Stick with the Basics. Supplement with Machines.
If you spend some time scouring the internet, you're going to be inundated with the advice to "use compound free weight movements." There's a good reason for this. Exercises like squats, bench presses, rows, dips, chins, and deadlifts will cover virtually every muscle in the body. It's good training economy.
An intelligent approach for a beginner would be to build his training program with the following movements as the foundation:
- Bench and Incline Press
- Barbell or Dumbbell Curls
But don't scoff at the use of machine work either. Machines have their place in an intelligent training program, even for novices. Machines have virtually no learning curve because, well, they're machines and their patterning is already fixed for you. Because of welding and shit.
This means that you can just hop on and go to town on the progressive overload stuff. Machine selection should be chosen around the basis that it fills in the gaps in terms of musculature so that you've got a leg up on weak points and injury prevention.
These machines and movements are good additions:
- Leg Curl
- Triceps Pushdown
- Standing and Seated Calf Raise
- Cable Lateral Raise
- Leg Press