Resistance Training to Get a Full Body Workout for Beginners

Master the basic free-weight exercises to burn fat and get stronger.
i Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

For burning calories, increasing strength and maximizing fat loss, you can't beat a full body workout. The more muscles you work in each workout, the more calories you burn and the quicker your results. As a beginner, the gym can be a daunting place, but don't be put off -- the only way you'll get great results is by committing 100 percent to your full body workout.


The more is better mantra might work for a lot of things, but when it comes to training, it isn't necessarily true. Quality is far more important than quantity. Your muscles need at least 48 hours between sessions to allow them to recover, according to the American Council on Exercise, so a full body workout every other day is ideal. As a beginner you may even find that once every three days is enough for the first few weeks, as you need slightly longer to recover from the post-workout soreness.

Exercise Selection

Pick exercises that work multiple muscle groups to burn the most calories. This means foregoing the classic beginner exercises of biceps curls, triceps kickbacks and leg extensions, and opting instead for deadlifts, squats, presses, pushups and rows. You might think that these are more advanced exercises, but they can all be picked up within a few sessions. Start with light weights, and if you're unsure of any techniques, ask a trainer at your gym for help.

Sets, Reps and Weights

Don't get too hung up on the exact number of sets and reps, and don't fall for the old myth of high reps with light weights being better for fat loss either. To begin with, perform each exercise for three sets of eight to 12 reps. Once you can complete three sets of 12, increase the weight and drop back down to three sets of eight. Aim to progress every session while maintaining perfect form.

Program Overview

Perform six exercises every session, each targeting a different muscle group. Strength coach Nia Shanks advises including one squatting movement, a deadlift, one overhead push, one overhead pull, a horizontal push and a horizontal pull in each workout. For instance your workout could include back squats, stiff-legged deadlifts, dumbbell shoulder presses, lat pulldowns, pushups and cable rows. Add in cardiovascular work on your days in between weights sessions -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous, or 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise every week.

the nest