Gym workout for beginners

Get a head start at the gym with this simple beginner's workout.
Published 21 February 2016 | Updated 12 June 2024

Gym workout for beginners

Have you ever looked at the gym machines but not known what to do or how to use them? We’ve got you covered with this beginner’s workout that works the main muscle groups and doesn’t require too many complicated machines. Once you feel comfortable with these, you can move on and try your hand at other exercises. Don’t be shy! Make this the time to try the gym!

Why do this workout?

Resistance training is important for your overall health. It helps strengthen muscles, improve bone density and increase fitness. Studies have shown that after only 10 weeks of resistance training, metabolic rate increased by 7% and body fat was reduced by 2kg.

What will you need?

Comfy clothes, shoes, towel and a water bottle.

How does it work?

This program covers the main muscle groups and shouldn't take too long. Do 1-3 sets of each exercise with 8 to 12 reps in each set. Aim to do it 2-4 times a week.

1. Cycling

Works: Legs

Using: A stationary bike

How to do it: Adjust the bike seat so it’s in line with your hip when standing next to it. With your feet in pedals, one leg should be fully extended while the other should have a slight bend in the knee. You should be able to pedal without needing to point or flex your feet to reach full extension. Be sure you can reach the handlebars easily, with elbows slightly bent. Once you’re set up you can manually control your incline, resistance and speed. Or, you can choose one of the bike’s preset programs. Adding resistance simulates hills and inclines and engages your muscles more than riding with light resistance.

Time: 10-20 minutes. Cycle hard enough to break a sweat.


2. Chest press

Works: Chest

Using: Between 10-20kgs. The weights need to feel heavy but not so heavy that you can not complete the movement.

How to do it: Most machines require you to select the weight by placing a pin in the weight stack. Once your weight is selected, sit with your back pressed firmly against the back pad. Place your hands on the handles and take a deep breath in. Exhale while extending your elbows, but don’t lock them. Pause when arms are extended, then slowly release the weight back to the starting position.

Chest press

3. Bicep curls

Works: Biceps

Using: Between 2-6kg dumbells

How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hold the weights straight down, palms up. Keeping your upper arms by your sides, your back straight and your core tight, bend your elbows and slowly raise fists to shoulder height, then slowly lower again.

Bicep curls

4. Lat pull-downs

Works: Back

Using: Between 10-20kg

How to do it: Select your weight. Grab the bar with an overhand grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width. Take a seat. Ensure your back is straight and abdominals are tight. Pull the bar down to the top of your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Fully extend your arms using a controlled movement.

Lat pull-downs

5. Triceps pull-down

Works: Triceps

Using: Between 5-15kgs

How to do it: Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent and your pelvis tucked in. Grasp the bar with both hands, as shown. Tuck elbows into the sides of your body with wrists in line with forearms. Pull the weight down towards your thighs and slowly raise back to the start.

Triceps pull-down

Before starting any new exercise routine, make sure to check in with your doctor.