Starting a new workout regimen is never easy but starting a workout regimen when you have never worked out before or have taken years off can be downright scary. It takes a delicate balance of keeping your motivation up due to teetering between not making enough headway and working out too hard too soon. So what is the right way to start up an exercise program?
“Slow and steady wins the race”. The key is to start easy and try to challenge yourself a little bit more with every workout. As you get closer to your own limits you will start getting sore on the day or two after a routine. If you get uncomfortably sore then you know you have pushed just a little too far. When you hit that mark you need to slow down the pace at which you are increasing the difficulty of your workouts and start looking at other variables to add in such as flexibility, muscle building, and diet modification to help you continue on your path to the body and fitness level that you want.
With that approach in mind, this beginner cardio routine was built for those brand new to exercise and those coming back after a long break. Built to be easy enough for even the most out of shape person, this workout is also designed to be easily modified to become harder as you progress in strength and endurance through your first month or two before having to switch to a more challenging routine. This will help you get through those crucial first weeks of habit building without having to worry about looking for new exercises.
The following is a more detailed look at each low impact cardio exercise and the different ways to modify each motion from its easiest form to it’s most difficult.
1. Jog in Place Jacks: In its easiest form this is a very slow and light walking in place with a slow jumping jack like motion with your arms. But as you need to progress, change your walking motion to marching, jogging, high knees or full blown jumping jacks, increasing your arm movement speed as you increase the difficulty of the leg movement.
2. Windmill Steps: The beginning level of this exercise is just a simple side step, letting your trailing leg come behind you with a slight tap, as well as adding the large circular arm swing. As you want this to be harder you can drop your hips lower to the ground, adding a squatting position. Increase the step width and speed until you substitute the motion with a lateral jump rather than a step.
3. Static Squat + Punches: Starting with a very shallow squat and a punching motion without any extra weight, only hold your squat for a few seconds before coming up continuing your punches. As you progress stay down longer (until the maximum time), squat lower, and start using dumbbells with your punching motion. Do not, however, speed up your punches, especially if using extra weight.
4. Static Lunge + Curls: Start with a shallow lunge with your feet relatively close together and either very light dumbbells or possibly only arm weight for your bicep curls. As you progress, lunge deeper and with your feet further apart and increase the amount of weight you use with your curl. Do not increase the speed of your curl.
5. Static Lunge + Tricep Extension: With this lunge position only the front leg is bent and the rear leg is extended straight. Start with a shallow lunge and little to no weight in your hands. When you want more of a challenge, increase the depth of the lunge and the distance between your feet as well as the amount of weight you are using for your tricep extension. Do not increase the speed of your tricep extensions.
6. Fingertip to Toe Jacks: Start with a slow leg lift reaching to your toes each time then increase the height of the leg lift as well as the speed of the leg until you are actually hopping back and forth from leg to leg with only one foot on the ground at a time and moments when both feet are off the ground. At this pace you will need to alternate one hand going up while the other is coming down.
7. Stutter Step: The easiest version of this exercise is still hard but start with all of your weight in one leg with only a slight bend (or even keep it straight), placing the opposite leg back only a few inches behind you and driving the knee up in front of you slowly as you bring your hands down. Increase the depth of your squat on the supporting leg while extending the moving leg further and further behind you. At the same time, start increasing the speed of which you move your arms and leg.
This low impact cardio workout is an ideal starting point for beginners. This is also a great workout for obese people, or for those who are otherwise overweight. It has been specifically designed to have an emphasis on low impact exercises that raise the heart rate while causing minimal stress to the joints.