Awesome! Let’s get started
No matter which exercise program you decide to follow in the future, you should always start off easy, so you won’t strain your joints and tendons.
A good rule of thumb is to follow a beginners program for about 8 weeks, before venturing further.
I recommend that you both strength train, do cardiovascular exercise and do activities that train your body’s mobility and flexibility, like yoga. Besides your exercise, it is recommended that you do a total minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity throughout the day. This could be walking, playing with your kids, taking the stairs, biking, basically anything where you’re moving.
Studies show that you get the most out of your full-body strength training program if you do it three times a week. There will probably be some weeks where you only have time for one workout – and that’s fine! One workout a week is still a lot better than no workout at all, two times a week is significantly better than one time, and three times is the optimal amount of full-body strength training sessions per week.
Find your core
I recommand that you keep your focus on your core muscles whatever you’re doing. I’m not saying you need to do a bunch of crunches, but I advise that whatever you are doing, be mindful of your core muscles and activate them while doing anything physical.
OK, so how can I be mindful about my core muscles…? I’ll try to explain, bear with me.
Place your hands on your abdominal muscles, and cough. Did you feel them harden? No: try again; Yes: Let’s try a different one. As you exhale, pull in your navel and the lower rib-cage, by contracting your abdominal muscles. Your abs should feel hard while you do this. Then relax and inhale, and try again while exhaling.
Another way to get in touch with your abs is by lying down on your back, knees bent, pointing towards the ceiling and the soles of your feet on the floor. As you exhale, roll your lower back down to the floor, so your entire spine has contact with the floor. Inhale while relaxing and letting your spine recover into a neutral position, where the lower back arches slightly. Try repeating a few more times. This exercise can be very helpful for getting in touch with your core muscles.
I hope my explanations were helpful. If you can’t feel your abs as you do this, don’t worry, you are not alone! I’ve had many new beginners in my classes that have problems “finding” or getting in touch with their abs. But as you start doing abdominal exercises, like the ones I have included in the strength training program and try doing these contraction exercises, I just described, before exercising, gradually your abs ought to get stronger and more noticeable.
Once you get the hang of it, you can start contracting your abs whenever you remember to do it, like when you’re on the bus, standing in line, walking, biking etc.
This means that you will be training your cardiovascular system. What you do, doesn’t really matter, just as long as your heart rate rises. Here you can either just do what your body wants to do today, or if you want to start training for anything specific, like a marathon, or have preferences you can, of course, do that. Basically, anything that gets your heart pumping.
Here are some ideas:
Run/jog/powerwalk (check out the running section if you want inspiration for a running program)
I’ve made a specific beginners cardio program and you can read much more about cardio here.
Beginners at-home full-body strength training program
This program is for those of you who don’t have access to a gym – or if you just prefer to work out in the comfort of your own home.
All you need is one hour, a little space, two dumbbells/kettlebells/same sized water bottles (filled with water or sand)/etc. and an exercise mat, for comfort.
In the exercises that prescribe 15 repetitions, the weight should be so light that you could do 20 repetitions, but you only do the 15 repetitions. This is important because your muscles are stronger than your tendons and ligaments, which is why doing this helps you avoid injury as a beginner.
A beginners program should be followed for about 8 weeks before increasing the intensity – even if it starts feeling too easy sooner. Also, a beginners program should increase in intensity at some point, otherwise, you won’t get the optimal exercise for your body, and honestly, who doesn’t want that?
- Stretch out all your major muscle groups, including any muscles that feel tight
- Cardio warm-up for 6-10 minutes. If you don’t feel like dancing you can also do this:
30 seconds: Walk on the spot
30 seconds: Jog on the spot
30 seconds: High knees
30 seconds: Butt kicks
30 seconds: Jumping Jacks
1 minute: Side lunges
Repeat cardio warm-up (or do any cardio for another 3 minutes)
Do 3 rounds of:
10 Pushups (triceps and chest)
15 Squats (buttocks and thighs)
15 Lying leg lifts (abdominal muscles)
Here you can have a little break for 1 minute
Do 3 rounds of:
15 Bent over rows with weights (biceps and back)
8 Lunges, each leg (buttocks and thighs)
12 Shoulder-press with light weights (shoulders and triceps)
16 Side crunches (abdominal muscles)
Here you can have another break for 1 minute
Do 2 rounds of:
15 Pelvic lifts
15 Leg abductions, each leg
15 Rotator Cuff Exercise, each arm (1 kg – max 2kg / 4.5 lbs)
Diagonal lifts, shifting so you get 10 lifts for each arm/leg
- 30-second plank (work your way up to 2 minutes)
- Stretch all the large muscle groups, include any problem areas:
– Rectus femoris
– Pectoralis major
– Biceps femoris
– Cat pose
– Childs pose
– Side stretch in childs pose
– Thread the needle
– Lying twist
I hope this program can give you some inspiration and motivation to get started on exercising your body. Remember why you’re doing it, keep at it and do it even if you don’t feel like it! You will be glad that you did and it will elevate your mood. Exercising will give you more energy, better sleep and produce endorphins in your system, plus the obvious benefits like a healthier body, more strength, endurance and flexibility.
For you now and for your future self.