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You’ve made the first step in your weight loss journey and joined the gym. That’s great, but where do you go now? The budget doesn’t stretch to hiring a trainer, so you’ll have to go it alone. Here’s what you need to know.

Now you have the basics down, it’s time to get onto the nuts and bolts. Going trainer-less certainly doesn’t have to mean sub-par results, or having to stick to “beginner exercises.” 

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Here’s how to get advanced results from a basic routine:

The Warm Up

Ditch the cardio warm up. Despite the fact 99% of the gym population head straight for the cardio section each workout, you don’t need it.

Instead, perform a few basic body weight moves. Try 10 body weight squats, followed by 15 lunges on each leg. Do the first five as regular lunges, the next five – reach above your head, and the final five – twist to your side as you lunge down, alternating sides each rep.

Next, drop to the floor and perform 10 push ups on your knees and 10 cross body mountain climbers each side, where you assume a pushup position and bring your knee toward your opposite elbow. This should have your heart rate up, blood flowing, and ready to go.

Weighty Matters

To keep things simple, this routine has just four exercises – squats, deadlifts, dumbbell presses and chin-ups.

Only four? You may ask.

Yep, the ultimate beginner routine is basic and minimalist, but will get you stellar results.

For squats, position a barbell at chest-height in a squat rack. Step under the bar, so it’s resting across your upper back and pull your shoulder blades together, creating a ledge for it to sit on. Lift it out of the rack and take a step back. Squat down by pushing your butt back and knees out, going as low as you can, then stand back up forcefully.

Start with an empty barbell to get your technique right before adding weight.

Take the same barbell and place it on the floor for deadlifts. Stand with your feet underneath the bar, about shoulder width apart and grab it with both hands. Bend your knees until your shins are in contact with the bar. (Note – if you’re using an empty barbell, you will need to place the ends on aerobic steps to get the bar to mid-shin height. Drop your butt down and lift your head up so your back is completely straight, then pull the bar off the floor. Stand tall by pushing your hips forward and chest out, then lower the bar back down in reverse.

Set a weight bench so it’s flat and grab a pair of dumbbells. Lie on the bench, facing up, and hold the dumbbells at chest height with your palms also facing up. Press the dumbbells up until your elbows are straight and your hands are directly above your chest. Pause briefly and lower back down.

Finish off with chin-ups. If you’ve got good strength already, it’s a simple case of grabbing a chin-up bar, starting with your body hanging straight down and pulling yourself up until your chin’s over the bar. Most beginners will need to do assisted chin-ups though, which are exactly the same movement, but performed on a machine with a counter-balance weight.

The Details

Perform three sets of eight reps on each move, resting 90 seconds between sets.

That’s it – ultra simple. Do this three times per week, and you’ll be shocked at your results.

The key however, is managing intensity. Once you can manage the three sets of eight without too much difficulty, go up to three sets of 10. Then three sets of 12. When this is all fine, add 10 pounds to every lift, drop back to three sets of eight and start working your way up again.

If fat loss is your goal, add 15 to 20 minutes of moderate to high intensity cardio on any equipment of your choosing after your weights session.

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