Fitness Tips

This True Beginner Workout Is a Great Place to Start if You Haven’t Worked Out in Years

Getty Images/Oscar Wong
How many times have you clicked the link for a “beginner” workout video to try at home, or signed up for a beginner class, only to feel completely overwhelmed? It can be hard not to wonder, Has the definition of beginner changed recently? We’ve been there, too—and not only is it frustrating, but it can turn you off to exercise (at least that type of exercise) for a while.

We found a true at-home beginner workout for you, one that’s suitable for anyone who’s been sedentary for a while (hello, pandemic fatigue and burnout!). It doesn’t matter if it’s been a few weeks, months, or years—this simple but powerful routine will help you build strength and health.

Trainer Justin Agustin, who specializes in fitness for beginners, shared this simple combo of warmups, strength, and cardio exercises on TikTok, and suggests doing this beginner workout at home three times a week for four weeks, until you start feeling stronger and notice your endurance improve. Here are the deets:

Lower body warmup

Agustin starts with a knee warmup because he says it’s “really important to get joints lubricated” after a long period of being sedentary.

Reverse kicks:

  1. Standing upright with both feet flat on the floor, gently kick your right heel back toward your glutes. Return to standing.
  2. Repeat on the other side. This is one rep.
  3. Continue back and forth for 10 reps per set. Do three sets.

Knee extensions:

  1. Sitting on a chair or couch with feet on the floor, lift and lower the lower half of the right leg, hinging at the knee (essentially, kick up).
  2. Repeat on the other side. This is one rep.
  3. Continue for 10 reps per set. Do three sets.

Lower body strengthening

This “sit to stand” exercise is a supported squat; it uses glutes, calves, hamstrings, and core muscles, and is super beginner-friendly. Agustin notes you can modify it with pillows for additional support and by using your hands to help you stand in the beginning.

  1. Sitting at the edge of a chair or couch, with feet firmly planted on the floor, put weight into your heels, tighten your abdominal muscles, and squeeze your glutes to stand up straight.
  2. Lower carefully back into the seated position. This is one rep.
  3. Complete 10-15 reps per set, doing three sets total.

Shoulder warmup

This one is simple and straightforward. Shoulder rolls, forward (and then backward), 30 seconds in each direction.

Upper body and core strengthening

To build strength in the abs and arms, Agustin outlines two classic exercises, modified for beginners.

Wall push-ups:

  1. Stand facing a wall or closed door.
  2. With hands planted on the wall shoulder-distance apart, walk your feet backward until you can extend your arms completely, keeping the palms and fingers flat against the wall.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and tighten your core as you bend your elbows, bringing your chest toward the wall. Keep your neck straight and abdominal muscles engaged. Squeeze the glutes.
  4. Keeping your core locked in tight, push through the palms to return to standing. This is one rep.
  5. Complete 15 reps per set, three sets total.
  6. As you build strength, you can try push-ups on the ground, either modified with knees down, or in the classic position. Watch the video below to check out the proper form for a classic push-up.

Wall planks:

  1. Standing about arm’s-distance from a wall or closed door, feet shoulder width apart, place your hands on the wall in front of you and walk them upward until they’re extended overhead. Your body should create a straight line from your heels to your fingers, at about a 45-degree angle.
  2. Keep your ribs closed (no flaring!) and abdominals engaged, squeeze the glutes, and hold for 30 seconds before taking a break.
  3. Repeat three times.
  4. As you build strength, you can try a traditional plank on the ground, either modified with knees down, or in the classic position. Watch the video below to see the proper form for a standard plank.

Cardio

Modified jumping (or non-jumping) jacks, marching in place, and punches comprise Agustin’s cardio routine. For each of the three moves, do three 30-second sets (totaling 90 seconds per move total, with short breaks between sets). All of these are “great low impact options,” he says, meaning they'll be gentle on your joints. They will also help improve your stamina as you get into (or back into) your routine.

Interested in a beginner yoga workout? Try this gentle flow:

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