Working out at home for the first time? These are the best exercises for beginners

Joint-friendly and achievable, these home workouts will help you gently build strength and endurance while shedding fat

Best exercises for (complete) beginners
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best exercises for beginners are the perfect way to start working out at home. We originally compiled this list of the best workouts for beginners for the New Year, but it's just as useful if you are now stuck at home and worried about becoming unfit. These are workouts are best suited for people who haven't done much exercising before or are returning to it after a break.

If you are trying to start exercising to lose weight fast, doing more exercise is only half the battle, but it is very important nevertheless. Exercising regularly can improve your cardio-vascular system (your heart and lungs) and kick-start your metabolism. Having a faster metabolism means you can burn off fat quicker, and you will feel fresher over time.

You won't need excessive amounts of equipment to start exercising regularly; in fact none of the below exercises for beginners require any fitness equipment. 

We recommend only three pieces of gear: a decent running watch, a resistance band and if you would like to maximise comfort during exercising, a yoga mat.

A running watch can help you better understand heart rate zones since many of them has real-time heart rate tracking feature, making it easier to keep your heart rate in the fat burning and cardio-training zones. Resistance bands are extremely cheap, simple and easily stored and can be used for numerous workouts. And working out on a good mat is just common sense. Hard floors will hurt you, and your deep pile carpets won't really benefit from you sweating all over them. 

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Better be safe than sorry

If you are even slightly concerned about anything related to your new exercise regime, please consult a medical professional – and not an Instagram celebrity – before you begin.

If you have any concerns at all about your overall wellbeing or starting to exercise, please speak to your doctor or a medical professional before you start your new exercise regime.

This is especially true for people who are trying to build up some strength after being ill for elongated periods of time. As much as we tried to collect the best exercises for complete beginners, if you had a knee-surgery, for example, than any exercise putting pressure on your knees is out of the question.

Always be safe and sensible and mindful about your body, before, during and after your workouts, too.

Best exercises for (complete) beginners

A healthy diet is essential if you want to be healthier and slimmer sooner

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Our top tips to get in shape in no time

Start with a good diet

Unfortunately, there is no way around having a healthy diet, either if you want to lose or maybe gain weight. Before you make any major changes in your diet, it's best to start logging your food intake to see what food items contain too much fat or sugar, with free apps like MyFitnessPal it's very easy to do so. Once you have a good idea, you can start swapping bad foodstuff for more healthy ones.

Drink plenty

Another obvious thing to do if you want to kickstart your metabolism is to drink plenty of...water. Not fizzy drinks, not coffee/tea, water. Having enough water in your system will help your cells to regenerate quicker, toxins to be emptied out of your system more efficiently, and just in general, for you to be more healthy.

Change gradually

The worst thing you can do is to introduce five days of exercising in your life and cut back on your calorie intake by swapping pizza dinners out for leaf salads. That will put a tremendous amount of stress on your body and will curb your enthusiasm very soon. Start off by adding a couple of days of light exercising and introduce more healthy food in your diet.

You can swap calories for calories, too. So, instead of having five Jaffa cakes (~250 kcal), you can have 50 grams of rice with two falafels, which is roughly the same amount of calories. By doing this, you will naturally eat less because you will feel fuller for longer.

Consider a class

Humans being social animals, we enjoy being in company more than being alone. Working out home is convenient, but by going to a class, you mentally separate a place of relaxation (home) from the place of exercising (wherever the class is).

Physically attending an exercise class is not currently possible but there are numerous apps allowing you to join free online classes. These are a great way to keep yourself motivated on the long run. You want to build a habit a start a healthier lifestyle, not lose weight in a week. By being more mindful about your diet and your exercising, you will shed excess fat pretty soon anyway.

Just be persistent

Remember: it is all in your head. You want to transform your life and for that, you will need to form new habits that will stick around. It might sound like a big overtaking to be healthy but it really is not. Changes will take place gradually and you by the time you'll notice the change in lifestyle, you will already have established them firmly.

It will take only a couple of weeks to start seeing weight loss results but it might take up to 12 weeks to see the effects of muscle growth. By the time you'll see the results, you will already be making good progress and more likely to stick to your new lifetsyle.

Weight loss guides

Best exercises for (complete) beginners

Drink a big glass of water around half an hour before you exercise and have another another one in arms reach as you do the exercises. Stretching before and after exercising a bit is also beneficial, get a foam roller or a massage tool and relax your tense muscles.

 Try not to eat an hour before the exercising takes place and have a protein shake or a protein snack after you finished exercising. This will help muscle regeneration and will keep you full, too.

Best exercises for (complete) beginners

You can go as vertical as it feels comfortable

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Wall push-up

Muscles worked: pecs (chest muscles), arms (mainly triceps), delts (mainly the front shoulders)

Wall push-ups are excellent alternatives to regular push-ups and put less stress on your joints and muscles. As you get more comfortable with the exercise (and your muscles get stronger) you can gradually go into more of a horizontal position, as it is pictured above.

To perform a wall push-up, stand completely upright, arm-length distance from the wall, legs shoulder width apart. Place your palms on the wall then slowly bend your elbows so your head gets closer to the wall. Go forward as much as it feels comfortable, then push yourself back to the starting position. Be careful not to lose balance as you extend your arms.

One things to be mindful about as you do wall push-ups is to keep your back straight. Treat wall push-ups like regular push-ups and don't let your hip sag, either forward or backwards.

Best exercises for (complete) beginners

Side lunge will stretch your legs as well as strengthen your bum

(Image credit: Future)

2. Side lunge

Muscles worked:  glutes (bum muscle), quads (thighs), hamstrings (the back of the thighs)

Side lunges are great because as in the case of wall push-ups, you can adjust it to your skill level by making the steps bigger or smaller. Regardless how far to the side you can step, side lunges will stretch your hamstrings and strengthen your glutes, too.

As you progress with the exercise, you can consider holding smaller weights, like a small dumbbell or a kettlebell, to increase resistance. This will also make you use your arm muscles more as well as your core.

To perform a side lunge, stand with your legs roughly shoulder width apart, body fully upright, with your hands in front of your body – just like on the picture above, but without holding a weight.

When ready, step to the side as far as it feels comfortable, then bend the knee of your supporting leg slightly. Don't try to overdo it and go all the way down when you are in the side step position. Especially if you haven't exercised much before, you might find it difficult to push yourself back up from a deep squat position. 

After the squat, extend your leg again and step back to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.

  • Best leg workouts: this leg exercise will build bigger, more toned legs. Do NOT neglect leg day!

Best exercises for (complete) beginners

Squats are probably the best way to strengthen your whole lower body

(Image credit: Future)

3. Squat/squat hold

Muscles worked: glutes (the biggest muscle in your body), quads (thighs), abs/core

Squats are amazing exercises because they work the whole entirety of lower body. And your lower body needs all the love it can get, if for no other reason, because it houses the biggest muscle on your body, the gluteus maximum, the muscles responsible for keeping your body upright as you stand.

To perform a squat is pretty straightforward and we won't go into much detail here. There are a couple of things you need to careful with, though, like keeping your back straight all the way through the movement. In order to be able to do just that, you will need to stick your bum out in the lowermost position, to keep your centre of gravity above your feet, and it can also help if you extended your arms in front of you.

As with side lunges, make sure you don't go too deep with the squat, you don't want to put too much pressure on your knees. For added muscle activation, you can try squat holds, where you stop and hold the halfway point in the squat for a couple of seconds. This will help tremendously, even without any extra weights, to add resistance to your training.

Best exercises for (complete) beginners

Seated rows can be performed sitting on the floor, using nothing but resistance bands

(Image credit: Future)

4. Seated resistance band rows

Muscles worked: lats (large muscles on the side of your back), biceps, forearms

Lay down your yoga mat and sit down on it on the floor. Grab the resistance band and hook it around your feet, then extend your legs in front of you. Be very careful with the resistance band and for the best results, wear a pair of workout shoes for added traction.

Keep your feet vertical so the band won't slide off your feet, hitting you in the face. Pull the band backwards and not upward. As you pull the band, concentrate on your back muscles, as much as you can. 

As you let the resistance band go forward, don't let your body lean forward too much. You are trying to work your lats and biceps here, no need to rock back and forth as you row. You will lean slightly forward and backward nevertheless, but try to keep the rocking motion to the minimum, to avoid lower back pain.

Next step is to get a WaterRower, using that will burn every layer of fat off you in no time.

Best exercises for (complete) beginners

Start with walking and gradually work your way up to jogging then running

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5. Walking

Walking is one of the best way to introduce exercise in your life. Walking with a brisk pace – not strolling but not power walking either – can bring your heart rate up and therefore burn calories effectively. Let's say you weigh 220 pounds (100 kilos), by walking 5 miles, you can burn more than 600 calories! How great is that?

Even better, you don't even have to go out of your way to start walking, you only need to swap some of your car sessions to walking sessions instead. So, you can walk to the city centre to do a little window shopping and then walk back home, and burn calories. No need for any special gear either. Wins all around.

Of course, you can get a nice pair of walking shoes if you would like to treat yourself, but it's not essential.