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Workout Plan for Beginners

A workout plan for beginners can get people new to exercise burning calories, losing body fat and building muscle from day one – so how do you get started?

Before answering that question, you need to be clear about your goals – what results are you expecting your workout routine to deliver?

Most people will be looking for a workout plan to complement a weight loss program. Something that will help to burn fat, build and tone muscle and give them a good all round level of fitness – and that elusive flat stomach and six pack!

In my experience, most people new to exercise are not looking to become the next Arnie or an Olympic athlete, so this article is geared to the majority of people.

People with limited time to exercise, looking for a plan to get them started losing weight and getting in shape quickly.

Workout Plan for Beginners

OK, let’s get started with the basics…

Components of a Workout Plan for Beginners…

OK, any workout program should have two main components:

  • Strength training to build muscle, and
  • Cardio to burn fat
  • Or so the conventional wisdom goes. Now I beg to differ.

    I’ve no problem with the strength training bit. Your resting metabolic rate, the amount of calories your body burns at rest is largely determined by how much muscle you have.

    As muscle burns most of the calories you expend each day, building more muscle makes sense.

    Most men have no problem with this concept, some women do though, wrongly assuming that if they even look at a weight or attempt a push up they’ll end up with big muscles.

    It ain’t gonna happen because:

  • Men produce more testosterone, which is your muscle building hormone, than women and tend to build larger muscles as a result.
  • Women as a rule produce far less testosterone than men and strength training tends to result in lean, toned muscles, not big bulky ones
  • So, no problem with strength training, whether with weights, machines or your bodyweight as an essential component of a workout plan for beginners – or any workout plan for that matter.

    No, it’s the cardio bit that causes me the most angst.

    Most beginner workouts will have you walking, jogging, cycling for 20-30 minutes or more at least 3-5 days a week, usually at a very low intensity burning relatively few calories.

    The problem is that the intensity never seems to increase much as people get locked into the ‘fat burning zone’, enduring longer and longer, boring cardio workouts in a vain attempt to burn fat.

    There is absolutely no reason why a cardio workout should last more than 20 minutes max and need be done more than three times a week, unless you’re training for a marathon or enjoy long cardio sessions!

    You can get excellent results from 20 minutes on a treadmill, running outdoors, cycling on an exercise bike if you train smart and employ techniques like interval training to increase your workout intensity and burn more calories in less time.

    The only difference is that beginners will be less fit and will need to start at a lower intensity level than more advanced trainers.

    OK, enough of the sermon, here’s an example workout plan for beginners that should be repeated three times a week with a days rest between workouts for four weeks, after which you should be ready for a more advanced workout.

    These are the key components:

  • Warm Up – 5 minutes
  • Strength Training – 15-20 minutes
  • Interval Training – 20 minutes
  • Cool Down – 5 minutes
  • The workout can easily be done at home or in the gym, using five bodyweight exercises arranged in a circuit. Whilst this example uses bodyweight exercises, a workout plan for beginners could use free weights or machines if you have a gym membership or a home gym.

    Strength Training Component…

    This bodyweight workout targets all the main muscle groups using compound exercises and will build a good base for more advanced strength training routines.

    Rest for 30-60 seconds between each exercise depending on your starting level of fitness. Repeat the circuit 2-3 times.

    Warm up and Stretch – for 3-5 minutes before getting started

    Prisoner Squats – (Legs) Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands behind your head. Slowly squat, looking straight head, keeping your back straight until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Pause and stand up. Repeat for 15-20 reps.

    Push Up – (Chest, shoulders, triceps) Keep your hands shoulder width apart and your back straight. Lower yourself slowly until your nose nearly touches the floor, pause and press upwards in a controlled fashion. Pause and repeat for 10-20 reps. If you can’t do 10 reps, try doing half push ups resting on your knees rather than your toes.

    Crunch – (Abs) Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your hands on the side of your head. Tense your ab muscles and slowly curl your shoulders so they just come off the ground, pause and lower your shoulders to the ground. Repeat for 10-20 reps.

    Inverted Row (Back, biceps) Try using a sturdy kitchen table. Lay on your back under the table with your hands gripping either side of the table top. Keep your body straight and your knees slightly bent. Keep your feet on the floor and pull your upper body towards the table, pause and lower then repeat for 10-20 reps.

    The Plank – (Abs, lower back) An excellent exercise for building your core strength. Lay face down on the ground and raise yourself up on your forearms, keeping your body straight. Hold for 20-60 seconds.

    Rest for 30-60 seconds and repeat the circuit once or twice more.

    Follow the strength training component of this workout plan for beginners with 20 minutes of interval training.

    Interval Training Component…

    Use a treadmill or exercise bike if you have access to one or try running outdoors.

    Warm up – 5 minutes, working from a perceived exertion level of 2/10 to 5/10 (10 being the hardest)

    Run Hard – 1 minute at 7/10

    Walk/Jog – 2 minutes at 3/10

    Run Hard – 1 minute at 7/10

    Walk/Jog – 2 minutes at 3/10

    Run Hard – 1 minute at 7/10

    Walk/Jog – 2 minutes at 3/10

    Run Hard – 1 minute at 7/10

    Cool Down – 5 minutes working back from 5/10 to 2/10

    And that’s it. A workout plan for beginners that will get you started on building a good base level of fitness and your core strength for tougher workouts to come.

    If you’re interested in a workout program that will take you from beginner through to advanced level in as little as 12 weeks and will burn fat and build muscle in three short 45 minute workouts a week, then check out our Turbulence Training review.

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