Workout Programs for the Gym – Muscular Strength for Beginners (MSB-1)

  • Level of difficulty:  Beginner
  • Workout intensity:  Low/Moderate
  • Session duration:  60 to 75 minutes

This strength training program is perfect for someone who is just getting started with, or getting back into, a strength training program.  It includes exercises that challenge each major muscle group (acting in opposing pairs) that are challenged one time per week.  The recommended training schedule includes a minimum of 36 hours in between each workout (i.e. Monday, Wednesday and Friday).  The following program is based on the following:

  • Load:  60 to 70% of 1RM (one rep. maximum load)
  • Repetitions:  10 to 12 repetitions
  • Sets:  2 to 3 sets
  • Rest:  2 to 3 minutes rest (in between sets)
  • Speed:  moderate contraction speeds (1-2-3 / 1-2-3)
  • Frequency:  3 sessions per week (each major muscle group trained once per week)

The program was designed to accommodate participants with access to “the basics”.  This program includes exercises using selectorized equipment that isolate muscle groups (i.e. safer and easier to use than free weights).  The program includes suggestions for different exercises that can be substituted if you do not have access to the particular equipment or would like to try something different.

How to Determine the Proper Loads for Each Exercise

Choosing the right weight (a.k.a. “load”) is important in any workout program.  If you choose a weight that is too light, you will not challenge the body enough to produce the desired result.  If you choose a weight that is too heavy, you will overdo it and put your body at risk in an attempt to complete the desired sets and repetitions.  Below is a chart to help you determine the right weight for each exercise.

How to Determine One Repetition Maximum (1RM)

Equipment Required

The exercises included in the strength training program require basic equipment found in most fitness clubs. Most exercises in this program require selectorized equipment (designed to isolate muscle groups) for ease of use and focus on each muscle group.  Options provided include the use of free weights or elastic resistance.

Warm Up Recommendations

A proper warm up helps to prevent injury and starts the process of producing additional energy during exercise.  During an effective warm up the blood moves faster through the body and joints move with greater ease as they become more lubricated.

An effective warm up prior to a strength training workout would include an aerobic activity that can be done slowly (i.e. stationary biking, walking on a treadmill, or elliptical training) for 5 to 10 minutes.  The intention of the warm up is to increase the heart rate to 50 to 60% of the maximum heart rate.

Strength Training Program (MSB-1) – The Workouts

Below is a program for beginners that is to be completed within a 7 day time period.  The 3 workouts outlined can be completed in any order (each workout is completed one time during the week).  Workouts can be scheduled on the days (and times) of the week that are the most convenient and realistic.  Be sure to include at least 36 hours in between each workout.

Today’s Fitness Trainer Strength Training Program (MSB-1)

Participants have the option to include one or more of the following on days they are not completing one of the workouts outlined:

  • Cardiovascular training (minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise per session)
  • Sporting activities (recreational or competitive)
  • Rest and recovery

For information on the exercises included in this program (i.e. descriptions, images and/or video) click here.

Core Training Recommendations

Core stability includes the combined attributes of strength, balance, agility and flexibility of the muscles that control the trunk and spine.  A core training program includes exercises that promote awareness and the activation of muscles required to stabilize the spine prior to both common and challenging movements.  Below is a suggested series of core training exercises that can be included as a part of any workout program.

Today’s Fitness Trainer Core Training Program (CSB-1)

Cool Down & Stretching Recommendations

The main purpose of cooling down is to bring breathing, body temperature and heart rate back to normal slowly.  During the cool down routine you are allowing the blood to properly redistribute itself to the heart.  This redistribution helps rid the muscles of lactic acid which can build up around the muscles during an aerobic workout.

If you stop exercising abruptly, blood can pool around the muscles of the legs causing insufficient blood flow and oxygen to the brain which can make you feel light-headed and dizzy.  Dizziness, nausea and feeling worn out are common symptoms of an improper or no cool down period.

An effective cool down will also include your stretching exercises.  Your muscles will be nice and warm for a deeper and more beneficial stretch to all your major muscles.

Include static stretching exercises targeting all of the major muscles and any muscles you used during your workout.  Each stretch should be held a minimum of 30 seconds.

Taking the Next Steps …

For optimal results it is recommended that one continues with a structured strength training program for a minimum of 4 to 8 weeks before modifying and/or progressing the program.  This way the body is exposed to the same challenge over multiple sessions to adapt, improve and measure change.  Once the body starts to hit a “plateau” (a specific period of time where there is no significant change in improvement) it is time to modify the program.

Stay tuned for more “Workout Programs for the Gym” (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced) to evolve your fitness journey as you improve your overall health and wellbeing!

Written by TodaysFitnessTrainer (

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