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Build Confidence With These Workouts For Beginners

A fitness trainer completing workouts for beginners.

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A lot of workouts on the web are aimed at advanced exercisers. Such sessions comprise complex training tasks and feature technically challenging compound lifts. And while there isn’t anything wrong with many of these workouts, they can be dangerous for beginners. According to the contributing authors of the NSCA’s Guide To Strength Training, the most common cause of exercise-related injury is the execution of incorrect technique. That includes failing to apply proper form – such as maintaining safe postural alignment – and, perhaps the most common mistake, lifting too much weight.

Though these time-honoured training principles are indeed transgressed at every level, beginners are certainly more susceptible. This is largely because new exercisers lack the experience to know when they are putting themselves at risk. It’s not immediately obvious that you’re rounding your back during a deadlift or attempting to heave a touch too much weight. Yet, though seemingly innocuous, any of these training blunders can result in injury.

Workouts for beginners

To redress the shortage of workouts for beginners, I’ve created four simple session plans for you to try. The plans have been designed to provide you with an exercise outlet that is both safe and effective. Furthermore, they offer you the opportunity to enhance your training ability in preparedness for more challenging workouts. (Not shortage of which can be found on our Fitness Page >)

Before we review the plans, I’ve briefly outlined the characteristics that justify the beginner status bestowed on the workouts. It might be worth skimming this section as you’ll pick up a few ideas that you can apply to your own workouts in the future. As with all Hungry4Fitness Session Plans, we conclude with a few hints and tips. Here you will find a list of suggestions on how to modify the plans to suit your exercise preferences and fitness goals.

What makes these workouts suitable for beginners

The chief distinguishing factor that separates a beginner from an intermediate or advanced workout is the exercise selection. Exercises can be organised into a hierarchy of complexity. At the top, we would place powerlifting movements such as the snatch or clean and jerk. In the middle, you’d find conventional compound lifts like back squats and deadlifts. The base of the hierarchy is built on a firm foundation of bodyweight and isolation exercises. These include press-ups, biceps curls, and lat pulldowns.

Of course, for ease of explanation, I have oversimplified the categorisation structure. A more technically minded trainer could no doubt extend the number of tiers. However, as it is, the hierarchy helps us separate exercises into classes of complexity. This further enables us to select from classes commensurate with our current level of ability. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that these workouts for beginners mainly feature foundational tier exercises.

Training intensity

Having recently started on your training journey, it stands to reason that you are still in the early stages of establishing a base level of fitness. At the moment, you’re finding it a challenge to survive a 30-minute workout. And some days it seems like you spend more time resting than training. Then there’s the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) that leaves you in agony over the following days.

Though it is hard to believe now, exercising will get easier. (In truth it doesn’t, you just get fitter.)

Because your body is adjusting to the demands of physical activity, it is important to keep the training intensity low. Pushing yourself too hard increases injury risk for the simple fact that your muscles and connective tissues have not had time to adapt.

Workout within your means

In addition, as well as lacking physical preparedness, beginners are not as mentally attuned to intense training. Being beaten by a hard workout is both detrimental and demoralising. This can knock self-confidence and, in worst cases, result in the abandonment of the purist of physical development.

To avoid these undesirable outcomes, set the training intensity low. Moreover, I strongly encourage you to rest as and when you need it. Also, if you are unable to complete the entire plan, don’t put yourself down. Remember, you're in the early stages of fitness development. (I've been training for years, yet I still quit on sessions occasionally.)

So, are you ready?

Workouts for beginners

The workouts are organised around the ‘total body’ training method. As noted in the NSCA’s Essentials of Tactical Strength & Conditioning, total body workouts are an efficient way to target all the major muscle groups in a single session. Additionally, ‘many sequencing methods’ can be applied to total body workouts. This is beneficial for two reasons.


First, it enables you to focus on specific components of fitness or general ‘functional performance.’ Second, it broadens the scope of exercise variation. Meaning you can enjoy a different workout each time you train.


You’ll notice that the workouts feature a cardio station. As well as engaging your heart and lungs, cardio is the best way to burn fat and boost aerobic capacity. Combined – total body and cardio – these training approaches can enable you to develop the full register of your physicality.

Key training points

  • Warm up well before starting any of the beginner workouts. (Follow the link for warm-up exercises >)

  • Once you’ve selected a plan, progress through the training tasks at your own pace. I advise using the plan as a checklist (or to-do list). After you have completed each set and section, put a line through it before moving on.

  • Don’t worry if you can’t complete all the training tasks. Do what you can. If you actioned the advice outlined in the previous point, you’ll be able to assess performance progression over time.

  • Concluding your workout, cool down and stretch off.

Workouts for beginners session plan #1.

Workouts for beginners session plan #2.

Workouts for beginners hints and tips

In the justification section above, I explained that the workouts feature simple isolation and bodyweight exercises. This is to ensure that the plans are suitable for complete novices through to competent beginners. However, the exercise selection is not set in stone. If you feel confident enough to convert exercises into more complex compound movements, do so without hesitation. For example, in place of machine-based exercises (such as the seated leg press), you might instead opt for a free weight variation (dumbbell or barbell squat).

The workouts are split into two distinct phases: resistance and cardio. They have been designed this way to promote a broader range of fitness components. In addition, sessions that combine multiple training methodologies can also deliver more health and fitness benefits. That said, some days we’re simply not in the mood for 20 minutes of cardio. On such days, it’s perfectly fine to focus purely on resistance training (just so long as cardio isn’t avoided too frequently). The same goes for resistance: if you’re one of those rare people who prefer sweating on the treadmill to lifting weights, feel free to prioritise pumping iron.

Our final tip follows on from the one above. The plans can be modified to accommodate your personal fitness goals. Let’s say that you want to develop muscular strength without sacrificing aerobic conditioning. Though pursuing strength indeed leads us in the opposite direction to cardio, it is possible to strike a balance. One way is to restructure the plan by extending the duration of the resistance section. This adjustment will accommodate the additional time needed to recover between heavier strength sets. However, you can still leave 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the workout to top up your cardio. (Alternatively, you could conclude your session with a short Military Fitness Test or tackle the 12-Minute Cooper Run >)


Enjoyed these workouts?

Then get you hands on over 80 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Workouts Vol 3 >

Workouts for beginners blog concludes with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits.


About Adam Priest –

A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and fitness coach. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam at

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