You need an exercise arsenal at the gym. Here's why.

Workout plans are stupid–especially if you're a beginner at the gym. End of story.

Workout plans are stupid–especially if you're a beginner at the gym. End of story.

Why am I qualified to talk about this? I recognize that I have only been going to the gym for two months. But I have been going every day, for multiple hours. Additionally, I have had extensive chats with 20+ of the fittest looking people I have ever seen in my life about their philosophies around working out.

Everyone has different ideas. Some may be doing fitness 'better' than others. But there is one thing that they all have in common. They believe in the exercise arsenal.

They don't adhere to a purchased or regimented workout plan. Here's why.

In order to benefit from the gym, you need to understand it. Check out this article if you don't understand the gym at all. It's okay. I won't judge (I don't understand it perfectly yet either).

Basically, you have compound movements that target multiple major muscle groups and isolation movements that target only one muscle, be it a large or small one.

The gym is also divided into barbells, dumbbells and machines. You can also do bodyweight movements. Read the article above if you don't know when to use each one. Actually, here it is again.

Here is the exercise arsenal I have built so far

Compound Movements

For chest:

  1. Barbell bench press (incline, flat, decline)
  2. Dumbbell chest press (incline flat decline)
  3. Dumbbell fly (low, medium, high)
  4. Cable fly (low, medium, high)
  5. Dips
  6. Push ups

For back:

  1. Deadlift (with barbell)
  2. Romanian Deadlift (with barbell)
  3. Roman Deadlift (with dumbbell)
  4. Barbell Row
  5. Dumbbell Row (bench supported or unsupported)
  6. T-bar row
  7. Pull-up

For legs:

  1. Front Squat (with barbell)
  2. Back Squat (with barbell)
  3. Goblet Squat (with dumbbell)
  4. Split Squat (with dumbbell)
  5. Landmine Squat
  6. Lunges

If you just invest some time into learning these 19 movements, about a month or so, you can take it slow, you should be good to go.

You can supplement these with some accessory movements (aka isolation movements). These are the most important ones.

Accessories

For chest:

  1. Chest press machine
  2. Machine Fly

For back:

  1. Lat pull down ( I don't even do these, pull ups are enough)
  2. Machine row
  3. Cable row (I don't do these either)

For legs:

  1. Leg press - really good for isolating hamstrings
  2. Hack squat - isolates quadriceps, but the landmine squat is better

You can do these exercises at any gym.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to learn how to do each of these well.

How to put it all together

Pick three movements for chest, three for back, and three for legs–whichever ones you like. And just get better at them.

It really doesn't matter if you focus more on split squats and landmine squats at the beginning or back squat and leg press. You will get fitter either way.

And this is really why a workout plan isn't worth it.

The gym is about figuring out what works for you, what challenges you. If the strength in your arms is super uneven, it may be better for you to start with the dumbbell presses rather than going to the barbell bench press.

In addition, there may be times where you come to the gym tired, or are injured. You need to have a variety of exercises so that you challenge yourself to an extent that is safe. Part of that means knowing how different exercises feel and how they apply stress to your body.