10 Exercise Videos for Super Beginners

10 Exercise Videos for Super Beginners
Photo: shurkin_son, Shutterstock

While plenty of beginners can pick up a program and figure out the gym machines as they go, it’s also totally normal to feel intimidated by the whole process. Especially if programs and videos seem to expect a fitness level a notch or two above where you are right now, it can be tough to figure out where to start.

To save you the hassle, here are 10 exercise videos that will provide even the beginner-est beginners a place to get started exploring the most common fitness movements and techniques.

The best video for beginner pushups

Can’t do a pushup? These progressions will get you there. The first step is to lie on your back and “bench press the air,” which moves your shoulders and elbows through the full range of motion that a pushup will require. Once you’ve got that figured out, you can start with wall pushups, and over time work your way down to the floor. (Fun fact: that’s the same progression we recommend here.)

The best video for beginner squats

Before you’re ready to squat with weight, you need to learn the air squat. While it may look intimidating at first, it may help to remember a squat is a lot like the motion of getting up from a chair. This video guides you through the things to remember, like how wide to place your feet, and also gives modifications for what to do if even getting up from a chair hurts your knees. The answer is not to give up on squats, but to find a part of the motion that you can do without pain.

The best video for beginner bird dogs

Bird dogs are a good movement to work your core, but if you’re new to exercise, you may have trouble keeping your balance or holding your core tight while you extend your arm and leg. Try the modifications in this video to work your way up to a strong, solid bird dog. In the first step, you’re on your hands and knees and you just lift one arm as far as you comfortably can. In the next, you prop your foot behind you rather than lifting it all the way. And when you’re ready to do both at once, you can try supporting your body on yoga blocks or a ball.

The best video for beginner planks

If you’re ready to go beyond bird dogs, the plank is a good place to start. (Planks also build a foundation for pushups, inverted rows, and more.) If you can’t hold the position yet, try the version this video suggests, with just your forearms and knees on the floor. Once you can maintain a good strong back position like that — the video goes into detail about common mistakes — you’re ready to pick your knees up and do a full plank.

The best video for beginning runners

We have a lot of advice on what to know before you start running, but how do you actually move your body when you’re out on a run? Many of us figured out running just by giving it a try and settling into our natural stride over time. But as a beginner, sometimes it’s comforting to know that you’re doing something the “right” way, so here’s a beginner-friendly video on what good running technique should look like. It’s ok if you can’t think about all of these things at once; pick one at a time to focus on.

The best video for your first downward dog

Yoga has a reputation for being gentle, but even the most beginner-friendly forms can be challenging. Take the downward dog pose, for example: it’s in almost every flow, but it’s hard to relax into it when your hamstrings feel like they’re stretched to their limit and your shoulders and triceps are on fire. This video shows a few tweaks that beginners can use to make the move more comfortable, and it also includes a key tip: if the instructor of your class or video stays in the position for longer than you feel comfortable with, it’s ok to put your knees down and give yourself a break.

The best video for starting out with shoulder exercises

Pullups and rows are a great way to work your shoulders, not to mention overhead presses with dumbbells or a barbell. But if you’re not ready for those movements yet — or even if you’re strong enough, but feel too stiff to confidently give them a try — unweighted shoulder exercises can really help. This video is long (it would give you a very thorough warmup if you wanted to use it that way) but it goes through a bunch of good stretching and strengthening exercises. Remember your favourites and use them to work up to more challenging forms of upper body training.

The best video for doing your first pullups

Are you ready to start working toward your first pullup? It’s ok if the answer is “no.” This video starts with just hanging from the bar — not pulling yourself up, assisted or otherwise, but just dangling. This works your grip and helps to get your shoulders and core ready for the next step, which is a scapular pullup — which you could think of as advanced dangling. As a super beginner, you may spend some time with these stages before moving on to other options like negative pullups, but you’ll be off to a great start.

The best video for starting kettlebell deadlifts

The kettlebell deadlift is a great starting point for learning to do kettlebell swings or learning to do deadlifts. Both are what’s known as “hinge” movements, where your legs and back both stay straight, and all the motion is in your hips, just like the motion of a door and doorframe all happens at the door’s hinge. This video introduces you to the kettlebell deadlift, which is easier than a swing since there’s no fast-moving object to present a timing issue, and it’s easier than a barbell deadlift since the kettlebell can sit directly between your feet. If you need to make it even easier than the version in this video, prop the kettlebell up on a yoga block or other support.

The best video for beginner dumbbell exercises

You can really do anything with dumbbells, but timed workouts like this one make it easy to get started. You can choose any weight you like, and if you’re totally new to exercising, you can even do the routine with nothing in your hands at all, or very light weights like water bottles. (A standard 500 mL water bottle weighs about one pound.) Follow along and rest as needed. If you get to the end and it felt too easy, do it again tomorrow with heavier weights!

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