Weightlifting Workout Charts

Leg press

Variation is the key to continued progress, but having a couple of basic weightlifting workout charts as your starting-off point can be a good way to get things structured. Here are three workouts; one whole-body workout for beginners and a two-day split where you train half the body each time for those a little more advanced.

The Beginner Workout

If you're new to weightlifting, it may be easiest to start with a simple, whole-body workout that hits every major muscle group in the body. The general idea is more about activating the muscles than hammering any one muscle group into submission. As a result, you can do this workout two or maybe even three times a week -- let the disappearance of soreness be your guide.

  • Abs: Abdominal crunches - 3 sets, to failure
  • Back: Seated cable rows - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Back: Lat pulldowns - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Back: Standing dumbbell shrugs - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Arms: Tricep cable pressdowns - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Arms: Standing barbell bicep curls - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Shoulders: Dumbbell lateral raises - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Chest: Dumbbell chest presses - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Chest: Cable crossover flyes - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Quads: Machine leg presses - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Quads: Leg extensions - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Hamstrings: Seated hamstring curls - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Calves: Seated calf presses - 2 sets, 8-10 reps

The Two-Day Split

After a couple months or perhaps a year, depending on your starting condition, you may be ready to step up to bigger challenges. By splitting the body into two separate workouts you can pour more effort into each muscle group. You should also consider that this extra effort may require more rest days between workouts; again, let the disappearance of soreness be your guide.

Day 1: Legs and Abs

  • Abs: Abdominal crunches - 3 sets, to failure
  • Abs: Twisted abdominal crunches - 2 sets, to failure
  • Abs: Ab machine of choice - 2 sets, to failure
  • Quads: Squats - 3 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Quads: Lunges - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Quads: Leg extensions - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Hamstrings: Seated hamstring curls - 3 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Hamstrings: Lying hamstring curls - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Calves: Standing calf presses - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Calves: Seated calf presses - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Calves: Donkey calf presses - 2 sets, 8-10 reps

Day 2: Upper Body

  • Chest: Standing barbell military presses - 2 sets, 10-12 reps
  • Chest: Flat barbell chest presses - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Chest: Cable crossover flyes - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Chest/Triceps: Dips - 3 sets, to failure
  • Chest/Triceps: Push ups - 2 sets, to failure
  • Triceps: Skullcrushers (a.k.a. French presses) - 3 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Shoulders: Dumbbell lateral raises - 2 sets, 12-15 reps
  • Biceps: Wide grip barbell curls - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Biceps: Narrow grip barbell curls - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Biceps/Forearms: Rope hammer curls - 2 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Back: Deadlifts - 3 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Back: Chins - 2 sets, to failure
  • Back: Dumbbell rows - 2 sets, 8-10 reps

Modifying Weightlifting Workout Charts

As stated earlier, variation is very important for the long haul. The best weightlifting workout charts inevitably turn stale and ineffective once your body has grown used to the exercises. Instead, make it a point to rotate exercises (change at least two to three around each workout), switch the order in which you train, say, chest and triceps, even crazy stuff like cutting all weights in half and doing 30 excruciating reps per exercise once in a blue moon. Bottom line: make sure to keep your muscles guessing, and they'll respond by growing stronger by the week. Good luck!

Weightlifting Workout Charts