Currently my workout is stagnating because I've been doing the same exercises for the last three workouts.

I'm finding myself too shy to try new routines (eg. deadlifts), for fear I think, of doing it wrong.

One option would be to use a PT say, once a month to show me the form for some new routines and keep it fresh.

Can someone please outline how you go out incorperating new routines if you workout by yourself?

2 Answers 2


This is a great question, and I think it's something everyone has struggled with. First, just take a peek at this answer about gym etiquette, which should set your mind at ease in many respects.

When starting out at the gym, everyone will feel self-conscious. This is part of training anything. If you take dance lessons or archery lessons, you will feel the same thing. It takes time to build confidence. At the gym though, we want to start using different machines and different equipment in order to have some variation and keep our workouts fun and effectual. So what do we do?

First, we should make an outline of our goals. What do we want to do in the gym? Do we want to be able to bench press 405 lbs? Do we want to be able to do muscle-ups? With this knowledge we'll be able to figure out what equipment we need to use. If we want a bigger upper body, knowing how to use the leg curl machine might not be the most valuable knowledge -- but knowing how to bench press and bent-over row would be necessary.

Next, we need to find a routine that will help us achieve our goals. An olympic weightlifting routine that involves front squats and overhead presses won't do much for us if we're trying to have a body like Arnold. If that's what we're shooting for, we should be looking for a bodybuilding routine that keeps our rep ranges at in the right thresholds. On the other hand, if we just want to have a beach body, maybe a crossfit-type "high intensity interval" routine is what we're looking for. In any case, we need to know what we're supposed to be doing in the gym while we're there.

Finally, we need to practice the exercises in our routine. As an anecdotal estimate, maybe 90% of training is just knowing how to move your body in that way. After that, it's a matter of how we're stimulating the body. This means weight per rep, duration, intensity, rest time, and so on. There are terms like "greasing the groove" that speak to this type of neuromuscular connection. There are also studies that suggest just going through the range of motion many times per day, even under no resistance, will contribute greatly to performance.

Also, if there are exercises we're just too self-conscious to do it at the gym, it's easy to practice anything at home first: just find the exercise online. Exrx.net is just absolutely invaluable for any imaginable exercise. Look at the exercise directory here. YouTube is also great for any conceivable exercise -- especially compound movements like powerclean or snatch that require tons and tons of practice.

As an aside: three workouts is not enough to really make much a difference. Many advanced lifters haven't changed their program in years and still see progress month after month. As a beginner, it should take at least weeks before you see any significant changes in your physique that last beyond "the pump". Though, you should see fast improvements in strength training as your body learns how to perform exercises.

  • You beat by 1 minute lol, your answer is more complete thou. Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 5:18

Don't overthink, the most important part is that you are putting more weight each week, don't worry too much about the form at first, if you exercising your biceps but not "felling it" then you know that something is wrong, its very easy, pay attention to what your body is telling you.

Now, for the list of exercises, choose the ones that you like based on what you want to develop: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/

As I said, the most important part is progression, putting more weight each day/week/month, you choose your cycle, you are the only one that can measure your limits.

Avoid exercises like bench press or squats, these can be dangerous to do without a spotter.

A safer alternative to bench press would be the dumbbells flyes http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/dumbbell-flyes so that if you lose strength in the middle of the exercise, you can just let them fall to the sides instead of getting chocked by a bar.

  • 3
    Avoid exercises like bench press or squats, these can be dangerous to do without a spotter. I think I have to disagree to this statement. Reason is that, as a beginner, you will probably be doing the movement with just the barbell itself. Additionally, if you are doing your bench and squat in this kind of squat rack, then he can adjust the safety pin to suit his needs.
    – Aizul
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 5:29
  • If he is still afraid of doing any compound exercise using the barbell, then he can start with the dumbbells and progress in weight slowly until he can do 20kg, that is 10kg on each hand. Other than that, I concur that progression is key.
    – Aizul
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 5:29
  • Remember that for a beginner the barbell itself is a lot, the weight might not break any bones but it could seriously injury him if he lose his strength and fall. The last gym I went, the squat hack wasn't all that safer, it just helped a lot with the form but it varies from gym to gym. And yes progression is key if he wants to build muscle and get stronger. Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 5:48
  • Good answer Alexandre. I think you've made some good points, especially with the bb.com/exercises link: great resource. I'd agree with Aizul and you that progression definitely is key. Bench and squat though, I think are movements it would do every beginner a lot of benefit to learn first, so long as they take the time to learn about them thoroughly. Hope to see more of your answers soon!
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 6:44

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