If you're an absolute novice in the weight room, don't panic. All of the hulking, sweating bodies you see before you were, too, at some point or another. If you're searching for a primer that covers all the basics you need to know—like lifting and eating for muscle vs strength, how to incorporate cardio to build muscle and torch fat, and an overall plan to get you the desired result you're looking for, read How to Build Muscle: The Basic Guide for Beginners.
We've also got a beginner's workout to ease you into a training program without shocking your body as this can cause stretch marks and increase your risk for injury. This routine is based on compound lifts, meaning the movement requires multiple joints to move the weight. "By using more muscles, compound movements create a more pronounced response from the muscle and a greater secretion of muscle-building hormones," says Josh Bryant, MS. "In a nutshell, your body has to work harder to do these movements, which expedites strength gains, muscle building, and fat loss," he adds.
Note: If you've never lifted before, start entirely with bodyweight first to perfect your form and technique. Some of these moves are bodyweight only, but for those that aren't, grab super-light weights (we're talking 5lb) and practice. Some of these moves will require a barbell, or at least you'll progress to using one with the squat and pressing movements; grab a broomstick or PVC pipe to test the moves first.
Once you're comfortable with this, move on to just the bar. Don't be afraid to ask a trainer in your gym for a spot, some pointers, and an eye to make sure you're doing everything correctly from the get-go. Watching tutorials and reading up on training mistakes and how-tos will also be tremendously helpful. Lucky for you our site is dedicated to helping you along the way.
Try Bryant's workout on the following page.