Beginner Workout Plan To Build Muscle


Building muscle from scratch is no easy feat. But with a little persistence, consistency—and the right workout routine—you’ll get the gains you deserve in no time. And we’re going to show you how with our muscle mass-boosting Smart guide.

Developing mean, lean muscle takes dedication—but it’s well within your reach. To reach your strength and fitness goals, striking the perfect balance between training, rest, and nutrition is key. It’s a perfect storm that takes planning, and when you’re starting out, knowing where to start can seem impossible.

Your first four weeks of training will prove demanding, but with the right beginner workout plan, you’ll get into the groove fast.

Here we’re going to give you the tips, advice, and workout plan you need to succeed every step (or rep) of the way.

But first…

Muscle-building mistakes to avoid at all costs

To get the most from your muscle-boosting gym workout plan for beginners, you need to know what not to do.

By avoiding these common strength training mistakes, you’ll squeeze every drop of muscle-pumping juice from your training sessions—consistently smashing your goals in the process.

Let’s dive in.

Training too much

Can you train too much? The short answer is: yes, you can. When you’re starting out on your muscle growth journey, falling into the trap of training more means bigger gains is pretty common.

But, when you over-exercise (especially when you’re talking about weight or resistance training), persistent muscle soreness can creep in—stunting your progress and reducing your gains over time.

To avoid this muscle growth mistake, you should follow an exercise program that allows you to increase the frequency as well as the intensity of your training sessions gradually. That way, you’ll make consistent progress while building your strength—and your confidence—the Smart way.

Not pushing it hard enough

When you are strength training, giving it your all is a must—and this is a very different concept from over-exercising.

So many people following a beginner workout routine work to a set number of reps per set—even if it barely challenges their muscles. Working well within your comfort zone will minimise your chances of grabbing those big gains and maximise your chances of frustration.

To get the most from any beginner exercise program, you should always…

  1. Focus on your form
  2. Push yourself until failure
  3. Gradually increase your reps and weights over time

Following these three key principles and pushing yourself during every training session will result in the muscle growth success you deserve. So, go for it.

Under consuming calories

As we said, focusing on your nutrition is vital when you’re on a mission to build muscle. In addition to getting your daily fill of essential nutrients (more on that later), it’s also important to consume enough calories.

According to Healthline (1), you should consume between 10% and 20% of your daily maintenance calories to progressively build muscle during the ‘bulking’ phase of your muscle growth journey.

If you don’t consume enough calories, you cannot progressively build muscle—at least not at a rate or level that will result in noticeable results. So, get eating.

  SmartTip: Discover your exact daily caloric needs for building muscle with a quick and easy online calculator.   

Switching up your workouts too often

Another rookie muscle-bulking mistake is the temptation to keep switching up your workouts. 

So many budding muscle builders believe that chopping and changing your strength training workouts regularly will challenge your muscles and stimulate growth. But, when it comes to building muscle and reaching your fitness goals—remember this…

Consistency is key.

For the best results, you should stick with your beginner workout plan, focusing on challenging the right muscle groups and challenging your body progressively while allowing it to adjust to your new routine. 

Consistency is everything—so stick with your plan—and keep working hard. That’s the way to win.

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Behold our muscle-building gym workout plan for beginners

Now that you know what not to do, let's get down to muscle-boosting business. To help you in those crucial first few weeks and months of your journey, we’re going to share a beginner strength training routine that you can tweak to your personal goals and needs.

Your muscle-boosting workout schedule

This four-week beginner exercise routine will target all major muscle groups and set you on the path to muscle-building success.

We’re going to break it down week by week—outlining the exercises that will stimulate muscle growth and challenge your body enough to elevate your strength, confidence, and overall fitness levels.

Are you up for the challenge? Let’s dive in (have your gym towel at the ready!).

Setting your weight…

Before you start your workout plan for beginners, knowing how to set the right weight is vital. Here are some top tips on how to do just that…

  1. Decide the exercise you want to try
  2. Purposely select a low weight for that particular exercise (as little as five lbs)
  3. Try 10 controlled reps of your exercise, focusing on form
  4. If you can perform 10 reps with little or no challenge, up your weight a little
  5. Keep finessing the process until you feel that your muscles are being truly challenged

Week one: Full-body blaster

During the first week of your beginner strength training routine, you should aim to train all major muscle groups to prime your body for consistent growth and progress. We call this the full-body blaster.


Perform three controlled sets of each exercise. Aim for a minimum of 10 reps per set, aiming to push until failure. Rest for around three minutes between each set for the best results.

  1. Dumbbell bench press
  2. Overhead dumbbell press
  3. Standing calf raises (weighted)
  4. Leg press
  5. Lat-based pulldown
  6. Barbell bicep curl
  7. Lying leg curl
  8. Raised crunches or cable crunches



Repeat full body blaster routine




Repeat full body blaster routine





Week two: Split fitness

After priming your muscles during week one, we’re going to take some of these body-boosting beginner exercises and split them up a little. At this point, we’re going to get you to dig a little deeper, focusing on one muscle group at a time. Let’s ramp things up a notch.

NOTE: For week two of our workout program, you should follow the same principles as week one. Perform the same number of sets, allowing around three minutes of rest between each one.


Upper body blast…

  1. Barbell bench press
  2. Dumbbell flyes
  3. Barbell bicep curl
  4. Lat-based pulldown
  5. Overhead dumbbell press
  6. Lateral raise with dumbbells
  7. Barbell upright row
  8. Raised crunches or cable crunches 

Lower body blast…

  1. Standing calf raise (weighted)
  2. Seated calf raise (weighted)
  3. Lying leg curl
  4. Seated leg curl
  5. Leg press
  6. Weighted goblet squats



Repeat upper body blast


Repeat lower body blast





Week three: Push and pull

To progress your fitness journey that little bit extra and keep stimulating muscle growth while remaining consistent, we’re going to add to your load. 

During week three, you’ll focus on different muscle groups during each training session, focusing on different parts of the body as well as an even more dynamic mix of movements (including those that involve intense pulling or pushing).

The same principles apply here: focus on form, perform three sets of each exercise, and take a breather in between each one. Now, over to you.


Push exercise routine…

  1. Dumbbell kickback
  2. Overhead dumbbell press
  3. Overhead dumbbell triceps extensions
  4. Dumbbell flyes
  5. Incline bench press with barbell

Pull exercise routine…

  1. Upright row with dumbbells
  2. Single-arm neutral row with dumbbells
  3. Incline bicep curls with dumbbells
  4. Preacher curls with gym cable
  5. Reverse crunches

Repeat lower body blast from week one with Romanian deadlifts added to the mix


Repeat push workout


Repeat pull workout


Repeat lower body blast from Wednesday



Week four: Pump up the volume

Now we’ve reached the final phase of our beginner gym routine for building muscle. Here, we’re going to pump up our efforts and split our workout program up four ways. The idea is to hone in on slightly more focused muscle groups to accelerate progress.

You should follow the same set volume and approach as the previous three weeks—but try to squeeze out a few extra reps if you can. It’s time to pump up the volume.


Calves, triceps and chest blast…

  1. Dumbbell flyes
  2. Dumbbell bench press
  3. Rope press-down
  4. Dumbbell kickbacks
  5. Incline barbell bench press
  6. Dumbbell tricep extensions
  7. Seated calf raises
  8. Standing calf raises

Legs and abs crusher…

  1. Leg press
  2. Back squats
  3. Leg curl lying down
  4. Seated leg curl
  5. Romanian deadlifts
  6. Reverse crunches
  7. Cable crunches



Shoulder and calf blaster…

  1. Overhead dumbbell press
  2. Seated calf raise
  3. Lateral raise with dumbbells
  4. Upright row with machine or dumbbells

Back, bicep and abs burner…

  1. Bent-over row with barbell
  2. Barbell bicep curls
  3. Preacher curls with cable
  4. Single-arm neutral grip rows with dumbbells
  5. Incline bicep curls with dumbbells
  6. Reverse crunches
  7. Standing crunches or cable crunches
SmartTip: Once you’ve completed this challenging four-week beginner gym workout plan and started to see some results, you can use this as a guide—tweaking each routine to your specific bodybuilding or fitness-boosting needs.
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The key ingredients for building muscle

Armed with your newfound beginner workout routine, you’ll have the power to build muscle consistently and with confidence.

To ensure you keep grabbing those gains and making progress, we’re going to explore the key ingredients (in addition to having the perfect workout plan) to building muscle the Smart way.


As we said, when it comes to developing muscle and improving your fitness, consistency is key. Kicking back one week and then going all out the next won’t result in continual progress—you’ll probably end up with an injury, too.

Improving muscular endurance takes time and patience. So, make sure that your current muscle-building goals are achievable—and that you have time to put in the right amount of effort every week. 

It’s better to start smaller and notch things up gradually than to start big and burn out. So, always remember: Consistency is key, consistency is key, consistency is key.


We’ve touched on this a few times here—but following the right diet is essential for muscle-building success.

In addition to consuming the right amount of calories, you also need to get your fill of macronutrients—including plenty of protein.

Protein is vital for muscle growth and recovery (2)—and without getting enough—you’ll never reach your full muscle-boosting potential.

To ensure you eat enough protein, quality carbohydrates, and healthy fats depending on your height, weight, and fitness goals, try a macronutrient calculator.

SmartTip: Check out our Smart Guide on essential muscle-building foods to add to your diet for top nutritional tips and insider advice. 

Rest and active recovery

By glancing over our beginner workout plan, you’ll see that we’ve included regular rest periods throughout.

Why? Well, as we mentioned, rest is essential for recovery. In fact, it’s during those all-important periods of rest and active recovery that your muscles repair and grow.

Make sure you take the time to rest regularly, and not only will you avoid getting injured, but you’ll also start to see those all-important muscle-boosting gains quicker.

Here are a few tips to get the most from your rest days…

  • Take the time to stretch or get a sports massage
  • Eat well and try a new protein-packed recipe or two
  • Go for a brisk walk
  • Take a bath
  • Swim or cycle—but take it easy
SmartTip: Read our essential guide on how to speed up your muscle recovery to accelerate your progress and reach your fitness goals faster.  


Last but certainly not least, we have supplements. When you’re looking to develop muscle, taking the right supplements will fill in any nutritional gaps while helping you to elevate your performance during training sessions.

Using supplements to complement your beginner workout plan and muscle-boosting diet will flood your body with the ingredients you need to succeed while accelerating your progress.

The likes of protein powder, electrolyte powder, and creatine will keep you energised, fuel your exercise performance, and help you build the kind of lean muscle that turns heads. Weave supplements into your routine and there will be no stopping you.

SmartTip: Try our Build Muscle Kit or Vegan Build Muscle Kit, complete with a trio of body-boosting supplements that will help you push your performance to the max while recovering faster and maximising growth.  
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Reach your muscle-building goals the Smart way…

Getting stronger and developing muscle takes time, dedication, and patience. There’s no fast-track solution to grabbing big gains—you’ve got to eat right, live well, and put in the work week in, week out.

Now you have the knowledge and the exercise plan you need to succeed, it’s time to put on your gym gear and make it happen. 

Best of luck on your journey—and if you need any more tips, health or advice—check out Smart Hub. We’re with you every step of the way.

If you’re in search of Smart supplements to suit your specific goal, try our quickfire quiz and we’ll send you personalised suggestions. Go for it.


Smart Protein is committed to sourcing only the best and scientifically-backed research in our articles.

1. Healthline

2. Nih:

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