Start in 3 Steps

Below is a simple program designed to help beginners build a sustainable and realistic fitness foundation.

This introduction to exercise and nutrition is intentionally easy because the end goal is habit formation. Consistency and progression take priority over intensity here. Stick to these simple steps for at least one month before moving on to more complicated programs.

1

Track Your Food

Download MyFitnessPal and track everything you put in your body for at least two weeks – all food and drinks.

Don’t worry about changing your diet during this time. Instead, pay attention to your daily caloric totals and the macronutrient contents of your meals. Use this strategy to train your eyes to identify what’s on your plate and how much water you’re drinking per day. It will be much easier to implement and stick to good dietary habits after reflecting on your bad ones because you’ll understand why certain changes are being made.  

For more nutritional information, check out my Nutrition and Hydration guides. 

2

Do Easy Cardio

Find a 1-2 mile loop in your neighborhood and travel that loop 3-4 times per week by walking and/or jogging it.

Aim to slowly decrease your total time each week by jogging more and more of the total distance. The walk vs jog structure is irrelevant. Cap your time for each session at 40 minutes and keep your intensity level in the ‘moderate’ range. Consistency is the most important thing here, so leave enough in the tank to complete the rest of your week. I strongly recommend you do this outside but a treadmill is acceptable. 

For more information on cardio and fat loss, check out my Fat Loss Programming and Cool Down guides.

3

Add Resistance Training

Incorporate resistance training into your routine at a frequency of 1-2 times per week. Keep your cardio days and resistance days separate. You can add this component immediately or wait. If steps 1 and 2 are a bit overwhelming initially, add resistance training when you’re ready but don’t leave it out.

Below is a simple yet effective full body workout to get you started. The only piece of equipment you’ll need is a suspension trainer or a pair of gymnastic rings – one of these is required. Complete 3-4 rounds of this circuit in sequence, resting as needed. Each exercise should be performed for 30-60 seconds before moving on. The entire workout should take less than 30 minutes.

Warm Up
Full Body Circuit
Cool Down
Easy Cardio - 5 minutes
Squat (Bodyweight or Goblet)
Foam Rolling (Optional)
Dynamic Stretching
Row (Ring Row or Suspension)
Static Stretching
Push Up (Standard or Modified)
Plank (High or Low)
Superman Hold

For more information on resistance training, check out my Strength and Hypertrophy guide.

Next Steps?

Before moving on to more complicated programs, make sure the routine you’ve been following looks somewhat similar to the one below.

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Cardio
Resistance Training
Cardio
Resistance Training
Cardio
Rest
Rest

Regarding nutrition, start building your meals around specific macronutrient portions and stick to a consistent eating schedule within a restricted window of your day. I have some recommended approaches in my nutrition guide but a variety of tactics can work. Dialing this in for your specific needs is going to take some trial and error, so be willing to experiment with different foods and eating strategies.

Cardiovascular conditioning can also be progressed in a number of different ways. If you’re still focused on weight loss and the initial 2 mile strategy has been working for you, keep at it until your progress plateaus. An uninterrupted 2 mile jog is a great long term goal here. If you’re sick to death of the walk/jog routine, my programs include a variety of interval work as well as steady state times that specifically target fat loss. However you choose to implement cardio, just be sure to keep it realistic and sustainable.

For resistance training, start my Beginner program. Practice these movement patterns with barbells, dumbbells, and your own bodyweight. Start with two days per week, then advance to three. Keep running this program until you stop making strength gains.

Use this guide and the recommendations in it to steer you in the right direction for your own programming, but know that there’s more than one way to reach any exercise goal. Experiment by manipulating different variables. Find out what works best for you. Share what you discover. Have fun.

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