When it comes to giving advice to beginners, the best advice is to stick to the basics. There is a common misconception that there is a secret number of sets and reps that will produce the best results. Low sets and low reps with little assistance work is common among top notch pro power lifters. The simplest and effective method is the 5×5 routine. The best thing about this program for beginners is that they are not jumping into a high intensity routine that may cause them injury because they don’t have the proper technique but they are learning the core lifts first. Simplicity is the key to this routine so that you focus on your form to avoid injury and eventually be able to do more advanced lift routines. Here is an example of the 5×5 program:
Squats: 5 sets of 5 with the same weight. Start with a moderate weight and add 5-10 pounds every week.
Front squats or leg extensions: 3 sets of 8-10. Add 5-10 pounds every week for all sets.
Glute/Ham raises: 3 sets of 8-10. If you can not do 8 reps, do as many full reps as you can then do partials to finish.
Calves: 3-4 sets to failure. Use slow reps. Add 5 pounds per week for all sets.
Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 with the same weight. Start with a moderate weigth and add 5-10 pounds every week.
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press: 2 sets of 8-10. Try to increase the weight as often as possible. It is harder with dumbbells.
Close Grip Bench press: 3 sets of 5. This is a core lift. Add 5-10 pounds every week.
Tricep Pushdowns: 2 sets of 10. Add weight every week. When you can do the stack for every set do weighted dips.
Deadlifts: 5 sets of 5 with the same weight. Start with a moderate weigth and add 5-10 pounds every week.
Barbell Rows: 3 sets of 6-8 reps. Try to add weight every week though it wont always be possible. Strive to make personal records.
Reverse hyperextensions/hyperextensions: 3 sets of 10-15 reps. These are for rehab and preventitive strengthening of the lower back (use a lighter weight for this exercise).
Barbell Curls: 5 sets of 5 reps. Start with a moderate weight and add 5 pounds every week.