What exercises should I do when I join a gym?

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It happens every day: people join a gym and have no idea what exercises to start doing. Many start reading fitness magazines and/or watch competitive physique athletes/bodybuilders and try to mimic their routines and lifestyles. Many follow the routines other gym members are doing not knowing if the exercises they’re doing is beneficial or a waste of time.
Firstly, let me state that it is highly impractical to try and follow the diets and regimens of professional bodybuilders and/or physique/fitness athletes.  Professional bodybuilding and fitness and figure competitions requires strict dieting and the use of AAS(anabolic steroids).  When I first began weight training 20 years ago I made the mistake of thinking that if I followed the bodybuilder routines and used the supplements advertised in the magazines I’d get the six pack, vascular physique, and extreme definition. Unfortunately I see the same mistake being made every day by fellow gym goers. Most gym goers, men and women, need to focus on compound movements/exercises. Compound movements/exercises can be defined as: any exercise that engages two or more different joints to fully stimulate entire muscle groups. Muscles don’t work in isolation therefore unless one is a professional bodybuilder/physique athlete, it isn’t practical to do so-called ‘isolation’ exercises. For example, when we lift a box, carry a bag, walk, run, or any other physical activity we are utilizing more than one muscle or muscle group. Although they’re many exercises one can do in a gym, the ones I recommend are efficient and contribute to a healthier body over a period of time. They’re basic, but effective.

My recommended workout regimen:

  • Biceps/Back Workout: Lat Pulldowns, Machine Rows, Dumbbell or Barbell Curls, Cable Rope Curls, Hexagonal Bar/Trap Bar Deadlifts
  • Chest/Shoulders/Triceps Workout: Shoulder Press/Military Press, Lateral Raises, Flat Bench Press, Machine Flyes, Dips
  • Leg Workout: Leg Curls, Machine Front Squats, Standing Calf Raises, Seated Calf Raises
  • Abdominals Workout: Weighted Crunch Machine or Cable Crunches

The preceding listed exercises, basic and effective, would be done on separate days. For example, biceps and back on Monday, chest/shoulders/triceps on Tuesday, and legs on Wednesday. Thursday would be an off day and Friday one would restart the routine. Begin each gym session with a 10 minute warm up on the treadmill or elliptical trainer. After warming up do four to five sets of twelve repetitions for each exercise. Begin with a weight that’s challenging, not damaging. As one progresses weekly, getting stronger, gradually increase weight.

For the aspiring weight trainers out there, intermediates too, check out my post,  weight training exercises illustrated, for form examples of each exercise.

8 thoughts on “What exercises should I do when I join a gym?”

  1. Thanks for such excellent information especially re the arms and legs.Over the years you always said that Cardio was not as effective by itself and I could not understand that concept,but for the past two years I do.Weight training/strength training is indeed an integral part of any exercise program not only for men but also for women.

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