As a beginner training at home by yourself can be very challenging. Not only is fostering the motivation to get moving difficult, but finding simple and basic exercises that you can flow through can also be challenging. Thankfully we have a wide variety of exercises that beginners can use to take their first steps towards building a regular exercise routine. Let’s take a look at the 12 basic exercises beginners can use at home to start moving today.
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The majority of the exercises are bodyweight and require no equipment but I have provided some that have either a resistance band or kettlebell. These are great tools to consider purchasing if your planning on training at home consistently.
Simplicity makes taking that first step towards exercise easier, any reduction in this friction which can prevent training from getting started or completed is great.
Reducing the technique allows you to focus on improving physical attributes, highly technical movement add complexity and result in the emphasis being taken away from creating a physiological stimulus. This stimulus can be much greater when the technique is simple and easy.
When you have a simple task to complete it encourages consistency. Simple effective training that create results will allow beginners to become consistent in their movement practice. It takes time to build a consistent practice, but starting with simple and basic movements is a great way to build a foundation of consistent practice.
These exercises can be put together to create a full body resistance training session that will work your entire body. It involves incorporating movements from a variety of movement patterns. Doing this a few times a week can be the basis of using resistance training to build a strong healthy body.
For those short on time, doing 2-3 basic exercises a few times a week can be a great introduction to building a regular movement practice. Here is an example of a full body circuit that includes three of the movements in our list.
Complete 3 rounds
The counterbalance box squat is one of the simplest squatting variations for beginners to use to learn the squat position. It is especially effective if you have reduced mobility or have been immobilised for a while and need to ease into the squat movement pattern.
If you’re a beginner but have been active in the past and / or are generally athletic this variation may be a little too easy for you. This is a great exercise for seniors just getting into movement or those under going rehabilitation.
The wall sit is an example of a very basic and simple exercise that can be physically taxing. Once the required position is found correctly you just need to maintain this position for the time prescribed.
The reverse lunge is an excellent introduction to unilateral (single leg) squat work. It is the most complex of the three squat movements provided but is still a relatively basic exercise. Put emphasis on controlling the decent of the knee towards the floor and maintaining a solid torso position.
The seated good morning is one of the simplest and basic hinge variations available and can be extremely good for beginners to learn the hinge movement in a controlled and safe environment by completely isolating the hip joint.
It’s important to plant your feet on the floor and have the knees wider than the hips on this movement otherwise you will not have enough space to hinge into.
This technically isn’t a hinge movement, it is a spinal flexion movement (bending the spine). That being said it’s still an excellent, simple variation for beginners to use as the ease into movement and exercise. This needs to be done slowly and intentionally otherwise it will have little effect, take your time reaching across your body and feeling a stretch in the hamstring.
The eccentric press up on bench can be done on a bed, a chair or a sofa so don’t worry about not having a bench to do it on. This does require some upper body strength so be sure your body is ready for this kind of movement. It’s really important to keep a tight core throughout, the hips shouldn’t drop down and the shoulders shouldn’t cave in.
The hands elevated lateral crawl can help a beginner become comfortable taking their own body weight. It’s a very basic move that just requires slow intentional movement. Again this does require some upper body strength so if you have been inactive for a while you may want to avoid this exercise.
Seated banded pulls offer beginners a simple and easy introduction into the pulling movement pattern. In this variation you will need to focus on keeping the back straight and the shoulders down, with the elbows finishing in-line with the belly button.
This exercise is slightly more complex than the seated banded pull as it requires some rotation and good foot positioning. It is still a great introduction to pulling mixed with core work. The pull can be fast and controlled but the return to the starting position should be done slowly allowing the band to pull on your abdominals.
The dead-bug hold is the basis of all anterior core work as it helps beginners learn the positioning of the pelvis required to work in the anti-extension movement pattern. This is a great place for beginners to start their journey to a strong core and abdominals.
This exercise requires the same pelvic positioning (posterior pelvic tilt) as the dead-bug and is another great introductory exercise for finding this position. Beginners can focus on physical output on core exercises like this rather than on technique.
The side plank is a very simple isometric holding position that requires some form of base level strength in the obliques. It is one of the most basic variations to work on the obliques, one note is to ensure elbow positioning is correct.
The suitcase hold is one of the simplest exercises available. It requires you to hold a kettlebell without any movement for the time prescribed. The suitcase hold primarily works the obliques but also adds stimulus to the lumbar spine.
The relaxed bear crawl can help beginners learn to take their body wight whilst moving their body through organic positions that allow the spine to move through different ranges of motion that are rarely done in day to day life.
The half kneeling rise is one of the most basic exercises and doesn’t put emphasis on a specific movement pattern but just aims to provide some light gentle movement through the lower body.
These are all great exercises to consider adding into your current movement practice or when you are creating your next training session. Beginners can struggle to find exercises that suit their needs, if you’re having trouble, don’t hesitate to look through our extensive movement library on this site that you can use to build your sessions.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.