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12-Week Progression: Intermediate Workout

Build on the beginner moves with this next-level workout, and you’ll be ready for the advanced moves by Week 12.

by goldsgym

The first installment of this workout progression involved three beginner moves that use your body weight to work every major muscle group. Once you can execute those with proper form and normal breath, it’s time to add external weight.

Gold’s Gym fitness expert Andy Coggan created this intermediate-level workout to do midway through your 12-week fitness journey.

“Incorporating an external load forces your body to work harder in terms of both strength and stabilization,” Coggan says.

The workout

Doing these moves with free weights like dumbbells will strengthen the targeted muscles to prepare you for the more mobile exercises in the advanced-level workout during Week 12.

Coggan suggests doing three sets of these moves three times a week. Remember to warm up for five minutes (try using the beginner moves) and cool down with five minutes of stretching.

dumbell goblet squat

Dumbbell goblet squat

Stand with your legs hip-width apart and toes straight ahead or slightly turned out, based on comfort. Hold a dumbbell against your chest with both palms set under the head of the weight (as if holding a water goblet). Lift your chest and straighten your back as you lower your hips, keeping your knees in line with your feet. Once you’ve gone as low as you comfortably can (ideally to the point where your hips are level with your knees), return to standing.

Coggan suggests starting with 10­ to 25 pounds. You want your muscles to feel fatigue (the moves will take effort and you’ll feel the burn), but if you are unable to maintain proper form, you need to reduce the amount of weight.

The goal: 10 reps to target your glutes, hips, thighs and lower legs.
dumbbell bench press

Dumbbell bench press

Lie back on a bench with dumbbells positioned at chest height. Maintain a 45-degree angle between your torso and elbows and press the weights straight up until your arms are fully extended. Then slowly lower the weights back to chest level.

Again, the right weight is dependent on your ability to stay true to form. A good range is anywhere from 10 to 50 pounds, Coggan says.

The goal: 10 reps to work your shoulders, chest and triceps.
bent over rows

3. Bent-over dumbbell rows

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your back flat, hinge forward at the waist until your torso is roughly parallel with the floor. Extend your arms straight down with control and then pull the weights back up toward your hips and torso. Repeat, taking care to brace your spine by contracting your abs throughout the movement.

Coggan suggests a weight range between 10 and 35 pounds, depending on what you need to maintain good form.

The goal: 10 reps to target the biceps and upper-back muscles.


Stay tuned for the advanced-level workout progression, plus review the beginner workout:

12-Week Progression: Beginner Workout for Week 1
Join the Gold’s Gym Challenge group on Facebook.



What started out in 1965 as a small gym in Venice Beach, California has since become the most well-known and traditional fitness company in the world – Gold’s Gym. Over the last 55 years, Gold’s Gym has developed into a global brand with over 600 locations spanning 6 continents. Bodybuilding greats such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu worked out at the original Gold’s Gym, which went on to become the most legendary gym in the world. In the fitness industry, the brand enjoys cult status and universal appeal with 96% aided brand awareness. In 2020, the RSG Group acquired Gold’s Gym and integrated the brand into its portfolio, making it the global leader in the fitness sector.

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