Rule number one to beginning a workout routine: Don't overthink it. You don't need a gym or even any special equipment to get a good full-body workout. As long as you prioritize good form and safety, even beginners can benefit from a whole-body workout routine that hits all the major muscle groups.
"Full-body workouts are fantastic for beginners because, unless you are a bodybuilder, you don't need to obsessively focus on building up specific body parts in full sessions," Rachel MacPherson, CPT, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "Working your whole body helps to burn more calories and increase metabolism and is more efficient."
Plus, as long as you're using your own body-weight, you don't need anything else except the time, she says. "You get to pick up and go, anytime, anywhere, eliminating excuses or time spent gathering equipment."
A complete workout that incorporates exercises for all the major muscle groups may also help beginners avoid one major deterrent to exercise: soreness.
"Many beginners complain about being sore or in pain after a workout, especially if they focus the entire training session on just one area," says fitness coach Mike Kneuer, NFPT, owner of ExecuSweat Fitness Coaching.
When fitness newbies get sore from working out, it makes them less likely to continue working out in the future, he says. By spreading the effort over your entire body, he says, you'll be less likely to feel debilitating soreness in any one muscle.
Try This Beginner Full-Body Workout — No Equipment Needed
Ready to sweat? You'll get "a little of everything" with the following full-body workout at home for beginners from Erin Motz, a certified personal trainer and yoga teacher. You can do this four-move routine just about anywhere with no extra gear.
"As a beginner to working out, you don't need to worry about focusing on biceps or glutes for a day, you just need to work on total-body coordination, balance and overall strength," she says. "Total-body workouts will do that!"
How to do it: Start with one round through this workout, resting as needed, and build up to completing 3 to 4 sets total. The amount of reps per exercise are listed below.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and brace your core. Focus on keeping your feet rooted into the ground and your core tight the entire time.
- Bring your hands in front of your chest and slowly bend your knees as you push your hips back to lower toward the floor. Focus on lowering your body as if you were going to sit on a chair.
- Lower down as far as comfortable, or until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Pause for a moment at the bottom of your squat.
- On an exhale, reverse the motion by pressing through your heels to return to standing. As you stand, lower your arms back to your sides.
Make It Harder
Once you've perfected your body-weight squat form, advance to adding a jump: When your thighs are parallel with the ground, press through your heels to jump straight up as you extend your arms down by your sides. Land gently and immediately lower into your next squat.
- Start standing up tall, then step a few feet forward with your left foot.
- Bend both knees to 90 degrees, with your back knee hovering just above the ground and your front knee either over your ankle.
- You can keep your hands on your hips or hanging by your sides.
- Hold for a beat before pushing off your front foot, returning back to standing and repeating on the other leg.
Make It Harder
Challenge yourself with a jump lunge when you're ready: From your lunge position, explosively jump straight up and switch feet in mid-air. Land gently with the opposite foot in front and immediately lower into your next lunge.
- Start in a high plank position on your hands and toes, with your shoulders over your wrists and your body making a straight line from your head to hips to heels.
- Engage your abs as you drive your right knee in toward your chest.
- Return your right knee to the starting position.
- Drive your left knee into your chest, and continue alternating legs.
- Keep alternating knees while maintaining the plank position for 30 seconds.
Make It Harder
Speed the exercise up, alternating knees faster like you're running in place.
- Start on all fours with your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
- Keeping your hips square to the ground and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, squeeze your glutes to lift your right foot toward the sky as if you are stamping the bottom of your shoe on the ceiling.
- Keep your core tight and don’t arch your back.
- Inhale as you lower the leg back down.
- Repeat on the other side, or complete all your reps on one leg before switching to the other side.
Make It Harder
Keep your knees bent as you kick both feet up behind you, aiming for your heels to touch your butt, before kicking them slightly out to one side. Land gently, then jump to the other side, making a rainbow shape with your legs.