If you’re brand new to exercise, starting can often be the scariest part! We’ve all been there, not quite knowing where to begin: what type of workout should I do? How should I structure my workout? What’s the best type of workout? How do I make a workout plan? The questions are endless!
As a certified personal trainer, I’ve literally created thousands of successful workout plans for my private weight loss clients, and they too had to figure out where to start. As a certified Pilates instructor and Yoga instructor, I also like to add these components into workouts. Doing this allows for a well-rounded workout that includes training components like cardio and strength training, core components through Pilates exercises, and stretching via Yoga.
Below we’ll try to answer some of the big questions – starting with the basic equipment you’ll need to make a workout plan if you’re a beginner. Using this basic workout structure, you can customize the type of workout moves and exercises that you’ll follow in this plan to build both confidence and progress – one step at a time! After that, you’ll be able to commit to a full workout plan that you can use (with modifications as needed) to stay healthy and fit throughout your whole life!
First, let’s talk about the basics.
1. The Equipment
You really don’t need much equipment to get in a full body workout. For my private weight loss clients, I recommend a yoga mat and one set of dumbbells. These can be 3 lbs., 5 lbs., or higher if you’re used to lifting heavier weights. You should also wear workout shoes that fit well, a comfortable sports bra that holds you in without squeezing too tight for the ladies, and comfortable workout clothes.
2. The Workout
A great full body workout has a few components. I like to start with dynamic stretching to warm up the body. These stretches open up the largest muscles in the body and focus mostly on the lower body. Before working out, try the following basic warm up stretch:
Warm Up Stretch
Lunge and Lean
This stretch loosens up the hip flexors in the front of the body and the hamstrings in the back of the body. Simply stand upright with one foot forward and one foot back. Bend the front knee to stretch the opposite leg’s hip flexor. Then straighten the front leg and lean forward to stretch the back of the front leg. Repeat this 10 times, moving dynamically. At the beginning of a workout, you want to stretch in motion to warm up the body.
Warm Up Cardio
Now we really start our warm up with cardio. I recommend going for about three minutes at a jogging pace – whether you’re actually jogging, just walking in place, or doing a light jump-rope workout, you can do this form of cardio any way that you’d like.
Get your heart rate up along with your body loosened up! Here I am running in place at a slower, jogging pace.
Three Minutes of Cardio
Next, we get into the actual workout. I usually advise HIIT for my private weight loss clients. We create this by mixing in cardio with strength training. Pick your favorite cardio. Do three minutes on there, starting with 30 seconds at a jog pace and then 30 seconds at a sprint pace. Repeat this three times so that you’re doing it for a total of three minutes.
Finally, it’s time for strength training.
Pick three strength training exercises to do for your workout. For example, you could focus on the lower body and do a squat, lunge, or a side lunge. Do 10 repetitions of each of these.
Stand with your feet as wide as your hips. Bend your knees and sit your glutes back. Then press down through the heels to stand back up. Repeat 10 times.
Step your right foot forward and your left foot back. Open the feet as wide as the hips. Then bend both knees so that the knees are at a 90 degree angle. Press down through the right heel and come back up to a standing position. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
Step the right foot towards the right and bend the knee into a side lunge. Press down through the heel to come back to center. Repeat 10 times to the right and then 10 times to the left.
Altogether, we repeat the cardio and strength training for a total of three rounds. This is where the high intensity interval training (HIIT) comes in. We are moving through the cardio and strength training at a high intensity, doing intervals with the cardio (since we do 30 seconds slow and then 30 seconds fast), and then following it with strength training.
3. Cool Down Stretching
After you do three rounds of the cardio and strength training, then it’s time to cool down and do some stretching. I advise my private weight loss clients to pick three stretches and hold them for about three breaths. This is called static stretching, in which the body holds poses longer as opposed to the dynamic stretching that started the workout. Below are my favorite cool down stretches. I like to breathe in and out through the nose to center both the breath and body like you would do in a Yoga class.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Step one foot forward and one foot back. This is similar to the warm up stretch, except that now we will hold the front knee in a bent position to stretch the back leg’s hip flexor! Hold for five slow, deep breaths in and out through the nose, switch legs, and then repeat.
Staying in the same position as above, now straighten the front leg and fold forward to feel a stretch in the back of the leg. Hold for five slow, deep breaths in and out through the nose, switch legs, and then repeat.
Standing upright, reach your right arm up alongside your ear. Then lean over towards the left to stretch the right side of your body. Hold for a few slow, deep breaths. Repeat for the other side.
4. Creating the Plan
Alternate your workout between upper body and lower body. Start with two workouts a week. Follow the above plan which includes lower body strength training, and then for your second workout this week, you can swap the lower body exercises for upper body exercises (including, for example, bicep curls, overhead presses, and lateral shoulder raises).
Lateral Shoulder Raises
So one day this week you can do the above workout, and a second day this week you can do the above workout except with arm exercises instead of the squats, lunges, and side lunges. Commit to two workouts a week for two weeks.
Then, in the third week, you can increase the workouts to three workouts in the week. Do this for three weeks, and then you’ll be able to increase to four workouts.
Remember, consistency is key, especially for beginners, since you want your body to ease into the workouts rather than feel overloaded. And importantly, you want to prove to yourself mentally that you can commit to these workouts! After all, building self-confidence and healthy self-esteem is essential to living in a way that’s both healthy and happy.
Read more from our “Workout Planning Series”: