Helps improve daily activities. Not only does strength training make you stronger, it also can help improve your balance, coordination, posture, and flexibility, making daily activities easier and enhancing your quality of life.
  4. Doubles as a pick-me-up. Skip the afternoon cup of coffee and lift some weights instead! Research shows that strength training can increase your level of endorphins to boost your energy and mood and decrease anxiety or stress. Easing stress can, in turn, improve your sleep.
  5. Builds your confidence and self-esteem. Is there anything better than the feeling of accomplishment after a tough workout? Not only does strength training make you physically stronger, but it can also help increase emotional health, which is equally important.

Sounds good? We thought so. Let’s hit the free weights and get to the workout!

Strength-training gym workout for beginners

For this workout, make sure to use a low-pound weight or even just bodyweight. For now, you’ll want to concentrate on your movements and form rather than weight and reps.

And don’t worry about how much time you’re taking — whether you’re here for one hour or half an hour, what matters is that you made it to the gym! This is not a circuit workout, and you are not going for speed, so just keep it simple.

After you get through the warm-up walk, you’ll move onto each of the sets. You can follow the order below or switch things up. Be sure to do the full set of each exercise before moving onto the next. Take 30–90 seconds of rest between each set. If any of the moves give you trouble, listen to your body and adjust as necessary.

1. Treadmill Incline Walk

Start with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up

Every great workout routine starts with a warm-up. Pick a pace and set an incline on the treadmill that will get the blood flowing and your heart rate elevated.

2. Bird Dog

3 sets of 10 total repetitions

  • Begin on all fours with only both knees and hands on the floor.
  • Raise one arm and the opposite leg straight up to shoulder height, balancing on one hand and the opposite knee.
  • Slowly lower your arm and leg and repeat with the other arm and leg.
  • Repeat.

Tip: Be sure that your knees are directly under your hips during the entirety of this movement.

3. Goblet Squat

3 sets of 10 total repetitions, weight of your choice

  • Stand upright holding one dumbbell in both hands at chest height. Keep your feet flat, shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower your body toward the floor, sending your hips back and down and bending your knees.
  • Push through your heels to return to the start position, keeping your back flat and head up throughout the movement.
  • Repeat.

4. Alternating Floor Press

3 sets of 10 total repetitions, weight of your choice

  • Lie on the floor. Hold dumbbells at shoulder level with your elbows bent and your palms facing in.
  • Press the dumbbell straight up over your chest with your right arm, keeping your palms facing in.
  • Lower the dumbbell back to shoulder level.
  • Repeat with your left arm.

5. Dead Bug

3 sets of 10 total repetitions

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet raised. Your arms will be straight up over your chest.
  • Lower one leg and the opposite arm straight down toward the floor, keeping the other leg and arm steady.
  • Raise the leg and arm back to the upright position and repeat with the opposite leg and arm. Alternate sides with each rep.

6. Forward Lunge

3 sets of 10 total repetitions

  • Start standing up straight.
  • Step forward with your left leg as you lower your right knee toward the ground.
  • Drive through your heel as you step back into your starting position.
  • Repeat with the other leg.

7. Bench Supported Bent Over Row

3 sets of 10 total repetitions, weight of your choice

  • Holding a dumbbell in one hand with your arm straight, place the opposite knee and hand on a bench. Keep your back flat.
  • Lift the dumbbell up to the side of your chest, bending at your elbow.
  • Lower the dumbbell back to a straight arm position, keeping your back flat throughout.
  • Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side.

And that’s it! Your very first (and very effective) workout. You are officially ready to conquer the gym.

If that workout was difficult for you, that’s OK. Practice, focus, and consistency are crucial, so don’t give up. Part of any great workout is finding what works for you, so feel free to explore other gym exercises (see the video below!). Remember: It’s much easier to get in shape when you’re having fun.