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Total Body Fitness for Beginners

total body fitness for beginners

A total body workout is one of the most effective ways to get fit in the least amount of time. A good workout focuses on improving strength, endurance, flexibility and balance. Here are some ideas for total body fitness for beginners.

Advice for getting started

One of the most important things about getting started with a new fitness program is to be clear about your expectations. Start slowly with workout sessions that are 15-20 minutes until you develop enough stamina to stretch it further.

Choose a training program that fits with your physical abilities. Work with your doctor to figure out if you have any limitations like issues with your heart or joints.

Above all, keep a positive attitude. If you are serious about achieving results you will get there.

Cardio options for beginner exercisers

Bike Riding

Riding outdoors or with an indoor bike provides great cardiovascular exercise and helps strengthen the lower body. Upright bikes work the upper body as well. As you feel stronger, try to vary your resistance or ride some hills and increase the length of your rides.


If your joints are OK to support you, running is a great option for beginners. You can start slowly or even try interval running. Interval running involves walking for a few minutes and running a few minutes. Create an interval that works best for your current fitness level and work your way up to more running and less walking.


If running is a bit too much for your joints, walking is also an excellent choice for any fitness program. Even 10 minute brisk walks in the morning and the evening can make a difference. Ask a friend to join you.

Strength Exercise Ideas for beginners

Chair Squat

A chair squat is a great way to support your body during a squat. Stand in front of a chair and gently squat down as if you are going to sit down. Keep your arms in front of you for balance. Let your bottom barely touch the chair and then come back to standing. If this is too much on your knees, you can try to sit each time to give yourself a bit of a break before rising again.

exercise for beginners

Push-Ups against the Wall

Push-ups against a wall is a great way to try push-ups for the first time. Place your arms as wide as your shoulders. Bend your elbows and try bringing your chest to the wall until your elbows are at 90 degrees angle. Push yourself back to the original position. Hold your abs tight to support your core as well.

exercise for beginners

Torso Rotations

This is a great exercise for the torso. You can stand or sit. Hold a weight between your hands. No weight is fine too. The hips and knees should face front. Rotate your torso to the right while squeezing your abs and waist as much as possible. Come to the center and repeat on the left side after coming back to the center.

exercise for beginners

Lateral Raises

For beginners, sit on a chair with your arms at your sides. Use hand weights that are 3-5 pounds to start. These are smaller muscles so they can’t lift as much weight. You can even try this exercise with no weights as long as you tense your muscles during the movement. Keep your elbows slightly bent and lift the weights to shoulder level with palms facing the floor. Gently return back to your sides. Don’t drop your arms. Be sure to gently come back down.

exercise for beginners

Leg Lifts on the Side

This is a great exercise for your butt, hips and thighs. Hold onto a wall or the back of a chair. Lift each leg to the side 10-20 times. Then lift each leg to the back for 10-20 times. Contract your leg and butt muscles as you move so you are not just swinging your legs. Move to a height that does not strain your back. Work toward getting higher, but many cannot start as high as the photo below.

exercise for beginners

Before strength training, it’s a good idea to warm up for about 5-10 minutes with some light light cardio. You can also combine the cardio suggestions with the strength training for a total body workout. Always check with your health care provider before starting any fitness routine.

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  1. I agree that walking is great for beginners.

  2. mel says:

    This is great! I used to be so into working out and then I stopped! I am using this to start up again!

  3. Toni @Runninglovingliving says:

    Great article for beginners!

  4. Zumba really works for me, but I like to run as well!

  5. bre dale says:

    Those torso rotations really work, I need to get to doing those again

  6. I have knee injuries I have to be careful of when I workout. I love the wall pushups because of that. Regular pushups put too much strain on my knee and cause me to hurt. But i can still get a good workout with the wall without the pain.

  7. Patty says:

    Lots of great basics that I really should start. I do a lot of lifting of water buckets and chasing of goats but it’s really not formal exercise… thanks for the tips

  8. Jenna Wood says:

    The chair squat is one of my favorite moves. It’s so easy, and I can really see and feel the difference after just a few consecutive days.

  9. I really love bike riding. It’s one of my favorite types of exercise.

  10. cindy b says:

    Wish I would’ve read this a few years ago! I’ve been working out for years but never really ran until my sis suggested running a 5k together. Because I’ve been working out for years I figured i could just jump in run and boy was I wrong! My cardio was great and I ran just fine, but weeks later my left knee really started to hurt and ive NEVER had knee problems before! Now 3 years later. my knee aches here and there when I work out (doing other workouts)… its awful… wish I wouldve been smarter!

    • Jenn says:

      I have had some knee issues ever since running a marathon in 2000. Interval running is the only way I am able to ease my way back into any distance. No matter what, running is not for everyone. I am sometimes jealous of my friends that can run marathons, but we need to listen to our bodies and do what is best for us.

    • Jonas Larsson says:

      Hey Cindy,perhaps you need to invest in some glucosamine (mixture of glucose+glutamine,helps repair cartilage).Some fish oil too not a bad idea.Plenty of water is advisable so take some time to rehydrate.Can do with a little resistance band,and if the pain becomes too much,how about an x-ray,assuming you haven’t had one already?

  11. Rosey says:

    I like that you’ve included so many different choices here. I like to run, but not outside (treadmill for me).

  12. Angie Nelson says:

    I have been horrible in the past about sticking with it. I’m happy to say I have made daily exercise a habit the past few months. Fifteen minutes on the treadmill in the morning followed by an outdoor walk later in the day.

  13. Amber says:

    This is a great, to the point article for beginners on how to get started with a total body workout. With so much information out there it can be hard to know where to start. After baby, I am finally starting to get back in the swing of things and thanks for sharing a way to get started again without feeling overwhelmed!

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