Ease into Fitness…A Progressive Plan for Beginners

After checking out our Total Body Blitz  (part two found here) workout plan, many of our readers felt this plan was a bit too intense for someone brand new to fitness, or has been out of the game for a while.  This was a fair assessment.  Our Total Body Blitz workout is definitely for someone with at least basic fitness abilities and an understanding of exercise.  There were many requests by some of you beginner’s for a plan that would help ramp you up to more intense routines. 

After hearing all the concerns, we spent the past month putting together what we felt is the perfect balance of ease and progressive challenges to give your body a solid base to start a more high-intensity routine.  If you were one of our readers who felt unready to take the Total Body Blitz challenge, the following workout plan is exactly what you will need to get your body and mind ready for more advanced routines. 

At the end of the day, you know your body best.  If you feel the 4 weeks included in this plan still doesn’t have you where you think you should be, feel free to run through this routine one more time.  If you’re giving these workouts your all, you should definitely be ready for something more challenging after the 8th week. 

One last point; there are obviously different levels of beginners out there.  If some of this stuff seems too easy, feel free to add a) total time to cardio b) lengthen the “work” portions of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) movements or c) continually bump up weights used while weight training. 

This routine has a heavy emphasis on cardio, as this is where most of our readers felt they were lacking most.  This is understandable as this is the aspect of fitness that gets most “rusty” for those that have been away from fitness for a while.  Take things easy at first and gradually bump up your intensity, weights, etc.  As always, any questions, feel free to ask.

Week 1

Day 1: 30 minute jog on treadmill/outside.  Try to maintain 12-13 min/mile pace.

Day 2: 3 sets of 10: Dumbbell bench press, bicep curls, bench dips, upright rows, tricep kickbacks, dumbbell military press. 100 crunches.

Day 3: 30 minutes HIIT cycling on stationary bike.  Use a :15/1:45 format.  What this means is, cycle as fast as you can for 15 seconds, then cycle at a more relaxed pace for 1 minute and 45 seconds.  Repeat this :15/1:45 cycle a total of 15 times. (30 minutes.)

Day 4: 3 sets of 10: Dumbbell squats, bench step ups, dumbbell lunges, calf raises.  60 body weight squats. 100 crunches

Week 2

Day 1:  40 minute jog.  Try to maintain a 11-12 min/mile pace

Day 2: Jump rope HIIT.  Get yourself a cheap jump rope (~$7) and try a :20/:40 cycle.  What this means is, jump rope for 20 seconds non-stop.  Follow this with 40 seconds rest.  Repeat this :20/:40 cycle 40 times for a total of 40 minutes.

Day 3: 3 sets of 10: Lat pulldowns, dumbbell squats, dumbbell skullcrushers, incline dumbbell bench press, reverse dumbbell lunges, tricep rope pushdowns, incline dumbbell curls.

Day 4: Cycle 45 minutes.  Try to maintain a 12-15 mph pace.

Week 3

Day 1: 3 sets of 10: Barbell bench press, incline barbell bench press, close grip seated rows, arnold presses, hammer curls, wide grip rows, reverse dumbbell flys. 50 bicycle crunches/50 flutter kicks/50 crunches/30 second plank.

Day 2: 45 minute jog.  Try to maintain a 10-11 min/mile pace.

Day 3: 45 minutes HIIT cycling on stationary bike.  Use a :20/1:10 format.  Repeat this cycle 30 times.

Day 4: Complete the following exercises in as few sets as possible: 50 box jumps/500 jumps with the jump rope/50 box step ups/100 mountain climbers/20 burpees/100 bicycle crunches


Week 4

Day 1: 50 minute jog.  Try to maintain a 10 min/mile pace.

Day 2: 20 minutes HIIT cycling (:20/1:10 format) , 20 minutes HIIT jump roping (:25/:40 format), 100 body weight squats, 100 lunges.

Day 3:  3 sets of 10:  Barbell bench press, incline dumbbell flys, close grip bench press, lat pull down, barbell preacher curls, lateral dumbbell raise, seated wide grip rows, bench dips, tricep rope pushdown.  2 sets of planking for 45 seconds.

Day 4: HIIT running.  Follow a 15 second/1 minute and 45 second format (:15/1:45).  Sprint at near 100% effort for 15 seconds.  Follow this up with a 1 minute and 45 second jog at a relaxed pace.  Repeat this cycle 15 times for a total workout of 30 minutes.  Follow this up with 15 minutes cycling, aiming for a 15 mph pace. 

This will have taken you through one month of training.  You should notice a heavy emphasis on not only cardio, but on HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio.  This method of training is far more effective for increasing metabolism, burning calories, building lower body muscle, and increasing cardiovascular endurance than static-state cardio, i.e. jogging/cycling/etc at one pace for an extended period of time.  By balancing both formats of cardio (static/HIIT) we are able to progressively increase endurance levels in newer exercisers.  If any of this feels too difficult, don’t feel bad about backing off and taking things even slower.  You may need to extend the period you are on this beginner routine, but rest assured, you will get to where you want to be eventually. 

The most important thing about this routine is consistency.  Don’t skip days, stay consistent, and give 100% effort everytime.  You do that and good things are sure to follow.  Any questions, feel free to ask as always!


39 thoughts on “Ease into Fitness…A Progressive Plan for Beginners”

  1. Awesome! This is what I’ve been waiting for. I wanted to do the Total Blitz Body workout, but have never worked out before, so I was a little intimidated…

    I don’t have a stationary bike at home, but I do have an elliptical with a programmed internal workout thats 8 minutes moderate, then 4 minutes high intensity (or something like that). Would that work?

    Also, I don’t have any weights or machines at home, what can I do to replace those days in the workout routine? Thanks!

    1. Try not to use the pre-programmed intensities on the elliptical. You want to follow the strict timed structure for HIIT cardio, i.e. :20/1:40, etc. The point is alternating between high/low intensities…not, doing low intensity then doing high intensity.

      As far as not having access to weights, it really is vital to get yourself access to these type of equipment. I’d be doing you a disservice by saying you can get by without lifting weights. Doing bodyweight only workouts can only get you so far. Have you considered joining a local gym?

      1. Have considered joining a gym,but am really looking for something that I can do at home. What kind of basic weights/equipment do you recommend for a beginner? What are some of the essentials for a home gym?

      2. For a beginner looking to shape up I would say the essentials include:

        1. A few pair of dumbbells, 10lbs, 20lbs, 30lbs.
        2. Jump rope.
        3. Ab wheel.

        Just something to keep in mind; after a while your going to need to increase the weight used to continue making gains. Muscles will adapt to the same stimulus after a while which makes it imperative to continue increasing intensities/weights/etc. Let me know if you’ve got any other questions!

  2. I noticed that this is a 4 day/week workout, is it 4 days on and 3 rest days or should be rest a day in the middle?


    1. We leave it up to you how you get your 4 workouts in each week. Recommendation would be something like, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. This should give you enough rest time between workouts 🙂

  3. so I want to lose weight after having a baby but I know NOTHING about working out. Since I don’t even know what a bicep curl or dumbbell press is should I be following this or start out even simpler? (I have been active – hiking/biking/farm kid- my entire life so I’m not super out of shape, I just have never been a gym type active person) If you recommend this for complete beginners like me – where do you suggest I find out the correct way to do those exercises? I’m not worried about the cardio routines, I just know nothing about the weights stuff.

    1. No problem Kate..you can easily handle of the exercises listed. In just a couple weeks, ShareItFitness.com will be launching. We’re going to have video demos of every exercise listed so there’s no question about how to perform a certain exercise. In the meantime, Youtube is a decent resource. Just type an exercise name in their search and you should be able to find what you’re looking for. In the meantime, if you head over to shareitfitness.com and leave us your email address we can notify you when we launch our full site, as well as give you a free membership to access all of our OnDemand fitness classes and video workouts. Thanks for reading our blog and let me know if you have any other questions I can help with! 🙂

  4. This is great! Surely I can accomplish this workout by focusing on one day at a time. Question: I’ve been advised to forego sit ups or anything that puts undue stress on my lower back. I’ve been in physical therapy and trying to recover from a bad back injury. Any recommended substitutes for the crunches?

    1. I would have a hard time suggesting something to someone with an injury. Best course of action would be to speak to your physical therapist and see what they recommend. Sorry I can’t be of further help!

  5. Decided to start this routine! I did day 2 today. Looking ahead to day 4 I was wondering if the dumbbell squat should be a sumo type squat since you have bodyweight squat listed also. Also, in your other workout you have snatch listed, a move i probably will avoid since it may be hard to make sure I stabilize my pelvic floor during it. Any suggested alternatives?

    1. The dumbbell squat suggested is a standard squat while holding dumbbells in your hands. Don’t angle your feet out or adjust our stance as you would for a sumo squat. I included bodyweight squat as well to further help burn the muscles out later in the workout. I find doing light/bodyweight exercises with high reps at the end of a session is highly effective in inducing hypertrophy and helping you make gains.

      I think a clean and press (or just a clean), front dumbbell raise, or even upright rows would be a good substitute for the snatch. Think any of those would be more appropriate for you?

  6. Thanks! And the subs for the snatch will work. Just that anytime I am lifting over head or above shoulders I want to make sure my ENTIRE core is engaged so I avoid the quicker moves with weights.

    You have motivated me to sign up for a H.I.I.T class at the local rec center. Interested in learning more and getting it right! I’ve always enjoyed interval training so I am sure I will enjoy it or be in pain, or both.

  7. You have a 10-11 minute/mile pace in week 2 but then 10mph for weeks 3 and 4 which is a 6 minute/mile pace, is that a typo? I’d love to go from a 10 minute mile to a 6 in a week, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t happening.

  8. I used to work out pretty intense (Crossfit/with a personal trainer), but it has been a good 8+ months since I have worked out hard. With that being said, should I start with this workout plan for a week or two and then begin the total body blitz? Or, should I just dive into the big stuff? I assume I am not going to be in as good of shape, but I’m torn on where to begin. 

    1. My feeling is you should probably be okay to start on the Total Body Blitz series. You sound like you once had a pretty rigorous training regimen, so doing something like TBB should be less of a shock on your body. I realize you’ve been out of it for 8+ months now, but my thought is endurance/strength comes back much faster in someone who once had it, than someone who has never had it. Hope that helps.

      You should check out our full site, http://www.shareitfitness.com when you get a chance. We’ve got tons of OnDemand video workouts to supplement the Total Body Blitz series..as well as forum where you can connect with others on the plan to share stories, motivation, and advice. Thanks for following the blog and hope to hear about all of your progress!


  9. I have trouble doing anything with a jump rope after having babies. Can you recommend another alternative to those days with a jumprope routine?

  10. I don’t have a bike for the cycling what can i sub? also i can’t run right now i need a sub for that too!!

    1. I’d definitely suggest doing some jump roping intervals, row machine, or (my personal favorite) swimming. All are great forms of cardio that will help you burn calories AND build muscle. Any other questions, please ask.


  11. What would you suggest for someone like me who can’t do even 1 unassisted crunch? Do I just stick with Bicycle crunches?

    1. Hey Angelica – thanks for the question.

      Personally, I would stick with what you CAN do, but always be looking to add newer, tougher exercises. To increase your core strength in a hurry, you should consider adding in some planks along with any one of our Vinyasa Flow OnDemand yoga classes. These are both great ways for beginner’s to build out a weak core. Any other questions, please ask!


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