Mainstream workout plans can leave you feeling alone, intimidated and confused.
The truth is, hours of high intensity training, out of reach goals and unrealistic standards don’t work for beginners.
Don’t worry, help is here!
This simple beginners guide to creating a workout plan includes tips for getting started, the best exercises for beginners and some workout plan examples that are more accessible than what’s out there.
Here’s how to create the workout schedule you’ll love!
How to create a realistic workout plan for beginners
Several factors go into making a realistic workout plan.
It can seem daunting at first, but the key to creating the best workout schedule is to know yourself, know your habits, and work within them to create a custom plan just for you.
Here’s some tips to help you get started:
Find your movements
Start by asking yourself “how do I move?” or, “in what ways am I already active?”.
The goal of these questions is to acknowledge the ways you already move during your day so you can choose the movement breaks closest to the habits you already have.
Do you work from home? Exercises that counteract sitting all day are a good option. Is your work nearby? Walking might be an easy movement to squeeze into your schedule. Spend a lot of time in the living room? There’s probably room for a few squats or push-ups.
Exercise and movement breaks can coexist in harmony with the habits you already have. In fact, linking exercise time to habits you already have will help you stay motivated and keep your movements regular. It’s the perfect first step to building a workout plan you’ll actually stick to.
Don’t break your schedule, bend it
Great, now you have your movements and exercises picked out. Now it’s time to think about when they’ll fit in your day.
If you’re new to working out or just getting started with a new workout plan, there’s no reason to blow up your whole schedule to fit in a complicated and complex workout routine.
Adding a few small movements throughout your day is a great way to get going. Starting small and letting your routine evolve as you grow with it is the best way to find a practice that works for you.
Consider your normal weekly schedule and try to find spaces where some quick squats, a few push-ups, or a 15 minute walk could fit in. Remember, simple movements don’t need a lot of time or preparation.
Try a few calf raises during a virtual meeting. Do a work call during a quick walk. Or add 10 or 15 squats while you watch some TV.
Don’t break your schedule. Just bend it a bit.
Rest is part of exercise
As you find spaces and places to fit your movement breaks and exercises, remember that your body needs rest too.
Don’t push it too hard, especially if you’re just starting out. Leave time for rest and recovery.
Schedule some recovery activities as well. This can include practices like morning stretches or a manageable yoga flow you enjoy.
Listen to your body. Check-in often and make sure you’re finding time to recover, rest and prepare as your exercise practices expands.
If you’re too sore, or push it too far, exercise becomes unenjoyable and in some cases dangerous. So find your right amount as you go and look for the signs.
Beginner weekly workout plan examples
If you’re still not sure where to start, here’s an example of a weekly workout plan for beginners.
Keep in mind that this is just an example, tweak it, edit it, or remix it to fit your schedule if you need to.
Keeping track of your plan and progress is essential, so use a fitness tracker app to track your progress, stay motivated and keep yourself in the loop.
Remember, you don’t have to work out every day right away. Take time for rest and recovery if you need it!
Monday - Go for a walk (4000-6000 steps)
Start your week off right with a nice meditative walk. Choosing walking as your first movement early in the week is the perfect way to ease into your new schedule.
Remember, feel free to multitask while you walk: do it during a meeting, or while you catch up with a friend on the phone.
Hot tip: Use a pedometer app to track your steps and make sure you’re hitting your goals.
Tuesday - Take the stairs (3-5 flights)
Choose the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Now that your week is rolling, try to replace your normal choices with simple movements like taking the stairs.
If you don’t encounter stairs during your day, try to think of some near your home and add them to another brief walk.
Wednesday - Squats (2-3 sets of 10)
This will help your brain make the connection between habits you already have and habits you’re trying to build—great for staying motivated.
Thursday - Active breaks (move every hour for 5-8 hours)
Set alarms and remind yourself to move every hour. Sitting too much isn’t great for you. Use your Thursdays to counteract all your sitting.
As long as you’re moving your body every hour, anything goes!
Friday - Push-ups (2-3 sets of 10)
End your week off strong with 20-30 proper push-ups throughout your day. Again, try to sync your push-ups with something you already do habitually.
Push-ups can be tough for beginners, so try some push-up variations if you need an easier alternative to classic push-ups.
Saturday and Sunday - Choose your own adventure (activity and recovery)
Use your weekends to add whatever movements and recovery you’d like. More walking, a few simple exercises, or stretching are all great options if you have a bit more free time.
Feeling sore or tired is normal, use your weekends to recover and rest if you need to. Starting strong on Monday is the goal.
Grow as you go
Check in with yourself often. Reassess your workout plan each week. Add or subtract activities based on what you think you need to reach your goals safely and effectively.
The right amount is your amount of exercise! Don’t feel pressure to do everything all at once. Build a workout plan that fits you and your goals and build from there.