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Full body work-out: 6 great exercises for beginners

Belfast-based PT Alan Waterman demonstrates a great full body work out for those just starting out at the gym.

By Alan Waterman

Still struggling to get your New Year's training routine off to a good start?

Or have you managed to hit up the gym in January, but found yourself only making friends with the treadmill, bike and cross-trainer?

One of the biggest problems faced by beginners is simply just not knowing what to do once they find themselves on a gymfloor.

This often means finding it difficult to get into a proper training routine, or to favour the 'safer', slightly more familiar cardio options (because, let's face it, the idea of training with weights will always be that little more daunting).

Unfortunately, this can lead to us either losing our motivation to train, or leave us not achieving our desired results - after all, weight training has been proven to help us maintain our muscle mass as we lose weight, which helps us create the bodyshape we're really chasing.

Most often, as beginners we just need a bit of direction and guidance as to what we really need to be doing - check out these 6 great exercises for helping you put together your first weight-training routine, to begin to help you get the results you really want this year.

1. Goblet squat

The goblet squat may be the most ideal starting point for those of us wanting to include the squat movement in our training routine.

Many beginners will struggle with the proper set up and positioning of a barbell squat, but we dodge many of those difficulties with the goblet squat variation, and the front-loading of the weight helps keep our torso more upright (firing up the abs in the process).

Can't get down as deep as you'd like? Don't worry - everyone will have different limitations with mobility, so work with what you're capable of, and aim to keep your range of motion consistent.

2. Elevated press-up

Press-ups are an incredibly under-rated upper body exercise, but hugely effective.

Often, people perform them off their knees on the floor, so end up missing out on the great core activation and full body control that press-ups help develop.

Although many beginners won't yet have built the strength to do full press-ups, elevating the movement makes it much easier to perform whilst still holding as full a press-up position as possible - this avoids missing out on the other great benefits of the movement.

3. Standing rack chin-up

Chin-ups are one of the gold standards of upper body strength, but many beginners will struggle to perform them at full bodyweight.

Instead of relying on seated machine versions, the standing rack chin-up allows us to begin to get used to handling our own bodyweight while, like the press-up, helping develop full body and core control.

4. Glute bridge

The deadlift is one of the best all-round body exercises you can do, but many beginners will struggle to nail the set up and technique without proper one-to-one instruction.

The glute bridge is a fantastic alternative for firing up many of the same major muscle groups as the deadlift (those along our "posterior chain") and minimally stresses the lower back - a common problem beginners will experience with deadlifts.

Developing strength through this posterior chain will set us up better for progressing into performing full deadlifts from the floor.

5. Face-pull

Many of us who spend our days sitting at a desk will experience a weakening of the upper back muscles, which can lead to postural issues.

We tend to neglect these muscle groups while training, in favour of our 'mirror muscles' (i.e. chest, arms, abs, etc.) but the face-pull is a great exercise to begin to build up the strength of these muscle groups, which can not only help improve posture, but help build strong, healthy shoulders which will help prevent injury as we continue on with our training.

6. Elevated plank

Planks are typically an incredibly effective core exercise, yet, as beginners, many will struggle to support their own bodyweight while holding correct position - this can easily lead to increased tension and even pain in the low back, which is the opposite of what we want.

Elevating the plank, as with the press-up, helps reduce the amount of bodyweight we're handling in the exercise, which can make it much easier to 'tuck' our pelvis and support our flattened (not arched) low back position, as well as preventing the hips from sagging during the exercise.

Beginner's Full-Body Routine:

  • Goblet squat; 3 x 8-10
  • Elevated press-up; 3 x 8-10
  • Standing rack chin-up; 3 x 8-10
  • Glute bridge; 3 x 12-15
  • Face-pull; 3 x 10-12
  • Elevated plank; 3 x 20-60 seconds

Want free advice and tips for helping to get the very most out of your training? Make sure to check out the Facebook page for daily content.

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