Beginner Workout Theory
Being a complete novice to fitness and weight training has its advantages. If you have never picked up a weight before or are returning to lifting after a long layoff, you are poised to take advantage of "beginner gains," or the rapid progress in development that is often seen by beginners starting an exercise program. Sadly, a fair number of people do not take advantage of these gains by neglecting to train the entire body. So principle number one of a beginner's workout is: train everything.
Principle number two is: ease your way in. You would not walk into a gym for the first time and attempt a one-rep maximum lift on bench or squats, so bring the same approach to your Bowflex workouts. Start with light resistance so you can complete between 10 and 15 repetitions without any real struggle. Stop a rep or two before muscle failure, and stop a set or two short of total exhaustion. Rome was not built in a day, and the same is true of your ideal physique. You need to be in this for the long haul. Those who make slow and steady progress stand a better chance of making it to the finish line.
That brings us to principle number three: aim to always progress. From workout to workout, you should always be improving, either by (1) adding additional sets, (2) adding additional reps, or (3) adding additional resistance. To prompt your body to improve, you need to constantly push it beyond its perceived limits.
Beginner Workout Plan
With the three principles of beginner workout theory out of the way, move on to the beginner workout plan. This program is a total body workout with more reps and a low number of sets. Completing this workout should not leave you completely winded and out of breath; it should leave you feeling like you still have more to give. If you walk out of the gym always feeling like you could have done just a bit more, you will be more motivated to return to the gym the next time to prove yourself right. Perform this workout three times per week, on nonconsecutive days. Although you might not feel as though you need it, be sure to take a complete day off between any two Bowflex workouts to give your body time to recover. For each workout, perform: Bench press for one set of 14 repetitions Seated rows for one set of 14 repetitions Standing bicep curls for one set of 14 repetitions Seated calf raises for one set of 14 repetitions Seated shoulder press for one set of 14 repetitions Seated tricep extensions for one set of 14 repetitions Squats for one set of 14 repetitions Resisted crunches for one set of 30 repetitions Bring a stopwatch with you (or use a clock). Rest for 90 to 120 seconds between sets. Use a notebook to write down the weights and reps you did, so you can break those records during the next workout. Stick to this plan for four to six weeks before moving to another workout. If you follow this sample plan and keep the three principles of beginner workouts in mind, your workouts will be more satisfying and productive over the long haul. Good luck!