How To Exercise For Beginners: A Complete Guide

exercise for beginners

What is the best exercise for beginners? And why should you seriously consider starting an exercise routine? 

For the longest time, when I thought of exercise, I only thought about weight loss and nothing else. But I now know better.

Yes, nutrition and what we put inside our bodies are extremely important, but how we use our bodies is also important.

Regular exercise is vital to our overall health and well-being. And while it can help us lose and maintain weight, it goes beyond weight loss.

Exercise helps with flexibility, strength, and agility, especially as we age. And it can also help with the everyday things we sometimes take for granted, such as bending, lifting, and reaching.

Regular exercise can also help us maintain a healthy heart and reduce our chances of developing certain conditions and diseases. And that’s not all.

Exercise can do wonders for our minds. It can help improve our mood, concentration, focus, and overall well-being. 

Simply put, exercise helps us live longer and provides a better quality of life! But as a beginner, figuring out where to start can be challenging.

Trust me, I know! To say I was confused when starting my fitness journey is an understatement.

But after a lot of research, I learned so much about exercise and the best ones to do as a beginner to get results.  

So, whether you’re looking for the best exercise for beginners to lose weight at home or just trying to improve your health and overall fitness, this guide can help you get started on your fitness journey.

In this article, I show you exactly how to get started, stay motivated, and find the best exercise for beginners to help you achieve your fitness goals!

Benefits Of Regular Exercise

exercise for beginners at home

When starting an exercise routine as a beginner, it helps to know precisely how beneficial regular exercise can be and how it can potentially change the quality of your life. 

Personally, I prefer home workouts, so when I was looking to learn how to start working out at home, learning all the benefits of exercise helped me greatly with my motivation to get started.  

When I realized the importance of regular exercise for my mental and physical health, I felt more compelled to start and maintain an active lifestyle.

Some of the benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Enhances cardiovascular health
  • Strengthens muscles and bones
  • Boosts immune system function
  • Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Enhances mood through the release of endorphins
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Increased Energy Levels
  • Combats fatigue and increases stamina
  • Enhances productivity and focus
  • Reduces the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease
  • Aids in weight management
  • Promotes longevity and quality of life

Risks Of Living A Sedentary Lifestyle

Have you ever heard of the saying “use it or lose it”? This term also applies to using our muscles. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “If you stop using your muscles, your body won’t waste the energy it needs to take care of them.” Not using our muscles regularly can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, and with that comes many risks.

Did you know there are actual risks of living a sedentary lifestyle? Being sedentary is spending too much time sitting around, lying down, and not moving much.

Some of the risks include:

  • Increased risk for certain conditions and diseases like high blood pressure, certain cancers, high cholesterol, stroke, type 2 diabetes, having a heart attack, and osteoporosis. 
  • Increased risk of gaining weight
  • Slower metabolism
  • Possible lower functioning immune system
  • Weakened bones and pain and stiffness in joints
  • It may negatively affect blood circulation.

As you can see, there are many negative aspects to living a sedentary lifestyle.

Different Types Of Exercises

The different types of exercises

There are four categories of exercises: endurance, strength training, flexibility, and balance. Each type of exercise has its own specific benefits, and research shows getting all 4 is essential.

Endurance exercises consist of your typical cardio and aerobic workouts. Cardio exercises include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, doing the elliptical, and aerobic dance.

Another exercise to consider is HIIT. Although not considered an endurance exercise, HIIT can be a great alternative to steady-state cardio for those short on time and looking for a metabolic boost. 

For more information on HIIT, check out this post. Also, note that HIIT is not meant to be done every day or as often as regular cardio, so you can incorporate it into your routine one to two days per week if you like.

Strength training exercises include weight lifting, resistance band workouts, and body weight exercises like squats, lunches, and push-ups. 

Flexibility exercises consist of basic stretching, including both static and dynamic stretches. Yoga, pilates, and tai chi are all examples of flexibility exercises.

Balance exercises include yoga, tai chi, pilates, heel-to-toe walking, one-legged stand, and back-leg raises.

Recreational Activities, though not a major category, can be considered cardio/endurance activities. They are typically activities people generally enjoy, like playing sports like tennis, basketball, volleyball, or soccer. Recreational activities also include hiking, roller skating, and dancing.

How To Get Started

exercise for beginners to lose weight

So, how should a beginner start exercising? Starting anything new can be difficult, and starting an exercise routine is no different, especially if you have never exercised before.

And even if you have prior experience with exercise, if you haven’t done it in a long time, it can be extremely difficult to get back on track. 

So how do you start?

It starts with motivation. Getting motivated to exercise is the first step. Below, I list some tips for getting the motivation you need to start exercising.

How to get motivated to exercise

exercise for beginners with weights

1. Set achievable and realistic goals based on your current fitness level.

The first step is setting achievable goals. Set clear and specific goals, and be sure to break down your bigger goal into smaller, more manageable steps. 

For example, if your ultimate goal is to run a marathon, which consists of about 26.2 miles, you could start with a goal of running a 5k race in 3 – 4 months and then build up from there. When setting your goals, make sure to set a timeline. Also, make sure to break down each smaller goal into specific tasks. 

For example, if your smaller goal is to run a 5k race, break it down into specific steps/tasks that you need to do to get there. Tasks could include following a training plan, increasing mileage gradually, and participating in shorter races as preparation. 

Once you achieve that smaller goal, set a new goal that gets you closer to the bigger goal, and rinse and repeat.

2. Identify your “Why” 

Identify your specific and personal reasons for wanting to start exercising. Make sure you dig deep and go beyond the surface level.

If you need help doing this, check out this post on exercise motivation, which explores ways to get motivated to exercise. Once you have your “why,” use that to fuel your commitment to your new exercise routine.

3. Make achieving your goals fool-proof by starting small

Start small. When starting out, make sure you start so small that it’s almost impossible to fail.

For example if your goal is to workout out 45 minutes 5 days per week, then start with 5 minutes and work your way up from there. 

Most people can muster up the motivation to work out for just 5 minutes and usually do more than 5 minutes in the end.

When starting out, it’s not really about the time you work out; it’s more about building that habit. You will build that habit whether you work out for 5 minutes or 30.

4. Create a support system

Surround yourself with supportive people. Get a workout buddy to go on your fitness journey with you, join a support group, or get an accountability partner. 

5. Celebrate your wins

Be your biggest cheerleader by celebrating your achievements, no matter how big or small. No goal is too small to celebrate!

Choosing The Right Exercises For Beginners

walking for exercise

Now that you know the different types of exercise, it is time to choose the right one to get started. Which workout is best for beginners? 

The best workout for beginners is a routine that you truly enjoy and look forward to doing every day, or however often you plan to exercise. Ideally, it should include cardio, strength training, and some form of stretching for flexibility and balance.

Include cardio

woman running up stairs for exercise

Cardio is so beneficial and should definitely be a part of your exercise for beginners routine.

Not only can you burn a ton of calories, but it has so many health benefits, including improving your heart health, lowering your blood pressure, improving your sleep, boosting your immune system, boosting your mood, and improving your mental health. 

And the best part is that you don’t need a gym membership to get a good workout; a cardiovascular workout at home will do just fine.

To start, choose a form of cardio you think you will enjoy.

It’s important to choose something you think you will enjoy. This will increase your chances of sticking with your workout plan. If you enjoy multiple activities, even better, as this will offer variety and prevent workout boredom.

Good forms of cardio for beginners include:

  • Brisk walking outside or on a treadmill
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Using the elliptical
  • Cycling outdoors or on a stationary bike
  • Dance aerobic class
  • Dancing in your living room for 30 minutes
  • Playing your favorite sport
  • Using a stair climber

Aim to get 30 minutes of cardio 5 days per week, or if you’re mixing in strength training, 3-4 days of cardio works great, giving you time to rest in between.

Include strength training 

woman lifting weights

Sometimes, when we start exercising, we may overlook strength training and just focus on cardio, but both are important. Strength training should be included in your exercise for beginners toolbox.

Exercises like weight lifting, using resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises help you become stronger and improve your overall fitness. 

Strength training provides benefits like cardio, such as improved sleep and cardiovascular health. It also helps with weight loss because the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. 

Strength training can also help protect your joints, improve flexibility and balance, and reduce your risk of conditions like osteoporosis. It can also help strengthen your back and make it easier to do everyday things as you age.

And at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to feel stronger? Increasing overall strength can make you feel powerful, which is also great for your mental health. 

Good beginner-friendly strength training exercises with or without weights

Exercise for beginners with weights 

So, what is the best exercise for beginners with dumbbells?

  • Dumbbell rows
  • Bicep curls
  • Dumbbell squats
  • Kettlebell swings

Don’t worry; I include some YouTube exercise videos for beginners below that will show you how to do these exercises. 

Exercise for beginners without weights
  • Push-ups
  • Lunges
  • Bodyweight squats
  • Planks

How many reps do I need to do as a beginner?

bodyweight workout plan pdf

As a beginner, aim to do your strength training workouts 2-3 times per week. For each exercise, aim for 3 sets of 10-12 reps.  

However, the most important thing to focus on as a beginner is to listen to your body and pace yourself. If 3 sets of 10-12 reps don’t feel right to you, that is okay. Start with what feels comfortable to you and then gradually increase reps and/or sets. 

Also, if you struggle with doing 3 sets of 10-12 reps, it could be because the weights you are lifting are too heavy. Start with a lighter weight when just starting out and then gradually increase the weight. 

It’s generally recommended to start with 5 to 10 pound dumbbells which I think is a good start. However, this is a personal choice if you feel more comfortable with starting with 3 pounds then start with that. 

Once you get a feel for and some experience with weightlifting and you have the form down, you can increase weight from there. I think the most important thing to focus on when just starting with weightlifting is form.

Make sure you focus on mastering form, and then you can worry about how heavy the weights you are lifting are.  

What a typical 30 minute workout at home looks like

So, what does a 30-minute workout look like? Just know that as a beginner, your workout does not have to be 30 minutes; it could be longer or shorter, but many people aim for 30 minutes in the beginning. Below, I highlight what an exercise routine would look like for beginners. 

  1. Choose 3-4 days to do your cardio and include some stretching exercises.
  2. Choose 2-3 days for strength training. On these days, you can work with dumbbells, do bodyweight exercises, or combine both. 
  3. You want strength training sessions to consist of about 4-6 different exercises working different muscles. For example, good exercises during your strength training include squats, push-ups (modified push-ups are great for beginners), bicep curls, lunges, planks, and kettlebell swings (considered full body and have a cardio aspect).
  4. Rest. Include a rest day or two for light stretches, yoga, or a leisurely walk.

Sample 7-Day Workout Plan: Best Exercise For Beginners

7 exercises to do everyday

Important note: Consult a physician before starting this or any exercise program. Make sure you perform each exercise with the proper form. Again, form is very important. 

So focus on form first, and once you have your form down, add weights and increase weight as you get stronger. Also, start with a warm-up of 5-10 minutes of light cardio before each workout. And make sure you end with some stretches.

Day 1: Full Body Workout At Home Without Equipment 

  • Basic squats: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Push-ups (or modified push-ups): 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Lunges: 3 sets of 10 reps per leg
  • Plank: 3 sets, hold for 30 seconds each

Day 2: Rest or Light Activity

  • Rest day or engage in light activities like walking, stretching, or yoga.

Day 3: Cardio Day

  • Brisk walk or jog: 20-30 minutes
  • Jumping jacks: 3 sets of 20 reps
  • Bicycle crunches: 3 sets of 10 reps per side

Day 4: Upper Body Focus

  • Push-ups (or modified push-ups): 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Dumbbell rows (or bodyweight rows): 3 sets of 10 reps per arm
  • Shoulder press (with light dumbbells or water bottles): 3 sets of 10 reps

Day 5: Lower Body Focus

  • Squats: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Lunges: 3 sets of 10 reps per leg
  • Calf raises: 3 sets of 15 reps

Day 6: Active Recovery

  • Engage in gentle activities like yoga, stretching, or a leisurely walk.

Day 7: Flexibility and Mobility

  • A yoga session focusing on flexibility and mobility. Poses include downward-facing dog, child’s pose, and spinal twists. You can also do some basic stretching and/or a leisurely walk.

8 Exercises For Beginners – How To Do Them 

Exercise for beginners no equipment

1. Squats

The squat is an excellent exercise for beginners. Some of the muscles it targets include quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. 

To perform a squat correctly, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward. 

Engage your core by standing tall and then pull your belly button inward towards your spine. Keep your chest lifted as you bend your knees and lower your hips back and down like sitting in a chair. 

Keep your knees aligned with your toes, and avoid letting them collapse inward. 

Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground or as far as comfortable while maintaining good form. 

Then, push through your heels to return to the starting position. Repeat for the prescribed number of reps.

Below is a link to a YouTube video showing how to do a squat correctly.

Squat Exercise YouTube Tutorial

2. Push-ups

A Push-up is a bodyweight exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. 

To perform a push-up, start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, arms fully extended, and body forming a straight line from head to heels. 

Engage your core and lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest nearly touches the ground. 

Keep your elbows close to your body and avoid sagging your hips or arching your lower back. 

Then, push through your palms to return to the starting position. If you are new to push-ups, a modified push-up may be a better exercise for a beginner. 

You can modify a push-up by performing it on your knees. Below, I include a link to a YouTube video showing how to perform a regular and modified push-up. 

Regular and modified push-up tutorial

3. Lunges 

Lunges are an effective lower-body exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. They also improve balance and coordination. 

To perform a lunge, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. 

Step forward with your right foot, keeping your torso upright and core engaged. 

Lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, with your front thigh parallel to the ground and your back knee hovering just above the floor. 

Ensure your front knee is directly above your ankle and doesn’t extend past your toes. 

Push through your right heel to return to the starting position, then repeat on the other side. 

Here’s a video demonstrating how to do lunges correctly.

Lunge exercise tutorial

4. Dumbbell Rows

Dumbbell rows are a compound exercise that primarily targets the upper back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and biceps. 

To perform a dumbbell row, start by holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your body, and standing with your feet hip-width apart. 

Hinge forward from your hips while maintaining a straight back until your torso is almost parallel to the ground. Keep your core engaged and your neck in a neutral position. 

Then, pull the dumbbells towards your hips by bending your elbows, keeping them close to your body, and squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. 

Lower the dumbbells back down with control and repeat for the prescribed number of reps.

Here’s a tutorial on how to do dumbbell rows correctly.

Dumbbell Row Exercise Tutorial

5. Shoulder Presses

Shoulder presses target the deltoid muscles of the shoulders, as well as the triceps and upper chest. 

To perform a shoulder press, start by holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, palms facing forward, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Engage your core and press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are fully extended, keeping your wrists straight and elbows slightly bent at the top of the movement. 

Lower the dumbbells back down to shoulder height with control and repeat for the prescribed number of reps. Here’s a tutorial on how to do shoulder presses with proper form.

Shoulder Press Exercise Tutorial

6. Planks

Planks are an excellent core-strengthening exercise that also engages the shoulders, back, and leg muscles. 

To perform a plank, start in a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from head to heels. 

Engage your core and hold this position, keeping your hips level and not allowing them to sag or hike up. 

Aim to hold the plank for the prescribed duration while maintaining proper form. 

Plank Exercise Tutorial

7. Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle crunches are a dynamic core exercise that targets the rectus abdominis and obliques. 

To perform bicycle crunches, lie on your back with your hands behind your head, elbows pointing out to the sides, and legs lifted off the ground with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. 

Engage your core and bring your right elbow towards your left knee while simultaneously straightening your right leg and rotating your torso to the left. 

Alternate sides in a pedaling motion, bringing your left elbow towards your right knee while straightening your left leg and rotating your torso to the right. Continue alternating sides for the prescribed number of reps. Check out the video below on how to do a bicycle crunch correctly.

Bicycle Crunch Exercise Tutorial

8. Calf Raises

Calf raises target the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) and help strengthen and tone the lower legs. 

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and flat on the ground to perform calf raises. Lift your heels off the ground as high as you can, rising onto the balls of your feet. 

Hold the top position briefly, then lower your heels back down to the starting position with control. 

Repeat for the prescribed number of reps. If you’re using weights, hold a dumbbell in each hand or a barbell across your shoulders for added resistance. 

Calf Raise Exercise Tutorial

Incorporate these exercises into your workout routine to target different muscle groups and build strength and endurance. 

Remember to focus on proper form and technique to reduce injury and maximize results. Many YouTube videos show exactly how to do these exercises, so check out some of the how-to videos highlighted in this article. 

Flexibility And Balance Exercise Tutorials

As previously mentioned, cardio, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises are important, and it’s a good idea to include all four. Below, I share some links to YouTube videos showing you how to do three popular flexibility exercises that are great for beginners.

Downward-facing dog tutorial

Child’s Pose

Check out the link below

Child’s pose tutorial

Spinal Twists

Check out the link below

Spinal twists tutorial

Final Thoughts On Exercise For Beginners

Taking the first step towards a healthier and more active lifestyle as a beginner can be challenging, but it is so worth it! 

Regular exercise is beneficial for overall physical and mental health. So, what is the best home workout program and exercise for beginners? 

The best workout program for beginners is one you find easy to get started with and one you can stick to. The activity shouldn’t be too challenging in the beginning, and it helps so much if you enjoy it!

You don’t need to have the perfect exercise routine; just get moving and build from there. If you want more structure, the seven-day workout plan is a great place to start.

If you decide to try any of the strength training exercises highlighted in this article, focus on proper form first to minimize any injuries and ensure you are getting the maximum benefits and will see actual results.

Have you tried any of these exercises yet? Let me know in the comments below.

Other Posts You May Like:

7 Amazing Tips To Increase Exercise Motivation That Work

How To Do HIIT: 11 Reasons To Start Today

BMR And Weight Loss: How To Use Your BMR For Better Results

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