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  • Writer's pictureEmma Carpenter

The 5 best/worst exercises to do as a beginner.


How many people go to the gym and don't actually know where to start when it comes to exercise?

Does anyone ever go to the gym and jump from cardio machine to cardio machine? Who buys a online 'beginner' programme and the first thing you see on week 1 is either sit ups or burpees? I have seen it through buying programs, having my inductions in the gym and being the person who went on cardio machines as I was too nervous to go in the free weight section.



Truth is a lot of exercises they get you to do is more for 'intermediate'. A lot of plans are generic that a beginner program doesn't fit all. So the first thing I will always do with any of my clients is have a trial session which is completely free as I can't write a program without seeing that person do the exercises I need to see. I need to know their strengths, weaknesses, techniques,medical conditions and posture. All of these and more need to be taken into consideration before a program can be made. In a round about way what i am saying is that no beginner plan is for everyone, as every beginner is different.


So what I am going to say now is my 5 exercises I would recommend to someone who is a beginner and the exercises I would include in a 'beginners' program after I have seen what they can do. So these exercises may need to be adapted to your individual needs.


Emma's 5 best beginner exercise:



1.Squat- this exercise is adaptable for everyone's needs. For a beginner I would start with a body weight squat. This exercise is built into our human genetics, The best humans for squats are actually children as they have perfect technique as they haven't been taught otherwise. A bodyweight squat helps build your leg muscles (including quadriceps, hamstrings and hip flexors) your posterior chain and this exercise is needed for basic everyday tasks like sitting on a chair. When you master the technique you can then start adding weight but for beginners start at bodyweight. Feet hip width apart, turn toes out slightly, chest up looking forward and then tilt hips back, keep chest upright and sit down towards the ground. Knees should not buckle in and feet need to stay flat on the floor.


2.Shoulder taps- This is an upper body exercise, this is now impactful and can be adapted to individual needs and progress to make it a more complex movement. Kneel on a mat, hands directly under your shoulders, knees directly under your knees and cross your feet. Look forward and opposite hands touch opposite shoulder. Do not rock your body keep your core engaged. This works your arm muscles and anterior chain (your core).


3.Heel taps-This is a core exercise. This is low impact, can be used even after having a baby as is a gentle exercise for the core muscles. This can be progressed to make it more complexed. For this exercise lay on your back, heels in to your bottom, crunch your head up and then rock side to side trying to touch your heels. This doesn't just work your abdominal muscles but also your obliques.


4.Glute bridges-This exercise helps builds your booty muscles but also helps with flexibility in bYour hamstrings. This exercise is underrated and needs to be part of not only beginner plans but even the best in fitness should include them but adapt them to their abilities. Lay on your back, heels in towards your booty, hands flat on floor. When ready push your pelvis up towards the ceiling,squeeze those booty muscles then return to the start position. If you have just had a baby pelvic tilts are a great exercise to help with pelvic floor issues.


5.Quadrupled raises- This is a lower back exercise however is not too impactful like deadlifts. Begin on all fours, knees directly under hips, hands directly under shoulders. Looking slightly in front of you, whe ready lift opposite arm opposite leg up so your arm comes forward and your leg goes back. Keep your belly button pulled in and up to engage the core to stop you from rocking side to side. This exercise can be made more difficult as you progress.


As you can see above all these exercises are bodyweight however all these 5 exercises make a full body circuit routine so why not give it a go. Complete 8-12 reps and then have a 90 second rest after the 5 exercises and then repeat 3 more times. Remember to warm up and stretch off, make sure you are medically well enough to start exercising too.


Emma's 5 worst beginner exercise:




1.Burpees- This makes me cross when I look into beginner programs and i see burpees are in the workout. This is not a beginner exercise! There are so many more exercises that can be put in the program that work exactly same muscles, star jumps, step ups, squats to name a few. Burpees are a super complex movement and if done wrong as i have seen many of a time, can cause an injury as people throw themselves to the floor.


2.Sit ups- once again how many times would you see this in a beginner workout? I guarantee that 9 out of 10 workouts will have this in. This is not a beginner exercise, again this is complex, there is other exercises you can do to work your core muscles. Most people do the sit ups but feel it in their back, this is because it is too impactful on your core and your back muscles are compensating for the core muscles. Swap it out to crunches or even heel taps which i mentioned above.


3.Press ups- yes this is a great exercise and works most of your muscles however how people think beginner press ups are done is on the floor on your knees, this is wrong how i would start clients on press ups is on a wall. They can angle themselves so it is less impactful, you can progress by increasing the angle your body is to the wall, once this is mastered I would then progress them to kneeling press ups however this would be a more intermediate exercise. If you're a beginner and have kneeling press ups in your workout then swap it out for wall press ups.


4.Lunges/split squats- Like sit ups these are in 9/10 workouts. However even bodyweight this is a lot of stress on your knees and hips. Even not taught properly you can cause an injury to your knee as your knee will rock out. If this comes up in a program and you are a beginner then swap it out for glute bridges like I said above.


5.Deadlifts- Never ever do deadlifts unless you have been shown properly how to do the technique. I see so many people do it with rounded backs, too much weight on the bar, rounded shoulders. If you do this you are getting a one way ticket to having back problems. However you still see them in programs for example Romanian deadlifts. Nope swap that out immediately if you are a true 'beginner' and deadlifts are in your workout, switch it out for quadrupled raises as stated above.


Writing this has made me realise how the online training system is too generic. It doesn't always work for every individual as the key word is 'generic' it fits some people but not all. In the new year everyone has the boost of 'new year new me' however you then jump on the band wagon of great online deals and buy the prgram hoping it helps you out. It makes me cross when trainers make money through generic plans as people can get hurt. So please if you are reading this please think before you buy a 'beginner' program as this normally isn't a 'beginner' programme. When you go to a gym induction I would make it clear that you are a beginner as otherwise when you get your free programme from the gym you might as well change everything on it as I guarantee there will be exercises on that card like sit ups. Lunges and press ups.




Obviously it is down to individual preference however this blog is all about keeping things real so I wanted to be honest on my ideas of what a 'beginner' exercise looks like. Most of my clients who come to work with me are all 'beginners'. The difference is as I am a personal trainer on a 1-2-1 basis and my clien


ts get an individual tailor made programme for their individual needs. There are so many apps out their for 'free' workouts however what i want you to do today is think before you do the workout. Is this a 'beginner' workout? Will these workouts benefit fit me and my needs? Do i have medical conditions that may be effected to that movements? Can i adapt out this exercise for a less complex movement that works the same muscles? But remember guys "Let's keep it real."







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