If this is your first time walking into a gym, or it’s been a very long time since you’ve trained and you don’t know where to begin, start here.

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced lifter, there are so many principles and philosophies of training and so many opinions on how to do it. These are often the reasons why people get discouraged from training to begin with and feel intimidated, if not overwhelmed.

Believe it or not, in just 12 weeks you can make a huge difference to your fitness, ability and attitude. By splitting the program into four phases of three weeks, you will not be competition ready in three months of course, but you definitely will be confident enough to take on a more advanced training program to build even more size and strength.

Back To Basics

How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks

Before aiming to build size and gain strength, you need to train your muscles how to contract properly. Learning how to perform an exercise correctly will teach your fibres how to contract so that they can perform effectively and efficiently and be able to apply more strength as you progress. For beginners, a whole body split is the best way to start, as this method allows you to train each muscle group more frequently each week. This repetition also has the benefit of training your body’s nervous system.

Training Notes

Before you begin the program, keep in mind that the main goal you are trying to accomplish with this 12-week program is to progress from beginner to intermediate to advanced lifter. The training split that you will use in week 10 for example will be completely different to the three-day split you start off with in week one.

PHASE ONE: WEEKS 1/2/3

For the first three weeks you’ll be following the whole body training split three times
a week. You can decide which three days you want to train on, but you must allow one day of rest in between each training session because your recovery plays a crucial role in gaining size and strength.

How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks

How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks

How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks

Phase One: Exercises

The exercises selected have been used as true mass builders for decades. You will only do one exercise
for each muscle group in Phase One so that the workout does not become too long and you don’t overtrain your unaccustomed muscles.

Phase One: Reps

Stick to 10-12 repetitions per set. This is a great range for a beginner to build size and strength. The only exceptions are going to be your calves and abs as they are stubborn muscle groups so they require higher rep ranges.

Phase One: Weights

The rep range determines the amount of weight, so you need to choose a weight that allows you to do a maximum of 12 repetitions but a minimum of 10 repetitions each set. As you get stronger over
the three weeks and are doing more than 12 repetitions, start increasing the weight by 2.5kgs or 5kgs until you complete your prescribed rep range.

Phase One: Sets

Start with three sets of each exercise and follow the prescribed rest between sets.

Phase One: Reps

During this phase you can rest for up to three minutes. You should allow yourself enough rest time to use the same weight throughout all three sets using the same rep range. For your calves and abs (which recover much faster between sets) reduce rest time to under two minutes.

Phase One: Plan

Muscle Group   

Chest

Back

Legs

Shoulders

Triceps

Biceps

Calves

Abs

Exercise 

Barbell Bench Press

Seated Row

Squat

Dumbbell Press

Triceps Press Down

Barbell Curl

Standing Calf Raise

Crunch

Sets/Reps 

3/10-12

3/10-12

3/10-12

3/10-12

3/10-12

3/10-12

3/12-15

3/to failure

Rest

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

1-2 min

1-2 min

PHASE TWO: WEEKS 4/5/6

It’s time to introduce a new challenge to your muscles. For the next three weeks you will be following a two-day training split that you will perform twice a week for a total of four workouts a week. You will divide your entire body into two different workouts to train one half of the body in one session and the other half in the second session.

One great benefit of doing a two-day training split is that you can train more exercises per muscle group and do them with greater intensity. This is a critical progression to keep gaining muscle and getting stronger. You should be training with more intensity as you are training fewer muscle groups, so have the confidence to go heavier and push each set to muscle failure.

How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks

How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks

How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks

How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks

How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks

How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks How To Become A Gym Expert In Just 12 Weeks

Phase Two: Exercises

In addition to the mass builders in Phase One, there are extra exercises for each muscle group. For most muscle groups you will be aiming to do one multi joint mass builder and one single joint exercise to build size and start shaping each muscle group.

Phase Two: Sets

You will still be doing three sets per exercise but now that the number of exercises has increased, so has the total number of sets for each muscle group. This means the amount of work done for each muscle group has increased.

Phase Two: Reps

Drop to eight to 10 reps per set on the first exercise of each muscle group and use this opportunity
to train a bit heavier. This will help you build more strength and muscle mass in the following exercises for each muscle group. For exercises that are new to this phase, the number of reps will remain at 10 to 12 per set.

Phase Two: Weights

Don’t be hesitant to use a heavier weight in the first exercise of this phase. Find a weight that allows you to finish 8 to 10 repetitions on the first exercise and for the following exercises a weight that allows you to complete 10 to 12 repetitions. If you are doing more than the prescribed rep range increase the weight by 2.5kgs or 5kgs or a weight that keeps you in the rep range.

Phase Two: Rest

Resting between sets can get boring as you’re excited to finish your repetitions and pumped up on your pre-workout, but resting enables you to lift heavier weights and complete more reps while increasing muscle size and strength. Patience is key when building a balanced physique.

Phase Two: Plan

Perform each of these workouts twice a week; for example, Workout 1 on Sunday and Wednesday and Workout 2 on Monday and Thursday.

Workout One

Muscle Group

Chest

Chest

Back

Back

Shoulders

Shoulders

Traps

Abs

Abs

Exercise

Bench Press

Incline Dumbbell Flye

Seated Row

Lat Pulldown

Dumbbell Press

Dumbbell Lat Raise

Barbell Shrug

Reverse Crunch

Crunch

Sets/Reps

3/8-10

3/10-12

3/8-10

3/10-12

3/8-10

3/10-12

3/8-10

3/to failure

3/to failure

Rest

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

1-2 min

1-2 min

Workout Two

Muscle Group

Biceps

Biceps

Triceps

Triceps

Legs

Legs

Legs

Calves

Calves

Exercise

Barbell Curl

Incline Dumbbell Curl

Close-Grip Press

Triceps Press Down

Squat

Leg Extension

Lying/Seated Curl

Standing Calf Raise

Seated Calf Raise

Sets/Reps

3/8-10

3/10-12

3/8-10

3/10-12

3/8-10

3/10-12

3/10-12

2/15-20

2/15-20

Rest

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

2-3 min

1-2 min

1-2 min

Stay tuned for Phase Three and Phase Four coming up in the next issue of Perfect Fit.

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