Beginner's Guide: Easy Steps to Start Your Gym Journey

Beginner's Guide: Easy Steps to Start Your Gym Journey
December 30, 2023
Viking Beast

Disclaimer: if you click on a link/ image in this article and decide to purchase, Viking Beast Media will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you). This will directly fund my out-of-control passion for supplements.

I’ve always liked Rich Piana for his character, transparency, and brutal honesty.

When he passed away on the 25th of August in 2017 it was a sad day.

A fitness icon was lost. But his legacy continues to live on.

One way is through his supplements from the brand 5% nutrition.

Today I’ll be reviewing the Kill-It reloaded legendary pre-workout.

Let’s explore if this pre-workout is good enough to summon the spirit of Rich Piana, and give you the strength to bang out some extra reps.

Why I go to the gym

A six year bodybuilding transformation

I was a scrawny kid during my teen years and felt insecure about my physique. I wasn’t particularly strong or athletic in any way and that took a toll on my overall confidence.

Right before I turned 17, I watched a movie called.

“Never Back Down”

That day I took a picture in the mirror, started lifting weights, and 6 years later I’m still working out nearly every day.

On, that day, I made one of the best decisions of my life.

Yes, I got physically stronger, but the mental aspect of going to the gym and experiencing what you’re capable of achieving is just downright amazing.

The best example might be that without the gym I would’ve most certainly not have had the courage to approach my girlfriend.

It will transfer to all other aspects of life, give you more confidence, and will help you achieve all your goals and dreams.

Summary: I watched a movie called “Never Back Down” and I’ve been working out nearly every day for 6 years straight. It made me physically and mentally stronger and was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Decide why you're going to the gym


From personal experience, I’ve come to learn that most people will give up on their aspirations to go to the gym.

The ones that go regularly, are those that know why they’re there.

Before you look for a routine or buy a new gym outfit to start your journey, try to think about this question.

Why do you want to go to the gym? There could be one or multiple things you want to achieve, such as a better physique, health, losing weight, more muscles, etc.

To achieve these things your reason why must be the fuel to the flame inside your body that lights up when you think about it.

For me, I never wanted to feel insecure about my physique and who I was as a person, ever again.

Motivation will go, but your reason why will give you the discipline to stick it out. It will be a journey and hopefully a lifestyle you’ll love.

Perhaps even one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

Summary: If you know why you want to achieve a goal, a burning desire from within, you’ll be unstoppable. It’s crucial for when you need discipline when motivation decides to have an off day.

Overcome the fear of going to the gym

Quote "Don't panic" on a empty toilet paper roll

Many people I meet are afraid to go to the gym for the first time.

Perhaps you’re afraid of other people judging your physique or abilities because you’re currently out of shape.

Or it’s just the fear of trying out something new, meeting new people and going out of your comfort zone.

I want you to know I struggled with all of these when I first started.

After 6 years of training in a variety of gyms, I know better. People work on themselves.

Everybody, even the people with the best physiques (probably these people even more), has their insecurities.

You don’t have to worry about what anybody will think about you while being there.

The majority of gym-goers have nothing but respect for people that start going to the gym. Better yet, ask people for help, they’ll be happy to help you out.

Quick note: don’t compare your journey to the journey of other people, everybody has a different starting point and body.

Focus on yourself and you’ll reach your fullest potential.

Summary: I know it can be scary to go to the gym for the first time, but people will have nothing but respect for your efforts. Remember that everybody is focused on themselves and has insecurities.

Your diet is part of starting with going to the gym

Delicious meal prepped food in plastic containers

Many people, yes me too, make the mistake of beginning to go to the gym without paying too much attention to their diet.

It can most definitely result in seeing minimal to no progress at all even though you’re putting in serious effort.

This is just super unfortunate and will demotivate you extremely fast. The good news is you’ll not be making the same mistake!

The best way you can start going to the gym is also focussing on your diet.

If you want to learn about metabolism, how to diet according to your goals and why every diet can fail or succeed. You can read it here.

Know what to do before going to the gym

An empty notebook
If you don’t have a plan, you’re planning to fail.

Imagine yourself walking into the gym for the first time. You see all kinds of machines, cardio equipment, and in the far distance… free weights.

Now, this can be daunting.

Many people will gravitate towards the cardio machines, walk for 30 minutes and leave the gym again.

This is not the best way you can start going to the gym.

This is not going to be you. You’re going to pull up to the gym and know exactly what you’re going to do, how you will do it, and why you’re doing it.

Summary: Know what you’ll be doing in the gym before you go. A plan is the difference between a dream and crushing your goals.

Your best gym routine to start out

Gym written on the ground with an arrow pointing up

What I’m going to write here is the routine I wish I would’ve started 6 years ago.

This is the best way you can start going to the gym.

It will bring you closer to a healthier, muscular, and leaner body. It will not be a scientific explanation, but very practical, so you can start as soon as you’d like.

The plan is to do a full-body workout two or three times a week. I would go for three, but if you can’t or want to start with two, that will be enough to make progress.

The workout routine will consist of compound exercises, these are the ones that target a lot of muscles at once.

This will allow you to not only build strength and muscle fast and efficiently but you’ll also learn to have a mind-muscle connection.

You’ll become aware of which muscles are working during which exercise, which will benefit you in your fitness journey.

There will be two different workouts, which I will call workout A and workout B for convenience. These should be alternated.

Training three times a week (example):

  • Workout A on Monday
  • Workout B on Wednesday
  • Workout A on Friday
  • Next week you start with workout B and so on.

For 2 days a week (example):

  • Workout A on Monday
  • Workout B on Thursday

Make sure to spread out your workout days, so you can recover and don’t have 5 days in between, this will have you progressing the most.

Quick note: you can perform a quick warm-up or start just start your exercise with a lightweight and build-up to your working sets.

Workout A

  • Barbell Back Squats (legs, quadriceps focused): 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
  • Bench Press (chest, shoulders, triceps): 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
  • Pendlay Rows (back, biceps): 3 sets of 6-8 reps.
  • Overhead Dumbbell Press (shoulders, chest, triceps): 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lat Pulldown (back, biceps) with a slightly wider than shoulder with an overhand grip (palms facing towards you): 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Workout B

  • Romanian Deadlifts (legs, hamstring focused): 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Leg press (legs, quadriceps focused): 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Barbell Overhead Press (shoulders, chest, triceps): 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Barbell Rows (back, biceps): 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press (chest, shoulders, triceps): 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Lat Pulldown (back, biceps) with a slightly narrower than shoulder with an underhand grip (palms facing away from you): 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Adding cardio

Finish every workout with 20-30 minutes of your cardio of choice.

I love the stationary bike.

Adding cardio will improve your heart health, cardiovascular system, and muscle gains, and decrease your body fat in the long run. I didn’t do it when I began training, but this is such a huge advantage. Recommend.

Extra notes on the best way to start in the gym

  • On YouTube you can find very good tutorials of every exercise. Make sure to learn the perfect form right from the start.
  • Pendlay rows differ from barbell rows because you start with the barbell on the floor every rep. Both movements are amazing for your back and will help you get stronger and more muscular.
  • Contrary to popular belief, you’ll benefit greatly from doing more back, than chest exercises. It will also help to have a better posture. Many people have shoulders that round forward because the back of their body is simply underdeveloped in contrast to the front.
  • The first lat pulldown variation will lay more emphasis on your lats, making your back wider. The second one will lay more emphasis on the middle part of your back, making your back ticker.
  • Do the cardio at the end. Game changer.
  • You can turn your rest days into “active” rest days, by incorporating some light cardio.

Summary: A full-body strength training routine 2 or 3 days a week, followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio will give you the results you’re reading this blog post for.

Best way to keep progressing in the gym

Quote "the only way is up"

To keep making progress, it’s important to understand how progress is made.

Your body adapts to the challenge we throw at it.

To increase the challenge we want to increase the weight, the repetitions, or the number of sets we perform.

I suggest that you keep using the same weight until you can perform all of your working sets with the high end of the above range.

An example

If you do back squats with a certain weight for 3 sets of 12, increase the weight by 5kg or 11lb.

Next workout you might not get 3 sets of 12, which is fine. When you do though it’s time to increase the weight again.

Summary: Keep making progress by increasing reps, sets, or weight. The extra challenge is what you need.

Sleep more when you're going to the gym

A cute sleeping dog

So you’ve perfected your diet and sacrificed your precious time to get in an amazing workout at the gym, is that all? Well no, you need to recover.

Sleep is one of the three things that will make or break your results completely. I’ll focus on the fitness aspect of sleep, but know that it’s super important for overall health as well.

What happens if you skip sleep?

For muscle growth

Expect your muscle-building hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone, to drop by a lot.

Also, cortisol (stress hormone) rises, which will affect your body’s ability to recover from workouts.

While you’re far away in dreamland, your body is fueling your muscles with protein-building amino acids, that’ll help you build muscle. If you don’t sleep enough this will simply not happen.

A side effect is a drop in strength and overall performance in the gym, which means even more wasted muscle-building potential.

For fat loss

You don’t burn most of your fat while working out.

REM or deep sleep is when your body is actively burning fat while preserving the muscle you have. If you’re dieting while being sleep-deprived, a lot more of your weight loss will come from muscle.

Besides, if you don’t sleep enough your hunger (leptin levels) will increase, which results in more cravings. Not ideal if you’re trying to lose fat.

How much sleep to recover from the gym?

Aim for about 7-8 hours of sleep and try to avoid going under 6 hours, this is where a lot of damage is done.

Don’t skip sleep for anything if you’re serious about your fitness goals. Make it an absolute priority, because trust me it is.

Quick tips: turn off your screens before bed, avoid caffeine at night, have amazing sex before sleep, go to bed and wake up at the same time, make your room cold and embrace total darkness, and have a cuddle buddy (but let this person not be too hot, my girlfriend turns into a volcano at night).

Summary: sleep is essential for your body to build muscle, have healthy hormone levels, lose fat, perform well and be healthy in general. Prioritize snuggling your coziest blanket (or favorite person) every night for 7-8 hours.

Best supplements when starting in the gym

Protein powder

Healthy shake in mixer

Let me clarify this first: contrary to popular belief, protein powder is not some unnatural supplement, that is strictly for massive bodybuilders.

It’s made from real food, like plants, eggs, and milk.

The best way you can start going to the gym is with enough protein to build muscle.

If you’re currently not eating enough protein (which we discussed earlier), it can be a good addition to your diet.

It will help support muscle growth, and muscle retention while dieting, aid in recovery, and provide your body with added nutrition.


Powdered creatine

There is a fair chance you don’t know creatine yet or might not understand what it exactly does.

Creatine is one of the most studied supplements in the fitness industry.

It can help with improving strength levels, increasing your lean muscle mass, and helping your muscles to recover during exercise.

I won’t go into the science, but it supplies your muscles with the energy it needs when they would normally give out.

In practice, this means that you could potentially do 10 reps, instead of stopping at 8. Over time this is what will give you the benefits.

It’s not a steroid or a magic potion for making progress thought. Creatine is naturally available in the foods you eat, but just not in the quantities to make it effective.

I’ve been taking 5 grams every single day for years.

The best way you can start going to the gym is by maximizing your potential from the start.

Omega 3

Omega 3 supplement pills

This supplement is just amazing for overall health.

It’s good for your heart, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, metabolism, reduces the risk of all kinds of diseases, improves eye health, lower anxiety, and depression, improves bone and joint health, and so on.

With science backing it up with so many benefits, it’s kind of a nothing to lose, but much to gain situation for me.

I’ve been taking it for years daily.

Bonus: Pre-Workout

I’m going to be straight up here. This is optional.

I love pre-workout and more likely than not, maybe a little too much. It just makes going to the gym and life in general, in my opinion, more fun.

Do you need it? No. Do you need boxing gloves to box? Also no, but it sure helps.

From a good pre-workout, you can expect: more energy, increased focus, a better pump (the blood flow in your muscles while working out), more stamina, increased oxygen delivery, and just benefit overall performance.

The best way you can start going to the gym might be with an extra boost.

Side note: it makes you go to the toilet. I like this, but just be aware of it.

For a complete list of every supplement I take, you can read this article.

Summary: The supplements I would start my fitness journey with are protein powder, creatine, omega 3, and pre-workout (optional, but I love it).

Final words

The gym might be a scary place when you first start.

But walking through those doors, armed with your reason why and a workout plan that sets you up for success, might just be the best decision you’ll ever make.

Through these words, I tried to explain the best way you can start going to the gym, based on the knowledge I’ve got now.

I hope you enjoy the journey, become physically stronger (and super-hot of course), mentally unbreakable, and turn into a person that can take on any challenge, and achieve every dream imaginably.

“Be A Monster, An Absolute Monster”. – Jordan B. Peterson

Why do you (want to) go to the gym?


What does PR mean in the gym?

A PR in the gym stands for a new personal record or personal best (PB).

A PR is used in the gym when you’re trying to lift more weight or do more reps with a certain weight than you’ve previously done before.

If your current best deadlift is 225lbs or 100kg, but you just did 240lbs or 105kg, then you’ve hit a new PR (Personal Best).

Frequent PR’s are a great sign of progression and can keep you motivated in the gym.

Some examples:

  • I’m going for a bench press PR today. = I’m going to try to lift the most weight on the bench press I’ve ever done.
  • I’ve just hit a two-plate bench PR. = I have successfully bench pressed 225lbs or 100kg for the first time.