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Getting Fit Over 40: The 7 Best Workout Routines for Beginners

Congratulations! You’re finally ready to shed some pounds, strengthen your heart and clear your mind.

While work-out routines are a dime a dozen, there are several routines that are proven to build strength, maintain bone density and improve balance, coordination, mobility and cardio.

While there’s been a lot of focus on the benefits of cardio training, strength training has tons of benefits as well. According to the CDC, strength training reduces the signs and symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity and back pain. It even helps preserve brain function as we age.

Before starting any of the routines below, make sure to learn and focus on proper form. You should be constantly increasing your repetitions and weight to challenge your muscles to strengthen and grow.

1. 7 Minute Workout Routine

The first workout routine for beginners we’re going to preview was published in the American College of Sports Medecine’s Health and Fitness Journal.[1] The now famous 7 minute workout was found to have phenomenal health benefits for both endurance and weight loss.

The 7 minute workout uses high intensity interval training, in a sequence of 12 exercises that last for 30 seconds each, with 10 seconds of rest in between each exercise. As you get stronger, you can repeat the cycle 2-3 times.

That said, beginners can start doing the routine only once, and you’ll still get lots of benefits.

The routine itself uses the following exercises:

  1. Jumping jacks
  2. Wall sit
  3. Push-up
  4. Abdominal crunches
  5. Step-up onto chair
  6. Body weight squat
  7. Tricep dip on chair
  8. Plank
  9. High knees running in place
  10. Lunge
  11. Push-up and rotate
  12. Side plank

*Repeat 2-3 times.

The routine works all of your major muscle groups and will get your heart rate soaring. What we love about the 7 minute workout, is that it’s quick and you can do it anywhere – your home, office or hotel room. No weights, mats or special clothing required.

2. Beginner Body Weight Routine (NerdFitness)

With one of the most popular workout websites out there, NerdFitness has developed a great body weight exercise routine that doesn’t require any equipment or weights and can be done just about anywhere.

We like this routine because it’s simple and effective. Do each exercise, and move onto the next without a break. After completing the round, rest for 30 seconds and repeat.

Do about 5 minutes of stretching to warm yourself up before starting the routine.

  • 20 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug)
  • 15 second plank
  • 30 jumping Jacks

*Repeat for 3 rounds

Do some stretches after you’ve finished your workout.

3. Starting Strength Beginner Barbell Routine

Starting Strength is one of the most popular, widely recommended and effective barbell routines out there. Around for almost 30 years, it’s simple to follow and only uses a barbell. Nothing else.

There are 2 workouts, which you do on alternate days. You only workout 3 days a week, and never 2 days in a row. Here’s the routine:

Starting Strength Workout 1

  • 3 Sets of 5 Reps – Squat
  • 3 Sets of 5 Reps – Bench Press
  • 1 Set of 5 Reps – Deadlift
    • 3 Sets of 5 Reps – Squat
    • 3 Sets of 5 Reps – Standing military press
    • 3 Sets of 5 Reps – Pendlay Rows

    Weekly Schedule:

    • Day 1: Workout 1
    • Day 2: Workout 2
    • Day 3: Workout 1

    As you get stronger, continuously add weight so you max out at 5 repetitions.

    4. Recommended Body Weight Routine (Reddit)

    Based off of the principles from Overcoming Gravity, this bodyweight workout routine was developed in 2012 and has become something of an online phenomenon.

    This routine will provide strength, muscle gain and fat loss, all provided your diet is in proper order.

    There are only 9 exercises, which you do 3 times a week. Each exercise progresses, so that if you can’t do one now, there is a simpler form of the exercise you can start with.

    For example, if you can’t do a push-up, you can start to wall pushes, or push-ups from your knees, until you’re ready to progress to the more challenging form.

    You perform the hardest exercise in the progression you can, for 3 sets of 5-8 reps. Once you achieve that benchmark, you move on to the next progression of the exercise in your next workout. Rest 90 seconds between each set.

    First Pair

    • 3×5-8 Pull-up progression (scapular pulls , arch hangs , pull-up negatives , pull-ups)
    • 3×5-8 Squat Progression (assisted squat , squat , split squat , Bulgarian split squat , beginner shrimp squat)

    Second Pair

    • 3×5-8 Dip progression (parallel bar support hold (1 minute hold), negative dips , parallel bar dips)
    • 3×5-8 Hinge Progression (Romanian deadlift, single legged deadlift, banded Nordic curl negatives, banded Nordic curls, Nordic curls)

    Third Pair

    • 3×5-8 Row Progression (vertical rows, incline rows, horizontal rows, wide rows, weighted rows)
    • 3×5-8 Push-up progression (vertical push-up, incline push-up, full push-up, diamond push-up, pseudo planche push-up)

    Core Triplet

    • 3×8-12 Anti-Extension progression (plank (30 second hold), ring ab rollouts)
    • 3×8-12 Anti-Rotation progression (banded pallof press)
    • 3×8-12 Extension progression (reverse hyper-extension)

    5. Simplefit Beginner Routine

    Simplefit is another popular body weight exercise routine. It’s simple, only requires you workout 3 days a week and only involves 3 exercises per day.

    Day 1:

    • Max rounds in 20 min (as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes)
    • 1 pull-ups
    • 2 push-ups
    • 3 squats

    Day 2:

    • 5 rounds for time (see how quickly you can complete each round, resting 3 minutes between rounds)
    • 2 pull-ups
    • 6 push-ups
    • 10 squats

    Day 3:

    • For time (one round as quickly as you can)
    • 10 pull-ups
    • 21 push-ups
    • 21 squats

    You can increase the number of repetitions for each exercise as you get stronger, if you’d like.

    6. Growing Stronger

    The Growing Stronger Routine was developed specifically as a strength training routine for older adults at Tufts University and is recommended by the Centre for Disease Control.

    The exercises are done by lifting a load (body weight or a dumbell) and holding it for a count of two to four and then lowering it for another count of two to four. You then repeat the motion, smoothly and slowly for 10 repetitions.

    The program is divided into three parts as follows:

    Part I: Weeks 1 — 2

    1. Squats (onto chair): 2 sets of 10 repetitions
    2. Wall Push-ups: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
    3. Toe Stands: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
    4. Finger Walking: hold the position for 10 seconds, 3 sets

    Part II: Weeks 3 — 6 (add to part I routine)

    1. Biceps Curl: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
    2. Step-Up on Stairs (1 or 2 steps at a time): 2 sets of 10 repetitions
    3. Overhead Dumbell Press: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
    4. Side Leg Raises; 2 sets of 10 repetitions

    Part III: Weeks 7 + (add to part II routine)

    1. Knee Extensions: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
    2. Leg Curl: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
    3. Lying Pelvic Tilt: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
    4. Floor Back Extensions: 2 sets of 10 repetitions

    7. Just Do Something!

    No matter how you decide to exercise, anything is better than nothing.

    Choose activities, sports or exercises you enjoy doing, it will give you a better chance of sticking to it over the long term.

    That said, if you’re looking to lose weight, studies suggest you do 30 minutes a day, along with a healthy diet.[2] That could mean walking at a brisk pace, tennis, biking or the gym. Some studies even suggest that walking 15-20 minutes a day reduces your chance of getting a heart attack or stroke.

    For strength training, The Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that you do resistance exercise at least 2 days a week.[3] You can do weights, body weight exercises, or physical activity like heavy gardening (digging, hoeing), calisthenics, mountain biking, skiing, etc…

    Botton Line

    The bottom line is to choose an activity or routine you like to do and do it at least a couple of times every week. Throw in 15-20 minutes of walking every day and you’re golden!

    As a beginner, you’ll want to pace yourself and choose a routine that’s not too complex or overwhelming.

    The exercise routines above are some of the most popular and time tested routines available for beginners, guaranteed to get results and get you in tip top shape. Have fun!

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