Don't Make This Mistake as You Begin to Exercise Again

Recruits of Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, jump rope during the circuit course event at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego (Photo By: Angelica I. Annastas).

Many people might have been in shape, athletic and active in their youth, but over the years they may have quit training altogether.

Whether it is the end of playing competitive sports, getting out of the military or just a busy life in general, keeping in the habit of fitness can be a challenge for the best of us.

There are a variety of excuses that people use for not restarting their exercise regimen:

  • Too embarrassed to join a gym
  • Don't know where to start
  • Don't have time to work out
  • "I try I hurt myself every time"

You have to realize that fitness is relative, and workouts are scalable to all levels of fitness. You do not have to join a gym, and you can do a lot with very little.

In fact, here are 11 exercises you can do in your home that will produce results if done every OTHER day, combined with walking every day for 15-20 minutes (as a starter).

1. Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope: 1 minute

There are so many ways you can make the jumping jack easier or harder. See video link for more than 30 different options. Or you can also just walk around the house or up and down stairs to get your heart pumping, since this is more of a warm-up drill.

If you have a stationary bike or treadmill, you can replace jumping jacks or jump rope with walking or biking for 1-2 minute sets of the following circuit:

2. Push-ups or Knee Push-ups

Do what you can, but limit to 10 push-ups per set.

3. Rev Push-ups: 20

These are easy and great for posture and upper back and chest muscular balance.

4. Birds: 20

Same as the exercise above, but with a bigger range of motion.

5. Arm haulers: 10

This gets tough on the shoulders, and you will feel this "horizontal jumping jack" for sure.

6. Swimmers: 1 minute.

This is a classic lower back/butt exercise that simulates swimming freestyle flutterkicks.

7. Plank: 1 minute

This is a classic core strength exercise done in yoga. Start on your knees if you have to. But get good at this series of plank poses for a stronger core system (hips, back, shoulders).

8. Side plank (left) : 1 minute

Same as above but on the left side.

9. Side plank (right) : 1 minute

Same as above but on the right side

You may need some time to build up to 1 minute of each of the three planks. No problem: Now you have a goal to shoot for.

10. Squats: 10-20 reps.

If you cannot do a full squat, do half of one. Getting good at sitting down and standing up is a functional movement that we cannot get back if we lose it.

11. Lunges: 5-10 reps per leg.

This is a little more advanced than squats, but you can hold onto something at first and build up to full lunges over time.

The Home Starter Kit Workout

No equipment needed. Go through the above circuit of 10 exercises as many times as you can. If you can get through this circuit in under 10 minutes, do it again.

Building up to 2-3 rounds of this circuit without having to fail any of the reps or time count will take some time and practice, but is a great place to start without overdoing it in a short amount of time and in the privacy of your own home with safe and effective exercises.

However, talk to your personal medical professional before undertaking any additional activity.

Here Is the Good News of Beginner Training Sessions

If you have not trained in several years (or ever), the good news is that results for the under-trained are typically exponential at first. You will feel better in a matter of a few days. You will start to see changes in your appearance and performance in a few weeks to a month.

You will see changes in your life if you stay consistent with this training program and evolve to more difficult ones in less than a year. Seriously, a year from today, you will be a different person.

Don't Say, I Will Start One Day -- Make Today Day 1

It is easy to think you can go back to some of your old favorite workouts that you did in your 20s and do too much, too soon. It's best to start like a beginner and do easy workouts by just simply moving more.

Walking 20 minutes a day will yield big results to someone who has not walked much or exercised in a long time. The good news is that you can even spread that throughout the day and walk 5-10 minutes a few times. Many like to take 10-15 minutes after meals to walk. This keeps you from eating too much and will help energize you after eating, versus putting yourself in a food coma after lunch or dinner.

Figuring out how to fit fitness into your life can be a challenge, but most people have success with working out before the day normally starts. There are fewer disruptions in the morning that can cause you to cancel on yourself.

However, fitting in small bites of activity is a method that works for many people, whether it is a quick circuit for 10 minutes or a 10-minute walk or bike ride. Regardless, the goal is to get moving again for health reasons at first; as you continue, you will see weight lost and inches lost that will further contribute to your lifestyle changes.

Good luck and if you have any questions, please ask me at

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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