It’s never too late to start working out. Making the change to start living a healthier lifestyle is one you’ll never regret, but the challenge of learning how to start working out can be a daunting one. Whether your goal is to lose weight, become more toned, or gain muscle mass, this guide will help you understand the ins and outs of starting your workout journey. Even more, you won’t need any costly gym equipment to perform the bodyweight exercises mentioned below in the comfort of your own home.
How Often Should I Work Out?
You’ve already made it past the most difficult step, and that’s making the definitive decision that you’re going to start working out. You’re probably wondering how often you need to work out to get the results you want. According to the American Heart Association, only roughly one in five adults are getting the exercise they need to maintain good health.
“Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week,” the American Heart Association website says.
In addition to aerobic exercise, the American Heart Association recommends performing moderate- to high-intensity strength training activities at least two days each week.
How Long Should I Work Out?
Your first workouts as a beginner will probably come with a lot of uncertainty. It’s important to understand that even a little bit of exercise is better than no exercise at all. It’s essential to start slow and pace yourself. After all, you don’t want to experience an injury when you’re just starting to get into a workout routine.
John Higgins, the Director of Exercise Physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center and MD, emphasizes how important it is to ease into your exercise, seeing how your body responds before exercising four or five days a week. When ready, Higgins recommends exercising at least 30 minutes per day for two to three days per week. Complete beginners should start by exercising just one to two days per week for 30 minutes each session.
How Hard Should I Go?
It’s important to push yourself to get the results you want to see, but it’s just as important to listen to your body and know when it’s time to recover. The American Heart Association offers several examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities, including playing tennis doubles, performing water aerobics, walking briskly (faster than 2.5 miles per hour), leisurely biking and more. Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include running, swimming laps, jumping rope, hiking uphill, and aerobic dancing. Moderate-intensity activities will cause you to breathe harder than usual, while vigorous-intensity activities will make you sweat.
While the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, they also state that this is a number that should be reached once you feel stronger. They also recommend meeting with your healthcare provider to discuss how much and what intensity of workout is best for you.
“Move more, with more intensity, and sit less,” the American Heart Association website says.
Calisthenics at Home
Calisthenics is a form of exercise that uses bodyweight and gravity to advance your fitness level. Costly equipment and gym memberships aren’t needed to perform calisthenics, which makes it an ideal form of exercise for those who prefer the convenience and cost-effectiveness of working out at home.
The experts at Men’s Health suggest starting with the most basic calisthenics exercises and moving up from there. Examples of beginner-level bodyweight exercises they suggest are press-ups, also known as push-ups, squats, the plank, close-grip inverted rows, side planks, and walking lunges. Beginners should aim for between 5 and 20 reps of push-ups, 15 to 20 reps of squats, 30 to 45 seconds of holding a plank position, between 5 and 20 reps of close-grip inverted rows, 30 seconds of holding a side plank position on each side, and 10 to 15 walking lunges on each leg.
Perform the exercises above for two or three complete rounds, depending on your fitness level, and take a 2-minute rest between each round. As you become more advanced, you can incorporate more difficult calisthenics workouts into your routine, including dips, the Superman plank, wide-grip pull-ups, pistol squats, and more.
The 7-Minute Workout
Roughly 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week is more time than many adults can fit into their busy work and family lives. Thankfully, according to the director of exercise physiology at Orlando’s Human Performance Institute, Chris Jordan, there’s valid evidence that high-intensity interval training can provide many of the benefits of longer endurance training in a fraction of the time.
The 7-minute workout, which includes 30 seconds of extremely intense exercises performed one after the other with a 10-second rest in between, is designed to be comparable to several hours of biking or running. The movements alternate between the lower body and upper body, so the unexercised muscles rest while the others are being worked. Jordan’s 7-minute high-intensity interval training workout includes the bodyweight exercises below, all in 30-second increments with a short rest between.
- Jumping jacks
- Wall sit
- Abdominal crunch
- Step-up onto a chair
- Triceps dip on a chair
- High knees running in place
- Push-up with rotation
- Side plank
While this workout will certainly be uncomfortable while you’re performing it, you’ll be done in just 7 minutes. And if you really want to boost your fitness, you can perform the 7-minute workout several times, to reach the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of exercise time.
Most importantly, as a beginner, you must start your new exercise routine slowly, working up to a more advanced fitness schedule. Thankfully, bodyweight exercises allow you to workout at home without weights or costly equipment, making it easier for you to reach your fitness goals.
What are you waiting for? Start your new calisthenics exercise routine today.