This home workout plan for beginners makes you build muscle and needs very little equipment to get started!
If you are new to fitness and just decided to start working out at home, things seem rather confusing. But it’s quite simple: Compound exercises (those that work many muscles at once) and whole body workout routines will build your basic strength.
As hinted, I designed this beginner routine 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 to do pull-ups, which doesn’t have to be a bar; this article has many suggestions for places where you can do pull-ups. If you do want to buy a bar, this one seems like a good deal to me.
Before You Start
I know it’s bothersome, but it’s a good idea to visit your doctor. He can 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 Bill Clinton was president. You can feel a difference right after the first workout, but visible results take up to six months!
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 has 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, 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. I explain them in this video.|
|Abs||Three sets of crunches, 6-12 repetitions, with 60 seconds rest between sets||I explain the exercise right here. Note that the hands do not pull on the head; fixate a spot right above you when you do the movement.|
Do every exercise 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, you should spend more time with cardio, as it burns more calories than resistance training. If you are happy with your weight and mainly want to build muscle, the emphasis needs to be 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 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. This maximum you can rougly calculate 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 to 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 classifies as cardio (tennis, squash, soccer etc.), build the above plan around it, otherwise decide on one which fulfills the criteria and which you’ll enjoy and keep doing. Some tips on how you should start cardio are in this article. You can also do your cardio at home.
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 exercise. To make this task easy for you, I prepared a PDF you can download, print out and get right started. 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 rule for dividing between beginning and intermediate trainees.
Reaching these two milestones takes about six months. After that you are ready for home workouts that target different muscle groups separately. Here is a suitable intermediate home workout plan.
Don’t Forget Nutrition!
Please remember that for building a maximum amount of muscle, you also need to have an eye on your nutrition. I compiled a handy guide on it right here and here is a free complete nutrition plan for an entire week!
Picture courtesy of Elvert Barnes.