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Exercise

Creating a lighter, healthier you is a multi-step process. One of the most important steps, and the main focus of this section, is exercise. Here we explore everything from the benefits of exercise to how much and how often it is necessary to promote weight loss.

The Best 4-Week Workout for Beginners

Ready to embark on your fitness journey? Not only are exercises explained and modified for newbies, but incorporated into the the best 4- week beginner workout routine!

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First and foremost, congratulations for embarking on your fitness journey and venturing to these workouts for beginners! 

However, it is also important to acknowledge your current fitness level to prevent injury and enhance the workout's effectiveness.

The exercises identified below offer modification, progression guidance, and explanation for safe and effective delivery. They are also incorporated into the 4-week beginner workout routine

8 Exercises for Beginners

1. Body Weight Squats

Using body weight is not only convenient, but also effective. Tackle a standard body squat with these simple steps.

2. Lunges

Like squats, lunges can be operative strictly based on body weight. This short clip describes the basic movements of lunges. Also feel free to hold on to a door frame as needed for stability.

3. Push-ups

Push-ups can be a tough task and rather than trying to knock them out quickly, focus on quality form and movements. These push-up modifications are great for beginners. When feeling strong enough to tackle a full-fledged push-up, learn how to accomplish one here.

4. Straight Arm Planks

Planks are stationary movements offering strength to the body. Whether planked on your toes as seen here or modified on your knees, keep arms straight and the core muscles tight.

5. Steps

Using available stairs, step with the movement of "up, up, down, down" - step up with the left foot, then the right foot, stepping down with the left foot, then the right foot as a continuous motion.

6. High Knees

High knees are considered to be a cardiovascular and lower body workout. Essentially jogging in place and raising your knees, the exercise visualized here also assists in stretching the backside of the body.

7. Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks continue to hold great value in a workout routine, as they serve as both a cardiovascular and lower-body workout much like high knees.

8. Running

In the beginning stages of running, you may not be able to complete a full 30-minute jogging series. (And that is perfectly okay!) Build up your endurance by mixing running with quick walking - run for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds, etc.

4-Week Beginner Workout Routine

Week 1:

During the first week, focus most on technique rather than repetitions and set numbers. You will be learning and tackling the basics of each motion to enhance their effectiveness.

Day 1: Strength-Training
• Squats (12 reps)
• Push-Ups (10 to 12 reps)
• Planks (30 seconds or as tolerated)
• Lunges (5 per leg, 10 total)
REST and repeat for a total of 3 sets

Day 2: Interval Training
• Squats (10 to 12 reps)
• Push-Ups (10 to 12 reps)
• Stairs (30 seconds)
• Lunges (5 per leg, 10 total)
• Jumping Jacks (20 jumping jacks)
• High-Knees (30 seconds)
REST and repeat for a total of 2 to 3 sets

Day 3: Cardio (Choose one)
• Run or jog for 30 minutes: Alternate between walking and running as needed, but try to keep moving as quick as possible
• Circuit: steps (one minute), jumping jacks (30 seconds to one minute), high knees (30 seconds to one minute) - REST and repeat four times

Week 2:

Continue to focus on technique like week 1, with the indicated workouts across a 3-day span. Increase sets as tolerated and add on 10 minutes of cardio.

Day 1: Strength-Training
• Squats (12 reps)
• Push-Ups (10 to 12 reps)
• Planks (30 seconds or as tolerated)
• Lunges (5 per leg, 10 total)
REST and repeat for total of 3 sets

Day 2: Interval Training
• Squats (10 to 12 reps)
• Push-Ups (10 to 12 reps)
• Stairs (30 seconds)
• Lunges (5 per leg, 10 total)
• Jumping Jacks (20)
• High-Knees (30 seconds)
REST and repeat for total of 2 to 3 sets

Day 3: Cardio (Choose one)
• Run or jog for 40 minutes: Alternate between walking and running as needed, but try to keep moving as quick as possible
• Circuit: steps (one minute), jumping jacks (30 seconds to one minute), high knees (30 seconds to one minute) - repeat four times
• Bike, cycle, etc. for 40 minutes

Week 3:

Add on a fourth day of interval training to incorporate both cardio and strength-training.

Day 1: Strength-Training
• Squats (12 reps)
• Push-Ups (10 to 12 reps)
• Planks (30 seconds or as tolerated)
• Lunges (5 per leg, 10 total)
REST and repeat for total of 3 sets

Day 2: Interval Training
• Squats (10 to 12 reps)
• Push-Ups (10 to 12 reps)
• Stairs (30 seconds)
• Lunges (5 per leg, 10 total)
• Jumping Jacks (20 jumping jacks)
• High-Knees (30 seconds)
REST and repeat for total of 2 to 3 sets

Day 3: Cardio (Choose one)
• Run or jog for 40 minutes
• Circuit: steps (one minute), jumping jacks (30 seconds to one minute), high knees (30 seconds to one minute) - repeat four times
• Bike, cycle, etc. for 40 minutes

Day 4: Interval Training
• Squats (10 to 12 reps)
• Push-Ups (10 to 12 reps)
• Stairs (30 seconds)
• Lunges (5 per leg, 10 total)
• Jumping Jacks (20 jumping jacks)
• High-Knees (30 seconds)
REST and repeat for total of 3 sets

Week 4:

Increase reps and/or advance progressions.

Day 1: Strength-Training
• Squats (12 to 15 reps)
• Push-Ups (12 reps or try tackling a standard body push-up)
• Planks (30 to 45 seconds on toes)
• Lunges (10 per leg, 20 total)
REST and repeat for total of 3 sets

Day 2: Interval Training
• Squats (12 reps)
• Push-Ups (12 reps)
• Stairs (45 seconds to 1 minute)
• Lunges (10 per leg, 20 total)
• Jumping Jacks (30 jumping jacks)
• High-Knees (30 seconds)
REST and repeat for total of 2 to 3 sets

Day 3: Cardio (Choose one)
• Run or jog for 40 to 50 minutes
• Circuit: steps (one minute), jumping jacks (30 seconds to one minute), high knees (30 seconds to one minute) - repeat four times
• Bike, cycle, etc. for 40 to 50 minutes

Day 4: Strength-Training
• Squats (15 reps)
• Push-Ups (12 reps or try tackling a standard body push-up)
• Planks (45 seconds on toes)
• Lunges (10 per leg, 20 total)
REST and repeat for total of 3 sets

Although the following 4-week beginning workout routine can be effective, the best workouts are ones you enjoy doing. Forcing yourself to workout may lead to burnout and is essentially unnecessary, as there are numerous exercises to be chosen from.

Continue to experiment with other workouts and sign up for classes, even if it does mean stepping out of your comfort zone! Additionally, continue to stay active. 

Also make exercise a family affair with healthy activities for kids, including taking a bike ride or going on a hike. No matter the chosen exercise, have fun and live your healthiest, most active life!

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on February 27, 2017. Updated on March 06, 2019.

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