Beginner Workouts: 3 Exercises to Jump-Start Your Fitness Journey
Going to the gym can be a bit intimidating for some folks, especially if it has been a minute since your last visit. However, if you feel that you might not yet be ready to join a gym, rest assured that you can still start your fitness journey without any equipment.
As mentioned earlier, going to the gym can feel intimidating for some folks. If you are overweight or obese, it might feel like you are being watched and judged, and it really doesn’t help that there are mean-hearted people out there that film others without consent, simply to post videos that mock others. Nevertheless, you can still start your journey towards better health to live your best life in your own home. And, when you feel like you’re ready to go to the gym, make sure that you check out my earlier post for tips on defeating gym anxiety.
As a personal trainer, the three exercises that I suggest you get started with are the bodyweight squat, plank, and push-up. These are three foundational exercises that strengthen a number of important muscle groups that can help you become more proficient with physical tasks.
You will always hear me describing the squat as the foundational exercise, and that is because our legs are at the precipice of our independence. While more and more businesses and venues are becoming more accessible to individuals who struggle to walk for a long time, this shouldn’t mean that people who are fully capable of walking can let their legs become weaker and weaker because having excellent leg strength can save literally your life as you get older.
The most obvious benefit for workout newbies to do bodyweight squats is that they increase lower body strength. Bodyweight squats are a great exercise for building lower body strength, particularly in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. This can help beginners to improve their overall fitness and to be better prepared for other physical activities. If you want to start hiking or running, increasing leg strength can allow you to drive with more power to make challenging climbs and run faster.
Did it ever occur to you that bodyweight squats improve flexibility and mobility? If you’re ever around young children, you may notice that they can easily descend into a full squat and come back up with ease. Decades of sedentary lifestyles are what makes the thought of doing the same as an adult sound crazy. By doing bodyweight squats, they can help to improve flexibility in the hips, knees, and ankles. This can be particularly helpful for beginners who may be tight in these areas, as improved flexibility can help to reduce the risk of injury.
The best thing about bodyweight squats is that they can be done anywhere and at anytime! In fact, how about you pump out 10 repetitions for me, right now. Bodyweight squats require no equipment and can be done anywhere, making them an excellent exercise for beginners who may not have access to a gym or other exercise equipment. This also means that beginners can easily incorporate them into their daily routine for a quick and effective workout.
If I told you to think of the core, did you immediately think of abs? This is a common misconception shared by a lot of workout beginners. In fact, when I attended a coach’s clinic at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, one of the physical therapists, Heather Linden, gave a presentation and mentioned how even fighters claim to have been actively training their cores, but most only did sit-ups or crunches. While the rectus abdominus (aka the abs) is important, that is just one section of the core that you need to strengthen. The core encompasses all 360 degrees of your midsection.
Planks are an effective exercise for strengthening the core muscles, including the abdominals, obliques, and lower back. This can help beginners to improve their overall stability and balance, as well as to reduce the risk of injury because these muscles are what are holding up and protecting the spine. The stronger the core muscles, the less risk of a spinal injury, including a disc herniation.
When you were a kid, did your parents have to remind to sit up or stand tall? It turns out that that was excellent advice because it allows even pressure to be placed on the intervertebral discs within the back. Planks can help to improve posture by strengthening the muscles that support the spine. This can be really helpful for beginners with poor posture due to sitting for long periods.
Is doing the standard plank too difficult for you? You can modify your planks to make them easier. Beginners can start with a modified plank on their knees or forearms and gradually work up to a full plank on their toes. This allows beginners to progress at their own pace and to continue challenging themselves as they improve their strength and fitness.
When I signed up to join the Navy, my recruiter made it clear that I should take advantage of the five months that I had ahead of me reporting to boot camp by doing a lot of push-ups. This was one part of Navy boot camp that I wasn’t thrilled about because I was never really good at doing push-ups. For the common workout beginner, I can imagine that you’re not too thrilled about me mentioning push-ups, either.
The most obvious benefit of doing push-ups is that they build upper body strength. Push-ups are one of the most effective ways to build strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps, all without needing any equipment. This can help beginners to improve their overall fitness and to be better prepared for other physical activities.
Since you’re holding a plank the entire time as you’re doing push-ups, it’s making you engage the core muscles, such as the abs, obliques, and erector muscles in the back, to stabilize the body. This can help beginners to improve their overall stability and balance.
Do you struggle with doing traditional push-ups? Push-ups can be modified to make them easier or more challenging depending on your fitness level. Beginners can start with a modified push-up on their knees or against a wall, and gradually work your way up to a full push-up on their toes. The keys to better fitness is to be as inclusionary as possible and provide newbies with the opportunity to make progressive gains at their own pace. Today, you might have to do your push-ups on your knees, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to pump out a bunch of conventional push-ups a couple weeks from now.
You deserve to live your best life, but being sedentary and out of shape isn’t how that is going to happen. This doesn’t mean that the only way for you to enjoy your life is to have shredded abs and pythons as arms, but doing these three basic exercises can help you get started. The best thing about squats, planks, and push-ups is that all three are modifiable to be more easy, and as your body gets stronger, you can also modify them to present you with a tougher challenge — all with minimal or no equipment at all!
Coach Julio is an expert in fitness and nutrition, having helped hundreds of busy professionals in their 30s, 40s, and 50s be healthy, as well as offering nutritionist counseling services. He works out of El Paso, Texas, but also offers remote nutritionist counseling and online personal training. Coach Julio’s expertise is backed by over eight years as a personal trainer and a Master’s degree in Nutrition.
For information about working with Coach Julio for online personal training and nutritionist services, visit https://www.365physique.com