Regular workouts have physical, mental, emotional, and even social perks.
But as with anything worth working for in life, starting is always the hardest part.
Though you may want to start exercising as soon as possible—or perhaps have wanted to for a while now—you might have been discouraged by not knowing where to begin. Given the wealth of information on exercise routines, the best equipment, and accompanying diets, it can be overwhelming for the uninitiated to sift through options for a beginner workout plan.
For everyone hoping to get the proper guidance and advice for how to get into a beginner workout plan, here’s everything you need to know.
First, know yourself
A beginner workout plan should start with knowing what your body is physically capable of. It’s essential to know where your starting line is so you can engage in the right exercises that develop strength gradually, rather than jumping into a workout that is too strenuous for you.
Take baseline measurements of your physical fitness, strength, and flexibility. Record your BMI and waist circumference. Start by performing basic exercises and making a record of your progress using these questions (1):
- How long does it take you to walk a kilometer or a mile? What is your pulse rate before and after walking this distance? If you’re capable, make the same recordings, but this time, jog or run instead of walk.
- How many standard or modified pushups can you do at a time?
- How far forward can you reach while seated on the floor? Can you touch your toes?
Once you have an idea of your baseline metrics, you can start planning your beginner workout plan, or for those hoping to exercise with a trainer, a beginner gym workout.
Find the right motivation and support
Figure out your “why” behind your intention to start exercising. This makes it easier to commit to a beginning workout plan and stay motivated when things get more challenging. Having clear and defined goals also affects the kind of exercises you will focus on eventually; some people want to zero in on weight loss, others on improving muscle tone, and yet more may simply want to maintain their current level of fitness.
If you want more personalized advice, consider booking an appointment with a licensed physical trainer. They have the knowledge and experience needed to craft an exercise plan based on your areas for improvement and personal goals. If you have any health conditions, they will also be able to take them into consideration when crafting a beginner workout plan that is safe for you to do. Moreover, they can supplement your exercise routine with tips on nutrition and overall well-being.
For beginners, don’t pressure your body. It’s ill-advised to jump into a complex routine in an attempt to make up for lost time, or to catch up with other individuals that are more capable of the demanding physical activities. By doing this, you risk injuring yourself and further delaying the start of your fitness journey.
Instead, start by exploring activities you’re interested in or already enjoy. Every kind of exercise will have a beginner version that’s just right for you. For instance, before going into long-distance running or marathoning, you can begin with brisk walking and slowly increase the distances you cover. Or, before diving into serious weight lifting at the gym, try out a beginner gym workout that first strengthens your muscles with bodyweight circuit training.
Core exercises to include in your beginner workout plan
When we think about exercise, we usually think of cardiovascular activities that get the heart rate up. Cardio, sometimes called aerobic exercise, can be the most challenging part of starting a beginner workout plan for rookies, and the best way to counter that, is with variety. You’re certainly not limited to running, the treadmill, or the elliptical bike. You can incorporate the following for a more dynamic cardio routine (3):
- Jumping jacks (20-30 reps)
- Lateral hops (20-30 reps)
- Squat reach and jumps (10-15 reps)
- Superman stretches (10-15 reps)
Besides cardio exercise, you should also add flexibility and balance training routines to your beginner workout plan. These skills will help you progress to more complex workouts eventually. Start with these movements that are simple enough to be performed at home, and on a daily basis (4):
- Calf stretch
- Hamstring stretch
- Quadriceps stretch
- Hip flexor stretch
- Iliotibial band stretch
- Knee-to-chest stretch
- Shoulder stretch
In addition to these activities, a well-rounded beginner workout plan or beginner gym workout should incorporate strength training as well. Also known as resistance or weight training, these exercises involve the use of resistance from your own bodyweight to build muscle strength.
According to the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, it’s recommended to do strength training exercises at least two days a week (5). These activities should target the major muscle groups: legs, hips, back, chest, core, shoulders, and arms.
Beginners can start with eight to 10 exercises that target major muscle groups two to three times a week. Strength training includes movements like:
- Pushups and pullups
- Lunges and squats
If you wish to take this type of training one step further, you can invest in dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands. Your trainer can advise on how heavy your starting weights should be (5). If in doubt, start as low as 2kgs and work your way up gradually.
However, if you don’t want to get into a structured routine just yet, which may be one way to start on your beginner workout plan; you can start by making small changes to your everyday routine to get your body moving, whether it’s choosing to walk for short trips or using the stairs instead of the lift. These seemingly minor changes can add up and make a difference.
It is recommended that those aged 18 to 64 years old be active for 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous activity (2).
Progressing from your beginner workout plan
To maximise the full benefits of strength training, you need to gradually increase total muscular workload. Also known as the progressive overload principle, the aim is to do strength training until you reach a point where it’s hard to complete another rep. That way, your body does not plateau and continues to be challenged (5).
Don’t forget to build in rest days in your strength training program. Muscles need time to repair after they have been strained. As a rule of thumb, you should rest the affected muscle group for up to two days before working out again.
Creating a beginner workout plan or a beginner gym workout marks the first step in a lifelong journey of exercising for health. Together with good nutrition and other lifestyle modifications, you’re well on the road to good health. If you want to optimise the effects of these positive choices, you may want to consider supplements. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements can support energy during physically demanding routines and help your body recover more quickly.
If you’re looking for supplements to complement your active lifestyle, look no further than Vitable Australia. We offer a monthly vitamin subscription where you can mix and match our daily vitamin packs depending on your needs and health goals. We even take care of vitamin delivery for your ultimate convenience. Browse through our offerings today!
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- Mayo Clinic. Fitness program: 5 steps to get started. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20048269
- Australian Health Department. Physical activity guidelines for adults. https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians/for-adults-18-to-64-years
- Queensland Health Department. A beginner’s cardio workout. https://www.healthier.qld.gov.au/guide/a-beginners-cardio-workout-you-can-do-at-home-without-lacing-up-your-running-shoes/
- Mayo Clinic. Guide to stretches. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/stretching/sls-20076840?s=9
- BetterHealth. Resistance training - health benefits. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/resistance-training-health-benefits