Gym Workout for Beginners to Lose Weight – Fitness Volt (2023)

Do you want to lose weight but aren’t sure where to start? No problem, we’re here to help! Use this beginner gym workout and nutrition guide to shed those unwanted pounds.

Gym Workout for Beginners to Lose Weight – Fitness Volt (1)

Written by Patrick Dale, PT, ex-Marine

Last Updated onJune 21, 2021

A lot of fitness and weight loss information is aimed at experienced exercisers. Things like five-day workout splits, high-intensity interval training, and intermittent fasting are undeniably effective, but for the average beginner, they’re also unnecessarily complicated.

Think about it like this – if you are new to working out and have never dieted before, your body will respond to the simplest of interventions because whatever you do is new. Using advanced training and nutrition strategies is overkill. Save the “big guns” for when you actually need them and not when you are starting out.

After all, you wouldn’t start your running career by doing a full 26.2-mile marathon. That’s something you need to work up to. Apply the same logic to your weight loss workouts and diet, and the entire process should be much more enjoyable.

So, in this article, we’re going to provide you with a nutrition guide and workout plan designed especially for beginners.

Table of Contents Hide

  • Eating for Weight Loss
    • 1. Determine your daily calorie requirements
    • 2. Create a calorie deficit
    • 3. Track your food intake
    • 4. Add a few fat-burning tricks to your diet
  • Strength Training
  • Cardio
  • Add Some NEAT to Your Workout Week
    • Wrapping Up
    • References:
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Eating for Weight Loss

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You may be wondering why an article titled Gym Workout for Beginners to Lose Weight starts with a section on nutrition. The answer is that, to lose weight, your diet is arguably the most important factor affecting your success.

We have a saying in the fitness industry; you can’t outrun a bad diet. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how hard you work out; if you aren’t paying attention to what you eat, your progress will never be anything but disappointing.

Think of good nutrition as your weight loss foundation.

It’s beyond the scope of this article to provide you with a diet to follow. After all, we all have different food preferences, eating schedules, nutritional needs, and grocery budgets. A diet that’s perfect for one person may be entirely unsuitable for someone else. Instead, follow these steps to create your own sustainable eating plan.

1. Determine your daily calorie requirements

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Body fat is stored calories. One pound of fat is roughly equal to 3,500 calories. To burn fat, you need to provide your body with fewer calories than it needs. This creates a calorie deficit or negative energy balance. Faced with a calorie shortfall, your body is forced to burn fat for energy. No deficit means no fat loss – simple!

While you could just eat less and hope you’ve created a caloric deficit, you’ll probably get better results if you work out how many calories you need per day and then adjust your food intake accordingly.

The easiest way to do this is to use an online Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) calculator like this one.

Just type in your info, and you’ll find out how many calories you need to eat to MAINTAIN your current weight. Make a note of this number, and then move onto the next step.

2. Create a calorie deficit

If you consume calories equal to your TDEE, your weight should remain relatively stable. To lose weight, you need to eat less.

Create that all but essential calorie deficit by subtracting 500 from your TDEE. Bear in mind that 500 calories are just a starting point. You may need to adjust this figure according to your progress. However, it’s an excellent place to begin and should work reasonably well for most people.

Once you’ve subtracted 500 from your TDEE, you know how many calories you need to eat to lose weight.

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3. Track your food intake

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Now that you know how many calories you need to eat per day to lose weight, you need to make sure you hit that number. The easiest way to do this is to use a food tracking app. There are lots to choose from, and many of them are free. Simply type in the contents of your meals, and the app will tell you how many calories you’ve consumed. Make sure that you do not exceed your TDEE minus 500 calories goal.

Try to eat as clean as you can. This means more natural foods and less processed junk. Clean foods like lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains, fruit, and healthy fats are generally lower in calories than processed junk food. That means you can eat more and still lose weight.

While calories ARE the most crucial nutritional consideration for weight loss, your macro ratios (the relationship between dietary protein, carbohydrate, and fat) are important too. If you can, try and adjust your meals so that macros fall in line with the following guidelines:

  • Protein: 40-50%
  • Carbs: 10-30%
  • Fat: 30-40%

Meals built around these ratios are generally more filling than high-carb meals.

4. Add a few fat-burning tricks to your diet

Make no mistake; eating fewer calories than your TDEE is the nutritional key to losing weight. However, there are a few things that you can do to supercharge your diet, so you lose weight faster. Examples include:

  1. Drinking more water
  2. Eating more high-fiber foods
  3. Planning and prepping your meals in advance

Learn more in our article: The Top 20 Simple Weight Loss Tips

Strength Training

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While you could just eat yourself slimmer, you’ll lose weight faster if you exercise too. Working out increases your daily caloric expenditure and preserves your muscle mass, so you don’t become skinny-fat, and allows a little dietary latitude so you can still enjoy the occasional treat.

A lot of people focus on cardio for weight loss, but strength training is equally important. In fact, you’ll lose weight faster and more easily if you do both.

Beginners may be tempted to dive head-first into an intense workout plan, but that would be a mistake. Doing more exercise than you can comfortably handle is a good way to end up sore and even injured. Also, training too hard too soon could put you off exercise for good.

The key to exercising for weight loss is sustainability. You need to follow a workout plan you can stick to. Not for a week or a month but for the foreseeable future.

For most beginners, this means following a full-body workout plan, and hitting the gym three times a week on non-consecutive days. This gives you a day in between each workout for cardio and rest/recovery. We’ll talk more about cardio in the next section. For now, here is your beginner’s gym workout for fat loss.

Do the following workout three times per week, with one day in between, e.g., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Click on the linked exercises for instructions on how to do them.

Exercise SetsRepsRecovery
1Goblet squat312-2060-90 seconds
2Chest press machine212-2060-90 seconds
3Seated rows212-2060-90 seconds
4Lunge312-2060-90 seconds
5Dumbbell shoulder press212-2060-90 seconds
6Lat pulldown212-2060-90 seconds
7Triceps pushdown212-2060-90 seconds
8Dumbbell biceps curl212-2060-90 seconds
9Cable crunch312-2060-90 seconds
1045-degree back extension312-2060-90 seconds

A lot of workouts are very prescriptive regarding how much weight you should use for your workouts. This is often based on your one-repetition maximum, or 1-RM for short. As a beginner, you won’t know what your 1-RM is, and nor should you try and discover it.

Instead, pick a weight that makes your feel fatigued within the specified rep range. If you can’t do 12 reps with your chosen weight, it’s too heavy. But, if you can do more than 20 reps, it’s too light. Providing the weight you are lifting starts to feel challenging somewhere between 12-20 reps, it should have the desired effect.

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It may take you a couple of workouts to determine the proper weights for your workouts, but that’s okay. Make a note of the weights you use so you can adjust them next time.

However, to ensure your workouts keep producing results, you need to work a little harder from one week to the next. Try to do an extra rep or two per exercise or increase the weight slightly. Never sacrifice good exercise form for extra weight or reps but do try to make your workouts progressively more demanding.

Finally, make sure you start each workout with a warm-up to prepare your muscles and joints for what you are about to do. Do 5-10 minutes of easy cardio, followed by some dynamic mobility and flexibility for your major muscles and joints.

Cardio

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The key to effective cardio is actually doing it! It really doesn’t matter much if you ride a bike, run, or use an elliptical or rowing machine. So long as you do it regularly and for long enough, any cardio workout can help you burn calories and lose weight.

For this training plan, we want you to do two or three 20-30-minute cardio workouts per week. There is no need to do interval training; just maintain a steady pace for the entire duration of your workout.

How fast should you go? Ideally, you should stay at around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. This should feel comfortable and sustainable. You’ll be out of breath but still able to talk.

If you want to monitor your heart rate, you calculate your range like this:

  1. 220 minus age in years x 0.6 = 60%
  2. 220 minus age in years x 0.7 = 70%

Just keep your heart rate between these two numbers.

As well as burning calories, cardio is good for your cardiovascular health and will also help ease the muscle soreness that often follows strength training. Choose whatever cardio workouts you enjoy. But, if you are a little on the heavy side, avoid high-impact activities like running, as they can be hard on your joints. Instead, choose a low-impact workout like cycling or rowing.

With the strength training and cardio, your workout week should look something like this:

MonTueWedThuFriSatSun
Strength trainingCardioStrength trainingCardioStrength trainingCardioRest

Add Some NEAT to Your Workout Week

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Following our plan means that you’ll accumulate about 4-5 hours of exercise per week. That’s pretty good! But, if you’ve got an office job or are otherwise mostly sedentary, that leaves 160 hours per week when your caloric expenditure could be very low.

Ultimately, the less you move, the fewer calories you’ll burn, and the slower you’ll lose weight.

Speed up the weight loss process with NEAT, short for non-exercise activity thermogenesis (1). NEAT can have a significant impact on your daily energy expenditure but, because the intensity is low, it won’t tire you out and won’t detract from your workouts.

Examples of NEAT include:

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  • Carrying groceries back from the store
  • Cleaning your car or bike
  • Cycling for pleasure or transport
  • DIY projects
  • Gardening
  • Hiking
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Playing with your kids
  • Raking leaves
  • Recreational sports
  • Taking out the garbage
  • Taking your dog for a walk
  • Vacuuming
  • Walking for pleasure or transport
  • Washing the dishes
  • Washing windows

It’s not easy to track NEAT, but you should try and clock up an hour or two per day. One way to do this is to use a pedometer and accumulate about 10,000 steps per day. 10,000 steps are equal to about five miles of walking, which should take about 90 minutes.

That might sound daunting, but NEAT does not have to be done all in one go; just do your best to break up periods of sedentarism with short bursts of physical activity. Ultimately, any time you get up and move will be beneficial, and when it comes to NEAT, more is better.

Wrapping Up

The fundamentals of weight loss are simple – eat a little less, exercise a little more, and keep at it for as long as it takes to reach your goal weight. Providing you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight.

Beginners often get bogged down in the details and forget (or are never told) about the basic components of weight loss. They end up following extreme diets or complicated workouts and drop out simply because they try to use methods or programs that are too advanced.

The information in this article is straightforward and easy to follow, but that’s the point. The easier something is to do, the more likely you are to do it!

There is nothing wrong with things like the keto or intermittent fasting diets or two-a-day workouts, and Tabata training. It’s just that, as a beginner, you don’t need to use these things yet.

Sometime in the future, you may need to call on more advanced methods to maintain your progress. However, just as a child must learn to walk before they can run, you need to pay your dues with the basics first. After all, they’re the foundation on which all other diet and exercise strategies are built.

References:

1– PubMed: Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12468415/

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Categories: Nutrition Nutrition Tips Workout Plans Workouts

FAQs

What should a beginner do at the gym to lose weight? ›

Beginner gym workout for fat loss
  1. Plate thrusters (15 reps x 3 sets)
  2. Mountain climbers (20 reps x 3 sets)
  3. Box jumps (10 reps x 3 sets)
  4. Walk outs (10 reps x 3 sets)
  5. Renegade rows (full plank/kneeling) (10 each side x 3 sets)
  6. Press ups (full plank/kneeling) (15 reps x 3 sets)
18 Dec 2019

What should I do at the gym to lose weight at the gym? ›

Here are the 8 best exercises for weight loss.
  • Walking. Walking is one of the best exercises for weight loss — and for good reason. ...
  • Jogging or running. Jogging and running are great exercises to help you lose weight. ...
  • Cycling. ...
  • Weight training. ...
  • Interval training. ...
  • Swimming. ...
  • Yoga. ...
  • Pilates.

How do I lose belly fat at the gym? ›

Some great cardio of aerobic exercises for belly fat include:
  1. Walking, especially at a quick pace.
  2. Running.
  3. Biking.
  4. Rowing.
  5. Swimming.
  6. Cycling.
  7. Group fitness classes.

Which gym equipment is best for belly fat? ›

The following are among the most popular and effective workout machines used for reducing belly fat.
  • Treadmill.
  • Elliptical.
  • Stairmaster.
  • Stationary bike.
  • Rowing machine.
10 Nov 2020

Is 45 mins at gym enough? ›

A 45 minute moderate intensity aerobic exercise session is the scientifically backed timeframe to exercise in. It is short enough to fit easily into your schedule, but long enough to get a full workout in that benefits all aspects of your body.

Is gym everyday OK? ›

How much is ideal? A weekly day of rest is often advised when structuring a workout program, but sometimes you may feel the desire to work out every day. As long as you're not pushing yourself too hard or getting obsessive about it, working out every day is fine.

How much weight can I lose in 1 month at the gym? ›

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , it's 1 to 2 pounds per week. That means, on average, that aiming for 4 to 8 pounds of weight loss per month is a healthy goal.

Does gym burn fat? ›

Doing aerobic exercise regularly can increase the number of calories you burn and help you lose body fat.

What should I do my first time at the gym? ›

Take the first 10 minutes to get your body moving. Cardio machines are a great place to start. Try taking a walk, or light jog, on the treadmill, or give the bike a spin. Whatever you choose, you should be working hard enough to get your heart rate up and break out in a slight sweat before moving on.

Which cardio burns the most fat? ›

Running is the winner for most calories burned per hour. Stationary bicycling, jogging, and swimming are excellent options as well. HIIT exercises are also great for burning calories. After a HIIT workout, your body will continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours.

What is the fastest way to burn fat in the gym? ›

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that pairs quick bursts of activity with short recovery periods to keep your heart rate elevated. Studies show that HIIT is incredibly effective at ramping up fat burning and promoting sustainable weight loss.

How can I slim my waist? ›

Eating a healthy, varied diet that is high in fruits and vegetables — including soluble fiber, vitamin D, and probiotics — is the best plan for losing weight from your waistline. Avoiding refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods whenever possible will help you cut calories and get rid of fat more quickly.

Which machine burns the most belly fat? ›

The treadmill has been shown to burn calories at the highest rate of any cardio exercise machine and running on a treadmill is one of the most effective ways to lose belly fat.

What exercise burns the most belly fat for female? ›

1: Running or walking

As you exercise, calories are burned and your body fat percentage decreases. So, exercising not only helps you lose belly fat, it also sheds fat from other areas. Running and walking are two of the best fat-burning exercises.

Is a 2 hour gym session too long? ›

Workouts should last no less than 60 minutes and no more than 90 minutes. This is sufficient time to challenge your body with quality reps. Anything more, and you'll see diminished returns for your efforts. If you feel inclined to train longer, it's best to split up your workout.

How long should I workout a day? ›

As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Reducing sitting time is important, too.

How many calories does a 1 hour gym workout burn? ›

The number of calories burned in a one-hour weight training ranges from 180 to 266 calories in a one-hour session. If you increase your workout intensity to a vigorous training level, your calorie burn jumps to between 360 and 532 calories per hour.

Is it good to workout on an empty stomach? ›

When you exercise on an empty stomach, you may burn valuable energy sources and have less stamina. Low blood sugar levels may also leave you feeling lightheaded, nauseous, or shaky. Another possibility is that your body will adjust to continually using fat reserves for energy, and start to store more fat than usual.

How long should I spend at the gym? ›

For most gym goers, 30 minutes to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity done three to five days per week is the sweet spot and meets the American College for Sports Medicine's recommendation.

Should you go to the gym on an empty stomach? ›

Working out on an empty stomach won't hurt you—and it may actually help, depending on your goal. But first, the downsides. Exercising before eating comes with the risk of “bonking”—the actual sports term for feeling lethargic or light-headed due to low blood sugar.

How fast can I lose weight in gym? ›

In terms of losing weight through exercise, he says people can start seeing results in two to three weeks. But he explains that if you want to keep the weight off, you'll need a routine that progresses slowly and steadily instead of one where you're going all out.

Should I go to the gym everyday to lose weight? ›

You don't have to work out every single day of the week to lose weight. By focusing on 3-5 high intensity workouts per week, you can more effectively burn fat, increase your metabolism and shed pounds!

What should a woman do at the gym to lose weight? ›

Lifting weights, eating in a calorie deficit, and doing 30 minutes of cardio 2-3 days per week are your best bets for seeing results. You should also prioritize protein as much as possible and increase your NEAT throughout the day to accelerate your fat loss.

What should I do my first time at the gym? ›

Take the first 10 minutes to get your body moving. Cardio machines are a great place to start. Try taking a walk, or light jog, on the treadmill, or give the bike a spin. Whatever you choose, you should be working hard enough to get your heart rate up and break out in a slight sweat before moving on.

How soon do you see results from gym? ›

While seeing results from working out heavily depends on the person and their current level of fitness, "My [clients] generally see initial changes within four to six weeks, and actual results within eight to 12 weeks," Wilson explains.

Should you exercise on an empty stomach? ›

Evidence Against the Health Claim

Contrary to popular belief, working out on an empty stomach does not jumpstart your metabolism. After approximately 30 minutes of exercising without eating first, the body starts to use muscle as an energy source, which can lead to overexertion, dizziness, and dehydration.

What is the fastest way to burn fat in the gym? ›

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that pairs quick bursts of activity with short recovery periods to keep your heart rate elevated. Studies show that HIIT is incredibly effective at ramping up fat burning and promoting sustainable weight loss.

What burns the most fat at the gym? ›

Running is the winner for most calories burned per hour. Stationary bicycling, jogging, and swimming are excellent options as well. HIIT exercises are also great for burning calories. After a HIIT workout, your body will continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours.

Will I lose weight if I go to the gym 3 times a week? ›

Working out three times a week is a great way to start losing weight. Combining exercise with a healthy diet is the most effective way to shed extra pounds. Working out three days a week is a great place to start, and it will help you begin to create the calorie deficit necessary for weight loss.

Should I eat before gym or after? ›

Eat after you exercise

To help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores, eat a meal that contains both carbohydrates and protein within two hours of your exercise session if possible. Consider a snack if your meal is more than two hours away. Good post-workout food choices include: Yogurt and fruit.

What is a good gym routine? ›

Beginner's workout routine for males

Seated chest press (10 reps x 4 sets) Close grip triceps push-ups (10 reps x 4 sets) Dumbbell bicep curls (10 reps x 4 sets) Seated rows (10 reps x 4 sets)

How long should I spend at the gym? ›

For most gym goers, 30 minutes to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity done three to five days per week is the sweet spot and meets the American College for Sports Medicine's recommendation.

What are the stages of losing weight? ›

The 4 Phases of Weight Loss
  • Phase -1 – GLYCOGEN DEPLETION. Glycogen Depletion: ...
  • Phase -2 – FAT LOSS. This is the sweet spot for healthy weight loss. ...
  • Phase -3 – PLATEAU. ...
  • Phase -4 – METABOLIC RECOVERY. ...
  • All the Phases of Weight Management:
12 Apr 2018

What does 1 month of working out look like? ›

As for the results you'll see from going to the gym for a month (and beyond)… You can expect to lose 1-2 pounds a week of fat and gain only a few pounds of muscle a month as a beginner. Your mood, sleep, and energy levels will improve almost instantly if you were previously on the sedentary side.

How long should I workout a day? ›

As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Reducing sitting time is important, too.

Does hunger mean you're burning fat? ›

Although you may feel hungry when you are trying to lose weight, and restrict your energy intake, being hungry doesn't mean that you're burning fat, because you can shed pounds without always feeling hungry. The main factor that affects this is the means of how you are losing weight.

What should you eat after a workout to lose weight? ›

Here are some quick and easy post-workout meals:
  • Cottage cheese with berries.
  • Avocado spread on toast with an omelet.
  • Scrambled eggs.
  • Berries and Greek yogurt.
  • Chickpea salad and edamame.
  • Quinoa with avocado, nuts, and dried fruit.
  • Pita and hummus.
  • Oatmeal with almonds, a banana, and whey protein.

What happens if you exercise without dieting? ›

Exercise while ignoring your diet just isn't a good weight loss strategy, says exercise physiologist Katie Lawton, MEd. “To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume or eat fewer calories than your body uses each day,” says Lawton. “If you don't have a caloric deficit, you will not lose weight.”

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