A beginners guide to weight training and muscle gain.

A beginners guide to weight training.

Whether your goal be to carve out Brad Pitt's six-pack of steel in fight club or to build an Arnold Schwarzenegger like physique, you're going to have to include some weight training into your exercise routine.

New to weight training? Fear not! In this article we'll provide you with everything you need along with a sample workout plan to help get you started. 


1.) Eat a healthy and balanced diet

Before i get into the good stuff, it's important to first point out that diet is 80% of the battle when it comes to muscle growth. It's fundamentally important that you eat healthy amounts of protein, healthy carbohydrates and fats. That means: chicken, beef, pork, tofu, soy, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grain bread, rice and pasta, avocados, fruit and vegetables.  

Related: pre and post workout

2.) Work your legs

Your leg workouts should be the building blocks for muscle growth and a strong physique. I can not emphasise this point enough. I know that leg day is tough and often far from enjoyable, but you must work your legs. 

Not only will leg day give you a much better all round physique, including abs of steel, it will actually improve your body's ability to build more muscle. Studies show that lower body exercises like squats and deadlifts release more growth hormone and testosterone than any upper body exercises.

3.) Patience 

I have one client in particular that seems hell bent on cutting corners. He'll tell me, "the workout and diet are fantastic and i'm seeing great results, what else can i take!?" The answer is patience Daniel son! ! You can't build muscle overnight and your goals must be realistic. The good news for all you Newbies is that you have much better muscle gaining potential than seasoned athletes. This is because your genetic muscular potential hasn't been activated yet.

When new to weight training, you can expect to gain anywhere from 0.2 - 0.6 kilos of lean muscle  per month.

4.) You need to rest 

Muscles grow when they're resting. FACT!

The reason your muscles are sore following a work out is because they're damaged. Simply put - your muscle must rip and tear in order to repair themselves and grow back bigger and stronger. Throwing yourself into endless workouts with minimal rest will only lead to a burn out. 

As tempted and as impatient as you may be. You must allow at least 24-72 hours between workouts (depending on intensity). 


5.) Learn correct form 

Injuries will get you nowhere. Take the necessary time to learn proper technique before adding weight. Leave your ego at the door, start light and slowly build up the weight as you become more comfortable with the exercises. If you are ever in any doubt, ask one of the trainings at your gym for help. After all, that's what they are there for! 

Note: If working unilaterally (one side at a time) - always start with your weaker side first. If you start with your stronger side, you may end up with strength imbalances. 


6.) Hypertrophy and rep range

Hypertrophy is essentially the growth of muscles. Studies show that the best rep range to achieve hypertrophy is from 8 to 12 repetitions. Anything less than this and you start to work strength instead of size. Anything above this and you start to work muscle endurance.  

7.) Repping out

Repping out is the term given to working muscles to failure. It's important that you rep out on the final set/s of each exercise. The final repetitions and always most painful but are where the magic happens. 

8.) Best workout plan

The most common workout plan for bodybuilders is split muscle groups. This normally includes up to 6 workouts per weeks, focusing on 1-2 muscle groups per workout. As effective as this workout plan is, it's very difficult to stick to and as a newbie, I would encourage you to avoid this training method for at least the first 6 months. Instead, do full body or upper/lower body splits. 

Sample full body workout plan

  • Bench press 
  • Lunges
  • Shoulder press
  • Pull ups / wide-grip lat pulldown
  • Squats
  • Dips
  • Deadlifts
  • Plank


Complete this workout 3 times a week, allowing 48 hours rest between workouts.
Complete 3-4 rounds of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise before moving onto the next exercise.
Rest between sets for 60-90 seconds. 
Make sure to fully warm up before beginning any form of weight training. 


Sample Upper/lower body workout plan. 

Upper body

  • Bench press
  • Dumbell chest flyes
  • Shoulder press
  • Pull ups / wide-grip lat pulldown
  • 1 arm Dumbbell rows
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions / pulldowns (Cable pulley)

Lower body

  • Lunges 
  • squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Calf press
  • Leg curls / Leg extensions superset

Complete the upper and lower body workout 2 times a week, allowing 24-48 hours rest between workouts. 
Complete 3-4 rounds of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise before moving onto the next exercise.
Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
Make sure to fully warm up before beginning any form of weight training. 

Now you have enough to get you started, what are you waiting for? Go build some muscle!!  

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