Gym Workouts For Beginners
The first step in making your workouts worth the effort is getting to the gym, putting in that workout video, or lacing up your running shoes.
You can’t stop there however if you truly want to get the absolute most out of the time you’re spending on your workout.
You can spend an hour walking around your neighborhood or reading a magazine on the stationary bike but doesn’t burn twice the calories in half the time sound a bit more appealing?
The #1 excuse for individuals who don’t exercise is that they “don’t have the time” and for those who spout this excuse over and over, the following list is for you.
You don’t have to work out for an hour every day in order to see results in the mirror or on the scale.
You simply have to exercise smart so you can make the chunk of time you carve out of your day worth every second.
Also Read: Cut Fat Without Losing Muscle
Interval workouts or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) are great because they allow your heart rate to repeatedly rise and settle which ultimately burns more calories than maintaining an elevated heart rate over a continuous period of time.
Bret Emery, a behavioral psychologist and weight loss specialist in Weston, Fl. Says that “heart rate is key”.
That’s the speedometer of the body. If we speed the body up, it will burn more calories, just as a car will burn more fuel if it speeds up.”
In this regard, interval training revolves around hard work and recovery to get that heart pumping harder than ever and your body burning more calories than ever.
Interval workouts can be done at home, at the gym, or in the pool and can be as simple as sprinting or swimming hard for a minute and then resting for a minute (and repeating the cycle over and over).
A standard interval workout is performed as follows (no matter the type of exercise being done):
3 – 5 minutes warm-up (light jog, low intensity, gradually increasing at the end of the warm-up period).
1 minute moderate or high intensity followed by 1-minute low intensity (repeat 6 – 8 times).
3 – 5 minutes cool-down (light jog, low intensity, gradually decreasing by the end of the cool-down period).
One of our favorite interval workouts involves a treadmill and is performed as follows:
On the treadmill, with the incline set at a challenging angle (5-10), power walk at a speed of 3-3.5 for 7 minutes, then stop, get off the treadmill, and stretch for 2 minutes.
Drop the incline on the treadmill to 0, increase the treadmill speed (between 6-9mph), and sprint hard for 30 seconds.
Aim to achieve 90% of your maximum heart rate here. To recover, bring your speed down to 3.0 and walk for one minute. Repeat.
Get off the treadmill and squat, with your butt out to the rear and your legs shoulder-width apart.
Now jump from the squatting position into the air, then upon landing absorb the shock by lowering down into the same squat position as before.
Complete one set of 15 or 20 and if you’re already in good shape, hold light dumbbells by your sides.
After doing squat jumps do 15 or 20 overhead presses with the weights, pushing them straight up and directly over your shoulders and bringing the weights back down the shoulder level in between.
Get back on the treadmill and sprint for 30 seconds (no incline).
The goal is to be at 80% of your maximum heart rate.
To recover, decrease your speed to 3.0 and walk for one minute. Repeat.
I recommend repeating this circuit at least twice more which should take you between 20-30 minutes.
Also, you can vary the exercises once you have the interval structure in place.
Body Weight Exercises
Body weight exercises are great because you can do them virtually anywhere that’s convenient.
Whether it’s in a gym studio or on your office floor during your lunch break.
These exercises consist of movements such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and jumps that use your own bodyweight to add intensity to the movement.
And better yet, most of these exercises involve more than one muscle group so you can cut your exercise time in half by targeting multiple muscle groups in the same move.
An important thing to remember while performing bodyweight exercises is that form is key.
If you’re doing a push-up with bent knees and your butt in the air, the movement is not going to be nearly as effective or efficient as if you were doing it in proper form.
A bodyweight routine we love consists of:
- 10 pushups (if these are two hard, do modified push-ups)
- 10 Jump squats (squat with your legs shoulder width apart and jump then return to the squat position)
- 20 Bicycle crunches
- 10 Burpees
- 10 Hindu pushups (these involve beginning in downward dog then snaking your head through your shoulders into cobra)
- 20 Russian Twists (these involve crunch position but modified as you lift your feet and back up from the floor so your balancing on your bottom and then twisting from side to side to touch the ground next to you)
- 30 Dips (you can do these on a stair or between two kitchen chairs)
Perform the circuit 3 times total (you can replace any of the moves we’ve suggested with others you like or feel more comfortable doing).
The CrossFit method of high intensity training didn’t expand overnight for no reason.
Workouts like the CrossFit method are so successful when it comes to maximizing your workout time.
Because they get down and to the point in as little time as possible.
Circuit training is one of the best ways to perform a total body workout and although they won’t turn you into a marathoner or a bodybuilder overnight, they will help you tone, define, and slim your body.
The idea behind circuit training is that you don’t break between exercises.
This means moving directly from the bench press to the chair sit with no break in between.
This way, your body is constantly being shocked with a new exercise and has no time to get used to the movement and figure out a way to scrimp on calories.
Circuits can be performed with free weights, in supersets, plyometrics, or a new and effective way, using a system called “Tabata.”
Tabata consists of circuits only lasting 4 minutes but doesn’t mistake the short time for an easy ride.
Developed by a Japanese doctor (Izumi Tabata), Tabata has the ability to improve muscular endurance while lighting up the cardio and toning your body like never before.
The typical Tabata protocol calls for:
- 5 minutes of warm-up
- 8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest
- 2 minutes cool-down
But you can perform as many 20 second segments as you’d like.
It’s important when choosing Tabata exercises that you focus on large muscle groups.
Some of these 20-second moves consist of:
- The front squat (with a weighted bar or dumbells)
- The thruster (squat while holding dumbells then on your way up, thrust the weights overhead)
- Mountain Climbers
- High Knees
Each move is to be performed for 20-second intervals (then rest for 10 seconds) then repeat 7 times.
The Tabata workout is extremely good for your body (especially if you’re short on time) and shouldn’t be performed daily.
Mostly because your body will be too sore to let you.
You can perform Tabata on your own with a timer or there’s even a Tabata SmartPhone app you can download!
Now It’s Your Turn
If you’re strapped for time but still want the benefits of a long, daily workout.
High-intensity training is going to be your best bet.
You can pick your favorite out of the three types we mentioned above or do as we suggest and alternate between workout methods.
To help maintain consistency choose a time you’re going to work out daily or even a few times per week.
This way, your schedule will lend a hand in driving to the gym, popping in that DVD, or lacing up your running shoes.