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. Follow a beginners program, like this one, for about 8 weeks before venturing further.
Choose the type of exercise that you enjoy doing
For the best results and physical well-being, I recommend strength training, cardiovascular exercise and activities that train your body’s mobility and flexibility, like yoga. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. If you have a gym membership, try the different classes and do whatever exercise your body craves.
There are so many different forms of physical activity out there where you get a full-body exercise, for example, Pilates, climbing, paddleboard, cross-fit etc. The most important criteria for the type of workout you choose is that you enjoy doing it. Because if you enjoy it, it’s more likely that you will do it.
Besides your workouts, it is recommended that you do a total minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity throughout the day. This could be walking or running, playing with your kids, taking the stairs, biking, swimming – basically anything where your heart rate increases and your body is 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.
This means that you will be training your cardiovascular system. What you do is up to you, as long as your heart rate increases. 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 can count as cardio. The classic choices for cardiovascular exercises are running, jogging, powerwalking, swimming, biking and dancing.
Find your core
I recommend 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. You should feel your abs harden while you coughed.
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 beginners in my classes that have problems “finding” or getting in touch with their abs. If this is you, try doing the contraction exercises, I just described above, before your workout as part of a warm-up routine. And as you start doing abdominal exercises, like the ones I have included in the strength training program, gradually your abs will become 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.
Beginners at-home full-body strength training program
This program is for those of you who prefer to work out in the comfort of your own home.
All you need is one hour (max), a little space, two dumbbells/kettlebells/same sized water bottles (filled with water or sand)/etc. and an exercise mat, for comfort. And remember to hydrate when exercising.
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 all your major muscle groups (chest, arms, sides, back, thighs) and include 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, while exaggerating your arm movements
30 seconds: Jog on the spot, while swinging your arms in a circle, 15 seconds forwards and 15 seconds backwards
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 on the knees (triceps and chest)
15 Squats (buttocks and thighs)
15 Lying leg raises (abdominal muscles)
Here you can have a little break for 1 minute – have a sip of water.
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 – have a sip of water.
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)
20-40 Russian Twists, shifting so you go 10-20 times to each side
20 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:
– Rectus femoris (front of thigh)
– Pectoralis major (chest)
– Biceps femoris (back of thigh)
– Cat pose (spine, front of the upper body, back of the upper body)
– Childs pose (back, arms)
– Side stretch in childs pose (sides, arms)
– Thread the needle (back of the shoulders, spine)
– Lying twist (arms, chest, sides, buttocks)
– Any stretches that feel good
After your workout remember to hydrate.
I hope this post 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. -High five!