Most of us know we could do more to get fit. A beginner workout routine may be just the thing to get you where you want to be.

You know you should do more to get fit. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. If that sounds like a lot, a beginner workout routine may be just the thing to ease you toward where you know you should be. It’s not as hard as it sounds. And it’s easier to work into your schedule than you might think. So let’s get started.

Photo: People at the starting line of a race.

Image CC 2.0 by Josiah MacKenzie, via Flickr.

Image CC 2.0 by Josiah MacKenzie, via Flickr.

What’s in a Good Beginner Workout Routine?

Any exercise routine should focus on the following:

  • Flexibility Your workout should make your muscles more limber and increase the range of motion of your limbs and joints. Also, increased flexibility will help you to avoid muscle injury.
  • Cardiovascular Fitness – A workout needs to raise your heart rate for at least 30 minutes. This will increase your endurance and keep your heart and lungs healthy and strong.
  • Strength – Strength training will also protect you from injury. Also, studies show that strength training can increase bone density and protect against osteoporosis.

How a Beginner Routine is Different

A good beginner workout routine will do all of these things, but will ease you into it gently. At first glance, it may look too gentle to do any good. However, starting slowly has a number of benefits.

First, a beginner workout routine will keep you from becoming intimidated. Ambition is good, but if you injure yourself the first time out, it makes it that much harder to get back and do it again. And if the workout is so tough that it’s no fun, you won’t be very eager to repeat it.

Second, starting gently will decrease your chances of getting hurt. If you’re new to exercise, or returning to it after a long time, your body will need time to adjust. Be patient! The body is meant to move, and once you start, you’ll progress faster than you ever thought possible.

Finally, a solid beginner workout routine will teach you some new skills. You won’t just learn how to do a particular kind of exercise. You’ll learn how to exercise in a way that’s right for your body. In addition, you’ll learn more about your personal limits, and more about what kind of exercise you like. And that’s important.

Bodyweight Fitness

A bodyweight fitness routine can be a great place to start. But what is it? Basically, bodyweight fitness combines cardio, flexibility, and strength training into one routine. In addition, it uses one piece of equipment — something that costs nothing, that you can take anywhere — your own body.

Bodyweight fitness exercises are familiar to most of us. They include jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups, squats, planks, and lunges. Just as weight training uses weights for resistance, bodyweight exercises use the weight of your body. Bodyweight exercises can make a fantastic beginner workout routine, because you can do them anywhere. There’s no need to join a gym, hire a trainer, or work out in front of other people. You can do it in the privacy of your own home, at your own pace, and for free.  

Here’s a twenty-minute standing strength workout routine for beginners.

And here’s another no-equipment routine that combines cardio and strength training.

What Makes a Beginner Workout Routine for Women?

Image CC by SA 2.0 by Franchise Opportunities, via Flickr.

Women’s and men’s bodies are different in a number of ways. For example, flexibility tends to come easier to women, while strength often comes easier to men. In addition, women put on muscle at approximately half the rate that men do. And some women are worried that weight training will bulk them up. As a result, a lot of women neglect strength training in their beginner workout routine. And that’s a mistake!

Strength Training for Women

There are lots of ways to build strength. You don’t have to hit the weights — although you can, if you like. But you can also use bodyweight or resistance bands to build up your muscles. If you are using weights, you don’t have to do a lot in the beginning. The American Council on Exercise recommends one set of eight to twelve repetitions for beginners.

Here’s a sample beginner workout routine for strength training.

Cardio Training for Women

A beginner workout routine for women should include exercises for strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. Livestrong recommends three cardio workouts and two strength-training workouts per week. Wow, that sounds like a lot! But keep in mind, if you’re just starting out, your cardio workout can be as little as fifteen minutes long. That’s a dog walk or a spin around the neighborhood.

Here’s a beginner workout routine for cardio that you can do at home.

Flexibility Training for Women

Flexibility training can take many forms. You might try a series of static stretches. Stretching is important before and after a cardio workout, to prevent injury. Check out Sports Fitness Advisor’s static stretching flexibility program for a good beginner workout routine for flexibility. Many women like Yoga for flexibility, and that’s terrific. Because Yoga does double duty, training your body for strength as well.

You might enjoy this beginner Yoga workout video from Lisa Clark.

What Makes a Beginner Workout Routine for Men?

Image CC BY 2.0, by Nicholas A. Tonelli, via Flickr.

We all enjoy seeing our hard work pay off. And the quicker it does, the better. Many men like weight training because their strength and muscle mass increase quickly and visibly. Unfortunately, many men also neglect flexibility training. This can be harmful in a couple of different ways.

First, flexibility training prevents injury, and injury is one of the main reasons people quit working out. Second, stretching increases the range of motion for muscles and joints. If you’re not using your full range of motion during weight training, your muscles won’t reach their full potential. Finally, stretching helps your overall athletic performance. It helps your muscles to act quickly and efficiently both in sports and in everyday tasks. As a result, flexibility should be a significant part of a beginner workout routine for men.

Martial artists understand the importance of keeping flexible. Here are a martial arts stretching routine that you can adapt for your workout.

Of course, our beginner workout routine should include strength and cardio, too. But go easy. It may be tempting to jump right into weight training without proper instruction. You might want to start your cardio by running a 10K right out of the gate. But remember, if you start off too quickly and injure yourself, you’ll be out of action for a while. If you start out slow and easy, and with good technique, your fitness will increase quickly. And then you can tackle that 10K.

A jumprope routine is an efficient way to improve speed, endurance, and cardiovascular health. Here’s a jump rope workout you can do at home.

You can round out your beginner exercise routine with this full body gym workout.

Some Popular Workout Routines for Beginners

Does putting together a beginner workout routine seem complicated? Don’t worry. It’s a well traveled path, and lots of people have stood right where you are now. Here are a few excellent training programs that others have assembled, that can get you started toward your fitness goals.

Can my Family Work Out Together?

Image CC by 2.0 by OC Parks CA, via Flickr.

Of course! Working out as a family is a great way to have fun together and spend quality time as a family. In addition, everyone can learn new skills. Getting healthy can be fun when you do it together. And kids will have a blast keeping their parents accountable.

When you’re working out with younger people, it’s important to keep it fresh and fun. That means mixing it up. Don’t do the same thing all the time, and don’t take things as seriously as you might if you were working out alone.

Instead, you might try:

  • Bicycling
  • Ice skating
  • Roller skating
  • Trampolining
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Low-key games of baseball, soccer, football, basketball or tennis
  • Swimming

Image in the Public Domain. By Presidio of Monterey, via Flickr.

You can also “hire” your kids to be your workout helper. Have them pace you while you run by riding their bikes just ahead of you. Or they can hold your feet while you do your sit ups — and then you can hold theirs. They’ll enjoy feeling like an important part of your workout, and you’ll be teaching them good habits at the same time.

Lots of families also do group activities together, like martial arts. If the first thing you try is a bust, don’t give up! Keep trying until you find something you can all enjoy together.

Tips for Sticking With It

All the good intentions in the world won’t get you anywhere if you give up. Now that you have an idea how to build your beginner workout routine, here are some tips for keeping it up.

Make it Fun

If you hate your workout, you’re going to dread it. And if you dread it, you’re not going to be doing it for long. Find a workout that you enjoy, and that fits into your life. If you don’t want to go it alone, try an exercise class. If you want to get outdoors, try hiking, cycling, or rowing. Martial Arts gives you self defense skills as well as improving fitness. And trampolining is not just a growing fitness trend. It’s an Olympic sport, and a really great way to get fit. Not to mention it’s a complete blast!

Be accountable

It’s easier to stick to a commitment if you’re answerable to someone else. Accountability can take different forms. First, you could ask a friend to be your accountability partner. Hold each other responsible for sticking to your routines. You could also do a daily social media post about your workout and your goal. All those likes can be very motivating. Finally, you could use a fitness training app. Many of these are free, and checking in every day can motivate you to keep going.

Be flexible

Sometimes life happens. You have your beginner workout routine in place, and it’s going great. But then something comes up, and you miss your workout. Have a few options ready. Can’t do your run? Try a power walk on your lunch hour. Can’t make it to the gym for weights? Do some bodyweight exercises at home when you’re watching TV. Completely miss out that day? Start again the next. Fall down nine times, get up ten.

Be kind to yourself

It’s easy to get down on yourself if you miss a workout or three. But that just makes it harder to get back on track. If you forgive yourself, starting over won’t be a punishment. Learn to recognize your own cycles of motivation and work with them, not against them.

In conclusion, getting fit takes work, but not as much work as you might think. A good beginner workout routine can help you get there safely, gently, and sustainably. Sharing your experiences can help you to maintain motivation.

Featured image: CC BY 2.0 by Army Medicine, via Flickr.

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