5 Must-Learn Strength Moves For Beginners

Plus, five sweat dripping workouts to get you started.

By: Emily Freeman

Starting a new strength routine is exciting when you imagine all of the awesome benefits of your new workout regimen — we’re talking: 

  • Some poppin’ muscles
  • Unstoppable focus and energy
  • Deeper sleep
  • Strong bones
  • Better stamina 
  • More fat-burning potential  

You are going to feel amazing, but only if you set yourself up for success. It may be tempting to get ahead of yourself and try all the fun, but intense and complicated, exercises you see other seasoned fitness experts doing. However, starting with basic foundational exercises is not only safer, but it’s just as effective to build muscle, burn fat, and feel the life-changing benefits of strength training. 

Focus on mastering these five strength training moves for beginners to build your skills, strength, and start seeing and feeling the results you crave. 

Why These Five Exercises?

#1 They require minimal equipment, so you can focus on activating your muscles without the distraction of confusing contraptions. 

#2 They will help you learn to activate all of your major muscle groups while also recruiting smaller stabilizing muscles that will help your coordination and balance (hello core muscles!). 

#3 They are also the base to most of the more elaborate exercises, which will make it easier and safer for you to start progressing to more intermediate and advanced moves. 

Here are our top five favorite strength moves for beginners. 

Get Started With These Five Strength Moves For Beginners 

#1 Bodyweight Squats

Bodyweight squats activate a number of major muscle groups, including your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Mastering bodyweight squats will help you build the lower body strength to eventually do jump squats, burpees, back squats with a barbell, and deadlifts. 

Your end goal is to get your booty below your knees, but start just going as low as you can without breaking form or feeling muscular strain. Remember to keep your knees tracking over your toes, spine straight, and shoulders away from your ears. 

Start learning how to do this super effective basic exercise with trainer Kenta Seki in the 25-minute Total Body Training workout. Kenta has you using dumbbells in these exercises, but you may want to approach your first go at this workout without any additional weight to really master your form. 

#2 Push-ups

Push-ups help lay the foundation for all other upper body pressing exercises (think bench press, standing cable press, spider push-ups, mountain climbers, etc.) Push-ups strengthen your chest, shoulders, core, and hips and also get your heart rate elevated, making them an extremely effective exercise for building muscle and burning fat. 

Can’t do a regular push up yet? Not to worry! Push-ups are easy to modify by placing your knees on the ground. 

Find your upper body foundation in trainer Bree Koegel’s 22-minute Upper Body Lift. She will take you through a number of strength-focused exercises, including push-ups. Don’t forget, if any of her variations feel too challenging, simply stick with the basics and build up to the full exercise slowly and surely. 

#3 Static or Reverse Lunges

Static lunges are another one of our top strength moves for beginners, and this superstar exercise is great for strengthening your lower body and improving your agility and balance. 

Different variations of lunges can be hard on your knees if you don’t have the proper lower body strength. However, static or reverse lunges place less pressure on your knee joints and can help you build up to more complex exercises like walking and jumping lunges. 

Start with Caroline Pearce’s 11-minute Full Body Bootcamp where she takes you through a total body workout that includes reverse lunges. You can also decide to swap these for static lunges. And if adding dumbbells or the bicep curls to the lunges takes your focus off your form, leave them out for now. 

You’ll build the strength and coordination to add them in soon enough! 

#4 Bent Over Rows 

Strengthening the back of your body is important for your posture and alignment. Bent over rows take out the guesswork of activating nearly your entire back. By pulling your shoulder blades together and down in the rowing motion, you’ll feel your shoulders, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius muscles turn on. 

Hello, tank top season!

Learn this foundational exercise amongst a few others in the 20-minute Beautiful Back, Arms & Abs workout with trainer Jeanette Jenkins. If the pace ever feels too quick, don’t hesitate to take it slow. It’s much more important to find correct form and muscle activation than to do all the reps. 

#5 Forearm Plank

Just because the plank is a foundational exercise, doesn’t mean it’s not challenging. The plank is one of the most effective and safest core exercises because it targets your entire midsection, including your abs, obliques, back, hips, and glutes while keeping your spine straight. 

It also helps you start to activate your deepest ab muscles — the transverse abdominis. Just like your push-ups, you can also modify your plank by placing your knees on the ground. Just make sure your hips stay in line with your back. No dipping or lifting them! 

Start building a strong core, defining your abs, and practice your forearm plank with this super fun 12-minute Whittle The Middle workout with Breann Mitchell. 

If you start to feel pain in your neck, shoulders, or lower back, this means they’re overcompensating. If this happens, slow things down to help activate your core. 

Building Your Foundation is Key!

Getting the hang of these five foundational strength training exercises for beginners will put you way ahead of the game in your fitness journey. Slow and steady wins the race. Building upon these exercises will reduce your chance of injury and keep you on track to reaching your goals in no time. 

You got this!