I recently joined a gym, and I've done two workouts so far. The trainer at the gym told me which exercises to do, and I simply performed them. I doubt he'll be present for my third workout, however, and I want to figure out what I should be doing for maximum benefit.

The trainer mentioned that, working out 3 times a week (which is my plan), I should focus on distinct parts of the upper body two of those days, and the lower body the third day, always finishing the workout with cardio. This makes for 3 separate workout routines, although he only supplied me with two.

The first routine: So far, I've done a lower body workout that included leg press, leg extension, leg curl, ball squats, straight leg dead lifts, step ups, crunches, and a (very abbreviated) wall sit. I believe these are official names for the exercises.

The second routine: Just now, I did an upper body workout including chest press, lat pull down, peck fly, incline press (at least, I tried to do this one), and reverse grip row.

What exercises should I include in my next workout (the third routine) to cover the muscle groups not covered by the upper body workout I just performed? Assume that I have access to a well-equipped gym with various machines and I'm not comfortable using free weights yet.

  • 1
    What is the purpose behind your workouts? Athletics, body shaping, general fitness...?
    – JohnP
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 1:22
  • @JohnP General fitness and ultimately long-term weight loss. (I am fairly confident that building muscle will help with fat loss.)
    – StrixVaria
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 10:54

3 Answers 3


Day 3 is likely to be a Shoulders & Arms day. Your trainer told you that his plan is going to focus on distinct parts of your body on each day. Day 1 was Legs & Core, Day 2 was Back & Chest so that leaves Shoulders & Arms for Day 3.

For exercises you can do:

  1. Shoulder Press
  2. Dumbell Curls
  3. Tricep Extensions
  4. Cable Pushdowns
  5. Upright Rows

This is not how I like to organize a 3 day split workout but it works with what you've done so far.

There are still a lot of variables like weight, # of reps, # of sets, rest time, machine vs dumbell vs barbell that are going to be dependent on a lot of factors like your current size, strength and ability. You really should call your trainer because a training plan should be a lot more than just a grouping of exercises. I find it strange that he's done two sessions with you and told you that you have to do a third session but hasn't scheduled it or prepared you for it. I don't want to judge with so little information but you and him need to get on the same page and you may want to shop around a little for a new trainer.

  • I would love to have sessions with the trainer 3 times a week so that I didn't have any ambiguity in what I should be doing, but I just can't afford that. I do plan on stopping by to see if he can give me a routine before I start, but I wanted to have a backup plan just in case he had other appointments.
    – StrixVaria
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 12:35

For your third day, I would concentrate on whole body movements, such as the deadlift, squats, clean and press, things like that. I know you do a couple of them on the leg days, but the rest of your program is isolation type exercises. You don't have a lot of movements that incorporate the entire body as a whole.

It's also possible that he showed you the exercises simply so that you would know how to do them, and that he intended for you to either sign up for his program ($$) to get it all, or that you would figure it out on your own.

Isolation movements are fine, but you won't get as much benefit out of them as you would exercises that involve multiple muscle groups. As a beginner to it all, you are in a pretty good spot to start a program such as the Stronglifts 5x5, which will build strength as well as some muscle, and then you can adjust your diet some for the continuing weight loss.

  • 1
    While I agree with your statement "Isolation movements are fine, but you won't get as much benefit out of them as you would exercises that involve multiple muscle groups." your suggestion doesn't fit into SrixVaria's current plan at all.
    – matt
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 1:33

If you have done only two workouts, then my suggestion is that go with what your trainer has told you for two reasons:

  1. He will be knowing your physical abilities and limitations.
  2. You should increase your workout gradually, increasing it suddenly will cause your body different parts of your body to ache
  • Please read the whole question. The trainer suggested 3 separate workout routines, but only supplied me with 2. I am trying to fill in the gaps to figure out what the third should include.
    – StrixVaria
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 10:55
  • You shouldn't have to do that. It sounds like it's time for a new trainer. If you want just a bunch of exercises to do you can just click around on the internet or watch what other people do at the gym. If you want an effective and safe training plan you should find an experienced professional trainer (who will not leave you hanging like this).
    – matt
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 1:29

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