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Virtually all bodybuilding plans for both beginners and professionals should focus on heavy compound exercises, which will build up groups of muscles in a more effective and efficient manner than isolation exercises. The most important compound exercises, where beginners are concerned,  are the deadlift, squat, row, bench press, and pull-up.

Note: Be sure to apply the appropriate technique when performing these compound exercises. When in doubt, consult instructional books and videos on the matter – better yet, ask the professional bodybuilders in the gym for tips.

The best beginner bodybuilding workout plan focuses on three days of lifting with the rest of the days devoted to recovery and to cardiovascular exercises. The recovery period is essential for good muscle growth and good overall health; muscles grow during the recovery period, not during the actual weightlifting. The cardiovascular exercises are essential in building up endurance and stamina as well as in fat loss.

[Note: The numbers represent the following: The first number pertains to the number of sets while the second number refers to the number of repetitions in each set. (5:5 means 5 sets with 5 reps in each set)]


The focus is on the muscles on the legs and abdomen.

  • Barbell back squat 5:5
  • Romanian deadlift 5:5
  • Dumbbell lunges 3:8
  • Weighted leg straight-leg situps 3:8


The back becomes the focus of the day.

  • Pullups 5:5
  • Barbell row 5:5
  • One-arm dumbbell row 3:8
  • EZ bar curls 3:8


The focus is on the chest.

  • Decline bench press 5:5
  • Flat dumbbell bench press 5:5
  • Tricep dips 3:8
  • EZ bar skull crushers 3:8

As previously mentioned, the rest of the days – Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday – should be devoted to recovery periods and cardiovascular exercises. Keep in mind that too much exercise, especially weightlifting exercises, increases the risk for injuries (e.g., sprained muscles, torn tendons, and even fractured bones) and illnesses. Moderation is always the key in a beginner’s bodybuilding program.