Exercise Starter Guide, Part One

Often, the best way to start a fitness routine is to just ease into it. Sometimes it’s as straight forward as trying out one simple move to set you on the right track.

We mapped out 25 days’ worth of moves, each made to challenge different muscles and get your body strengthened, lengthened, and feeling better over time.

Part One of this two part mini-series will handle exercises 1 through 12. Next week’s installment wraps it up.

Day 01
Arm Circles

This unintimidating warmup gets your blood moving and can help to build muscle tone in your shoulders, triceps, and biceps.

Duration

5-7 minutes, per day

Instructions

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms parallel to the floor.
  2. Circle your arms forward using small controlled motions, gradually making the circles bigger until you feel a stretch in your triceps.
  3. Reverse the direction of the circles after about 10 seconds.
Day 02
Shadow Boxing Punches

Shadow boxing — also known as air boxing — is popular among boxers when they want to condition their muscles, warm up for a fight, or cool down after.

Duration

Approximately 6 rounds for an amount of time that works best for you. Try to work up to 3 minutes.

Instructions

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise your fists to your chin.
  2. Punch straight in front of you, knuckles forward, and repeat 3-5 times before switching arms.
  3. Keep your head in the game by finding a rhythm and sticking with it.
Day 03
Bicep Curl with Shoulder Press

Alternate your shadow boxing punch routine with this muscle-toning bicep curl compound movement. This exercise strengthens your triceps, biceps, and shoulders.

Consider adding some resistance by incorporating 1-, 3- or 5-pound weights, depending on your comfort level.

No hand weights at home? You can get the same effect using cans of soup.

Duration

2 to 6 sets of 10-15 reps, with a 2 to 5-minute rest in between each set.

Instructions

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your side with your palms facing out.
  2. Bend your forearms until your hands — or weights — touch your shoulders. Make sure your elbows are kept firmly by your side for this movement.
  3. Keeping your arms here, rotate your palms so that they’re facing forward.
  4. Push your arms over your head until both arms are extended straight above your body, keeping your core activated and straight. Lower your shoulders away from your ears.
  5. Slowly lower your arms with your palms still facing forward until your palms are parallel with your shoulders.
  6. Turn your palms toward you and slowly lower your triceps, with your elbows firmly next to your torso, until your arms are completely hanging by your side.
  7. Repeat.
Day 04
Side Arm Stretch

This quick side arm stretch is a great reset and helps elongate your back and arm muscles, while keeping them pliable.

Duration

30 seconds, per side

Instructions

  1. Cross one arm in front of your body, palm in.
  2. Take your other arm and fold it up so it’s hugging your elbow.
  3. Hold, then switch arms.
Day 05
Half Squats

Since there’s balance involved, this exercise is also great for the core. Squats are great when weight training, too. When you feel comfortable, add a barbell to your move.

Duration

2-6 sets, 10-15 reps each

Instructions

  1. Bending your legs, push your butt back to a 45-degree angle, making sure not to position yourself in a full sit.
  2. Extend your arms straight in front of you.
  3. Pause for a second, then slowly raise your body back up by pushing through your heels. Make sure not to lock your knees when you return to a standing position.
  4. Repeat.
Day 06
Step-Downs

This move is more therapeutic than muscle-building and can help stabilize the knee. And because the hips, hamstrings, and quads work together to help the kneecap bend properly, it’s important to strengthen and work all these muscles to keep it strong and flexible—which is exactly what this move does!

Duration

5 sets, 20 reps (10 per side)

Instructions

  1. Start by standing with one foot on a step, one foot off the ground.
  2. Slowly lower the unaffected leg down off the side of the step. Lightly touch your heel to the floor.
  3. Return to the original position.
  4. Repeat until number of reps are completed.
  5. Switch legs.
Day 07
Wall Sits

Wall sits are great for sculpting your thighs, hips, calves, and lower abs. But the trick to really feeling the burn is how long you hold the move.

Duration

Start with 20 to 30 seconds and work your way up to a full minute

Instructions

  1. Place your back against a wall, with your legs a few inches away from the wall.
  2. Lower yourself to a 90-degree sitting position.
  3. Hold, then rise back up.
Day 08
Neck Stretches

We often hold a lot of tension in the neck, and elongating those muscles can provide relief. You can even grab a chair for this move, as sitting will stabilize you and help you stretch more effectively. But a chair, or even sitting, isn’t required.

Duration

30 seconds per side

Instructions

  1. Stand or sit up straight and look forward.
  2. Slowly turn your head to the side.
  3. Hold, then look straight ahead.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.
Day 09
Modified Downward-Facing Dog

Keep going with your stretching and give this modified version of the much-loved Downward-Facing Dog pose a try. You’ll stand while completing the exercise, using the help of a chair.

Just like the floor version, it allows you to build upper body strength while increasing flexibility in your shoulders.

Using a chair activates the triceps and the muscles around your shoulder blades. You may also find that with your knees off the ground, you get better spinal elongation.

Duration

30 seconds

Instructions

  1. Stand with your feet together and hold onto the top of the chair.
  2. Step one foot back at a time.
  3. Using the top of the chair for balance, bend from your hips so your whole body creates a 90-degree angle.
  4. Your back should be flat and straight and your arms should be fully extended out in front of you.
  5. Hold the stretch.
  6. Lift your torso, still holding onto the chair.
  7. Bring one foot forward followed by the next to return to the starting position.
Day 10
Lunge with Bicep Curl

Lunges are best known for shaping your buttocks, strengthening your lower body, increasing your core strength, and building your leg muscles. Meanwhile, the added biceps curl makes this a great full-body move.

Duration

3 sets, 20 reps of 10 per side

Instructions

  1. Stand up straight, shoulders relaxed, chin up, and arms at your side.
  2. With one leg forward, lower your hips until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly on top of your ankle and the other stays off the floor.
  3. Keep your body weight on your heels.
  4. With your elbows at your side, palms facing forward, raise your forearms and touch your weights to your shoulders.
  5. Lower your arms back down to your side.
  6. Push off from your front foot and return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat on the other side.
Day 11
Seated Single-Leg Raises

Keeping your focus on your lower body, it’s time for some floor work. Not only do seated single-leg raises work your core, they can also help stabilize your knees after an injury.

Duration

20 to 30 reps per leg

Instructions

  1. Sit upright with one knee bent and one extended.
  2. Flex the foot of your extended leg to a 90-degree angle and gradually raise that leg until it’s about a foot off the floor.
  3. Lower it slowly and repeat.
  4. Switch legs and repeat reps on opposite side.
Day 12
Modified Ab Rollout

Continue working your core with this modified yet challenging upper body move. This version of an ab rollout is great for working your triceps while building upper body and core strength. If you don’t have floor slides, you can use paper plates instead!

Duration

3 to 5 sets of 10 reps

Instructions

  1. Start on your hands and knees with plates or sliders under your palms.
  2. Slide your hands out, anywhere from 1 to 2 feet, keeping your core engaged.
  3. Slide your hands back in toward your body. If you feel your body shaking, it’s working!

Twelve down—thirteen more to go! Stay tuned for next week when we wrap up our Exercise Starter Guide.

861 Comments
  • Angie Rench
    Posted at 18:47h, 26 July

    Thanks

  • Melissa Voelker
    Posted at 17:31h, 26 July

    Great exercises

  • Grace+Ramos
    Posted at 13:33h, 26 July

    Good info!

  • Estella Robertson
    Posted at 12:52h, 26 July

    Interesting

  • Mary+Williams.
    Posted at 11:37h, 26 July

    Love, love this.

  • D Johnson
    Posted at 17:57h, 25 July

    Great

  • Lauren Boos
    Posted at 13:08h, 24 July

    Thanks for including the videos.

  • Ann Guetterman
    Posted at 09:24h, 24 July

    Thanks

  • Patricia Fazio
    Posted at 19:22h, 23 July

    Thank you

  • Kelsy Kauk-Cofield
    Posted at 17:42h, 23 July

    Thanks!

  • Tabitha Aimie Zoltak
    Posted at 15:38h, 23 July

    Thanks

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