Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Working out is a great way to boost your energy, lose weight and get a more toned and firm body.

A beginner's workout should include exercises to help you feel like you're getting a workout done, while not requiring any of the  heavy equipment or long hours because, to be completely honest, that's what makes a lot of people drop out from their exercises.

First a disclaimer: I am not a health or exercise/fitness professional, I only share my personal experience from working out as a beginner. This should not be considered medical/professional advice; see your doctor and/or fitness expert before starting any exercise routine.

Always remember to warm up before exercising to prevent cramps, pulls or other related injury. A simple warmup is a light jog and/or a few jumping jacks. You should feel your breathing starting to get a little heavier and your body literally warming up, feeling which can be specially noticed around the joints (elbow, knee, wrists).

Also, a gentle stretch and loosening of the joints (moving without weight/resistance is a good way) will also make it easier for you to get the exercises done and not feel any discomfort.

The basics most people already know: pushups, bicep curls, pull ups, lunges and bicycle crunches will get you started in the right direction and can be done without any equipment whatsoever.

The pushup:

Very basic exercise. Lie face down on the floor and place your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart on the ground, feet should be close together and the weight should be on the ball of the foot (the area where the toes articulate with the rest of the foot), not on the tips of the toes.

To perform, push with your arms to get you away from the floor: this should be a controlled and slow movement, not jerking or fast as it could lead to injury. When your arms are completely extended go back down slowly towards the floor but don't go all the way down, once the weight is on your arms it should stay there for the rest of time, not on the floor. Repeat.

Always keep your body straight (that means no curving up or down the spine or moving the head in any way) and don't lock your elbows (that means don't extend your arms all the way, keep them slightly bent).

If the regular floor pushups seem to tough for you, one way to make them easier is to do them so that your hands will be higher up that your feet, for example using steps of stairs or a piece of furniture (make sure it is firmly position so that it won't move or you may end up hurting yourself).

The bicep curl:

For this one you do need some weight, not necessarily a dumbbell, but any weighty object you can grip with your hands and lift.

To perform, place the weight in your hand with your palm facing your front; moving only the arm and elbow slowly lift the weight until your hand is near your chest. Getting the weight down is as important (if not more) than lifting it, so slowly bring the weight down to the initial position (don't lock the elbow). Repeat.

Do not swing the weight and, again, keep your body straight; you should always feel the effort in your bicep area, anything else and you won't get the full benefit, as well as getting the possibility of injury.

Pull ups:

Easiest but also the most difficult to properly perform. For the pull up you will need an overhead bar that can stand your whole weight.

Grip the bar with a wide grip (put your arms to the sides at a 90 degree angle) and your palms facing you. Pull with your back; this sounds counter-intuitive, but this exercise is about the back not the arms. Think lifting your body as opposed to pulling the bar down. Lift until the bar reaches your chin, then slowly go back to the initial position. Repeat.

This one most people struggle with because their own weight is too much to lift, not because they're overweight, but because the muscles are not trained to produce that much force. To make it easier on yourself use a bar that allows you to keep your feet on the ground at all times, this literally takes some weight off your back and the exercise is easier to perform all the way.


This exercise is for the lower body: legs, calves and some abs.

Start in a standing position with feet close together. Take a long step, long enough so you can get down on one knee, just don't put your weight on the knee. Both legs should end at a 90 degree angle from the ground (back leg down, front leg up). Slowly go back to the initial position. Repeat with other leg.

As with most exercises, keep the joint slightly bent (in this case, the knees) at all times, keep your body straight and perform the exercise in a slowly and controlled manner.

Bicycle crunches:

Most people know about these but very few do them; they're scientifically proven to be the best ab exercise as it stimulates all the muscles and gets them working harder than any other ab exercise.

Lie flat on the floor with hands at the back of the head, legs straight and  slightly elevated from the floor. Without using your arms, lift your upper body towards the legs, moving your left leg towards your right elbow until they touch. Repeat with alternate right leg to left elbow.

Same as with all other exercises, weight always on the abs, don't pull your head with your hands and perform the whole of the exercise as a single slow continuous motion.

These are the most basic exercises that beginners can start a workout with. A simple all week routine is alternating one day upper body (pushup, bicep curls and pullups) with another day for lower body (lunges, bicycle crunches). You can mix in a jogging session with any of the exercises, just make sure to also alternate (don't always jog on lower/upper body days) and rest at least one day of the week (that means don't workout, not staying on the couch all day).

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