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Jun 3 / Jeremy & Kim

Beginner Workout Routines

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We have received a lot of questions asking for help with beginner workout routines.  Let us start off by saying that we are happy to help and we’re excited that you have made the choice to lose weight, get in shape, and reclaim your health.  Below we are going to outline various options to consider when you first start exercising.  We’ll also provide some guiding principles to consider before you decide what type of exercise you want to incorporate into your beginner workout routine.

Two Common Beginner Workout Routine Mistakes

Know what you want to accomplish

How you exercise should depend largely on your goals.  If you want to focus on losing weight by burning off excess fat then your exercise routine should look a little different than that of someone who is trying to put on weight by building muscle.  This means that it is extremely important that you define your goals before implementing a workout routine.  When it comes to goal setting we recommend that you be as specific as possible and avoid the mistake of trying to do too much at once.  For example, “lose 20 lbs in three months” is a good goal because it is singularly focused, measurable, and challenging.  Spend some time thinking about exactly what you want to accomplish before you dive into a routine.

Find a workout routine you enjoy

We believe very strongly that the best exercise for you is the exercise that you enjoy.  There are literally thousands of different ways in which you can exercise and pretty much all of them will help you achieve your fitness goals.  The biggest mistake we see beginners make when choosing a workout routine is using an exercise they hate simply because they believe it will help them lose weight quickly.  If you choose an exercise you hate then you will not be able to continue the exercise for the long term. You may see some initial results, but you will be so miserable when you are working out that you will never be able to make exercise a part of your daily life.

Do not make this mistake!  If you hate running for long distances, then for heaven’s sake quit running for long distances!  Not sure what to do instead?  Keep reading!

Basics of Beginner Workout Routines

As we’ve discussed in this article all effective workout routines need to incorporate these four components: resistance training, cardio training, rest days, and walking.  We’ll discuss each component below and give you ideas on how you can get started with each of them.  It is also extremely important to note that if you are serious about losing weight then you need to educate yourself about healthy dieting.  We have a few articles on this topic that we recommend you read as well.

Rapid Weight Loss Diet Program

Fast Weight Loss Diet

Fat Loss Myths

500 Calorie Fat Loss Myth

Beginner Workout Routines – Resistance Training

Resistance training can often be intimidating for beginners, but it is extremely important and should not be ignored.  Resistance training will ensure that you achieve a nice toned look after you lose the excess fat and it will also ensure that you do not lose muscle mass while restricting your caloric intake for weight loss.  It is also a much more fun way to exercise than simply running on a treadmill for 2 hours.

If you want to learn more about weight training then check out our Complete Guide to Weight Lifting for Beginners.

If you are not comfortable with the idea of joining a gym or lifting free weights then we have some excellent alternatives for you. For starters we recommend doing bodyweight workouts.  You do not need fancy pieces of exercise equipment when you can use the resistance provided by your own body weight to get a great workout.  Bodyweight exercises are activities like push-ups, jumping jacks, lunges, etc.  There are hundreds of different ways in which you can use your body weight for resistance training.  The best program we have found for bodyweight exercise workouts is Turbulence Training.  Click the eBook to the right to download some free bodyweight workouts and give them a try.  If you like them as much as we do then go to the Turbulence Training website and download their bodyweight manual.

Beginner Workout Routines – Cardio Training

When people first start thinking about exercising to lose weight they almost always assume they have to start long-distance running.  It is not the only way to lose weight, and it may not even be the most effective way to lose weight, but if you think that running is something you would enjoy then here are a few pointers.

Do not push yourself too hard when you are just getting started

If running is not something that you have done for a long time then do not push yourself too hard when first getting started.  Your body will need time to adjust to the new demands on your joints and lungs.  It was almost 10 years ago when Jeremy first started running to lose weight and embarrassingly, he was only able to maintain a slow, steady jog for 11 minutes before getting so winded he had to quit.  If the same thing happens to you, do not get discouraged.  Simply look at that as your baseline.  The next time Jeremy went for a run he was able to go for 15 minutes; then 18; then 20, and so on, and so on.  Eventually, Jeremy was able to run for two hours without stopping and by that time he had lost nearly 40 lbs.

The point here is that you should not try to push yourself too hard in the beginning.  If you do then you will get frustrated and probably feel sick after your run.  Start off at a nice slow pace and see how long you can go.  Focus more on how long you can maintain a steady jog.  Don’t worry about the distance you cover.  Just try to run for a longer amount of time each time you run.  Once you can maintain your jog for at least thirty minutes then you can try to increase the distance you cover in that same amount of time.  A good goal for beginners is to be able to run 3 miles in thirty minutes.

Alternatives to distance running

If running is something that you have never enjoyed then rest assured that there are other ways to do cardio training that are just as effective, if not more effective than distance running.

The best alternative is high intensity interval training, often referred to as HIIT.  Put simply, this means completing an exercise intensely for 15-60 seconds and then resting for 30-60 seconds before repeating the exercise.  There are many ways to do HIIT.  For example, you could sprint for 15-20 seconds and then walk for 30 seconds and then sprint again.  Or you could jump rope for 60 seconds, rest for 60 seconds and then jump rope again.  We recommend doing HIIT for 12 – 20 minutes depending on the activity and your fitness level.

For more specific information on how to do HIIT check out these posts:


Our Favorite Workout Routine for Weight Loss

Our Favorite HIIT Jump Rope Routine

A Little Motivation…

[There are tons of weight loss transformation videos on YouTube. It is possible. Why not start today?]


Beginner Workout Routines – Rest Days & Walking

Rest days are extremely important as they provide a time for your body to recover from your workouts.  If you do not allow your body sufficient time to rest and recuperate then you will risk burning out and you may not being able to maintain your exercise routine over the long run.  Everyone should take at least one day off each week from exercise, but you probably never need to take more than two days of rest each week.

Walking is often overlooked in the fitness industry but we stand by our claim that it is an integral component of any effective workout routine.  This is true not only for beginners, but for advanced athletes as well.  Walking has many great advantages.  Walking increases your circulation and blood flow to your muscles which helps them recover from your workouts more quickly. It increases the number of calories burned during the week, and it reduces inflammation which wreaks havoc on your body and is one of the reasons obesity is so dangerous to a person’s health.   Walking for at least 30 minutes on rest days will help your body recover more quickly from your workouts and we also suggest that you try to have at least one day a week where you are consistently walking for over two hours.  This can be done by walking around the neighborhood, going for a hike in the woods, or even window shopping with friends (just try not to spend too much money doing it).

The best way to get started…

Is to simply get started!  We have outlined the key components of beginner workout routines and we have pointed out some of the major pitfalls.  All that is left for you to do is to find out which exercises you most enjoy and then getting to work.  Remember, define your goals, ease into the exercises, track your progress, and let us know how it goes!

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  1. These are excellent points you mention. For a beginner I find that the best way to get started is to have a clear goal, not just “I wan to lose weight,” but be specific. Also, having a workout plan that is detailed with a schedule, exercises to perform, is the best thing to do in order to succeed. Lastly, rest days are very important. Not allowing sufficient rest will only lead to burnout.


  2. You are right on the money when you say not to push yourself too hard. Many people start off way to fast and either hurt themselves or burn out. Either way it puts an end to the workout program.

  3. Scott Jones / Jun 21 2011

    My first visit. Enjoyed the post very much. For the resistance training, i am absolutely sold on structuring compound exercises into supersets. Great way to jack your metabolism and burn more calories.

    Love the walking on rest days idea. Many thanks

  4. Jeremy & Kim / Jun 22 2011

    Hey Scott, Welcome to the Self Health Atlas. We hope you come back often. Supersets are a fun way to workout and they do turn on your fat burners, though we don’t recommend them for beginners unless they have already mastered solid form in doing compound exercises. Beginners have to learn good form early and supersets can get them so tired that they are unable to complete the end of the superset in good form.

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