Exercise is terrific for both your body and mind, lowering our risk of things like diabetes, coronary heart disease, depression and dementia. But if you are a beginner, it can seem very overwhelming to start. Gyms are starting to open up again and are an excellent place for learning how to build strength, endurance and gain muscle mass.
However, there are ways of creating an exercise routine in your own home! Here are my beginner’s routine tips you can do from the comfort of home, and that can help you to take your routine into your own hands.
So say you’ve never done much exercise and have no clue where to start, how many days should you be doing, how much time, what exercises etc. Let’s begin with how many days a week, this is personal to you and your schedule. I would say, begin to carve out three days, and 30 minutes each of those days to dedicate to exercising. When you start out, you will need plenty of rest to recover from muscle soreness. I would lay it out something like this:
MONDAY — 30 minutes of intense exercise
TUESDAY — A rest day
WEDNESDAY — 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise
THURSDAY — Rest day
FRIDAY — Rest day
SATURDAY — 30 minutes of gentle exercise
SUNDAY — Rest day
Try this or a similar routine for roughly 2–4 weeks. This way, your body gets into the habit of movement, and the ability to build some strength for the weeks to come. Remember there is no rush to be the strongest and fastest straight away, start small (even 10 minutes a day is a good start).
TYPES OF EXERCISES
So what do I mean by intense exercise, moderately intense and gentle? Before we get into leg day and all the rest, I like to begin with simplicity. Always start with gentle stretching of the arms, legs, back, abdomen and neck — click here to see Chris Heria’s YouTube warm-up, to learn how to stretch and warm up properly (and don’t skip it as it could result in injury!) Then go into one of these three types of exercise:
Low-Intensity Exercise: This is any form of exercise that feels less strenuous; a gentle yoga session, a beginners Tai Chi lesson online, a walk in the park, even doing house chores like hoovering can count. The trick with knowing if the exercise is low intensity is if you can talk while doing it.
Moderately Intense Exercises: These are the exercises that are slightly more intense and can be similar but depend on your pacing: like a fast-paced yoga class, hiking long distances or uphill, jogging, swimming a few laps, some gentle weight training, a gentle cycle etc. You should be able to talk still, but notice that every so often you’ll need to breathe or be unable to sing.
Intense Exercise: If you are working out at home, with no equipment like myself, this can be anything from: fast running, online full-body intense workout videos, swimming at a fast pace, cycling fast, tennis, fast jump rope, martial arts, weight training (if you have weights at home). When starting it’s important not to pressure yourself to do 30 minutes of the exercise, just do as much as you can, and you’ll see over time that it will get easier and you will naturally train longer.
You can also do online workouts that focus on squats, jogging on the spot, push-ups, callisthenics and the likes. I would go for options that target your legs, core/ back and arms simultaneously to begin with. Making sure it’s a form of exercise that makes you sweat and increase your heart-rate. And to know if it is intense, trying to talk during will prove far too difficult.
NEXT STEPS ROUTINE
Once you’ve aced those 2–4 weeks to begin, and you feel like your body is ready, you can start to alter your schedule to specific exercises that target certain areas of the body. Looking something like this for the next few months:
MONDAY — Leg day/Glutes day — Intense (25 minutes)
TUESDAY — Arm day/Shoulder day — Intense (25 minutes)
WEDNESDAY — Rest day
THURSDAY — Back and Core — Moderate (25 minutes)
FRIDAY — Moderately intense exercise — whole body (30 minutes)
SATURDAY — Low-intensity exercise — whole body (10 minutes)
SUNDAY — Rest Day
Splitting it up can help give certain areas time to recover, whilst you work out another area. Choosing at least three different exercises at a time to work out each area of the body — and doing them on different days — can serve as a kind of a blueprint. Whatever exercises you choose is really up to you! There’s plenty of information online on the NHS website about how much you need to be doing, and on YouTube for how to do different exercises! There are YouTubers like The Body Coach TV that have specific videos you can follow along. It’s as easy as typing in ‘arm and shoulder workout’ to find the right fit for you, and the exercise (please don’t forget to stretch and warm-up though!)
I hope this has given you some ideas for a simple beginner’s exercise routine. This is a great starting point, and using tools like YouTube can be very valuable early on. I would always say that getting a trainer will be much better for you as they can teach you proper form; however, not all of us have the money for that! So create yourself a schedule — stick to it, warm-up, build slowly and carefully and make sure to drink plenty of water. You’ll see your physical and mental wellbeing go sky high after just a few months! And remember, it’s okay not to be perfect with these goals, any effort you make to better yourself is incredible and something you should be proud of!
Written by Jacqueline Renouard
Jacqueline Renouard is a Film and TV Production graduate with a passion for self-improvement. Her passion extends to researching psychology, nutrition and wellbeing through her 8-year yoga and meditation practice, and writing across many different styles.