Beginner Weight Training Template 2: Adding exercises

Fitness. Diving. Lifestyle.

Beginner Weight Training Template 2: Adding exercises

Experience level: 0-1 years

Frequency: 3 days a week

Type of Template: Alternative compound movements, introduction of accessory movements, linear progression

You can use this template in two ways:

  1. You have been using the Beginners Weight Training Template 1  (BWTT1) for a few months and are looking to change it up and learn some new exercises.
  2. You can also start on this program if you are coming back to training after time off, although I would advise you have had some previous experience and a base level of strength.

While this is still going to be a ‘linear’ program (i.e. not going in cycles or in waves, just progressive increase of weight once sets and reps are completed) and therefore still aimed at beginners it aims to start incorporating more difficult exercises.

BWTT1 is designed to give you the best foundation for strength training and as such you perform the big three of Flat Pressing (dumbbell or barbell), Back Squats and Deadlifts: these should be giving you a great base strength level, if done with good form.

The following template follows the same model of compound, multi-muscle movements but increases the difficulty of the movement, as well as adding in some accessory movements that will help you ’round your edges’ so to speak (support the development of your compound lift strength).

We will still be performing an all-body routine each of the three days.  As with BWTT1 this is for two reasons:

  1. At this point of your development it is worth getting as much practice in as possible: by squatting three times a week you’ll ‘groove’ the exercise much better.  Remember that training is a skill that needs to be practiced, like a golf swing.
  2. Splitting your training into squat/deadlift/pressing days will come as you start to move heavier weight, at which point it is beneficial to allow you to focus on the one lift and give it everything.  But at this current point the weights are likely to be light enough that you don’t risk overtraining by doing the big movements three times a week.

Here’s the routine.  The exercises in purple bold are the new additions to the Beginner Template 1.

Day 1

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
1. Overhead Press 4 10 to 12 Strict, no legs involved
2. Dips 3 AMRAP Keep body still, chest out
3. Deadlift 4 8 to 10 Focus on good form
4. Front squat 2 5 Very light, elbows up
5. Back squat 3 8 to 10 Make sure to hit parallel
6. Hanging leg raise 2 AMRAP Controlled reps
7. Stretching

Day 2

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
1. Flat bench press 4 10 Either dumbbell or barbell
2. Back Squats 4 8 to 10 Thighs parallel, chest up
3. Pull-ups 4 AMRAP Pull with your back, not arms
4. Bent-over rows 2 10 to 12 Keep lower back flat, no jerking
5. Hanging leg raise 2 AMRAP Controlled reps
7. Stretching

Day 3

Exercise Sets Reps Notes
1. Push Press 3 4 to 6 Use legs to drive bar up
2. Dips 4 AMRAP Keep body still, chest out
3. Deadlift 4 8 to 10 Back flat, bar close to you
4. Front squat 3 3 to 5 Very light, practice form
5. Back squat 2 10 to 12 Thighs parallel, chest up
6. Hanging leg raise 3 AMRAP Controlled reps
7. Stretching

AMRAP= As Many Reps As Possible

Allow a rest day between each workout (from weight training, you can still do some light running if you want).

As you can see, you’re still working the whole body each day.  The difference now is that you have a complimentary movement for each major body area and movement.

Upper body pressing- Dips and Overhead press to assist with Bench Press

Lower body- Front squat to complement Back squat

Upper body pulling- Bent-over rows to assist with the Deadlift.

The idea is to help the development of your three core lifts.


Explanation of notes and exercises

1.  Overhead Press- Use only your arms, shoulders and chest to lift the weight, do not use your legs to help.  Bring the bar right down to below your chin for each rep.

2. Dips- Keep body still, lean slightly forward.  Retract your shoulder blades and stick your chest out to ensure it is being worked.  Descend to where it feels comfortable, ideally when your upper arms are parallel with the ground.

You should feel a stretch in your chest muscles at the bottom position.

If you struggle to do one, then practice lowering yourself from the top position to get your muscles used to holding your bodyweight.

3. Deadlift- Full article here.

4. Front squat- Full article coming soon.  The front squat is a more difficult exercise than the back squat and harder to get used to, which means it is best to start early in your training career.

Although rarely performed by most gym-goers it is one of the best exercises to promote good posture and a strong back, because of the need to stay upright when doing the exercise.

It will also help your flexibility.

5. Back squat- The key to getting the benefits, especially when starting out, is to use full range of motion- thighs should be at least parallel, with torso as upright as possible.  Full article coming soon.

6. Bent over rows- On day 2 you can see that deadlifts are substituted for a combination of pull-ups and bent-over rows. 

Bent-over rows are a great way to further develop your upper and lower back muscles which in turn helps strengthen your deadlift.  Again, I will be focusing on this exercise in detail soon, in the meantime there are many tutorials available on the internet.

7. Pull-ups- The key to this, particularly as a beginner is to get used to activating your back muscles to lift, not your arms.  This is why you should be keeping your chest high, which means that when you pull-up you are engaging your large back muscles to do the work.

Control is also important.  Use full range of motion and keep your body still, lowering yourself down on each rep.  5 quality reps will do a lot more for you than 10 bad ones.

8. Hanging leg raise-Hang from a bar and without swinging try to lift your legs towards the bar, as straight as possible.  As with pull-ups, control and quality are the important factors.

By hanging from the bar this also help improve your grip.


This template should help you to develop your base strength in the core, compound movements, as well as serve as an introduction to new accessory and complimentary exercises that will also help your overall functional strength.

As with any Beginners routine the key point is to take things steady, and keep the weight light until you are comfortable with the form: this applies especially to the front squat, which you should be learning with just an empty bar.

You might also notice that stretching is a part of every workout, at the end.

A vital part of weight training and performing major compound movements well (like the squat and deadlift) is reliant on having good flexibility to make sure you can maintain your form when the weight gets heavy.

So I encourage you to get into the habit of stretching thoroughly at the end of each workout.  A full article on the theory behind stretching plus a simple routine will be posted soon.

As always, any question about this template or anything else on the site, comment below or send me an e-mail at

Always remember that is takes a lot more time to unlearn a bad habit than learn agood one, so take your time, start light and leave the ego at the door: the rewards will come faster than you think.

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