The HERS Starter Guide

Put yourself on the fast track to a better body with this four-week beginner's training program, designed by IFBB figure pro and personal trainer Mary Elizabeth Lado

woman doing squat with exercise ball against a brick wall

Okay, so it has been awhile since you've been to the gym. Or maybe you're a newbie who has never lifted weights before, period. (Don't worry, we won't tell anyone.) Your body isn't exactly in the shape you'd like it to be, and it's time to do something about it, quick.

No need to panic - help is on the way. Her name is Mary Elizabeth Lado, and not only is she in phenomenal shape and a certified personal trainer but she's also one of the world's top figure competitors. When we asked her to create a workout to help put beginners on the path to a tighter, healthier, more appealing physique, she was more than happy to assist.

The result is the following four-week program designed especially for women who have been inactive but want to get on track. For those who have never lifted before, detailed descriptions and photographs for each exercise are included. For those who have previous experience, consider this a refresher course. Whatever your situation, your starting point to reclaiming your body is right here.


Mary created this workout to be both basic and all-encompassing. It provides a primer to many major weight-training movements (without overdoing it) while working the entire body so no area is overlooked.

"This program targets every aspect of fitness -- muscle-building, cardiovascular health and fat loss," she says.

During the first two weeks, you'll work out three times a week. Which three days you want to train are entirely up to you, so long as you take rest days between workouts. (This might mean working out Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or whatever works best for your schedule.) You'll train your entire body in every session with 12 exercises. Train each upper-body muscle group with 1-2 exercises -- two for back, two for shoulders and one each for chest, biceps, triceps and abs.

Lower-body training, however, consists of four exercises, for two reasons: 1) The lower body is an area most women prefer to focus on, and 2) there's simply more muscle below the waist than above it, what with such large muscle groups as the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings. The more muscle you have in a certain area, the more exercises it takes to train that area thoroughly.