You need a home workout plan for beginners? If you are new to fitness and just decided to start working out at home, things can seem rather confusing, but actually are quite simple: Compound exercises (those that work many muscles at once) and whole body workout routines will build your basic strength.
As hinted, this beginner workout routine is designed for those of you that work out at home. It requires little to no equipment, not even a pull-up bar, even though pull-ups are an essential part of the plan. All you need is a place where you can do pull-ups, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a bar; this article has many suggestions for possible places where pull-ups can be done. If you do want to buy a pull-up bar, this one seems like a good deal to me.
Before You Start
It is a good idea to get a check-up by your doctor, to make sure everything is a-ok and you are ready to expose your body to this form of stress.
Also keep in mind to ease into working out and to not expect miracles, if this is your first foray into fitness in your life or since the Berlin Wall came down.
The Workout Schedule
|Chest / Triceps||3 sets of push-ups, as many as you can do, with 60 seconds rest between sets||The exercise is explained in this video, which also contains pointers on what to do when you can’t do a full push-up yet.|
|Back / Biceps||3 sets of pull-ups, as many as you can do, with 60 seconds rest between sets||If you don’t have a pull-up bar, this article has very many suggestions for possible substitutes.|
If you can’t do a full pull-up yet, this video will guide you from negative chin-ups to your first full pull-up and beyond.
|Legs||Three sets of lunges, as many as you can do, with 60 seconds rest between sets.||An explanation of the exercise is right here. Start with no weight to learn the movement and then gradually add resistance, while making sure you keep good form.|
When you need additional resistance, you can use dumbbells or, if you don’t have any, milk gallons filled with water.
|Legs (optional)||Three sets of hamstring curls, 6 – 12 repetitions, with 60 seconds rest between sets||If you feel your hamstrings don’t get enough work from doing lunges, you may add hamstring curls.They are explained in this video.|
|Abs||Three sets of crunches, 6-12 repetitions, with 60 seconds rest between sets||The exercise is explained right here. Note that the hands do not pull on the head; fixate a spot right above you when you do the movement.|
Every exercise is done slowly and with controlled form. For push-ups this means you go 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down. For pull-ups it means no swinging or kicking. There are no extra arm exercises because when you do push-ups and pull-ups you do exercise your arms.
Weekly Workout Schedule
Your weekly workout schedule differs depending on your goals: If you want to lose weight, more emphasis needs to be put on cardio, as it burns more calories than resistance training. If you are happy with your weight and mainly want to build muscle, the emphasis should be put on resistance training:
|Day||For Weight Loss||For Building Muscle|
|Monday||Beginner Workout||Beginner Workout|
|Tuesday||Cardio, 30 – 60 Minutes||Cardio, 30 – 60 Minutes|
|Wednesday||Cardio, 30 – 60 Minutes||Beginner Workout|
|Thursday||Beginner Workout||Cardio, 30 – 60 Minutes|
|Friday||Cardio, 30 – 60 Minutes||Beginner Workout|
A Word About Cardio
A good cardio activity is anything – running, biking, dancing etc. – that gets your pulse to 50 – 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, which can roughly be calculated as 220 – your age. If, for example, you are 40 years old, then your maximum is 180 and your pulse during endurance activities should be between 90 – 135 bpm.
Do not neglect cardio, even if your goal isn’t losing weight. Cardio’s importance for a fit body is as big as that of resistance training.
If you already have a weekly activity that can be classified as cardio (tennis, squash, soccer etc.), build the above plan around it, otherwise decide on one which fulfills the above criteria and which you’ll enjoy and keep doing. Some tips on how you should start cardio are in this article.
Logging Workout Progress
To track how you are progressing in your workouts, it helps a lot to keep a workout log, where you write down when you did your sessions and how you peformed on each of the exercises. To make this task easy for you, I prepared a PDF that you can download, print out and get right started:
Workout Log – Beginner Workout (right click and choose “Save link as…”)
Beyond Beginner Workouts
Stay with this workout routine until you are able to do 30 consecutive push-ups and 7 consecutive pull-ups, which is my personal rule for dividing between beginning and intermediate trainees.
Reaching these two milestones should take about six months. After that you are able to switch to more evolved home workouts, that target different muscle groups separately. Here is a suitable intermediate home workout plan.
Picture courtesy of Elvert Barnes.