Pretty much every fitness program out there claims it can transform your body in X amount of days, weeks, or months. But the truth is, an exercise program will only work if you can actually stick to it.
And chances are, you’re not going to stick to anything that’s too overwhelming.
Does that mean you shouldn’t start the fitness program you already have your eye on? Of course not! In fact, pretty much any program can be modified to accommodate your current level of fitness and stamina.
But it’s a lot easier to stay motivated when you feel like the app or program is in line with your current fitness level.
As a fitness app junkie and certified PT, I’ve tried a lot of programs by this point. (And I’ve even created one too!) And I find there are programs that ease you in gently while others kind of…. throw you into the deep end.
So to make choosing your first fitness program a little easier for you, I’ve curated a list of what are – in my opinion – the best workout programs for beginners. The one you should choose will depend on your fitness goals and of course, what you enjoy doing!
All three programs are ideal for working out at home – no gym memberships to worry about!
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1. Best Equipment-Free, Printable Program for Beginners – Serial Starter Fix by The Fit Careerist
Ideal if: You need something simple and straightforward to follow, and/or you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend a lot of money on equipment or monthly subscriptions.
The secret sauce in this program is doability; workouts are simple but challenging enough to be effective.
Workouts are short and you don’t even need an app to do the exercises. The workout guide is a printable PDF with large graphics and fonts which make the workouts really easy to follow along with. (No need to worry about that spotty internet connection in your workout space!)
You don’t need any equipment either – all the exercises use your own bodyweight to create resistance. Trust me, as a beginner, this is more than enough resistance. In fact, since you won’t be lifting weights that might be too heavy for you, you are less likely to pull a muscle. (One of my rookie mistakes as a new exerciser!)
My 28-day program also comes with a printable weekly calendar, a progress tracker, and weekly motivation emails to keep you on track.
Even better, you can snag it for only $16.99 which makes for a really cost-effective option if you’re on a budget and can’t really commit to a monthly subscription program.
2. Best Customizable Program – Fitness for Beginners by the Jillian Michaels Fitness App
Ideal if: You’re looking for a customized exercise experience and options for ongoing fitness plans for the long term
I’ve always been a fan of this celebrity trainer and her app does not disappoint!
It’s a highly polished app that has pretty much everything you need to form an ongoing exercise habit. The workouts are presented as spliced together videos of JM doing each exercise while she talks you through it.
Other perks include some pretty decent workout music and a weekly meal planner complete with grocery lists and recipes.
One of the many programs on the app is Fitness for Beginners, which is 30-days long and designed to kickstart your exercise routine, even if you’re totally new to fitness.
The program consists of 10 different workouts that are no longer than 20 minutes each. It will get you results in a way that’s safe for beginners.
As a bonus, when you subscribe to My Fitness, you also get access to JM’s DVD library, which means you can also take advantage of her Beginner Shred DVD, another 30-day program consisting of 3 different workouts that you do for 10 days each. If you want to try something harder, 30 Day Shred is also a fantastic program and is also available on the app.
When you’re done with beginner workouts, the app has a multitude of other programs ranging from 6-52 weeks, as well as a customizable workout generator that designs customized workouts for you.
In other words, no matter how long you’re subscribed to the app, you’ll never run out of new and challenging workouts to do!
JM’s app offers a 7-Day free trial so that you can get a taste before committing to a subscription plan.
3. Best Audio-Guided program: Intro to Weight Loss by Aaptiv
Ideal if: Your goal is to lose weight or develop a highly customized fitness regime
The main reason why I love this app is that it gives you a good mix of all the exercises you need to stay fit including cardio, stretching, and strength training.
But it’s also highly customizable. You get to choose which days you work out, and you can always swap out one exercise for another if you want.
Also, it has some of the best music selections of any fitness app I’ve ever used.
These are audio-guided workouts which are especially great for cardio or workouts when you don’t necessarily want to have your eyes glued to a screen. For the strength training exercises, there are little “cue cards” with simple videos showing you how to do the moves properly.
Once you finish the program, your fitness journey is far from over. There’s a ton of other programs to choose from, or you can simply customize your own ongoing exercise schedule using the “Coach”.
Aaptiv also has one of the most generous free-trial offers out there: you can test it out for 30 days free before committing to a subscription!
Bottom Line: The best workout programs for beginners are the ones that are not going to be overwhelming.
I want to reiterate that you don’t have to start out with a beginner-oriented program, but it can be really helpful if you struggle with motivation, are really out of shape, or are brand new to fitness.
Because it’s so important to learn how to do the exercises properly, and equally crucial that you don’t overwhelm yourself.
And when you feel overwhelmed is when you want to give up.
( By the way, if you struggle with motivation to exercise, I came up with this free guide to help! It’s for cultivating the right mindset about exercise, based on my own experiences.)
Which of these 3 best workout programs for beginners are you thinking about trying?
Do you have any questions about any of them? Let me know in the comments!