Workout tips for at-home beginners, and other weight loss advice
Starting a workout routine for the first time, or starting again after taking a long break, can feel intimidating. Many people feel comfortable starting out with a simple at-home workout routine before making the decision to join a gym or attend an in-person fitness class.
In this post, we’ll give you all the basics you need to know for setting up a great at-home workout routine that will help improve your fitness and confidence. From there, you can research more advanced workout tips, or consider going to a gym or hiring a trainer to target more specific goals.
Getting started: How to establish a realistic workout routine
Everyone has a baseline of fitness to start with. Whether you’re completely sedentary or relatively fit, it’s good to understand what your starting point is before attempting to build a structured workout routine.
Begin by completing a few basic fitness tests meant to give you an understanding of what you’re currently capable of.
How to complete a basic fitness test:
- Record your weight with a scale you plan on using for a while. Scales are calibrated differently, so it’s important to use the same scale throughout your weight loss journey if weight loss is your goal.
- Perform a core strength test by holding a plank position for 60 seconds. If you can do that, continue holding the plank and lift your right arm off the ground for 15 seconds, then your left arm, then your right leg, and then your left leg. If you’re able to make it through the entire workout, you have good core strength.
- See how many pushups you can complete while keeping good form. Record the number for future comparisons.
- Put on your running shoes and go for a 12-minute run. After 12 minutes, record the distance you ran.
From there, you can build a basic workout routine using just your body weight to get started.
How to work out at home
You may want to tone and firm up specific areas of your body, but it’s best to start with full-body workouts when you’re just starting out.
Build routines that work out all of the major muscle groups in your body during each session.
Major muscle groups include:
There are many effective bodyweight workouts for each of these muscle groups, so you won’t have to go out and buy new equipment to get started.
This 10-move bodyweight workout doesn’t require any equipment and can be easily adjusted for beginners.
This 20-minute workout includes some cardio along with basic bodyweight exercises you can do at home.
How to do at-home cardio
As you complete workouts to increase your strength, you should also consider adding cardio sessions to your weekly routine. These workouts will focus less on muscle groups and more on cardiovascular stamina.
Cardio workouts can either be completed indoors or outside.
Ideally, spend 40 to 90 minutes completing a low-intensity cardio workout at least one time and at most three times each week to start.
Low-intensity cardio workouts include:
- Jumping Jacks
- Stationary biking
General tips for working out at home
- Make sure you’re hydrated and not working out too soon after eating a large meal
- Take your time when trying out a new exercise and check your form in a mirror to be sure you’re performing it correctly
- Record your workouts and progress somewhere so you can track your improvement over time
- Use simple, non-food rewards to keep yourself motivated, such as watching your favorite TV show after completing a workout
- Try to work out at the same time each day to build a consistent habit over time
How often should you work out?
For the most part, beginners should plan on working out no less than two times per week and no more than four times per week in order to build a sustainable workout habit.
As you begin your routine, pay attention to how your body feels the day following a workout. If you feel too sore to move, then you may want to decrease the number of days you work out, or shorten up your next session. If you feel pretty good, consider increasing the time you work out or add another day to your weekly routine. Build slowly so you don’t end up injuring yourself.
Benefits of working out
Working out has a lot of great benefits both physically and mentally. Even if you don’t need to lose weight, working out can help improve your health in other ways.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, working out regularly may:
- Reduce your risk of developing heart diseases and strengthen your heart, which helps you lower your blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic
- Make it easier for your body to manage blood sugar and insulin levels
- Help you quit smoking
- Improve your mood
- Keep your brain sharp
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Reduce the risk of some forms of cancer
- Reduce your risk of injuries by improving coordination
- Help you sleep better at night
- Improve your sexual health
- Help you live longer
How to lose weight without exercising
If you can’t work out, there are still ways to lose weight without spending a ton of money on special programs or wasting time with ineffective weight loss solutions.
Try keeping a food journal. A food journal is a good way to understand your eating habits and hold yourself accountable. After keeping a food journal for a week or so, you can look for any patterns and find simple ways to improve your diet. Consider what types of foods you eat most often, and whether or not you’re hitting the different food groups with your regular diet.
A few easy diet improvements may be:
- Substituting processed snacks for fruits or vegetables you enjoy
- Replacing sugary drinks with water or tea
- Reducing portion sizes by saving part of your meals for later