It may sound trite, but I cannot stress enough how impactful following a fitness regimen has been for me. Working out on a consistent basis is like waking up one day and noticing that you have grown older and gray, only with working out it is in the complete opposite way: love handles have melted, abs are visible and my arms almost belong in a superhero movie!
Getting in shape is not as big a Herculean task as it is made out to be, as long as you are willing to start and are not set back by the trappings of your daily routine and by the negativity of others. A little bit of discipline and the right knowledge took me a long way and I’d like to share that knowledge with you.
How Should A Beginner Start Working Out For The First Time At Home?
As with everything you do for the first time, it’s important to start off with a level of intensity that your body can adapt to. Until recently, I was in your position, so I understand the predicament. Since you are just beginning your journey on the path to physical fitness, you may not have any equipment such as dumbbells or a bench. No worries! I’ll tell you how you can get started right at home with a 28-day workout that will begin to transform your physique and your life.
Why Get Fit?
There are two very obvious reasons why people want to get fit. These reasons are health and appearance. However, when undergoing a journey of self-improvement, it’s important to understand the full scope of what you will find along the way.
The more I looked into the benefits of working out and building muscle, the less likely it became for me to abandon the effort. Every little detail I learned about the gains my future self could potentially make propelled me forward with even greater resolve. Allow me to take the next few sentences to tell you about the benefits of working out at home and building muscle.
You Snooze, You… Win
I work a very stressful job and getting the proper amount of rest is important to me. Since starting on my fitness journey, I have been getting quality sleep as opposed to the dysfunctional naps I used to call bedtime. I go the entire night without waking up and I get up in the morning ready to start my day strong.
If you’re the type of person to forego a good night’s sleep in the interest of putting in a few extra hours of work per week, you may want to check out the benefits of sleep as outlined on WebMD. Adequate sleep has been shown by science to promote longevity and better mental health.
Completely Crush It With an Improved Sense of Self
By the end of the first four weeks, I had begun to feel a marked improvement in my self-esteem. The changes in my physique were visible in the mirror and my sense of self-worth was on the rise. My mind started to wander to all kinds of possibilities; the other things I might be able to achieve in my life that I previously didn’t dare ponder.
Reduced Blood Pressure for the Win
For those that have issues with high blood pressure, making a workout regimen a part of your routine will result in reduced readings. Take note of your blood pressure before your first day of exercising. When you take your blood pressure again after four weeks of working out, you may be surprised to see healthier readings.
I had always heard that exercising was good for circulation, but I’ll let this article from Harvard explain the many ways working out benefits your cardiovascular system and prevents heart attacks.
Alleviate Pesky Back and Neck Pain
The cubicle life isn’t exactly action-packed. My job involves sitting in front of a desk and my posture has always caused issues for my neck and lower back. For those with back problems, strengthening your core will help keep it stable. My neck and back issues have almost completely disappeared since I incorporated a home workout into my life.
Boost Your Metabolic Rate
If you carry extra weight that you want to lose, this benefit is especially appealing. Working out will increase your metabolic rate, which means that you will be burning more fat throughout the day, even when you are resting. This article on Medical News Today shows the role exercise plays in regulating your body’s metabolic hormones.
Increased Insulin Sensitivity
In general, having higher insulin sensitivity is a sign of good health. Being active and reducing your body fat percentage is key in achieving this as evidenced by an extensive study by Clamp, Hume, Lambert, and Kroff.
Develop Laser-Sharp Focus
What is the most common reason people give for not working out? It’s probably the reason that has kept you from getting fit and it certainly was for me: lack of time. A benefit that I’ve noticed since diving into my workout regimen is that my focus has improved. I am able to accomplish more at work and in my other activities. This has made my time more productive and therefore the few hours per week that I spend on my fitness pay me dividends on my time invested, so to speak.
What is Your Current Situation?
Everyone’s starting point is different and a workout that is ideal for one person may not be appropriate for another. Be honest with yourself and set realistic goals so as to get maximum results. Having said that, the 28-day plan I will be setting out for you will be flexible enough for you to tailor to your needs and abilities.
Someone that is forty pounds overweight will have a different path than a skinny individual just looking to gain some muscle mass. The journey, however, is equally rewarding for both people and the possibilities for improvement are limitless.
As when undertaking any form of training, be sure to visit your family doctor before embarking on any type of fitness program and let them know what you plan to do. They may have a word of advice to help you get the best out of your training regime and help you work around any potential injuries or health issues you may have.
How Often Should You Exercise as a Beginner?
There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer to this question and finding a workout frequency is a matter of deduction. The British NHS recommends that people exercise anywhere from 60 minutes per day for individuals that are 18 while recommending 150 minutes of moderate activity per week for senior citizens.
I find that working out every day is far too often for beginners as it doesn’t allow your body the appropriate recovery time. On the other hand, working out once a week is too infrequent. For the full-body workout I am recommending, three times a week is the ideal frequency.
A Monday-Wednesday-Friday split is fine and will allow you to kick back and relax over the weekend. You can choose to have your workouts on other days as long as you permit for a rest day in between each day of activity.
How Long Should Your Workouts Be as a Beginner?
According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running just five minutes per day is enough to prolong your life by several years and keep your cardiovascular system working seamlessly. However, since our goal is to build muscle, a longer workout will be required. A general consensus among trainers and exercise physiologists seems to put the ideal workout duration for beginners at about the 40-minute mark.
When I started, my workouts lasted anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes and I have since progressed to exercising for a little over an hour each session. Keep in mind that it’s fine if you can only put in 15 to 20 minutes on some days if you are pressed for time. Try and adhere to a 30 to 40-minute workout most of the time, however, if you are hoping to get optimal results.
The Best and Easiest Exercises for Beginners to Do At Home to Build Muscle
Since you are a beginner, it isn’t mandatory to go out and purchase an array of expensive equipment. I will mainly be focusing on bodyweight exercises that can be done with little or no additional props or pieces of equipment. This means that you will be using nothing but the weight of your body to place the necessary stress on your muscles to cause them to grow. These will be the easiest to perform and will offer the best results for these first 28 days.
At this point, I want to make something clear: when I say that the exercises will be easy, I mean that they will not be extremely demanding from the standpoint of technique. No exercise regimen will work unless you do. We’ll be looking to increase the intensity gradually to foster the results that you desire.
What’s So Great About a Full-Body Workout?
Doing a full-body workout three times a week will allow you to burn the most fat while allowing your muscles ample time to recover by your next session. Additionally, a full-body workout causes the greatest release of feelgood hormones and endorphins into your bloodstream. Brain chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin contribute to skyrocketing your mental health and mood.
Can I Really Get Fit With Bodyweight Exercises?
Absolutely! There are plenty of people that are in phenomenal shape through the use of calisthenics, a type of workout that uses minimal equipment if any. I am a firm believer and practitioner of bodyweight workouts and only recently have I augmented by fitness regimen with a gym membership, something that you can graduate to after crushing the 28-day full-body workout I offer you below!
28 Days To a Fitter You
Now that we’ve examined the benefits you can look forward to and have set the general workout parameters, it’s time to become familiar with the exercises and begin the 28-day journey to a fitter you.
Here is a description of the exercises you will be performing in your full-body home workout. Each exercise targets a different group of muscles and most of the exercises listed, with one exception, use your body weight as a means of providing resistance.
Push-ups are one of the most recognizable exercises in the history of fitness. Lay on your stomach with your legs straight back and use your arms to push off the floor while keeping your body straight. Keep your elbows close to your body and your arms shoulder-width apart in order to target your chest. If you find doing conventional push-ups is too much in the first days of following the program, do knee push-ups.
Knee push-ups are when instead of pushing your entire body up and using your toes as a point of contact with the floor, you instead bend at the knees and push your upper body up instead. This reduces the weight you have to lift.
As you progress, you may want to try diamond push-ups. This variation requires you to place both your hands on the floor close together so that your thumbs and index fingers create the shape of a diamond. This variation is noticeably more difficult than conventional push-ups and tends to put a great deal of focus your triceps rather than your chest. If you want to work your triceps but cannot yet do full-on diamond push-ups, consider knee tricep push-ups where you are pushing off your bent knees.
Bust Your Butt With Bodyweight Squats
Stand straight with your arms extended in front of you with a shoulder width’s distance between them. With your feet also shoulder-width apart, take a deep breath and bend your knees so that you begin to dip towards the floor in a controlled manner. Break at the hip and push your glutes back until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you lower yourself, focus on tracking your knees in line with your feet. Push off the floor to complete the repetition by reaching the initial standing position.
Shape Your Legs and Glutes With Bodyweight Lunges
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, tense up your core, and take a big step forward. Keep your glutes tight as you bend the front knee to lower your body so that the back knee lightly touches the floor while keeping your upper body upright with your hands on your hips or behind your head. Finish the repetition by driving your front heel into the floor to return to the starting position of the exercise.
If a video tutorial would better for helping you understand how to properly do the exercise, check out this bodyweight lunge tutorial.
Killer Core With Planks
Get in the conventional push-up position but with your elbows bent at a 90 degrees angle and both forearms resting on the floor. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and face the floor. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels. This is a static exercise, so hold the position for as long as you are directed or until your abdominal muscles politely ask you to stop.
Turn Up the Fat-Burning Fire With Jumping Jacks
Stand up tall with your legs together and your arms at your sides. Slightly bend your knees while jumping into the air.
As you jump, spread your legs to a distance of about shoulder-width apart. Simultaneously, stretch your arms out while bringing them over your head until your palms clap.
Jump back into the starting position where you swiftly pull your hands by your side again.
Build Bulging Biceps With Chair Curls
Curls are a great exercise for your biceps. Grab a chair or other object with a handle or a bar that you can grasp. Hold the object by your side and bend your elbow to lift the object toward the ceiling. Keep your elbow stuck to the side of your body and do not move your upper arm so as to get place the strain on your bicep muscle.
Prime Your Body With a Warm-Up
You should always perform a warm-up before getting into your workout so as to get the blood flowing and prevent injuries. Going for a quick jog is always a good way to prepare for a workout. If you don’t have the time or are pressed for space, you can always run in place for a couple of minutes.
Perform a few arm circles where you swing your arms in wide circles by your side. Walking knee-hugs also great for getting your joints ready for the workout you will be performing. Step forward and bring your knee upward toward your body while slightly pulling it in toward your chest with your arms. Allow your bent knee to step forward and repeat with your other leg. Think of it as walking while taking turns hugging each of your knees with every step.
Advanced warm-up exercises include shadow-boxing and jumping rope.
The Workout Program
- 10 Push-ups
- 20 Bodyweight squats
- 10 Bodyweight lunges (per leg)
- Plank (Hold for 15 seconds)
- 10 Bicep curls
- 25 Jumping jacks
Do one set of each exercise as listed above, one after the other, until you have completed one round or circuit. Rest for a minute and go through it again. Rest for another minute and do one final circuit. Don’t worry if you find yourself not being able to do the listed amount of repetitions. The first few days of doing the workout will serve the purpose of familiarizing yourself with the routine.
Modify the Routine to Your Needs
If you can’t do a single push-up, try knee push-ups instead. If knee-push-ups are a challenge in those first days, stand facing a wall or sturdy fence and place your arms against it. Do standing push-ups where you allow your body to push off the wall. You do not have to be able to do every single exercise as listed.
Modify the workout so that you can perform three circuits. As the first days pass and you find yourself making slight progress from day to day, you can increase the difficulty of the exercises and their intensity.
Another hack you can employ is for squats. If you cannot properly squat down to make your hamstrings parallel to the ground, use a chair. Perform the squats by sitting onto a chair, crate or other objects that allows you to reach the proper squat position. Eventually, you will build the strength in your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes and be able to squat down and push off without support.
Torch Fat and Squash Your Appetite With a Clean Diet
Even the best and most intense workout plan cannot overcome bad eating habits. An elite athlete cannot eat at their favorite fast-food restaurant three times a day and expect to look or perform like a champion. While you may not be trying out for the Olympics, nutrition is the most important part of your body transformation and you will have to be wary of the things you choose to fork into your mouth.
In order to burn fat and build muscle, you need to eat enough protein while keeping your total caloric intake adequate for your fitness goals. In other words, if you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you put into your body. If you are skinny and want to build your physique up, you need to fuel your body with more calories than what you burn.
When I started, I didn’t go overboard with counting every single calorie that I ate and neither should you. Just be mindful of the food you are consuming and gradually change your diet to meet your goals. Going on crash diets or abruptly cutting out everything you deem as delicious will only have the opposite effect: you will end up going back to your unhealthy eating ways.
Three Simple Nutrition Tips for a Fulfilling Physique
- Eat natural, whole foods as often as you can.
- Say goodbye to soda, candy, and other junk food.
- Swap grains for vegetables whenever possible.
Protein Intake and Calories
The most common recommendation I came across with regards to protein consumption is the same that can be found in this U.S.News article. In order to build muscle, you should roughly try to maintain a protein consumption that amounts to 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
So, if you weigh 80 kilograms, a daily protein intake of 64 grams should be enough to help your body build muscle. If you want to also figure out the number of calories you should be consuming so as to lose weight while you build muscle, enter your stats in the calorie calculator provided by Healthline.
Transform Your Life
What I have proposed isn’t the Mr. Olympia workout, but understand this: everyone starts their fitness journey somewhere. You don’t have to do every item on the list at first. You don’t even have to do the number of repetitions I am proposing. Pick whatever stands out and start knocking them off the list. Start small. Start with one.
If you don’t have the time, make the time! If you stuck through this article, it is apparent to me that you have the mental fortitude to take that first step. Take it. Your life will change, one workout at a time.