Hi, beginners of the world! You know what's amazing about you? Everyone can relate to where you're at; we've all been there.
From world-famous bodybuilders to your average daily gym-goer... we've all, at one point, been a beginner. You are all of us and we are all of you. Too prophetic? Basically, you're not alone and we wanted to put together a starter workout to help support you on your fitness-journey. This workout can be done at the gym or at home and be adjusted in time based on how many circuits you want to rotate through. Let's get into it:
First and foremost, you've got to warm up. This could be a brisk walk about your neighborhood or 10min of jogging on a treadmill. I love a good dynamic warm-up to couple with my cardio, which can look like doing 20 body weight only lunges, 20 body weight only squats & a 20 sec plank post-cardio. Or something else that's not weighted and gets your body ready for the movements it is about to perform. After that, your body should be prepared to move!
Decide if you're ready to add weight to these ones. But remember, your form is MORE IMPORTANT. So, keep them body weight only till you can drop into a squat in perfect form without needing to adjust. Think of squatting like sitting in a chair. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, keep your knees soft and engage your core to support your back. You want to bend at the hip, making sure your knees stay behind your toes, and drop your butt to 90 degrees from the floor. Keep your core tight and your chest high (aka: don't bow, your shoulders should be back and torso up). Then, pushing through your butt and heels, push yourself up to standing. Then do it all over again. What fun! TIP: You can try this with an actual chair behind you as an assist until you feel comfortable squatting on your own. Just don't sit down and stay seated, that's cheating!
These ones are an oldie but will always be a goody. Push-Ups are a chest focused exercise; however, they also work your core, triceps and many other secondary muscle groups along the way. To get started, get into a plank position and place your hands firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Bending at the elbow, lower your body to the ground, keeping your back flat and eyes focused a few feet in front of you so your neck stays neutral. Once you are at the lowest point in which you can keep form, push yourself back up to your start position for one breath before doing it all over again (and again, and again). TIP: To make these a bit easier, try performing push-ups on an incline. That'll remove some of the pressure and help you build up strength toward a regular push-up.
These ones you can add weight to once you are ready, otherwise stick to body weight only. The biggest piece of advice I can give is, when lunging, it's not about lunging forward; it's a vertical motion. So, before you get into walking lunges, try a regular lunge. Stand with your feet hip width apart and then step forward to split your stance, like your legs are now an upside-down V. Keep your upper body straight and chin up, shoulders back and relaxed. Engage your core and then, bending at your back knee, lunge down so your legs are at 90 degrees. VERY IMPORTANT: make sure your front knee is sitting behind your toes. Then, using your leg muscles, push back up to standing. Feel how it's a vertical motion? A walking lunge takes things a step further (yes, pun intended) by getting you to balance and step forward between each rep, moving your back leg to the front... essentially "walking". Except you're not walking. Because if you walked like that all the time you'd be cra.
Now, if you're doing these at home, get creative and use heavy objects, such as a 2lt jug of milk or a big 'ol can of beans as your weight. Otherwise, at the gym, a dumbbell works just fine. Choose a flat bench or surface to rest one hand on. Depending on your preference, you can find a vertically flat bench to rest one knee and hand on, putting yourself into a table-top position. Otherwise, you can lean your body against your stabilizing arm, bringing your torso into a decline while keeping your back straight, neck neutral and core engaged. Grasp your dumbbell (or a fun filled household item) in your free hand. Then, pulling against the resistance, bring your dumbbell up to your torso, elbow pointed behind you and squeezing your back muscles. Lower the dumbbell back down to your start position before performing the next rep.
This one is a bit trickier to do with fun household items. I've found canned goods work the best, otherwise, dumbbells at the gym are what you're after. Sit on a bench, keeping your back straight, shoulders back and core engaged. If you need a bench with back support, seek one out. It's better to be safe when you're doing anything overhead. If you're at home, a regular 'ol chair works just fine. Hold your dumbbells or at home "weights" in each hand. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, hip width apart. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, making your weights sit around ear height. Then, pushing up against the resistance, lift your arms till they are almost straight. Using strength and stability, lower them back down to 90 degrees. That's one rep! Now do 'er all over again.
Start this one on your belly, either on a yoga mat or padded surface. Prop yourself up on your forearms, making sure your shoulders are directly above your elbows (ye 'ol 90-degree angle we've come to love and trust). Flip your toes under, so you're not resting on the tops of your feet. Then, push your knees into the ground. You feel that? That's what it feels like when your core is engaged. Now that you know what to feel for, lift your whole body so it is perfectly horizontal with the ground, supported by your toes and forearms. Make sure you don't lift your hips too high nor let them drop too low. This is like the Three Bears of exercises; you've got to get it just right. Now, remember how tense your core felt when you were pushing your knees into the ground? You want to keep that tension as you hold your plank. Once you have held it for a time that challenges you, release back onto your belly. Good job! Your plank is over.
To shake everything up and get yourself ready for round two, I like to finish off my circuits with a little hit of cardio. When we jog, to keep our balance, our opposite limbs normally work with one another. Meaning, when your right leg is forward, your left arm is forward. This is the same for running on the spot. So, keep your spine straight and chin up, drive one knee up to meet the opposing elbow and then quickly change limbs so the other knee comes up to meet its opposite elbow. Landing on the ball of your foot and making sure your knee is soft. This is almost more of a jump than a run and is sure to get your heart pumping. TIP: If my clumsy description isn't landing, search a YouTube video of someone running on the stop. Now that you're done, take a 30 - 60-second break before running through the circuit again. I recommend starting with at least 2 round, building up to seeing how many you can get through in a set amount of time. Example: Trying to get through as many rounds as possible in 45min. Once you are done remember to save time to stretch, as a warm up and cool down are AS IMPORTANT as the workout itself. If you run this circuit 3x/week expect to grow out of it in a months' time... because after that you'll be too badass and in need of a new challenge! Go you!