The top 10 Exercises for Beginners
Whether you’re starting your fitness journey this January or want to introduce more exercises into your routine, these 10 exercises are perfect for both beginners and seasoned exercisers. Here at ROS Nutrition, we know that regular exercise (accompanied by good nutrition) provides many health benefits, such as:
- Reducing the risk of physical disability in old age (1)
- Reducing the risk of chronic disease (2)
- Stimulating muscle growth
- Strengthening bones and joints (3)
- Slowing down the speed of aging (4)
- Increasing your immune system (5)
So if you're looking for some simple exercises to add to your workout, look no further!
Squatting not only increases the amount of mass muscle within the lower-body (such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves), but it also promotes muscle growth body-wide, not just the legs.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a slight bend at the knees. Keep your back straight.
- Slowly bend the knees until they are at a 90-degree angle. To maintain your balance you may have to lean forward a little.
- While contracting your thighs, slowly return back to the starting position.
Top Tip: The motion is like sitting in a chair.
Progression: To progress this exercise, you can start by adding resistance bands placed slightly above the knee. This will create more resistance during the exercise and place more stress on the glute muscles.
Planks are one of the best core exercises that you can do. Not only does it increase core strength, but it also helps correct your posture and lowers your risk of back pains.
- Start this static contraction exercise by lying flat on your stomach, supported by your forearms and elbow planted at your sides.
- With your hips and legs on the floor, begin by raising your hips so your body forms a straight line from ankles to head. Your points of contact to the floor will be your elbows to forearm support and your feet.
- Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower back down.
Top Tip: You can adjust the difficulty by extending the time you hold the contraction.
Progression: To progress this exercise, you can move onto a single plank. This progression will place more stress on the core muscles and stabilizers in the mid-section of the body.
Help stabilize your core muscles and improve your balance by practicing lunges to do just that. By performing lunges, you can help muscle development and increase strength in your legs.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and toes facing in front of you. Step one leg forward. Lower your body by bending the rear leg until it reaches a 90 degree angle.
- Push off the heel of your front leg to return to the starting position.
Top Tip: By stepping farther forward in this exercise you can increase the difficulty.
Progression: To progress this exercise, you can introduce the use of dumbbells to this exercise to increase the difficulty.
Push-ups are a simple way to increase strength in the upper body, not only that, but it also engages the core and lower body. Making it the perfect exercise to focus on building your upper body, but also help recruit muscles in your lower body.
- Place your arms about shoulder-width apart, while keeping your back straight. Ensure your back doesn't round or arch down.
- While focusing on your pectorals, slowly lower your body by bending your arms at the elbows. Lower until you are within an inch of the floor. Focus on the stretch.
- Hold for 1-2 seconds, then push back up to the starting position.
Top Tip: If you find it too difficult to complete the required reps, place your knees on the ground - this will make you use less bodyweight for the exercise.
Progression: To progress this exercise, you can introduce the use of weighted plates on your back to increase the difficulty.
The deadlift is one of the best compound exercises there is as it works the entire body. It requires a lot of muscle recruitment from the entire body, which improves overall muscle development.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and bar just over midfoot. While keeping your back flat, hinge your hips and a slight bend at the knees. Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with an underhand/overhand grip.
- Press through your heels and lift the bar, keeping your arms relaxed. Maintain a flat back. Keep the bar close to your body.
- Full stand up with the bar.
- Hold for 1-2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position in the opposite steps.
Top Tip: You must maintain a good posture. In the first half of the exercise, lift with your legs with your buttocks out. The second half uses your upper body to fully extend your torso.
Progression: To progress this exercise, you can introduce extra weight to the bar for increased difficulty.
6. Glute Bridge
Glutes bridges are a great way to build a well-rounded butt. Not only does this exercise help with training your glutes, but it also helps with hamstring and quadriceps development, too.
- Lie on your back with your feet flat and knees bent.
- Push your hips into the air using your buttocks muscles and keep your back straight and in alignment with your hips. Avoid arching your back.
- Squeeze glutes and lift hips towards the ceiling. Hold for 3 seconds then relax by dropping hips down 6 inches.
Top Tip: Avoid arching your back during this exercise.
Progression: To progress this exercise, you can move onto a single leg glute bridge. This progression will place more stress on the glute muscles and stabilizers in the lower body.
7. Superman Extensions
Superman extensions are a great little exercise to help strengthen your lower back muscles, but also help train your glutes for a well-rounded butt.
- In the starting position, lie flat on your stomach with your hands fully extended and arms extended reaching forward. Facedown, relaxed. Toes pointing out behind you.
- In the next phase, you will exhale as you raise your legs away from the floor as well as your arms. Keeping your core engaged while raising your arms up off the floor.
- Keeping your limbs stretched out and straight, hold for a few seconds. Next, gently lower your arms and legs back to the floor to the starting position. Repeat.
Top Tip: Be sure to keep your hips on the floor during the whole movement.
Progression: Try a Superman Pull-Up! Raise your upper body only off the ground and pull your arms towards you bending at the elbows. Stop when your elbows are essentially glued to your lats then return your arms to out in front of you.
8. Dumbbell Overhead Press
Dumbbell overhead press has major benefits for the overall development of the shoulder muscles. It helps muscle growth of all the delts within the shoulder.
- Be in a standing position during this exercise. Bring the weights to the starting position, in front of your shoulders with your elbows at your sides. Be sure that you are gripping the dumbbells correctly, with an overhand grip.
- Press the dumbbells straight up, stopping right before your elbows would lockout.
- Hold for 1-2 seconds, then slowly lowering back to the starting position in front of the shoulders and above the chest.
Top Tip: Keeping your elbows slightly forward will help with this movement.
Progression: To progress this exercise, slow down the movement when performing the exercise or try adding more weight/reps to your routine.
If you want to increase your pulling strength, then pull-ups are a must. Not only do they increase the overall development of the back muscles, but they also increase the muscles within your forearms, which can lead to an increase in your grip.
- Grasp a pull-up bar with a pronated grip (overhanded-grip).
- Pull yourself up as high as your chest or to your degree of strength.
- Hold for 1 second, then lower back down to the fully extended position.
Top Tip: Do not swing your body for momentum.
Progression: To progress this exercise, you can introduce the use of extra weight to increase the difficulty.
10. Calf Raises
Performing calf-raises can help build and define those calves, leading to an increase in stabilization and balance.
- Stand on a step or raised platform. Use a wall or something sturdy for support.
- Start slowly lowering your heels, do this until you feel a stretch in the calves.
- Start contract the calf muscles, by slowly raising your heels. Hold for 2 seconds, then repeat.
Top Tip: Point your toes inwards and outwards, to target inner and outer calves.
Progression: To progress this exercise, try performing a single leg calf raise or add weight to the exercise.
To sum up...
Whether you're a complete beginner, an irregular gymmer or an experienced athlete, these exercises can provide you with some inspiration for your training! As a beginner, these 10 exercises can help you create a great foundation for your training, and you should make some good muscle development in all areas of the body. Whatever your motivation to train, try to enjoy the process!
- Law, T. D., Clark, L. A., & Clark, B. C. (2016). Resistance Exercise to Prevent and Manage Sarcopenia and Dynapenia. Annual review of gerontology & geriatrics, 36(1), 205–228. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4849483/
- Booth, F. W., Roberts, C. K., & Laye, M. J. (2012). Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases. Comprehensive Physiology, 2(2), 1143–1211. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/
- Exercise for Your Bone Health | NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. (2018). Retrieved 4 January 2021, from https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health
- Melov, S., Tarnopolsky, M. A., Beckman, K., Felkey, K., & Hubbard, A. (2007). Resistance exercise reverses aging in human skeletal muscle. PloS one, 2(5), e465. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1866181/
- Encyclopedia, M., & immunity, E. (2020). Exercise and immunity: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved 4 January 2021, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm