Sunday, March 22, 2015

Beginners 12 Weeks Till Summer Workout Guide (Gym Edition)

Beginners 12 Weeks till Summer Workout Guide (Gym Edition) 

As requested, I've put together a pretty basic THREE PHASE 12 week workout guide. This isn't my personal workout .. a "get a better body in 3 months" .. or "90 days to shredded" type deal. So if that is what you want .. go ahead and exit out and head over to Pinterest. This is just a GUIDE for everyone that says they are "lost" at the gym and need help getting start! Once you are done with the 12 week guide you HAVE to keep going to the gym. There is no END date!! But this guide gives you a good little guide so that you will hit all areas of each muscle (one of the biggest mistakes beginners make is not hitting all parts of each muscle) and tone up in time to put on your swimsuit. All you need is a gym membership or pretty complete home gym for this one! For a home version with minimal equipment ..  HERE.

Most of these exercises are with dumbbells. But feel free to change things up each week and use cables, barbells, ez curl bar, etc. I'll be making these changes for you during each phase, but if you get bored feel free to mix it up! Also, this guide is designed to be a 5-day workout broken up into muscle groups - not full body workouts. So this means you must workout 5 days each week. If you skip a day .. you end up skipping a body group! Not good! The workouts won't be very long if you go hard and follow the "rest" guide! Video demos are linked. These are also very basic but should help you get a general idea of proper form.

All this said...nutrition is 90% of the equation. I'm not going to make a meal plan to go with this, as I personally believe meal plans are best suited when they are INDIVIDUALIZED since everyones macro needs and bodies are different. However at the end of this page I will put some "Nutrition Tips" that can help guide you! Also, look around the blog, specifically the recipes, fit tips and newbies section for some advice!

((Please note video demos I am shooting or video demo links for days 2-5 are COMING SOON))

  • Do 4 sets of 10 reps (weeks 1 & 2)
  • Do 4 sets of 12-15 reps (weeks 2 & 3) *see below*
  • Weight should be at about 60% Max Effort these first two weeks. You want to be able to lift with PROPER FORM for all reps and should find those last few reps pretty difficult! Again PROPER FORM is more important than how much weight you use!
  • Rest 45-60 seconds between sets. MAX!!! This is important!!!
  • After 2 weeks, you should increase your weight/resistance to be about 80% Max Effort and even do 12 reps if you want/can! If you can’t increase your weight, aim to increase your reps! The general rule here is if the weight is too easy .. increase .. too hard .. decrease. Most important is using PROPER FORM! Do each rep SLOW and squeeze!!
  • Finish each LIFTING session with 1 scoop of 1st Phorm Phormula 1 Whey Isolate Protein as soon as you can after lifting. No more than 30min. Then have your next meal within the hour! This will really help repair and build your muscles! If you don’t have any whey isolate protein, then just make sure you eat one of your balanced meals with both lean protein and complex carbs within 30 min of lifting! 

Day 1 - Triceps/Chest
  • Elevated Bodyweight Bench Dips (Video Demo HERE)
  • Rope Pull Downs (Video Demo HERE. Really squeeze when you pull the rope apart at the end) 
  • Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension (Video Demo HERE – You can stand our sit. Your choice. Don’t arch your lower back. Keep elbows in.) 
  • Wide Push Ups (Video Demo HERE - Make sure back is straight and butt is down. Head is inline with your back. Try to do these without putting your knees down on the floor, but if you need to in order to finish/have proper form....go ahead. Add resistance loop to make more difficult .. video for this is HERE
  • Dumbbell Bench Press (Video Demo HERE. You can do these with the bench flat if you prefer. But I prefer incline so that I’m isolating the exact part of chest I want to work as a female) 
  • Dumbbell Bench Fly  (Video Demo HERE – same details as above)

Follow up this workout with 20 min Steady State Cardio (this can be anything of your choice. Just keep it steady. This is not max effort, but you should be slightly out of breath and not able to carry on a conversation. Keep the incline as high as you can and the level/resistance where it needs to be to achieve the above. No reading, talking on your phone, etc. KEEP MOVING for the entire 20 min! I like a step mill, arc trainer, bike, etc. Or take it outdoors and go for a brisk walk, light jog, walk trails at the park. You could also go for a swim or even play with your pet/kids. As long as you are keeping your heart rate up for 20 steady min's :)

Day 2 - Back/Biceps 
  • Wide Grip Pull Down (Video demo HERE - slow and squeeze) 
  • Narrow Reverse Grip Pull Down (Video Demo HERE - slow and squeeze) 
  • Cable Row (Video Demo HERE - slow and squeeze. Don’t jerk or use your legs for power. Use your back!) 
  • Lower Back Hypers with or without weight (Video Demo HERE. Squeeze your glutes at the top for some extra booty activation.)
  • Alternating Bicep Curls (Video Demo HERE. One rep is when you have done EACH arm. Do these standing) 
  • Alternating Hammer Curls (Video Demo HERE. Same as above) 
  • One Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curls (Video Demo HERE. Arm over incline bench or preacher curl bench. Same rep rule as above) 
Day 3 - Legs/Calves 
Supersets are when two exercises are grouped together and done back to back. This means no rest between these two exercises. The 45-60 seconds of rest is in between each super set itself.
ALL of these are SUPER SETS.

  • Narrow Stance Squat (Using squat rack or smith machine. Use only the bar and add small plates till you see how much weight you can do with PROPER form and as instructed in notes above. If you performed the exercise correctly, the front of the knees should make an imaginary straight line with the toes that is perpendicular to the front. If your knees are past that imaginary line (if they are past your toes) then you are not doing it correctly. You want to squeeze the glutes at top even though this stance does typically work quads *more* than glutes...which is why the weight you are capable of using for different squat stances may vary! Video Demo HERE. If you are new and can't do the bar weight. Just do body weight the first week. 
  • Narrow Stance Squat Jumps (Done immediately after the weighted squats. these should be quick and just like the squats .. go low. Video Demo HERE
  • Wide Stance Squats (Using squat rack or smith machine. Same as above for the most part, except a much wider stance. With wide squats your feet are much wider than shoulder width. Push through heels, keep chest up, squeeze/tilt butt/hips at top, go low, watch those knees and if you are too wobbly LOWER WEIGHT, etc. A wide stance works a greater number of muscles. In this stance you should feel it most in your Glutes & inner thighs. Video Demo HERE.) 
  • Wide Stance Squat Jumps (same as above ...but wide stance. Video Demo HERE
  • Leg Curl (Video Demo HERE) Sorry this isn't me doing it. Someone was using the machine. But these demos are better anyway cause they are so detailed. You can find almost any demo on this site btw. 
  • Dumbbell Stiff Leg Dead Lifts (Foot placement can vary a tad. I usually like my feet closer together. Some people like them a little wider. Just make sure you feel the stretch in your hamstrings (I go down just below knees) and squeeze those glutes coming up. Keep back straight. Knees can be just *slightly* bent or a little more stiff. Again, do what feels best for you. Weight on heels. I tend to like to do these a little faster than shown in video. Great way to get heart rate up especially since I have you doing these as a super set and they are following curls, which need to be slow and controlled. These always make me sweat! I superset them with lots of different things! A staple on my glute/ham day for sure! Video Demo HERE
  • Leg Extension These seem easy enough. But I see so many people doing them so wrong. Using waaaaaaaay too much weight and jerking up and down and/or arching back away from seat back. Don't do that. Trust me. Slow - Steady - Squeeze. Especially go slower on the way back down for an extra burn!!! (Video Demo HERE - also showing you what NOT to do) 
  • Box/Bench Stand ups (You are basically sitting and standing. Do not actually sit though. Do these quick and squeeze booty when you stand. The goal for these is 100. Yes 100!! But if you need to work up to that aim for 50 at least. Video Demo HERE
  • Seated Calf Raise (Video Demo HERE
  • Standing Calf Raises (Can use machine or smith machine/squat rack. Demo HERE. But you can even just use a box with or without dumbbells. (Video Demo HERE)

Day 4 - Shoulders/Abs  -- DEMO VIDEOS COMING SOON 
All of these are Super Sets
  • Shoulder Press (Video Demo HERE)
  • V-Ups (Video Demo HERE)
  • Lateral Raise (Video Demo HERE)
  • Hanging Leg Raises (Video Demo HERE)
  • Front Raise (Video Demo HERE)
  • 60 second Plank. 60 seconds is the goal. But do at least 30 seconds and work your way up to that full min. 10 seconds of proper form is better than 60 with bad form. (Video Demo HERE)
  • Seated Bent Over Rear Delt Raises (Video Demo HERE)
  • Flutter Kicks (Video Demo HERE)
  • Arnold Press (Video Demo HERE)
  • Russian Twists (Video Demo HERE)

Day 5 - Cardio/Booty -- DEMO VIDEOS COMING SOON 
All of these are supersets except the Cable Kick Backs
  • Cable Kick Backs (Video Demo HERE)
Super Set
  • Hip Thrusts with feet on bosu ball or bench (Video Demo HERE)
  • Plie’ Bodyweight Squats (Video Demo HERE)
Super Set
  • Split Squats - your back leg can be on a low bench, box or even bosu ball. (Video Demo HERE)
  • Split Jumps  - "one" is once you have done each leg. (Video Demo HERE)   
Super Set
  • Adductor Machine (Video Demo HERE)
  • In/Out Pop Squats (Video Demo HERE) *use loop resistance band around calves optional*
Follow up with 20 min HIIT style cardio - I prefer an Arc Trainer for this. But an elliptical or treadmill or step mill is okay too! The key is keeping a HIGH incline the entire time so that it will work that booty!
(Example of HIIT)
-- 2 min warm up - I go ahead and get my incline set during this time.
-- 1 min High Intensity - (highest incline you can tolerate) go at about 80% on the resistance. You should be going at a pretty fast pace for this, so if your resistance is so high that it is keeping you from going fast, lower it some! But keep the INCLINE as high as you can!!
-- 2 min Moderate Intensity - (highest incline you can tolerate. I leave mine alone the entire circuit) and go at about 40% on the resistance. The idea is to catch your breath a little/lower heart rate. The idea is to catch your breath. NOT rest.

Do this 1:2 circuit a total of 6 times. So again, you will leave the incline alone (as high as you can) and go for 1 min HARD .. then don't lower incline but lower level/resistance for two mins and go moderate. Repeat this 1:2 combo SIX TIMES. Then last 2min is a cool down!! Slowly decreasing incline as you go! IF you do not feel you are ready to do HIIT - do another day of steady state cardio.

REST DAYS – You get two of your choice. Can do back-to-back or work in-between workout days. I suggest you do ONE FULL rest day at least. But if you want, you can also do fasted cardio on ONE of these two days if you wish! My suggestion would be upon waking, with nothing to eat. You can have some BCAA’s, Pre-Workout or coffee if you want. Just no food/protein shake - etc. Try this first and if you find yourself getting sick or feeling lightheaded during cardio, try having a 1stPhorm Phormula-1 shake about 30min beforehand next time.

I would really suggest making this day a group fitness class! Time will fly by and it’s a fun way to get in cardio! I LOVE going to HotBox in Nashville. But there are tons of options .. just make sure it’s CARDIO focused and feel free to change it up each week!

NOTES: You will likely be sore. That will get better. Don’t SKIP a workout just because you are sore. I notice once I get going the soreness goes away! But at the same time listen to your body. IF you are really truthfully too sore, have a rest day. Just don’t use this as an “excuse”. Try stretching upon waking or each night. You can also use foam roller. This REALLY helps with soreness and there are all kinds of videos on youtube!! Also if you can, buy some Glutamine and take post workout and before bed! You can mix this in some water or your post workout shake. It will REALLY help with soreness!

Wellness Tips 
My “basic” advice is learn to say NO and simply STOP AND THINK before you eat! A great start would simply be substituting with smarter choices. Pay attention to how much you are eating and get in a habit of eating smaller more frequent meals. Here are a few tips that may help you. Also check out the Fit Tips, Newbies and Recipes section of the BLOG here on 

* Drink Water!!! It will be crazy the difference this ONE switch can make!! Stop drinking soda of ANY kind. Switch to tea (sweetened with stevia) or try Zevia.  But DITCH THE SODA! I drink 1.5 to 2 gallons of water a day. You should TRY to work your way up to 1 gallon if you can! Add things like essential oils, fresh lemon, etc., to make it easier to drink. Many people ask me about Crystal Light and Mio. It's better not to use it of course, but if it gets you OFF soda and drinking water, then it's a BETTER choice for sure. Make sure it's not sweetened with aspartame! Also a couple glasses of green tea a day is great for metabolism! 

* Buy measuring cups and a food scale and USE IT for each meal! I can’t tell you how “much” to eat!!! Let me repeat that .. I CAN NOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH TO EAT, lol. That is something that I can offer later down the road in customized plans! However you can find plenty of tools online to help you calculate your macros based on your needs. Google is great :)  I can say that  “in general” most people do not make PROTEIN the main source of their daily calories. Most people need between .08 - 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. I would aim for 1g for females and 1.5 for males if you are serious about gaining muscle and losing body fat! This needs to be coming from things like chicken, extra lean (99%) or lean (97%) turkey, extra lean beef, sirloin steak, white fish, shrimp, tuna, etc. As for the rest of your macros left (carbs and fats), that is even more individual. I'll touch on it more below. But you will have to figure out what percentages work well for you and make sure they come from only HEALTHY sources. I would say IN GENERAL .. for women eating 6 meals a day you should stick to between 2-4oz (measured cooked) of things like potatoes and 1/4 - 1/2 (measured cooked) of things like oats and rice. 3-5oz (measured cooked) of your lean meats and anywhere from say 2 to 6 egg whites, etc. Guys would generally take in about double those amounts. AGAIN ... these are examples. I hate even writing about this because it is very individual and what I'm telling you to do may be too much or too little for you..which would greatly impact your results!! I'm just trying to give you a GENERAL idea of foods/amounts. Try using My Fitness Pal to track your calories/macros. But keep in mind this tool is VERY basic and the macros can be ALL OVER the place if you don't scan your own barcodes, get SPECIFIC about if something is cooked or not cooked, etc. Again .. the biggest thing is to just be smart. Obviously your plate shouldn't be a big pile of rice or pasta and only a little protein and a few pieces of asparagus. In general .. lots of protein and veggies and a smaller amount of good complex carbs. How much (again) depends on your goals, your body fat, how many times you are eating meals, etc. So many factors! Just eat GOOD foods and do NOT overeat and you will be okay :) 

* This is optional but helps many people. Keep a food journal of EVERYTHING you eat. When you feel hungry. What you are craving. Anything that may upset your stomach. Bowel habits, etc. This will help you determine how foods make you feel. 

* Try to eat every 3 hours. This is a big one. It will help boost your metabolism!! If you can’t do meals (this is preferred) have at least 3 meals and 2-3 snacks.  Snacks should be “complete” though (carbs and protein OR protein and a healthy fat). If you must, food replacement bars are okay (careful though cause most are like candy bars. I stick to quest bars, think thin bars, go gii and other ALL NATURAL food based bars). Even better would be a 1st Phorm Level One shake with a maybe a rice cake since it only has 3carbs, or if it's earlier in the day the shake with some fruit. Another snack could maybe be some almonds and low sugar greek yogurt. These are just some examples :) It's hard for me to give snack options cause I don't snack. I also don't know what your MEALS are gonna look like. But you should eat every 3 hours you are awake if possible .. yes even before bed!! Before bed I HIGHLY suggest a 1st Phorm Level One Shake or another protein creation using 1st Phorm! You could also do something like an egg white veggie omelet with a little avocado (approx 1oz). No sugar (i.e. fruit) that late at night though and keep your carbs low at this final meal! I typically don't do added carbs. Just a 1st Phorm creation and some peanut butter (small amount.) Bodybuilding.Com has a few good meal plans that are pretty basic if you need further advice. But again .. they are pretty basic. 

* Limit fruit to two servings a day and I personally prefer eating them earlier in the day. For example, I may have a 1/2 of berries or a small banana or apple for breakfast and then typically 1/2 a grapefruit or other citrus fruit no later than Meal 3. 

* Touched on this above, but your carbs should come from complex sources such as oats, sweet potato, red potato, brown rice, quinoa. Look up LOW GI carbs! This method of choosing carbs and veggies is always pretty good to follow! 

* Veggies should be mainly green for the most part and fibrous! Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Broccoli Slaw, Cabbage, Green Beans, Asparagus, leafy greens. Also things like .. Eggplant, Califlower, Zucchini, Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms, Snap Peas, etc - all are great options! There are so many! 

* Healthy Fats .. have small servings at several meals throughout the day. Portioned out nut butters, nuts, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil tablets, etc. Watch getting TOO much though. The “portion size” on the back of containers won’t be taking into account that you are eating a bunch of small meals! So instead of 2tbs of coconut oil .. I’ll typically only do 1tsp. Instead of 2 tbs peanut butter .. i do one or 1/2 of one. 1tbs olive oil instead of 2. You get the idea!! You obviously don't want to have a FULL serving of even good fats 6 times a day! Also, keep in mind all fats are NOT equal. Fats from cheese for example don't provide the same nutrients as fats from say olive oil. Oh and speaking of olive oil .. add it to your food AFTER it's cooked. Unlike coconut oil .. if you cook with it you should be losing nutrients :) Plus it's easier to portion out this way! 
* Cheats — You may not like what I am about to say. As important as it is to SPLURGE,  during this Phase One if you are a BEGINNER and not already eating healthy, I suggest that most people DON’T cheat too much...if any at all .. in the beginning. Some people just aren’t capable of cheating once and will just binge or go back to their old ways. So during these first few weeks — keep cheats “cleaner” or smaller or not at all.  So for example ... one beer is good. One slice of pizza. A snack size candy bar. But don’t go all out until you know you can CONTROL your cheat and stay on track. Also sometimes when you have a lot of body fat to loose .. this could slow you down if you aren't eating right during the week. Once you get the hang of clean eating ... one splurge of whatever you want won't typically be a problem and is usually encouraged :) 

Okay .. all this said. I am not a nutritionist, personal trainer, coach, or expert. You should consult your doctor before starting any plan and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!! I don't claim to know it all and my methods may not be the best. These are just what have worked for me and people that I personally know. I am simply a girl who likes to lift, practices proper form at all times, eats well, is surrounded by people who know how to lift and eat, has been mentored by some amazing experts in the field, has a husband who has been surrounded by bodybuilders and was even active in the sport of bodybuilding for years, etc. I also research fitness/nutrition ALL the time, sometimes hours a day.  I am in the process of getting all my certifications and am pretty Type A personality .. meaning I am a detailed perfectionist most times, lol.  

So GOOD LUCK. Don't give up. Feel free to message me if you need any basic help or have basic questions! I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!! Now .. YOU need to do the WORK and believe in yourself too!

Last .. don't worry about a scale! Instead (as hard as this may be) get someone to take a picture of you from the front, back and side. Don't try to suck in or try to look smaller. Stand tall and proud today, in 4 weeks, in 8 weeks and again in 12 weeks! All in the same spot, same lighting, if possible first thing in the morning before you eat, etc. I would wear a swimsuit, workout gear or undies.  If you wear clothes make sure it's fitted so you can really see your results. These pics don't have to be for anyone except YOU .. so don't be shy! Also if you have measuring tape .. take measurements as well! 

Eat Clean. Train Dirty. 


  1. I'm going to use your tools! Thanks for sharing! It's inspiring to use what you have learned and share with others. Thank you!

  2. So far i have completed day 1-3 and I am a "good" sore ! I love love love the blog! Thank you so much for sharing