The world of fitness can be confusing. There’s so much information – and often misinformation – around, that you don’t know how to start and what’s really effective and what’s not. That’s the reason why we created this guide that shows you what is really necessary and what every beginner should learn first. A workout for beginners shoud be described with one sentence: Build a solid foundation! This guide shows you the 6 exercises all beginners should learn first.
What you will learn in this article:
Supporting your own bodyweight
Support Holds are a necessary requirement for many exercises like knee raises, dips, push ups and so on. The special thing about support holds is that you’re doing it with straight arms and that you can support yourself in many different positions. In the pictures you can see the horizontal front support, horizontal side support, horizontal back support, vertical support and vertical overhead support.
All these exercises target different muscles but have one thing in common: You need basic core, shoulder and scapula strength. The difficulty of the hold can vary depending on the joint and body position. It’s also a huge difference if you support yourself on a stable ground or an unstable tool like rings. Rings are more for intermediates, so stick to the floor or rigid bars in the beginning.
We still suggest learning and improving yourself in all these positions, to build an evenly trained body as well as a stable and mobile shoulder joint. All of these and also the following exercises can be found in our comprehensive online courses you can find on calimove.com. So if you’re looking for a day by day guide to progress fast make sure to check our offers.
Here you have to distinguish between an active and a passive hang. In the passive hang you just hang from the bar without any kind of active shoulder or shoulder blade work. The main purpose of this exercise is to improve grip strength, but if done correctly, it’s also a very good movement to decompress the spine, work on basic core stability, and open your shoulders while stretching the pecs and lats.
The active hang on the other hand will not only improve your grip strength but also activate a lot of the muscles around your shoulder and back. Here you depress and retract your shoulder blades without bending your arms.
While the full range active hang is not required to initiate pull ups and straight arm exercises like skin the cat and hanging knee and leg raises, it’s still necessary to add a bit of tension to protect the shoulders in those movements. If you can’t activate your lats and lower traps to add tension to your shoulders, don’t even bother to try the skin the cat or even the front lever.
The full range active hang is still a very good exercise to work on those muscles and is very important to build up strength in this area. All straight arm but also bend arm pull movements benefit from this exercise.
Bent Arm Push
The next category is bent arm push and here it’s quite simple. Do regular push ups. Push ups are the easiest bent arm push exercise and can easily be adapted to your level. Exercises like dips and pike push ups require more strength and suit better to intermediates. Once you are able to do a couple of clean reps on the ground, you can also try other push up variations or dips.
Bent Arm Pull
If there is bent arm push there is also bent arm pull. From our experience we know that pull ups are the most favored exercise in this category. Nearly every beginner wants to learn pull ups and while it’s possible to work with easier progressions like band or feet assisted pull ups, we still suggest prioritizing body row for a while.
Rows simply offer more precise progressions and it’s also easier to learn the right technique and focus on important back muscles like the rhomboids, the middle traps and even the rear delts instead of the lats only.
6 exercises all beginners should learn: Lower Body & Knee Dominant Exercises
The next category is about the lower body and knee dominant exercises. Here it’s no surprise that we suggest squats and lunges. Squats work with both legs at the same time while lunges emphasize different positions for each leg. The biggest benefit of lunges is that it can help correct strength imbalances between both legs.
Most people have dominant and non-dominant sides. So when performing exercises like squats in which both legs are involved at once, it’s really hard to tell which side is exerting more effort. Eventually, your dominating side will continue to get stronger and the weaker side will remain weak. Lunging is the best way to overcome this problem.
Squats are still one of the best lower body exercises and should be part of every beginner workout routine. Once you are able to do a lot of clean squats you can try harder single leg knee dominant variations. These could be for example the Bulgarian Split or even pistol squats.
Lower Body & Hip Dominant Exercises
The last category is also about the lower body but this time it’s Hip dominant. Here we suggest any kind of hip thrusts or glute bridges. While squats and lunges also work your glutes and hamstrings, hip dominant movements achieve a higher tension in the extended position. This makes it a more glute and hamstring focused movement. Similar to the lunges you could spot and also eradicate imbalances if you do the exercises with one instead of two legs.
Are ABS in the 6 exercises all beginners should learn?
Why aren´t the ABS in the 6 exercises that all beginners should learn? Well in our experience people tend to overvalue ab training even if they already train their abs in most of these 6 categories. For example: Let’s take a look at the horizontal front & side support. This is nothing more than a plank or side plank and will already work your abs very well. Even the passive hang as well as the vertical support hold will work your abs to some degree. Of course if done correctly.
If you have no problems with basic support exercises we suggest harder plank variations, hanging and supporting knee raises as well as the hollow body crunch. You can find all of those exercises in our workout programs as well. Every Program comes as a step by step online course, with high quality videos and everything you need to progress. Are you looking for a program of calisthenics for beginners, a course you can do at home, workouts for muscle growth or mobility routines? Take a look at our website.
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