5 Perfect Weight-Loss Workouts for Beginners

When starting a weight-loss journey, virtually any workout can benefit beginners. However, specific options are particularly well-suited for the novice crowd, helping to improve progress in the gym, boosting strength, building lean muscle mass, and enhancing fat-burning capabilities. In honor of that, I have five perfect weight-loss workouts for beginners that are seamless additions to your routine.

My piece of advice for beginners? Go for the low-hanging fruit. What I mean is this: Opt for easier exercises such as goblet squats, dumbbell lunges, dumbbell press variations, mountain climbers and planks, and less-intense cardio intervals. Use great form, and keep the volume to moderate reps within your sets. Win the day, and leave ready to come back to put in that work tomorrow. These concepts will allow you to build your confidence as you maintain consistency, a dangerous one-two punch for anyone looking to lose weight.

You have my advice and a few motivational words. Now, let’s dive into what you’re looking for. Following my guidelines, I curated five perfect weight-loss workouts for beginners. They include easy yet practical exercises. Once you’ve put some time into the gym, the movements can quickly be progressed to more challenging variations if desired. Don’t worry about what day of the week or restarting your training week every Sunday or Monday. Do these workouts in order, take a rest day when needed, and repeat these five workouts four to six times. Pair that with hydration, a healthy, balanced diet, and some recovery, and you’ll be on your way!

Keep reading for the best weight-loss workouts for beginners. And when you’re finished, be sure to check out People Are ‘Retro Walking’ & Swear by the Benefits: ‘My Posture Is Now Nearly Perfect’.

Workout #1: Upper Push and Lower Pull Strength

The best weight-loss workouts for beginners kick off with some strength training. Strength workouts demand that your body is prepared and focused as they consume more energy and require precise technique. In this session, you’ll concentrate on upper and lower-body training, emphasizing presses to sculpt your chest, shoulders, and triceps, alongside exercises to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. Add a touch of abdominal work, and there you have it—your inaugural workout is complete!

1. 1-1-2 Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

The incline dumbbell chest press effectively targets your upper body’s major anterior muscle groups: chest, delts, triceps, and forearms. The 1-1-2 concept ties together the stability and coordination benefits of unilateral exercises with bilateral movements’ strength and muscle-building qualities, creating a daunting exercise for burning fat.

Begin by safely positioning yourself on an inclined flat bench. Press the dumbbells above your chest and shoulders with straight arms. Execute a single-arm incline chest press with your right arm, followed by your left arm, ensuring controlled lowering and strong pressing movements. Transition to a regular incline chest press, engaging both arms simultaneously. Completing this sequence constitutes one repetition. Perform three sets of four to six repetitions with 75 seconds of rest between sets.

2. Dumbbell Glute Bridges

Having a solid set of glutes does more than just boost your metabolism. Your glutes are one of the largest muscles in your body, so showing them some love is a must. They also help improve deadlifts, squats, lunges, RDLs, and beloved ab exercises.

Begin face up with your knees bent and your feet flat, shoulder-width apart. Ensure your shins are vertical and your ankles and knees are stacked. Slightly tilt your pelvis toward your chin to brace your abs. Push your heel through the floor and drive your hips up, squeezing the glutes at the top. Perform three sets of 18 to 20 reps with 75 seconds of rest between sets.

3. Side Planks with Leg Lifts

side plank leg raise, concept of weight-loss workouts for beginners

This side plank variation will target your obliques and abs while keeping the theme of training your glutes, specifically your lateral glute muscles. If you find the leg lift challenging, start by lifting your leg to a comfortable height, and aim to increase it gradually with each repetition of the workout.

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Start in a side plank position with your elbow under your shoulder, lifting your hips to form a straight line. Lift your top leg straight up, engaging your hip muscles, and hold briefly before lowering it. Switch sides, and repeat. Complete three sets of 15 to 20 reps per side with 60 seconds of rest between sets.

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Workout #2: Lower Push and Upper Pull Strength

In your second workout, you’ll give your pressing and hinge muscles time to recover while focusing on strengthening your lats, upper back, and quads. Squats are paired with rows; your core exercise will hone in on your rectus abdominous, aka those six-pack abs! Stay mentally and physically engaged, as this session can be pretty challenging.

1. One-and-a-Half Goblet Squats

Time under tension sets the rules with the one-and-a-half goblet squat. You’ll engage your core and feel the quads burn as you execute a full-depth squat, rise halfway, and descend again to complete one fat-blasting rep.

To perform the one-and-a-half goblet squat, hold a kettlebell or dumbbell close to your chest with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body into a squat position, keeping your chest upright and your core engaged as you bend your knees and push your hips back. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly below. Rise halfway up, then lower back down into the bottom position of the squat before standing up fully to complete one repetition. Perform three sets of six to 12 reps with 75 seconds of rest between sets.

2. Chest-Supported Dumbbell Rows

chest-supported row, concept of weight-loss workouts for beginners

By supporting your upper body, you can concentrate on fully stretching and contracting the lat muscles while performing rows. Chest-supported rows specifically target the lats while significantly emphasizing the mid and upper back muscles. Compound movements like these are highly effective for engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously, pushing your metabolism to new levels.

To execute chest-supported dumbbell rows, first set up a bench at a low incline, and place dumbbells beside it. Face down on the bench with your chest against the incline and your feet firmly on the ground. Grab a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, and let your arms straighten. Engage your core, and pull your shoulder blades back as you row the dumbbells toward your ribcage, keeping elbows close to your body. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top, then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Complete three sets of eight to 12 reps with 75 seconds of rest between sets.

3. Reaching Forearm Planks

Adding a reach to forearm planks turns the intensity (and instability) up a notch for this ab exercise. You’ll focus on squeezing your core (abs and glutes) as you alternate reaching forward with your arms and tapping a kettlebell or dumbbell.

Begin by assuming a plank position on your forearms, keeping your elbows under your shoulders, and forming a straight line with your body from your head to your heels. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your body as you lift your right arm off the ground, and reach it straight forward, tapping a dumbbell or kettlebell. Hold this position briefly before lowering your arm back down. Repeat the movement with your left arm, reaching it forward and holding it before returning to the starting position. Perform three sets of five to 10 reps per side with 60 seconds of rest between sets.

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Workout #3: Full-Body Muscle Building

Next on this list of weight-loss workouts for beginners is all about total-body muscle building. Full-body muscle building will incorporate more bodybuilding-esque exercises to hit those smaller muscle groups and build lean definition. The volume ramps up, and the rest periods shorten with this workout, so be ready!

1. Dumbbell Skull Crushers

High reps, short rest, and smooth reps will make your triceps look lean and mean with a sculpted attitude. Side note: you’ll superset these with the seated leg extensions to craft a time-efficient workout.

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To perform dumbbell skull crushers, lie down on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Extend your arms above your chest with your palms facing each other and elbows slightly bent. Lower the dumbbells toward your ears by bending your elbows, ensuring they remain pointed toward the ceiling and your upper arms stay still. Descend until the dumbbells are beside your ears or slightly below, feeling a stretch in your triceps. Pause briefly, then extend your arms by straightening your elbows and squeezing your triceps at the top. Complete three sets of 12 to 20 reps with 60 seconds of rest between sets.

2. Seated Leg Extensions

leg extension machine

Isolation lifts are one of the best options for building lean muscle after they’ve been through a few compound exercises earlier in the week or training day. Seated leg extensions allow you to target your quads comfortably (and not so comfortably if done right).

Start by sitting on a leg extension machine with your back against the backrest and your feet firmly on the footpads. Exhale as you pull your legs up, lifting the weight by straightening your knees until your legs are fully extended. Hold the contraction briefly at the top, feeling the tension in your quadriceps. Inhale as you slowly lower the weight back down in a controlled manner, returning to the starting position. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps with 60 seconds of rest between sets.

3. Dumbbell Bicep Curls

man dumbbell bicep curls

The glorified biceps curl is an excellent addition to any hypertrophy workout focusing on the upper body. Switching up your grips or rotating the dumbbell at the top of the curl can modify which of the two biceps heads you target. Curls will develop your biceps and forearms.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your sides, palms facing in. Exhale as you curl the dumbbells upward toward your shoulders, keeping elbows close to your sides and rotating your palms to face toward you. Focus on contracting your biceps, squeezing them at the top. Pause briefly at shoulder height, then inhale as you slowly lower the dumbbells. Complete three sets of 12 to 20 reps with 60 seconds of rest between sets.

4. Seated Leg Curls

illustration of seated leg curls, concept of weight-loss workouts for beginners

Seated leg curls blast the biceps of your lower body, the hamstrings. Focus on a slow tempo and a firm squeeze with each rep, which will help define your legs.

Sit on the leg curl machine with your feet secured under the foot pad. Exhale as you pull the padded lever toward your glutes. Hold the contraction briefly, squeezing your hamstrings. Inhale as you slowly extend your legs back to the starting position, maintaining control. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps with 60 seconds of rest between sets.

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Workout #4: Full-Body HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) ignites your metabolism and boosts your heart rate, requiring consistent effort and intensity throughout the workout. While you’ll still incorporate free weights, this routine features dynamic exercises designed to maximize the intensity of your training session.

1. Kettlebell High-Pull

The kettlebell high-pull blends an explosive leg drive with a strong upward pull from the arms and upper back, resulting in a dynamic, powerful, and full-body engaging exercise. This is the perfect fat-incinerating exercise to include in a HIIT workout.

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and placing a kettlebell between your feet. Bend your knees slightly and hinge at your hips to grip the kettlebell. With explosive power, push with your legs while simultaneously pulling the kettlebell toward your chest. Drive your elbows upward and outward as you aim to bring the kettlebell to chest level. Briefly pause at the top of the movement, squeezing your shoulder blades together and maintaining core tightness. Lower the kettlebell back down under control to the starting position. Complete four to six rounds of 30 seconds with 15 seconds of rest between sets.

2. Dumbbell Push Presses

The dumbbell push press synergizes lower and upper-body power. Your legs initiate the movement by driving up out of the dip, emphasizing the “push” phase, while your arms follow through with force, highlighting the pressing action. It’s a full-body, high-intensity exercise that targets and sculpts critical muscle groups, including the quads, glutes, shoulders, and triceps.

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Position yourself with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, palms facing inward. Squeeze your core, initiate a slight knee bend to create momentum, then explosively push your legs upward, driving through your feet to propel the dumbbells overhead. Simultaneously press the dumbbells upward, extending your arms until they are straight overhead. Your legs should provide the primary force, with your arms finishing the movement. Pause momentarily at the top position, then lower the dumbbells back down to shoulder height with control. Complete four to six rounds of 30 seconds with 15 seconds of rest between sets.

3. Medball Front Slams

illustration of medicine ball slams, concept of weight-loss workouts for beginners

Front slams are a high-effort, ab shredding exercise that’s fun and shreds fat—and stress. Disclaimer: Use a med ball that you can slam fast and does not bounce.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball with both hands in front of your chest. Squeeze your core and maintain a slight knee bend. Lift the medicine ball overhead, straightening your arms fully, then slam the med ball down toward the ground in front of you. Target the ground directly in front of your feet. Perform four to six rounds of 30 seconds with 15 seconds of rest between sets.

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Workout #5 Cardio, Cardio, Cardio!

This list of the best weight-loss workouts for beginners wraps up with cardio. In this routine, you can choose your preferred cardio machine or movement, whether jogging, running, treadmill, ski erg, rower, or any other option. I’ll guide you through the intervals you’ll perform, allowing you to tailor the workout to your preferences and equipment availability. Complete each workout in one session on the same machine, or switch to a different equipment for each interval workout.

1. Short Intervals

illustration of man rowing

Short intervals are vital for enhancing your anaerobic capacity, essentially improving your endurance performance. These intervals involve brief bursts of high-intensity effort followed by short rest periods. It’s crucial to allow your heart rate to decrease and give yourself a few minutes of recovery before transitioning to moderate intervals. Incorporating these intervals benefits athletes and clients as they introduce variety to typical cardio routines, keeping workouts engaging and effective.

Complete five to 10 rounds of 20 seconds of higher intensity work with 40 to 60 seconds of very low intensity.

2. Moderate Intervals

woman running

Moderate intervals begin to blend the high intensity of short-effort intervals with the fat-burning capabilities of low-intensity steady-state workouts.

Perform eight to 12 rounds of 30 seconds of moderate-intensity work with 30 seconds of low-intensity rest periods.

3. Low-Intensity Steady State

treadmill walk, concept of weight-loss workouts for beginners

Low-intensity steady state is one of the most effective ways to use cardio for weight loss. It’s pretty straightforward: Maintain a low to moderate intensity throughout the workout.

Complete one to two rounds of 10 to 15 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity work. If completing two rounds, rest for three to five minutes between each round.

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