Not sure where to begin? “Functional HIIT training is a great place to start,” Thompson says since it combines strength training and cardio. “High intensity interval training allows participants to maintain high-intensity exercise for longer periods of time than during continuous exercise and with each move being done in short bursts—it lends to lack of boredom.” It’s worth noting here that what constitutes “high intensity” will look different on everyone, so if you’re new to exercising, fear not—your speed may be slower at first as you work on your form and conditioning.
And in general, focusing on functional movements is ideal for everyone because they mimic moves you do in our everyday lives—like carrying groceries or standing from a seated position, for instance—so you’re also training your body to be able to perform these movements better.
Especially when you’re starting a new fitness routine, finding confidence is key, Thompson says. And learning the beginner workout moves below can help you build yours.
5 beginner workout moves that will set you up for success
1. Fast feet close-to-wide
“This is an easy, effective way to warm up the body, get the blood pumping, or elevate your heart rate in any workout,” Thompson says. “Get some fast feet going and find a good pace.”
To perform, start in a shallow squat (knees bent, butt back) with your feet shoulder-width apart. Begin to sprint in place, moving your feet as quickly as possible by only lifting them a few inches off of the floor. “Once you’ve got your rhythm, do a few steps closer together and a few with a wider stance—keep alternating throughout the whole set.” Aim for two to three rounds of 30 seconds.
A list of beginner workout moves wouldn’t be complete without push-ups. “This move is easy to modify to all fitness levels and works the body in several parts—pushing through the chest and then opening up with some rotation,” Thompson says. Start in a high plank position with your wrists, elbows, and shoulders in alignment. Lower yourself to the ground, then press yourself back up into the high plank position. “Maintain a strong core to prevent any dipping into the lower back,” he says. To modify, come down to your knees.
Watch this video for more push-up form tips:
3. RPG plank
Thompson says that this plank variation challenges the muscles all throughout your core. Start in a forearm plank, then “gently rock a few inches forward and back, maintaining control for a full 40 seconds.”
4. Bicycle crunches
“These are an excellent way to fire up all through your core, especially the obliques,” Thompson says. (Your obliques would be the abs muscles that run along the sides of your stomach and help you with rotation.) Start by lying on your back and bring your legs bent, knees over hips, shins parallel to the floor, and hands behind your head. Engage your core by drawing your belly button toward your spine, tuck your chin and curl your head up so you’re looking at your thighs, then rotate your torso to bring your left armpit toward your right hip, while extending your left leg to straight at a 45-degree angle. Reverse the movement to return to start and repeat on the other side.
5. Squat with alternating lunges
“Staying low in between the lunges will fire up your quads and glutes, and challenge all the little muscles that work as stabilizers,” Thompson says. Start with your feet around hip-width distance apart and your toes slightly turned out. Lower down into a half squat (think: knees bent at 45 rather than 90 degrees). “Extend one leg back into a reverse lunge and then bring it back to the starting position,” Thompson explains. “Repeat on the other side—staying low into that half squat position the whole time and make sure you’re keeping your chest proud.” This means collarbones wide and shoulder blades pinched together on your back.
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