8 Best Beginner Workout Moves for the Inspired Female Beginner

Master simple, beginner bodyweight exercises you can do at home, no matter your starting point.

Women stretching before starting exercise. Simple beginner workout moves can be done at home, no matter your starting point. Beginner bodyweight exercises can be modified to match your fitness level.
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There can be so many valid reasons NOT to exercise - lack of time, no energy, fear of failure, no exercise equipment. And the list goes on and on, doesn’t it?! 

 

Move over, barriers! I am going to set you up with a workout routine for beginners that will help you overcome these reasons so you can feel great without leaving the comfort of your own home. 

 

The following is a beginner workout at home without equipment (or with creative uses of household items). Most importantly, this is a true beginner bodyweight workout.

 

If you absolutely do not exercise, or haven’t exercised in a long time, this is where you want to start. I’ve provided you with modified versions of each exercise to start with, so you can safely progress to an effective full body workout routine.

 

But first, check out these benefits for some extra motivation!


 

Exercise is Like Medicine

 

  • Exercise gives you the oomph to run around with your kids/grandkids, the energy to travel, and unbeatable confidence in your body and in your health

  • 1 exercise session can lower blood pressure for up to 13 hours⠀

  • 1 session can increase insulin sensitivity for up to 48 hours ⠀

  • Exercise can improve your cholesterol profile⠀

  • Adding exercise to healthy diet changes can up weight loss by 20%⠀

  • Exercise lowers inflammation (which can improve joint pain!)


 

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But What are the Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises?

 

Bodyweight exercises check all the above boxes, and more! They also:

 

  • Improve balance

  • Target many muscle groups at once

  • Are FREE! Your body is your exercise equipment.

  • Can be done anywhere at any time


 

How Do I Start a Beginner Bodyweight Workout?

 

If you haven’t exercised in awhile, or ever, talk to your doctor first to make sure it is safe for you to begin.

 

The exercise guidelines for strength/resistance training are:

 

  • Frequency: 2-3 days per week (allow a day or two of rest in between for your muscles to recover)

  • Intensity: Fairly Light to Moderate (check out this simple tool to assess your level of exercise intensity)

  • Repetitions: 8-12 repetitions (see below)

  • Sets: 2-3 sets (see below)

  • Type: bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, hand weights (dumbbells), weight machines, medicine balls, etc. 

 

Definitions

  • Repetitions: How many times you perform the movement

  • Sets: Number of times you complete a given number of repetitions

A Note to the True Female Beginner

 

Listen to your body, always. If 8-12 repetitions is too difficult, no problem! Begin with 6, 4, or even 2. There is no such thing as “not enough.” Every single effort you make will make exercise a tiny bit easier the next time around. Stick with it and you will start to notice the difference.

 

The same goes for sets. Start with 1 set and slowly progress to 2-3 sets. There is no rush! Take all the time you need to increase the amount of exercise you do.

 

Muscle soreness is a normal part of strength training. It usually shows up the day after you workout. This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. This is our muscles’ way of repairing and rebuilding. The end result - stronger muscles! This is why I recommend spreading out your exercise days so your muscles get a chance to recover.

What is the Proper Form When Strength Training?

 

Here are some helpful tips to ensure you use proper form when strength training:

  • Always engage your core before and during any strength training exercise. Tighten your abs, pull your belly button back towards your spine, and keep your back straight.

  • With upper body exercises, you should generally keep your shoulders down and back, as opposed to up towards your ears or shoulders rounded forward.

  • When squatting or lunging, take a second to look down. Can you see your toes? Be sure to never let your knees creep past your toes; they should always be behind them.

  • Always keep a neutral spine, not rounded or arched unless that is part of a particular exercise.

  • And don’t forget to begin and end every session with some light stretches.

 

How Should I Breathe When Working Out?

 

Proper breathing technique and, more specifically, avoiding holding your breath while lifting weights is especially important to exercise safely and to prevent an exaggerated increase in blood pressure. 

 

To properly breathe during strength training, you:

  • Breathe in during the easier part (or relaxation)

  • Breathe out during the harder part (or exertion)

The “harder part” is usually when your body or weight is moving against gravity, like when you push away from the floor during a push-up. 

 

What are Good Beginner Exercises?

 

The following is a full body beginner workout. These are beginner bodyweight exercises that can be done at home. I will show you 2 or 3 versions of each exercise. Start with the version that suits your starting point best. 

 

Level 1 is the easier version and level 3 is the harder version. Slowly progress to the more challenging version as you can tolerate. 

 

Most exercises require no equipment (just your body)! Some include, or can include, a set of dumbbells.

Don't Have Weights? No Problem!

 

Your muscles can be sufficiently challenged using just your bodyweight as resistance. You may also want to add variety, get more creative, or increase the difficulty of a bodyweight exercise. You can opt for some inexpensive dumbbells or mini resistance bands, or try out some DIY weights!

Here are some common household objects that can be used in place of hand weights:

  • Water bottles

  • Cans of beans

  • Milk jug(s)

  • A pillowcase filled with sand

  • Bags of grains

  • Textbooks

Pro Tip

 

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Every single time you move matters.

 

Use your imagination and plug these exercises into your day every chance you get (in addition to workouts of course):

  • Do some push-ups at the bottom of your stairs before you head up the steps

  • Do sit-to-stand exercises when you’re ready to stand up from the dinner table

  • Do a superman exercise on your bed before getting up to start your day

 

Don’t know what the heck I’m talking about? No problem! Check these exercises out! 

Beginner Strength Training Routine for Women

 


 

1. Bird Dog

Muscles Worked: Lower back, abdominals, and glutes.

 

Level 1: Bird Dog with Leg Only

 

  1. Get down on your hands and knees. Keep your back flat by engaging your core and pulling your belly button back towards your spine. 

  2. Slowly lift your right leg and straighten your right knee to create a straight line with your body from your head to your right foot. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position. 

  3. Repeat 10 times with each leg.

Modified bird dog exercise, leg only
Modified bird dog exercise, leg only

Level 2: Bird Dog

  1. Get down on your hands and knees. Keep your back flat by engaging your core and pulling your belly button back towards your spine. 

  2. Slowly lift your right leg and left arm to create a straight line from left hand down to your right foot. Slowly return to the starting position. 

  3. Repeat this exercise 10 times, followed by 10 repetitions using your left leg and right arm.

Bird dog exercise
Bird dog exercise

2. Squats

Muscles Worked: A great beginner exercise to strengthen the legs, including the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, calves, adductor, hip flexors, and even the core.

 

Level 1: Sit-to-Stand Exercise with Assistance (aka Squats for Beginners!)

  1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Look straight ahead throughout the entire exercise.

  2. Rise to a standing position, using your hands to push yourself off the chair only as much as needed. 

  3. Slowly shift your hips back and return to a seated position. 

  4. Repeat 10 times.

Sit to stand exercise starting position
Sit to stand exercise
Sit to stand exercise

Level 2: Sit-to-Stand Exercise Without Assistance​

  1. Repeat the steps from Level 1 except rise to a standing position without using your arms for assistance. 

  2. Repeat 10 times.

Sit to stand exercise starting position no hands
Sit to stand exercise, no hands
Sit to stand exercise, no hands

Level 3: Basic Squat

 

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, chest open and arms extended in front of you.

  2. Engage your core by pulling your belly button back towards your spine.

  3. Bend your knees and shift your hips back, keeping your weight on your heels. 

  4. Bend your knees to about a 90-degree angle then return to a standing position.

  5. Repeat 10 times.

 

Variations: 

  1. The basic squat can also be done with assistance by holding onto a sturdy surface until you feel you are ready to squat without holding on.

  2. The squat can be performed while holding dumbbells or DIY weight to increase difficulty.

Basic beginner squat
Basic beginner squat
Basic beginner squat

3. Upright Row

 

Muscles Worked: A great beginner exercise for the arms, shoulders, and upper back. It works the deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, biceps.

 

Level 1: Upright Row Without Weights

 

  1. Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart and engage your core by pulling your belly button back towards your spine. 

  2. Make a fist with each hand and face your wrists towards your body. Bring your fists together in front of your thighs until they are touching. 

  3. Bend your elbows and slowly pull your fists up towards your chin, keeping them close to your body at all times. 

  4. Slowly return arms to the starting position.  

  5. Repeat 10 times.

upright row no weight start position
upright row no weight

Level 2: Upright Row with Weights

 

  1. Repeat steps from Level 1 except hold a set of dumbbells or DIY weights to increase difficulty.

  2. Repeat 10 times.

 

Goal: Gradually add more weight.

Upright Row with weight starting position
Upright Row with weight

4. Superman Exercise

 

Muscles Worked: An excellent beginner exercise to strengthen the core. It works the lower back, upper back, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders.

 

Level 1: Superman with Single Leg Lift

 

  1. Lay on your stomach with straight arms stretched over your head. Keep your head off the mat if possible and keep your neck aligned with the rest of your spine. 

  2. Slowly lift your right leg followed by slowly lowering it to the floor. 

  3. Repeat the same movement with your left leg. 

  4. Repeat 20 times (10 times with each leg).

Superman exercise, legs only
Superman exercise, legs only

Level 2: Superman with Opposite Arm and Leg Lift

 

  1. Begin in the starting position described above.

  2. Keeping both straight, lift your left arm and right leg at the same time.  Slowly lower them to the floor. 

  3. Repeat the same movement with your right arm and left leg. 

  4. Repeat 20 times (10 times on each side).

Superman exercise with opposite arm and leg lift
superman exercise with opposite arm and leg lift

Level 3: Superman Exercise

 

  1. Begin in the starting position described above.

  2. Slowly lift your arms and legs at the same time. Slowly lower them to the floor. 

  3. Repeat 10 times.

Superman exercise
Superman exercise

5. Reverse Lunge

 

Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, glutes, quads, and calves.

Level 1: Pump Lunges

 

  1. Stand up straight and engage your core by pulling your belly button back towards your spine.

  2. Holding onto a sturdy surface, take a large step forward and bring your back knee towards the ground. Bend your knees as far as you comfortably can without your back knee touching the ground. Don't let your front knee go in front of your toes. 

  3. Straighten your knees, keeping your feet where they are. 

  4. Repeat 10 times with each leg in front.

Beginner pump lunges
Beginner pump lunges

Level 2: Reverse Lunge with Assistance

 

  1. Stand up straight with shoulders "down and back". Engage your core by drawing your belly button back towards your spine. 

  2. Holding onto a sturdy surface, take a large step backwards with one leg, lower hips until your back knee comes close to the ground and knees reach about a 90-degree angle. Don't let your front knee pass your toes and don’t allow your back knee to touch the ground. 

  3. Push off your back foot and bring it forward to meet your front foot.

  4. Repeat 10 times with each leg.

reverse lunge with assistance starting position
reverse lunge with assistance

Level 3: Reverse Lunge Without Assistance

 

  1. Stand up straight with shoulders "down and back" and hands on your hips. Engage your core by drawing your belly button back towards your spine. 

  2. Take a large step backwards with one leg, lower hips until your back knee comes close to the ground and knees reach about a 90-degree angle. Don't let your front knee pass your toes and don’t allow your back knee to touch the ground. 

  3. Push off your back foot and bring it forward to meet your front foot.

  4. Repeat 10 times with each leg.

reverse lunge starting position.png
reverse lunge

6. Scapular Wall Hold

 

Muscles Worked: Great for good posture and working the muscles of the upper back and rear shoulder.

 

Level 1: Scapular Wall Hold

 

  1. Stand with your back against a wall. Keep your heels close to the wall as well.

  2. Bend your arms at 90 degrees. Press your elbows against the wall. 

  3. Drive your elbows back and pinch your shoulder blades together, pushing the rest of your body away from the wall with your elbows. Nothing should be touching the wall at this point except for your elbows. 

  4. Slowly slide your elbows back to the original position as your back returns to the wall.

  5. Repeat 10 times.

Beginner scapular wall hold
Beginner scapular wall hold

Level 2: Scapular Wall Hold with Incline 

 

  1. Stand with your back to the wall. 

  2. Walk your feet a few inches or more away from the wall and bend your arms at 90 degrees. Press your elbows against the wall. 

  3. Repeat the rest of the steps from Level 1.

  4. Repeat 10 times.

 

Variation: Draw elbows back and hold for 1-10 seconds to increase difficulty. This can also be done sitting in a chair.

Scapular wall hold with incline
Scapular wall hold with incline

7. Glute Bridge

(also known as a Shoulder Bridge or Hip Raise)

 

Muscles Worked: Another great addition to a beginner core workout. It works the lower back, abdominals, hamstrings, and of course the glutes.

 

Level 1: Basic Bridge Exercise

 

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, a little closer than hip-width apart. Put your arms by your side and palms on the floor. 

  2. Lift your hips towards the ceiling to achieve a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. 

  3. Slowly bring your hips back down to the floor. 

  4. Repeat 10 times.

Basic glute bridge exercise
Basic glute bridge exercise

Level 2: Glute Bridge Hold

 

  1. Repeat the above steps for Level 1, except hold the bridge position for up to 10 seconds or more. 

  2. Slowly bring your hips back down to the floor.

Glute bridge hold
Glute bridge hold

Level 3: Single Leg Glute Bridge

 

  1. Lay on your back with your arms by your side and palms on the floor. Lift your left leg straight up while your right leg is bent with your right foot flat on the floor.

  2. Lift your hips towards the ceiling, keeping your left leg in the same position throughout the exercise.

  3. Slowly bring your hips back down to the floor. 

  4. Repeat 10 times with each leg lifted.

Single leg glute bridge
Single leg glute bridge

8. Modified Push-Ups

Muscles Worked: Chest (pectorals), shoulders (deltoids), back (latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids), biceps, triceps, and serratus anterior.

 

Level 1: Wall Push-Ups

 

  1. Stand facing the wall. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height with your arms straight. Keep your body in a straight line by drawing your belly button back towards your spine. Be sure not to arch the back. 

  2. Slowly bend your elbows to about a 90-degree angle. 

  3. Push back to the starting position.

  4. Repeat 10 times.

Wall push up starting position
Wall push up

Level 2: Wall Push-Ups on an Incline

 

  1. Follow the steps from Level 1 except with your feet farther away from the wall.

  2. Repeat 10 times.

Incline wall push up
Incline wall push up

Level 3: Incline Push-Ups

 

  1. Stand facing a sturdy surface, such as a countertop, table, set of stairs, or chair. Place your hands on the surface with your arms straight out in front of you. Keep your body in a straight line by drawing your belly button back towards your spine. Be sure not to arch the back. To use the stairs, stand at the bottom of the set of stairs and place your hands on the step that allows you to achieve a straight line from head to toe with your arms stretched out perpendicular to your body.

  2. Slowly bend your elbows to about a 90-degree angle. 

  3. Push back to the starting position.

  4. Repeat 10 times.

Incline push up
Incline push up

The Takeaway

 

Exercise is like medicine! Even easy workouts for beginners can lead to vast health benefits. 

 

A beginner strength training routine for women is attainable no matter your starting point. Simple at-home bodyweight exercises can be modified to help you progress to the exercises you wish to master.

 

An effective beginner workout routine, like the one above, can be done at home without equipment or with a few DIY weights. 

 

It’s important to listen to your body, breathe properly and maintain good form when performing bodyweight exercises. 

 

For more inspiration, follow #fatiguedtofit on Facebook or Instagram for more beginner workout ideas.

 

Don’t forget to check out these 8 Best Beginner Exerciser Tips (from a Clinical Exercise Expert) to really set yourself up for success! 

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Disclaimer

 

Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. This is not a replacement for medical advice and is to be used for informational purposes only.

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© 2021 by Colleen Montgomery.