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Watch: 7 beginner exercises to help you get fit in 2019

Belfast PT and nutritionist Alan Waterman shares the perfect workout for gym novices

By Alan Waterman

Caught the New Year fitness bug?

Whether you're already in full gym-freak mode, or whether you've yet to get the ball rolling, having a solid training plan in place is a key part to ensuring that your fitness pursuits last longer than just the next handful of weeks.

Because after all, burnout and injury are all too common when it comes to trying to jump headfirst into a full-on, highly time and energy demanding programme.

The biggest issue however, especially for beginners, is knowing what they actually need to be doing once they step onto the gymfloor. Because these days, most gyms leave us spoilt for choice with equipment, so it's hard to know what we should (or shouldn't) be doing once we find ourselves there.

Check out my top seven exercises and a full-body workout routine for beginners.

Note: Although these are all great movements, they may not be appropriate for all. If you experience joint pain or any great discomfort whilst performing any type of movement that can't be corrected with a change in technique, your best bet is to avoid that particular exercise or to find a suitable substitution.

New year full-body beginner's programme

Goblet squat: 2/3 x 12-15

Elevated press-up: 2/3 x 10-12

Glute bridge: 2/3 x 12-15

Seated cable row: 2/3 x 10-12

Alternating step-up: 2/3 x 15-20

Half-kneeling face pull: 2/3 x 12-15

Pallof press: 2/3 x 8-10 each side

Goblet squat

There's no doubt that squats are one of the best ways to build overall body strength, but the traditional barbell squat may not be a suitable starting point for beginners. The goblet squat is a great alternative, with the front-loading of the weight help to maintain an upright torso, and encouraging correct path of movement around the knees and hips. Handy tip: Make sure to squeeze your glutes at the top of each rep.

Elevated press-up

Although often used as the gold-standard for assessing upper body strength, the truth is that press-ups (when done correctly) are actually a very challenging movement.

Beginners may struggle with the required levels of strength to perform good quality reps from the floor, so by instead elevating the movement, we manage to make it considerably easier (by removing a lot of the bodyweight involved,) whilst also developing the habit of holding an actual Press Up position, which we miss with those variations where we perform them on our knees.

Glute bridge

Although deadlifts can be a great full-body exercise, many beginners will find they struggle with the movement, especially if they don't have the right coaching for it.

 and run a much greater risk of injury with attempting such a complex exercise, particularly if they have a history of lower back pain. The Glute Bridge is a great alternative, which targets many of the same muscle groups as the deadlift, but with much less risk. It can be a great stepping-stone for strengthening up the required muscles for performing a full deadlift, or a great substitute for those with pre-existing low back pain.

Seated cable row

Although we can easily get carried away with working those slightly more visually appealing 'mirror muscles' of the chest, shoulders, and arms, neglecting our upper back is one of the cardinal sins of weight training.

Maintaining the balance of strength between the muscles on our front and those on our back is important from even so much as an injury perspective, let alone posture. If we are working through a programme which has any 'pressing' exercises (e.g. the press up), we should make sure we have at least one 'pulling' exercise to counterbalance it. The seated cable row is a great starting point for helping to get to grips with a basic, but very important, movement pattern.

Step up

Single-leg movements are hugely beneficial within a training programme, but something which many beginners struggle with. The step-up is a great starting point for developing our single-leg strength, especially if we feel that we struggle with Lunge variations. Best bit of advice? Don't rush them. It's much easier to see our form break down when we do.

Half-kneeling face pull

Spend endless hours sitting at a desk throughout the week? ou may find your upper back could do with some real strengthening.

The face-pull is a fantastic exercise for targeting the upper back and rear shoulder muscles, which is a great way to start to 'open out' those typically tight muscles across the chest and shoulders, and pull everything back into a much healthier position.

Performing this in a half-kneeling position also allows us to hold a solid hip and thigh stretch, which, again, we tend to find tighten up from prolonged periods of sitting. Tight hips are a huge contributor to lower back pain, so stretching them is a must!

Pallof press

Although a very basic core exercise, the Pallof press is a highly effective one. By training the core to help resist movement, we effectively develop our ability to stay injury free by engaging the core musculature to prevent unwanted movements.

Many injuries we sustain through our lower back are based on excessive, sudden, or twisting movements, so increasing our ability to stay stable not only can help our midsection look great, but feeling great too.

Want to find out more about how you can get your New Year's fitness goals off to a great start? Download a completely free copy of my weight loss and fitness guide to help you get started here.

You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram for new daily content, fitness advice, and weight loss tips.

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