5 Beginner Gym Exercises to Get You Started on Losing Weight

posted: 03/02/16
by: Katie Morton
Hispanic woman at gym lifting dumbbell

It's no secret that consistent exercise is a key component to healthy weight loss. But if it's been awhile since you've hit the gym, it can be intimidating to know where to start. You may be wondering which exercises will be safe and effective for beginners, while still putting you on the path to meeting your weight loss goals. No worries, we've got you covered with expert tips to make your gym debut safe, effective, and healthy.

Dr. Karen Sutton has built her career on developing healthy bodies--she's the head surgeon for U.S. Women's Lacrosse, as well as a practicing orthopedic surgeon and professor at Yale University. Dr. Sutton has created a gym routine designed to build a healthier body at one's own pace, safely and without injury. The best part is this routine can fit into anyone's busy lifestyle, since all moves can be done in minutes, using minimal equipment.

The key is to start small--you want to master the basics before you move on to more advanced moves or heavier weights. Dr. Sutton recommends following "the three C's: Core strength, cross-training, and consistency" for lasting fitness and weight loss.

Here's how to get started:

1. Push-ups (3 sets of 10 reps)

Place palms flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. If you're strong enough, you can do a traditional push-up. If you're still building upper body strength, then use the modified push-up form. Slowly lower down, and then push your body weight up again using one controlled movement.

2. Pull-ups (3 sets of 5 reps)

Pull-ups may evoke memories of your high school gym teacher, but have no fear--this simple exercise is terrific for building lean muscle. You may not be able to do a full pull-up at the outset and that's OK. You can start small--use the assisted pull-up machine or the Smith Machine bar to help you.

3. Tricep dips (3 sets of 10 reps)

This exercise tones the back of the arms for short-sleeve season. You can start out with knees bent if you're a beginner. Place hands shoulder-width apart on a bench behind you, lower yourself down, and then back up.

4. Lunges (3 sets of 10 reps, each leg)

Stand and place hands on hips. Lower yourself into lunge position and then push back up with your legs. Do 10 reps on each leg for one set, and then switch to the other leg.

5. Squats (3 sets of 12 reps)

When you're starting out, squats are a great way to build lower body strength and work your core. As you become more advanced, you can add weights. Here are more details on the proper squat form.

These moves are a great way to reintroduce exercising and see real results. Don't be discouraged that you're starting from the beginning--what's key is that you're starting! Be proud of yourself for investing in your health and well-being. And remember, with each gym session you're that much closer to achieving your weight loss goal.