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15-Minute Workout for Beginners

author image Kyle Arsenault
Kyle Arsenault is a performance coach, author and former intern of the renown Cressey Performance. Now working with Momentum PT, he specializes in combining principles of physical therapy with strength and conditioning to enhance overall performance for his competitive athletes as well as his general population athletes.

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15-Minute Workout for Beginners
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When it comes to training, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned workout veteran, there’s a time and place for low-intensity training sessions. They're a great way to introduce yourself to training, start back up after a hiatus, decrease stress on a battle-worn body or boost recovery between higher-intensity sessions. The best part about the following low-intensity, full-body program is that it should only take 15 minutes to complete, meaning you can easily add it to your day -- no excuses.

Let’s Get Started
Photo Credit: Demand Media Studios

Let’s Get Started

The program has four components: core exercises, lower-body exercises, upper-body exercises and conditioning exercises; and each category has two exercises. Complete each exercise in order, moving from one to the next. Each exercise will take 30 seconds and can be broken up into three different schemes. For beginners, do 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest before switching to the next exercise. Intermediate? Do 25 seconds of work with five seconds rest before switching. For the advanced, do 30 seconds of work and immediately switch to the next exercise for 30 seconds. For lower-body exercises, complete one side per 30-second block. This means that you will do one side for the first 30 seconds and the other side for the next 30 seconds before switching exercises. While the program is based on 15 minutes (you'll complete three rounds of the 10 exercises totaling 15 minutes), if you want to go for longer, make sure you're maintaining proper form.

Related: 9 Easy Steps Every Weightlifting Newbie Should Follow

1. Plank
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1 Plank

Start this basic (but effective) core exercise in a standard push-up position. If you need more of a challenge, perform the plank on your forearms. You can also elevate the feet to a bench or box (12 to 18 inches) for an additional challenge. You should feel the work taking place in your core -- specifically your lower abs and obliques. HOW TO DO IT: Assume a push-up position so that your hands are just beneath the shoulders and your feet are slightly wider than hip width. Engage your core and keep your back from arching by pulling your belly button toward your ribcage. Your main focus is to prevent your hips from sagging and low back from arching.

Related: 20 of the Best Body-Weight Exercises

2. Side Plank
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2 Side Plank

Maintain your focus on using your core to keep your hips in position, the low back from arching and the hips from sagging. You should feel the work taking place in the obliques on your underside (side closest to the floor). HOW TO DO IT: Start lying on your side so that your elbow is just beneath your shoulder and your forearm is flat on the ground. Press into the floor as you bridge your hips toward the ceiling. Your body should be in a straight line from the ears to the ankles, and only your forearm and foot should be on the ground.

Related: The 41 Hardest Ab Exercises

3. Barbell Hip Thrust
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3 Barbell Hip Thrust

With this exercise, you should feel the work taking place in your core and glutes. If this version is too advanced, try a lying glute bridge instead to work the same muscles with lower impact. HOW TO DO IT: With your upper back, shoulders and arms resting on a bench, roll a barbell over your legs so it’s on your waist (you will likely want to use a pad under the barbell). Bend your knees so your ankles are just below your knees. Keeping your abs engaged so the low back doesn’t arch, lift your hips up to push into the bar, drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes as you bridge your hips toward the ceiling (your knees, hips and shoulders should be aligned so you should look like a table). Keep your abs engaged so your hips don’t rotate, especially at the top position. Lower your hips back to the floor, keeping your abs engaged the entire time. Drive through the heels to return to the bridge position, holding for a two-second count.

Related: 17 Exercises to Shape and Tone Your Booty

4. Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
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4 Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift

Single-leg work is great for balancing out the strength on both sides of your body so one side isn’t compensating for the other. You should feel this deadlift variation target your core and the hamstrings and glutes of the standing leg. HOW TO DO IT: Holding a pair of dumbbells, take a hip-width stance. Engage your abs to keep your low back from arching as you lift one foot, keeping your hips level and the weight from shifting. Next, bend at the hips, keeping the back flat as you reach back with the lifted leg. Keep the knee of the standing leg soft and the hips parallel to the ground. Keep the hip of the back leg from rotating toward the ceiling. Drive through your standing leg heel as you squeeze the glutes and return to the standing position. Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other leg.

Related: 8 Unilateral Exercises to Challenge Your Balance

5. Push-Up
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5 Push-Up

There are a wide variety of push-up variations to choose from. If you can’t complete a standard push-up without your hips sagging, elevate your hands to a bench. On the other hand, if the push-up isn’t challenging enough, elevate the feet to a bench. You should feel the work taking place in the abs, chest and shoulders. HOW TO DO IT: Begin on all fours then press up with your hands beneath your shoulders, feet and hands supporting your weight and your abs engaged. Keep the upper back from rounding. Lower your chest toward the floor so that your elbows are at a 45-degree angle to the body. Hold the bottom position for a quick second, making sure your elbows do not extend above the body. Keep a wide chest, preventing the shoulder blades from tipping forward. Explosively push yourself away from the ground and return to the top position.

Related: 10 Push-Up Variations for a Stronger Body

6. Alternating One-Arm Dumbbell Row
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6 Alternating One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Working only on arm at a time forces you to focus on that arm, building strength and perfecting your form. You should feel the work taking place in the core, chest and shoulder of the supporting arm and upper back. HOW TO DO IT: Bend forward at a 45-degree angle, holding a dumbbell in each hand using a neutral grip (knuckles facing in toward your body). Keeping the lower back from arching and upper back from rounding (the back should be relatively flat). Keep your abs engaged so that your body does not move as you row the dumbbell, focusing on initiating the row with the upper-back muscles, pulling the shoulder blade across your back. Keep a wide chest, and don’t allow the elbow to pass above the back, which would cause the shoulder blade to tip forward. Slowly lower the dumbbell and alternate sides for the prescribed time.

Related: 10 Upper-Body Exercise Swaps to Amp Up Results

7. Mountain Climber
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7 Mountain Climber

Your ultimate goal in this conditioning exercise is to keep the upper body from moving, only driving the knees, as you increase your heart rate and core engagement. You should feel the work taking place in the core and upper back. HOW TO DO IT: From a push-up position, keep your abs engaged to prevent your low back from arching and hips from sagging or rotating. Focus on relaxing your upper back as you push into the floor through your hands. You should be flat from your shoulders to you ankles. Drive one knee toward your chest, stopping when the knee is right below your hip (your upper leg should be 90 degrees to the body). Quickly drive the knee back as you simultaneously bring the other knee forward. Continue to switch the knees quickly (you should feel as if you are running in the push-up position).

Related: Mountain Climb Away the Calories

8. Bear Crawl
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8 Bear Crawl

Unleash your inner animal with this exercise. It makes a great warm-up, cooldown or conditioning exercise, depending on your speed. You should feel the work taking place in your core, shoulders and legs. Keep the crawl slow and controlled to increase you heart rate as you work on your metabolic conditioning. HOW TO DO IT: Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Elevate your knees off the ground by pushing through your hands and toes. Keep the abs engaged and back flat (you should look like a table) as you reach forward with one hand and simultaneously bring the opposite knee forward. Repeat to the other side to crawl forward as you focus on keeping your back flat and hips from rotating.

Related: Top 10 Moves to Help You Recover From Your Workout

What Do YOU Think?
Photo Credit: Demand Media Studios

What Do YOU Think?

Have you tried this workout yet? What did you think? Are you going to start at the basic level and work your way up? How else will you use this workout? As a recovery? Are there any other exercises you would recommend to beginners? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below!

Related: A 35-Minute HIIT Workout That Won’t Hurt Your Knees

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