How To Make A Workout Routine For Beginners

Building your first workout plan can be a very challenging process. Especially if you lack basic knowledge of how the body responds to training. In this article we will walk you through the first steps towards a healthier version of you.

8 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
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In This Resource
  • Goal Selection
  • Frequency + Duration Selection
  • Budgetary Requirements
  • Current Capabilities (Beginners Vary)
  • Personal Preferences
  • Designing Your Week
  • Designing Your Sessions
  • Sample Gym Sessions
  • Progressing Your Sessions Over Time
  • Self Assessment + Alterations
  • Redesign, Adapt, Redesign, Adapt
  • Reach Out

Goal Selection

This is an essential part of your routine, if you do not have a clean and motivating goal to strive towards, an idea in your head that you are working towards this process is going to be much more difficult.

You need to set multiple sorts of goals, both results driven and process driven goals. Both are essential to your long term success. Your results based goals should be based on the idea of yourself you have at the end of the process. In his book transcend Scott Barry Kaufman talks about “falling in love with your future self” and performing in the best possible way for the person you imagine you can become. I couldn’t agree with this more, when we strive towards difficult objects, we need an idea in our heads of what we are striving towards and why.

Negative visualisation can be an important component of success, using this fear of failure to our advantage, to push us forward on a much more reliable basis than the original motivating idea.

There can be a huge variety of reasons to build a workout routine, and the goal will obviously impact the style of training you perform. If at the end of your workout plan you want to run a marathon, or look like a bodybuilder, they will be vastly different sessions. For the sake of this article, the example used will be someone striving towards general health .

Frequency + Duration Selection

Before you can get into the nitty gritty of exercise selection, you need to pick some basic factors like frequency and duration of training. This means how often you have to train and how long the sessions can be, if you are a university student, you can probably do some long sessions multiple times a week. If however you are a single parent with an intense job, you might be working with much, much less time.

These decisions will dramatically impact your workout routine, one of the biggest problems people have isn’t actually training, its organising it into an already busy life. So you need to be extremely realistic here, how are you going to fit this into your day to day life on a regular basis. If you make it too challenging and you cannot keep up to your routine, you will just feel demotivated and have to deal with a lot of negative self talk so make sure you are setting a realistic routine from the beginning.

In my example I am going to give a good amount of time towards training, but not excessive, to provide a realistic amount of time that can still have a huge impact, 4 hours a week.

Budgetary Requirements

This is often not something that is discussed when building a workout plan, but can have huge implications for how you should proceed. Do you have a large budget? Can you pay a personal trainer to teach you all the movement patterns prior to starting out on your own, can you pay a personal trainer to coach you year round? Or you could be struggling to pay rent and have a budget of zero per month to put into your workout routine, meaning you won’t even have access to a gym and need to put emphasis on bodyweight training.

The big difference for this is if you have access to weight or not, or you can afford an application like ours to help you design your sessions. For this example we will work with the example of someone who does have access to weights in order to build their workout routine.

Current Capabilities (Beginners Vary)

Some beginners may be able to run 10k on the spot, due to sporting back grounds and general athleticism, others may struggle to walk up a flight of stairs and put their hands over their heads. This makes giving exercises to “beginners” difficult, when there can be so much variety within this category. So you need to make honest assessments of where you’re at, which will therefore help you make decisions on what your training sessions will look like. In this example I am going to use a 35 year old female, who can run a 5km (but its very challenging) but has no muscular development at all.

Personal Preferences

What exercise do you enjoy? Where do you feel flow when you move? These are important questions when you’re designing your exercise routine. The likelihood of you being able to adhere to a practice that you don’t enjoy is not very high, so try and pick activities that you enjoy. This can be difficult for people who do not enjoy exercise, in this example I think it is really important to learn to enjoy the discipline of it, the ritual of putting in the work for yourself, loving this feeling, even if during the activity you do not find it inherently enjoyable. Fall in love with work, respect for self and the body that you have the chance to have.

For my example, she enjoys running and cycling.

Designing Your Week

So we have four hours a week to play with;

Monday - Session 1 - 60 minute full body resistance training session.

Wednesday - Session 2 - 60 minute strength session with intervals as a finisher

Saturday - Session 3 - 30 minute threshold run.

Sunday - Session 4 - 90 minute bike ride at a low intensity.

Designing Your Sessions

As we can see in the example above we are using a mixture of weight training and cardiovascular training in order to achieve health, which is pretty much undisputed for this goal. How to pick which exercises to go into your strength sessions? This is a complex topic that I will not go into full depth on here. The key is to target all the key muscle groups (squat, hinge) with at-least four sets per week minimum.

Sample Gym Sessions

Full Body Resistance Training

A1) Goblet Squat

A2) DB Bench Press

A3) Deadbug Hold

B1) 1-Arm DB Row

B2) Hip Thrusts

B3) Side Plank

Strength Training + Intervals

A) Hex Bar Deadlift

B) Bike Intervals : 5 x 1000m Bike Erg, Rest 1:1 ratio

C) Cool Down + Mobility Issues

Progressing Your Sessions Over Time

To get a full grips of wheat this means read our full article on progressive overload . To briefly outline what this means, the principle of progressive overload is to increase the intensity of the exercise overtime. This comes in both increasing the weight and the load, remember the body takes time to adapt, so this is a slow process. This needs to be done on every movement category, on every type of cardiovascular training.

Self Assessment + Alterations

Let’s imagine you’re one month into your plan, how did your month go? How many of your sessions did you manage to fit in, whats working and whats not. Are you lacking motivation or are you having timetabling problems. Doing a weekly or monthly assessment of where you are at is going to be crucial for your success in this endeavour, it’s to easy to just think it didn’t work and then give up your attempt.

Redesign, Adapt, Redesign, Adapt

Life comes with so many changes, so many situations that will influence how you stay healthy. Did you just get fired or have you just have a baby, is your work-life easy and you have loads of time to train. All of these need different workout routines that are your own and fit you. Personally, I take all these things as factors on which training routine I am currently running, you should too.

Reach Out

Getting started for beginners is tough. This article is by no means comprehensive enough for you to successfully build your own workout plan and progress it over time, hence why we created our application, to solve this problem. If you have questions about the application, or can’t afford it and need help, reach out at and I will endeavour to do my best to provide advice on your situation.

If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you – based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle.

This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

Sean Klein


Programme is a workout app that plans every workout for you

Programme learns from your past workouts, training experience and available equipment to create your optimal workout plan that adapts to your progress.