Workout of the Week: Beginner's Workout

Valeria Bowman, right, 56th Force Support Squadron Silver Wings Pool manager and water aerobics instructor, leads a water aerobics class July 31 in the Silver Wings Pool on Luke Air Force Base. The water aerobics classes consist of cardio, toning and exercises that target the arms, legs and abdominal muscles. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Tanya Wren)

When people seek to begin a journey of fitness and general health, especially after a long period of time either sedentary or recovering from injury, what to do your first few weeks of training can be a difficult decision. Too often, you may start off not doing enough activity to see improvements or you may even do too much and be too sore to move the following day.

The American Heart Association recommends beginners walk for 30 minutes five days a week. In fact, if you want a workout program that is truly for beginners, start off with a month of walking every day for 20-30 minutes, stretch, and drink more water throughout the day.  And if you cannot walk, try using a stationary bike, elliptical, or recumbent bike.

Tips You Need to Have to Ensure Success

Here are some more in-depth tips to get started with your training program for beginners:

Mix Methods of Activity – Walking is the number one method of moving and burning calories for most people. If you are capable of walking, get a good pair of walking shoes and be consistent. Stretch during and after the walk as well to increase flexibility and mobility of your joints and muscles. Mix in other forms of activity like biking, rowing, paddleboarding, skating, elliptical gliding, and stair stepping to add some variety to your activity choices.

Know Your Why – You need to have a WHY you want to start moving more / eating healthier.  Even if it is to avoid the doctor and be healthier or look better naked, these WHYS are powerful and can help you get moving even when motivation is low.  It is recommended to create a WHY that is both performance based and health based.  These produce real objective numbers like, “able to do a pullup” or “run a mile” or “lower cholesterol and blood pressure.” Sometimes if the goals are purely aesthetic in nature, you may never be satisfied and get discouraged if the results you seek are lagging.

Set a Goal – Once you have established WHY you want to start a walking or beginner training program, now set a goal or accomplishment to make by a certain time of the year. It is recommended to “start something today that your next year self will be glad you did.” Realistic timelines are helpful.  Losing 30 lbs at the end of the month should be stretched into 3-4 months for instance.

Push Yourself – Push yourself not necessarily on a pace that is unmanageable but by building a habit that will take your initial motivation and turn it into discipline. Many military veterans find that a daily physical fitness routine takes them back to their days of serving when routine and discipline were part of the daily lexicon. Build healthy habits so you miss the days you cannot go outside and get some exercise.


As a writer of fitness programming, one unfortunate thing I have learned is that unfit people do not generally buy or read fitness books / articles. Also, offering generic fitness programs for beginners is challenging as the term “beginner” rather depends on what an individual is capable of doing as an initial workout program. Not everyone has gym access or can walk for that matter, so a program has to have many options for gym machines to have a calisthenics or dumbbell options.  Every walking program needs to have options for other activities, cardio machine options, and even when to consider starting a running program.  Here are some guidelines and some ideas to help you get started: Free 45 Day Plan – Not sure where to start? Try this. If it is too difficult, back it down and reduce repetition or distances of cardio events.  If too easy, increase the daily challenges with many other options in the supplement programming section for core, stretching, and more cardio.

Other options: 90 Day Beginner Program Tactical Fitness 40+ Foundation Rebuilding

Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  There are also over 800 articles Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books:  Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness

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