We all want to start the new year on a healthier foot. Yet in some areas, it’s still difficult to access gyms and group fitness classes. Besides that, many beginners prefer to start their journey towards better health in private.
Luckily, there are plenty of options for at-home workouts that burn calories and build strength with little or no fitness equipment required.
In this short guide, we’ll cover the best at-home workouts for beginners and the lifestyle changes you can make to support your energy levels as you set new fitness goals.
Let’s get started!
Many people think “exercise” and “cardio” are synonymous. While we’ll also cover workouts to build strength and flexibility, cardiovascular exercise is just one amazing way to burn calories and support your heart health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, recommendations are as follows:1
- Aim for 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week (walking, swimming, etc.)
- Alternately, get 75 minutes of vigorous cardio weekly (running, dancing, etc.)
- When you’re getting started, spread short workouts throughout the week
If you’re able to walk for just over twenty minutes per day, you could meet cardio recommendations and begin improving your overall health. Likewise, doing a dance video or moving to music can be an engaging way to get up your heart rate and have some fun in the process.
If you already enjoy cardio, simply set weekly goals for your move of choice. But if you need some inspiration, it’s easy to create a custom workout plan for beginners at home.
Vigorous Cardio Options
Intense cardio can have benefits even if performed for just a few minutes at a time. In fact, if you are searching for energizing workouts to lose belly fat at home after a month spent indulging in holiday treats, you’re in luck given the countless forms of aerobic exercise!
Learning what works best for you and how to workout at home can be a process. One of our favorite easy at home workouts for beginners is doing cardio for five minutes. Once you’re able to meet this goal on a regular basis, up your cardio workout to ten minutes, and so on.
But what kind of cardiovascular endurance training can you do without a treadmill? The options are endless, but here are several ideas to jumpstart your workout routine:
- Jumping jacks – This playground favorite works just as well for adults, barring knee and joint sensitivity—jumping jacks are a relatively high-impact exercise.
- Running in place – Put on some music and run in place. If you have a Bosu ball or similar option, you can add challenge and fun, but your living room floor works fine, too! Like jumping jacks, jogging is a high-impact physical activity that may not be suitable if you experience knee pain.
- Stairs – Walk up and down the stairs in your home or building. Because you can go at your own pace, it’s easy to moderate the intensity of this exercise.
- Burpees – Burpees are known for their association with CrossFit and other intense exercise regimens, but they can be done easily outside of a gym or cardio conditioning class. To perform this move, start standing. Squat to the floor and jump or step back into a plank. Then, jump forward into a squat. Stand up again and repeat the routine. If you are feeling ambitious, try incorporating a pushup once in plank position. Go as slow or as fast as you need to.
- Mountain climbers – While holding a plank position in the shoulders, “run” with the legs (bringing one leg forwards towards the chest, then the other). The move allows you to build upper body strength while you do your cardio, but may not be suitable for people with sensitive wrists.
Spend some time experimenting with these options and decide which physical activity is appropriate for you right now. If you like several, try to do a few minutes of each for a dynamic cardio routine that works multiple parts of the body.
Circuit training, also known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), is a method of combining short bursts of different exercises with periods of rest. HIIT training tends to be the go-to for at home workouts to lose weight effectively and efficiently.
- Exercise for one minute, rest for one minute
- Exercise for twenty seconds, rest for ten seconds (also known as the Tabata method)
- Do four exercises for forty-five seconds each, then rest for one minute.
You can combine multiple “circuits” to build up to five, ten, or fifteen minutes of total exercise and rest.
For example, work out for twelve minutes by repeating the following three times:
- 45 seconds – run in place
- 45 seconds – burpees
- 45 seconds – jumping jacks
- 45 seconds – mountain climbers
- 1 minute – rest
Try out an app to help you keep track of your intervals.
Finding the best at home workouts for beginners doesn’t necessarily mean you stick to just a cardio workout. Strength training is another part of a well-rounded fitness routine. Gaining strength allows you to push yourself to go faster or longer in your cardio activity of choice. As an added bonus, improved muscle tone can help you keep your balance and avoid joint pain as you age.
While “strength training” can conjure images of bodybuilders pumping iron, you can improve your muscle strength at home using just your body weight.
For best results, focus on the following three areas:2
- Chest & arms – Planks and pushups are ideal for building your chest, shoulder, and back muscles.
- Core strength – Sit-ups are a great way to build core strength, but there’s a whole world of other exercises you can complete while lying on your back, like lifting your legs 12 inches above the ground and holding for a count of 30 or slowly rolling up your torso to a sitting position then rolling back down gently.
- Legs & glutes – From bodyweight squats to leg raises, you can use your own weight to tone the muscles of the glutes and thighs.
The key to strength training is not overdoing it. When you work out too hard, your muscles are sore for days afterward, which makes it more difficult to get back to your new fitness routine. As you start out, try strength-training just a few days a week, or alternate between muscle groups to avoid overtaxing any one area.
We recommend the following options.
Prefer to workout with instructions from a professional? Pilates is a safe, effective way to build core strength. Classical Pilates also includes targeted exercises for the hips and shoulders.
There are hundreds of free Pilates classes available on YouTube. Start with a fifteen or twenty-minute class and work your way up to more challenging sequences as you master the basics.
At-Home Strength Training Routine
Another great option to target all of your muscle groups is to complete a strength training circuit.
Try out the following:
- 20 squats
- Hold a plank or forearm plank for one minute
- 20 alternating leg lunges
- 1 minute of sit-ups
Repeat two or three times, making sure to stop before you feel exhausted
You’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to stretch before you work out.
The Mayo Clinic recommends stretching as part of a holistic exercise routine.3
Yoga, stretching, and other flexibility exercises can provide benefits like the following:
- Improve circulation
- May help prevent injury during exercise
- Relieves stress and muscle tension
- Improve posture
- Give you greater range of motion
Consider stretching before or after your other workouts. If you love yoga or gymnastics, these can also be fun at-home practices for improving your fitness.
How to Jumpstart Your Energy
When you first start exercising, you might find that you have low cardiovascular endurance.
As we’ve noted, exercising for just a few minutes at a time is a simple and effective starting point for improving your cardiovascular health. Once you make workouts a regular part of your routine, you’ll likely begin to find that you have more energy.
However, other small lifestyle changes can support your intention to work out more regularly.
Healthy Eating Habits Pre and Post-Workout
Many people use sugar and caffeine as fuel to get through their days. Unfortunately, these substances can have diminishing returns over time.
Want to feel more energetic on a more regular basis? Make sure your diet consists of nutrient-rich foods including:
- Leafy greens
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean protein
To provide extra energy before and after exercise, try out the following advice from the American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Journal:4
- 1-3 hours before exercise – Eat a small meal of whole grains, lean protein, fruit, and vegetables, i.e., oatmeal with fruit or a spinach omelette. If you’re hungry right before exercise, try eating a piece of fruit.
- After exercise – Resist the temptation to load up on calories unless you’ve been exercising for more than 90 minutes. Instead, try a healthy snack like yogurt. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
Support Your Gut Health and Avoid Bloating
It can be difficult to stick to your new workout routine, which is why it’s so important to avoid giving yourself any excuses.
If bloating or digestive discomfort sometimes demotivate you and lead you to stay on the couch, take steps to support your gut health.
Bio-K+® drinkable probiotics are designed to support your gut microflora.
- Your gastrointestinal tract is populated with microflora including bacteria and microorganisms that can help with healthy digestion
- Probiotics nurture beneficial microflora and are clinically supported to improve gut health and immunity
- Making probiotics a regular part of your routine can help to reduce the frequency of gassiness and bloating so that you feel more energized for your weekly workouts
Take a capsule for daily support on-the-go, or try using a drinkable probiotic as a pre- or post-exercise snack.
Get into Gear With Bio-K+®
Not all probiotics are created equal. In fact, some may not even make it through your digestive tract.
In contrast, Bio-K+® probiotics contain unique and clinically supported strains of bacteria that can benefit your gut health and your overall well-being.
With capsules, vegan drinkables, and dairy-based drinkables in a variety of flavors, it’s easy to find the right probiotic for your tastebuds and routine.
Holistically support your body to find more energy. It’ll become that much easier to meet your fitness goals this year and the next.
- Laskowski, E. R., M.D. (2019, April 27). How much exercise do you really need? Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916
- Mansour, S. (2020, January 01). A 30-day strength training routine - no equipment required. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/30-day-strength-training-routine-no-equipment-required-ncna988936
- Flexibility: Stretch your way to better health. (2021). Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://diet.mayoclinic.org/diet/move/flexibility-better-health
- DeSimone, G. (2016). SHAREABLE RESOURCE. ACSMʼs Health & Fitness Journal, 22(4), 5. doi:10.1249/fit.0000000000000221