January 23, 2014

Beginner's Workout Routine!


This week's guest post was by special request, how cool is that?  It's meant to be short and practical, just like the awesome Beginners Workout it features.

People often google in to Cranky Fitness looking for help getting started working out, and yet they tend to land on an ancient post that tells them how not to get on my nerves at the gym. Which is perhaps not really what they had in mind.

So I asked Personal Trainer and Fitness Expert Dave Smith to bring us a no-equipment series of exercises for people who want to get strong and fit but are new at it and a bit overwhelmed by all the complicated options out there.

You may recall that Dave was the most reliable regular back when we had an "Ask the Personal Trainer" column, so it's great to hear from him again! And btw, I have heard great reviews of his program from Cranketeers who have signed up in the past.

Thanks Dave!

--Crabby

What's a simple beginner's routine for someone just starting off?


This time of year many people are feeling motivated to start into a new fitness routine. While motivation is high, success rates usually are not. Too many beginners set their sights on unrealistic goals and burn out long before they see any physical results.

So, forget the crazy workout resolutions ("I will exercise for an hour every day in 2014!" just isn't going to happen!) and instead adopt a manageable routine that will help you get some good results. Here's a plan that is quick, well-rounded, and can be done anywhere (yes, even while watching TV):




The Workout:

As you just saw, this beginner's routine is based on the "6 Primal Movements" that make up all other exercises. These will jump-start your metabolism and provide muscle strength and tone for your whole body.

Push-Ups: 10-20 reps

Supine Rows: 10-20 reps

Squats:  20 reps

Lunges: 10 reps per leg

Forward Bend: Hold for 30 seconds

Russian Twists: 20 reps

These six moves form one complete circuit.  Take a quick water break after your first circuit and then get right back at it for a second round. Doing two full circuits will offer a good challenge for a beginner exerciser and the entire workout can be done in about 20 minutes.

Dave Smith is a personal trainer who's all about Exercise Efficiency and teaches people how to maximize their fitness results using body weight exercises. You can learn more about Dave's fitness philosophies and training methods at www.makeyourbodywork.com .

Do you guys have a basic simple routine you use when no equipment is available? What would you advise a beginner?

37 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this workout, I have been wanting to get back into strength training and I love the simplicity of this routine.

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  2. I agree with Becky. It's a perfect start for those of us...okay.. for me who is perpetually a beginner because I really don't exercise consistently .. aside from walking. Thank you for this. It's logical, doable and appreciated.

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  3. this Kind of workout is right up my alley! i do stuff like this outside in summer, call it bootcamp and feel smug about myself often! :)
    another great source i can recommend is nerd Fitness, where Steve has lots of free resources ( workout plans, Videos, community....)
    i love that there is so many cranky posts now!

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    1. Thanks Puja, and appreciate you continuing to stop by!

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  4. Nice post - always good to get back to the basic moves!!!

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  5. Great post! And yes, when we get too zealous and unrealistic we fail! One change at a time and don't expect to be skinny by the weekend!

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  6. Hmmm! I hate to be negative. This is a beginner workout but, it would be too difficult for the Fat Chicks I go to the gym with and many of the retired crowd. I can do all these moves but I have been at it for a long time. I know this means I should make my own video but, Auhhhhh! I don't want to be videoed with my butt in the air. Maybe I can do something with stick figures. Maybe I can con somebody else into being the model. Maybe I should just erase this comment ...

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    1. Yes, my thought was "beginners in good health." I'm still waiting for my shoulder to let me do more than one pushup. Or lift more than five pound dumbbells again. Grrr.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    2. Cindy, please please please please video? Preferably with your own butt and not a stunt butt?

      I'm actually planning on trying to coax Real Women of all shapes and sizes to contribute workout pictures (a future post) to the blog, as I find the plastic people in fitness mags utterly boring and uninspirational. A video guest post would be most awesome.... think about it, 'k?

      And Mary Anne, sorry about that shoulder!!

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    3. Stunt butt is my new favorite phrase. :-D

      I think it is a nice starter workout if you don't have an injury to work around. For me, I'd avoid the twists due to an old back injury, but you could probably find alternatives. I've had to do that for squats when they start bugging my knees.

      And Crabby, I'd contribute a picture or two for the cause. :-)

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    4. That would be awesome Heather! I'm not announcing officially yet because, as you may have noticed, I have a habit of announcing things and then not following through. But yay!!!

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    5. Hi Cindy! You pretty much took the comment right out of my mouth! I'm so glad you didn't erase it!

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  7. Nice little workout. Hmmmmm ....

    I watched it after reading your comment, Cindy -- were you thinking the pushups and the Russian twist? He did scale down the pushups a little, but allowing for wall pushups might help the beginnest of beginners. The Russian Twists -- I don't know, maybe just standing twists?

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    1. You got it and also lunges are very tippy for heavy people and those with balance problems and squats often have to be modified too so the person has something to hold on to.

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    2. And the supine rows? I came back because I realized I hadn't commented on them. I've never seen that before for a row. I have no idea how beginner friendly that is, because I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how it works and how what looks like pushing with elbows translates to a pull. I get that the same muscle area is being activated, but in my head it feels different. (I haven't tried it out yet -- office friendly it might be, but I'm not chancing someone walking in on me doing it!)

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    3. I too was intrigued by supine rows Rachel, and tried 'em--less range of motion, but it seems like kinda the same muscles, plus some core thrown in. Since finding shit to pull on outside a gym can be challenging, I thought this was kinda clever!

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    4. Rachel - Give 'em a try! If you focus on the pull motion (i.e. pushing elbows into the floor) they really do activate those hard-to-target back muscles. It's one of the few good back exercises that you can do without equipment. If you know of any others let me know...I'm always looking for new ideas :)

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    5. The supine rows surprised me. That's a nifty trick for when you really can't find anything to pull on. I've seen videos of people using sturdy tables to do inverted rows, but I haven't tried it yet. My tables aren't that sturdy. :-P

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  8. Oooh, yay, discussion and controversy in the comments section! I think it's great that you're all figuring out which parts would work for you and which might fuck you up.

    "One size fits all" is probably pretty hard to come by in the workout world.

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  9. A great simple routine for people to start with!!! AT home too!!!! Perfect! So easy to ramp it up as one gets stronger too!!!!

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  10. I am so grateful to have had a personal trainer, who knows how to modify everything for us real beginners! Even wall pushups were hard for me when I started. I still find supine rows hard, even though I am a certified badass. I started with a home-made TRX type thing (old chains from the swingset with handles from some unused piece of exercise equipment attached to a hook in the ceiling. I would just lean back at a 45 degree angle (or less, probably) and pull myself upright.




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    1. Now your talking there are all sorts of youtube videos and web site devoted to making your own gym equipment out of found items. I have been thinking about going more organized / less weeds in my backyard but maybe I should do a junkyard gym. One of my neighbors is a trainer so he should be understanding about the new look!

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  11. Since all of my workouts are at home, anything like this comes in handy for me. It gives me lots of options.

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  12. Thanks Dave, and Crabby! I just tried each move and I think I can work with this; been too long since I did strength stuff and this looks just right for starting up again. Question - what can one sub for lunges that would be a little easier on the knees?

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    1. Hey Pubsgal (and other) - You're right - Lunges can be tough for people with knee injuries. Squats are another alternative that can be safer just because there are so many ways to modify them. Check out this vid I did about progressing through squats...beginner all the way to very advanced. Would any of these be okay on your knees?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqtYyH3WI-Y

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    2. Thanks Dave! I was thinking squats too because you can vary the depth and distribute weight over two legs.

      Haven't seen the vid yet, but I wonder about the dreaded Wall Sits? (Sitting against a wall as though there is a chair there?) Isometric and horrible but seems like might be easier on the knees if not too deep?

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    3. Oh, and I didn't mention...the goal with these squats would be to work your way towards doing the single-leg version (supported with your other foot). This mimics the lunge since it focuses on one leg at a time. Hope that clarifies a bit :)

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    4. Dave are you referring to a pistol squat? I downloaded what is supposed to be a step-by-step protocol building up to a pistol squat but haven't had the nerve to try it...
      My balance is poor, I've already alarmed my trainer falling off a Bosu ball ;-)

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    5. Hey Val,
      Well, the hardest squat variation is the pistol squat. But, there are modified versions that help work up to it. If you haven't watched this video then it might be helpful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqtYyH3WI-Y

      No Bosu required...it's safer that way ;)

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  13. I'm glad I actually watched the video... I was going to dismiss the whole thing when I saw "squats and Lunges".
    I'm totally looking for something just like this. I need to start. That's the most important thing. But I'm so far from fit right now and much too heavy to start with squats or lunges.
    I'm thinking maybe I'll try this for a week and see how I feel.
    I wonder if a tiny movement, almost isometric squat would be worthwhile?
    No lunges anytime soon for me.
    I don't understand trainers who encourage people with a lot of extra weight and little strength to start with squats and lunges. I could get away with it more when I was younger but now I've got to add in my middle age lack of lube.
    Thank you for posting and thanks for Dave Smith for the video!

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    1. Hey Tree - You're right on with the isometric idea. If squats to a chair aren't working then an isometric on the wall is a great choice. It's safe and still hits a lot of the same muscles. Thanks for posting that suggestion!

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  14. Honestly, I think the best thing to do when you're just starting off is walk. If you don't exercise, then you will not be able to run a quarter mile without running out of breath, so it is best just to walk 40-60 minutes 3 or 4 times a week for a couple weeks. And I don't mean stroll through the park, I mean walk with some determination, kind of like a power walk. Most people should be able to manage that for a few weeks to help improve their cardio capacity. After that, introduce a few sessions of slow jogging to replace or splice into walking sessions. I wouldn't bother with any muscle training for the first month or so, especially if the person is overweight - much too strenuous - causing damage to your body won't improve your fitness, so you need to be sensible, take things slow and not dive head first into a routine with 10 different exercises.

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  15. Just testing. Left a longass comment and it just disappeared.

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  16. I am a Cranketeer who is currently signed up with Dave's web site, Make Your Body Work. I love his workouts. This simple one would even work for me in a pinch. Very easy and not overwhelming. Thanks Dave (& Crabby!) Plus this one doesn't have 4 levels of torture, I mean 4 levels of ability. You know I love you Dave.

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    1. "4 levels of torture"...I might borrow this as a new marketing slogan! Thanks Bob!

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  17. This blog is great. Thank you for giving this tips for the beginners who wants to workout. Nice post, Keep it up!

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