The Fitness Beginner’s Top Questions Answered

Get empowered to start your fitness journey.

By: Emily Freeman

Starting a workout program is exciting because of the anticipation of changing your body, mind, and life. By sticking to your workout goals, you know you’ll feel better and build confidence. But trying to navigate beginner workouts can be tricky. You can start to second guess yourself and wonder, “is this really going to work?” 

Well, with our help, it most definitely will! With a little guidance, you can create a beginner workout routine that delivers results.  Good news — we’re here to answer all your burning beginner workout questions. Feel confident starting your routine knowing all your hard work will pay off. 

What Makes a Good Beginner Workout?

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re getting back into the swing of things, less really is more. A good beginner workout doesn’t have to be fancy or hours long.

Resistance Training

When it comes to resistance training, focus on simple, basic exercises that target all of your major muscle groups. Start with one or two exercises for each body part (i.e. lunges and squats for your lower body, chest press for your chest, dumbbell rows for your back, and Swiss ball sit ups for your core).  

Cardiovascular Training

The most effective beginner cardio workouts are the ones you actually enjoy doing. Trying to force yourself to be a runner and dreading each run won’t set you up for success. If cardio really isn’t your thing, try a HIIT workout for beginners. HIIT takes half the amount of time for similar results as steady-state cardio. And, if you really want to cut back on workout time, HIIT workouts that include strength training exercises can count towards your cardio and strength training sessions!

The opposite holds true, too. Sweaty, heart-pounding workouts just not your thing? Put in a podcast and get walking! Walking is a great cardiovascular exercise that can be highly effective. Bad weather or only have a short amount of time? Try FitOn’s Walking Fitness class where you can walk a whole mile in place from the comfort of your own home! 

At-Home Workout Options

No gym? No problem. Whether you feel intimidated working out in public, or you just don’t have access to a gym, here’s some good news for you. With FitOn, there are plenty of at-home workouts for beginners that will help you build muscle, get toned, feel energized, improve your health, and make you feel like a total rockstar. 

You can use your body weight, but if you want to take it up a notch, you could invest in some versatile equipment that doesn’t take up too much space like: 

Dumbbells: The piece of exercise equipment most people associate with strength training. For beginner dumbbell workouts, it’s best to invest in one lighter pair and one heavier pair to start. Dumbbells can be used for basic strength training exercises like chest press, single-arm rows, squats, lunges, and Russian twists. 

Kettlebells: Kettlebells are cast iron weights that range from five to over 100 pounds. You may have seen people swinging them around in videos or at the gym. These small but mighty exercises can burn more calories than other strength training equipment because the exercises use momentum, declaration, and stabilization to build endurance and power while toning your entire body. 

Resistance bands: Resistance band workouts for beginners are one of our personal favorites for exercising on the go (and anywhere, really). They can provide a variety of resistance levels for almost any strength exercise, plus they’re compact and fit easily in your bag. The long bands with handles on both sides are great for rows, chest press, squat to press, and flies. Loop bands are great too — they go around your ankles, calves, or thighs for added resistance to lower body exercises. 

How Long Should a Beginner Workout Last?

A beginner workout doesn’t have to take hours of your time to get you the results you’re excited about. In fact, exercising for too long too soon can leave you too sore to show up for your next workout. Consistency is key when getting in the habit of exercising, so it’s important to feel your best to stay on top of your routine. 

A good rule of thumb to consider: the more intense your workout, the shorter it needs to be. 

If you’re starting with HIIT workouts for beginners, keep them to under 30-minutes. You’d be surprised how much you can get out of 15-minutes of more intense exercise. 

Warm-Up & Cool Down

Every workout should begin with a dynamic warm-up with light resistance exercises or cardio to get your blood moving and your body prepared for the workout. It’s an important step of your workout routine that reduces your chance of injury. Similarly, avoid abrupt endings. Take a few minutes to cool down with some light aerobics that brings your heart rate back down and flexibility training, like stretching, after you complete your workout. 

Browse the stretch category in the FitOn app for warm-up and cool-down classes to complement your workout routine. 

Rest Days

Getting enough rest is an important part of allowing your body the time to recover, rebuild muscle, and burn fat. Yes, you burn fat and build muscle during rest! This is why sleep is also an important part of your beginner workout routine. 

Aim to take at least one to two rest days per week, or more if your body is telling you to rest! You can add active rest on these days. This can look like a leisurely walk or hike, easy yoga class, foam rolling, and/or stretching. 

RELATED: What is Mobility Training & Why Is It Important 

Workout Routines for Beginners: The Most Common Mistakes

#1 Avoiding Strength Training For Fear of Getting Bulky 

If you’re a fitness newbie who thinks cardio is the fastest way to fat loss, this message is for you! 

Strength training is not just for bodybuilders, nor will it give you a body like one (if only it were that easy!). These athletes dedicate their lives to shaping their bodies that way, so don’t worry, big, impressive muscles don’t happen by accident. 

Rather than building bulk, two to three days of strength training is going to help you build lean muscle and give you that toned look you’ve been craving. Plus, it will help redistribute body composition, meaning your waist gets smaller as your booty gets rounder. And, it increases your resting metabolism! Yes, you heard that correctly. It takes more energy for your body to maintain muscle than fat, so you end up burning more calories while doing absolutely nothing (all thanks to strength training!) Convinced yet? 

RELATED: No, Strength Training Won’t Make You Bulky 

#2 Spending Hours on Cardio Machines to Lose Weight

If you’re trying to drop a few pounds, it may seem tempting to hop on the elliptical or treadmill for hours. But, despite what you’ve heard, there is no fast track to getting fit. And if there was one, this definitely wouldn’t be it.

Cardio is important, but it’s not the end all be all. Long, steady-state cardio sessions are also not going to sculpt the muscles you want, burn fat efficiently, or be sustainable. You may lose weight at first, but your body adapts quickly to this type of exercise, causing a disheartening plateau. Many people think the best way to overcome this halt in progress is to tack on more time. Next thing you know, you’re doing 90 minutes of cardio per day, feeling totally burnt out, and ready to quit. All the while, still not seeing results. Let’s not, okay? 

RELATED: What is Overtraining Syndrome + Why It May Stall Results

#3 Not Tending to Sore Muscles Correctly 

Sore muscles are not a cue to stop exercising. In fact, post-workout soreness is just a sign of the recovery process and your body’s way of adapting to your new workout routine. The best way to speed muscle recovery is to get enough nutrients and protein in your diet, sleep, drink plenty of water, and move more. Shocking right? 

When your muscles are sore, they need more blood flow, which exercise produces. There is a big difference between feeling sore from a new workout routine vs. chronic soreness that lasts weeks. 

With that said, if you notice that you’re feeling sore for weeks on end, and it’s combined with fatigue and grogginess, you may want to take your workouts down a notch and consult your physician. This could be a sign of overtraining. 

RELATED: The Best Foods to Feed Your Muscles After Strength Training 

#4 Thinking It Should All Click Easily at the Beginning    

Change takes time. It will take time for your body, health, and mind to transform — this includes starting a new habit. If it feels challenging to stay motivated, remember: it’s all a part of the process. Eventually, your new routine will become a habit, and not exercising will feel more uncomfortable than fitting in your workout. Stick with it. It gets easier! 

Workouts for Beginners 

If you have the FitOn app, you’re probably wondering which of the hundreds of videos are the right beginner workouts for you. Most FitOn workouts can be modified for any level (our trainers are great at showing modifications), and you can always pause and take a break if you need to. Need more support? We also have a whole category of beginner workouts to choose from. 

Whether you want an expert trainer to lead you through a proper warm-up or push you through a killer beginner ab workout, you’ll find it here. These workouts focus on simple and effective exercises to help you get down the basics while still getting in a booty-kicking workout. There’s an assortment of different styles to choose from — yoga, strength training, core, stretching, Pilates — and our expert trainers are here to guide you through each workout as you start to get comfortable with the movements. 

Here are some of our favorite workouts for beginners on FitOn:

Level Zero

The perfect 17-minute beginner Yoga video to help you gain flexibility, balance, and strength if you’re brand new to your practice. You’ll learn basic poses that open up your joints, release tension, and start strengthening the muscles you’ll need for more advanced routines. 

Newbie HIIT

Learn the basics of one of the most effective workouts. This 11-minute beginner HIIT workout safely eases you into this intense style of HIIT exercise. You’ll start burning some major calories and tone up without doing too much too soon and potentially getting injured. 

Stretch & Feel Good

Stretching is an important part of your beginner workout plan. This 21-minute routine is the perfect cool-down option after your workouts to help minimize soreness, keep your muscles and joints loose, prevent injury, and have you feeling ready for your next sweat session!

Be Patient and Know Results Are Coming!

Too many people start beginner workout routines and stop because they don’t notice results as quickly as they’d like. What many fail to realize is patience is key! In fact, it can help you achieve the body, health, and results you want! The results tend to start to come right after you want to quit. So don’t. You’re so close! Know that if you’re following these guidelines, staying consistent, getting enough sleep and water, and paying attention to your nutrition, it is working — it’s just a matter of time before it all clicks!