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Exercise for Beginners - Setting Up a Complete Program

A well-rounded program includes cardio, weight training and flexibility. Knowing how to put these together in a week of workouts can be confusing. Should you do cardio and strength training on the same day? Which one should you do first? This will depend on your goals, schedule and fitness level, which means there are endless ways to set up your workout program. Below are some basic guidelines for getting started with a complete exercise program.
  • For Beginners:  You should start slowly with a basic cardio program and a full body resistance training routine. You'll want to have recovery days to allow your body to rest and your muscles to heal from your new routine. A typical beginner program will include about 3 days of cardio and 2 days of strength training. If you're not sure about your fitness level, you can take the quiz, What's Your Fitness Level? to get insight and resources to help you get started. Below is a sample schedule just to give you an idea of a typical week of workouts:
  • Sample Routine for Beginning Exercisers
Monday: Cardio 20-30 minutes. You can choose from one of the following Sample Cardio Workouts: Tuesday: Total Body Strength and core training. You can choose from one of the following Sample Strength Workouts:
Wednesday: Rest or gentle yoga/stretching Thursday: Cardio-20-30 minutes.  You can choose from one of the following Sample Cardio Workouts:
Friday:  Total Body Strength and core training. You can choose from one of the following Sample Strength Workouts: Saturday: Cardio-20-30 minutes.  You can choose from one of the following Sample Cardio Workouts:
  • For Intermediate Exercisers: If you've been exercising for a while and your goal is to lose weight, you want to shoot for 20-60 minutes of cardio about 5 or more times a week.  Your strength training schedule will depend on what type of workouts you're doing (e.g., total body training or a split routine).  You can do cardio and weight training on the same day, depending on your time constraints. It doesn't matter which one you do first, so vary your routine and try different combinations to find the one that is right for you.
  • Sample Split Routine for Upper and Lower Body:
Monday:  30-Minute Cardio Medley Workout, Upper Body Training Tuesday: 45-Minute Treadmill Interval Workout, Core Training
Wednesday: 30-Minute Low Impact Cardio Blast Workout (2 circuits), Lower body Thursday: Rest, stretch or yoga
Friday: Total Body Strength or Circuit Training Saturday: Cardio-60 minutes, stretch
  • For Intermediate/Advanced Exercisers: If you're more advanced, you can split your routine further, focusing more attention on each muscle group.  You can also increase the intensity of your cardio, incorporating interval training and other advanced techniques to burn calories and build endurance. 
  • Sample Split Routing for Advanced Exercisers:
Monday: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, HIIT Cardio Tuesday: Lower Body and Core
Wednesday: Back & Biceps, Boredom Buster Cardio Thursday: Rest, stretch or yoga
Friday: Basic Total Body Strength Saturday: Advanced Intense Intervals

For a variety of strength training workouts and helpful articles, visit my Workout Center.

Back to Exercise for Beginners

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