T Nation

Good Beginner Program?


My husband is going to join the gym and start working out with me this week. I came up with a basic beginner program for the first few weeks and was hoping for some feedback.

He hasn't lifted in about 10 years, but has a physical job and is fairly strong. He has lost 10lbs recently by eating much better and started riding his new mountain bike for some exercise (now put away for the winter). He is 5’9”, 190lbs and is basically looking to get fit and in shape, lose a little more fat and gain some muscle.

We’re going to lift 3 days and I thought it might be best to go with 3x10 for the first month or so with a basic push/pull/legs routine. I included some unilateral stuff (split squats and 1 arm rows) which I think will be helpful (he had knee surgery 1.5 years ago), but I’m unsure if this is enough volume and if I covered all the bases. I want to keep things simple, and work smart. Here’s what I came up with:

Weds (legs):
Bulgarian split squat
Seated calf raises
Abs – hanging leg raises

Friday (push):
Bench press
Military press
Hammer curls
Abs – mod Russian twist

Sunday (pull):
Cable rows (1 arm)
Skull crushers
Abs – weighted crunches on ball

Would it be better to take out the arm work and put in another compound lift? Is this enough work for 3 one hour sessions? Any feedback is welcome. Thanks!


It looks pretty solid. The biggest thing is to get him to be consistant with the training. Coming back can be tough and shows your weaknesses fast. Support each other and it'll work.


Um Curls on push day and skull; crushers on pull day??? Thinl you got those mixed up. Uh and Yes I think you'd be better with a compound in there place with so few movement.

I would also think with his physical job abd the goals of general body comp. I would go for a simple full body routine 3 days a week. simplt use three excersizes one push/pull/legs each day than add stuff on like abs, isolation etc if there is time.

Thats my take. I just know when I was working construction etc It was best to do the full body and NOT attack one body plane ot part and get it Over sore. That slowed me at work. NOT GOOD. Better to stimulate the whole body.

Hope that helps,


program looks fine...


I would use regular squats (with very light weight, possibly with just the bar only) for a while until he builds up enough strength to do specialty type squats...

any type of simple program is going to work for your husband since he hasn't lifted in a long time if he goes to the gym consistently...

I would definately stress form over the amount of weight used...guys tend to get macho when they walk into a weight room...using too much weight at first will increase the likelyhood of an injury...

if he gets bored easily (like me) switch up the assistence exersizes often...

good luck!


military press

seated DB press


Thanks, everyone. We'll definitely start back squatting soon, but I think the split squats will be good for him to start. Phill, changing to one push/pull/legs each day makes sense.

Bulgarian split squat
Bench press
Abs ? weighted crunches on ball

Cable rows (1 arm)
Military press
Abs ? mod Russian twist

Back extensions (single leg)
Seated calf raises
Abs ? hanging leg raises


Say Hey Jilly,

I don't know if you were consciously channeling Staley, but the original program you outlined read like classic Charles Staley-thinking. In some of his earlier writing, he was particularly fond of Military Press/Hammer curl supersets, as well as alternating Chins with Triceps. Good on you, girl!

Aside from that, I think Mr. Jill will do fine with the most recent weekly routine you mentioned. 3 full body workouts each week is a great place to start. Though, if he were my man (okay, that didn't sound right), I'd probably start with 4x10, instead of 3x10, and I'd consider keeping in some direct arm work. (Beginners, guys especially, usually get extra-stoked when they can train arms and see results).

But the important question is...does he mind that you can whoop him in chin-ups? Good luck to him.


Thanks, Minotaur! Yes, I was trying to utilize Charles Staley's approach a little :slight_smile: He also likes the unilateral work to help even out imbalances when starting. Thanks for the 4x10 suggestion, we'll try that. And we'll throw in some curls if there's time, too.

This afternoon will be our first workout together - should be interesting! :wink:


That Damn Minotaur doesnt know his ass from a hole in the ground. He's just been followin me round being a pain in my ASS. LOL

No just stirring the ole terd bucket having a lil fun. I agree with the 4x10 and throw those curls on THE END!!!! Newbies love Curls. Another thng is allow him to take creatinme. man just the placebo effect on a newbie can be Friggin amazing. Im serious. Plus itys cheap.

He'll be curlin' and on a cycle of creatine Gettin SWOLE.

Let us know how it goes.


I most certainly do know the difference. One is where you put small animals when they die, and the other is often found in a garden. No, wait...damn, I mean, um... One is...oh, nevermind. You win this round. :frowning:

Much love, Phill. Much love.


Do you really think he needs to work his abs though? I'd ditch the ab work for an extra compound movement.