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Beginner Fitness Programming - Today is Day 1 - Not One Day!

Stew Smith

Fitness for Beginners

Do you need a little Fitness Motivation?  
Check this out.

So many times I have seen people start off after long periods of time off with physical activity and make Day One a 3-4 mile run because "that is what they used to do." This philosophy can also be seen in the weight room with people lifting heavier weights with high volume (weights or calisthenics) than they should at first. Depending on your goals and your chosen method of exercise, I would start off doing the following: -

TREAT YOURSELF LIKE A BEGINNER (at least for a few weeks)

Week 1: Walk, drink more water, and Add ONLY stretching to your fitness routine. Walking and biking is fine too, but do not run or lift weights during Week 1. Stretching should be done twice daily for about 10-15 minutes each session. See mobility days for ideas. Warm up your body and joints with a fast walk, jumping jacks, and jump rope for about 2-3 minutes. Once warm and just about to break a sweat, start stretching your arms, legs, lower back and abdominal region. For every 100 lbs of body weight drink a half gallon of water a day. I weigh 200 lbs roughly and I drink at least a gallon a day. Though you can cap it at a gallon a day if well above 200 lbs.  his helps the body burn fat more efficiently. In fact, it takes two things to burn fat as your energy source: WATER + OXYGEN = FAT BURNING. The oxygen comes from either the aerobic exercise of walking or running or anaerobic exercise of calisthenics and weight lifting.

Week 2: If running is your ultimate goal, try a safe running program as written in my free Beginner Running Plan.

- Also read my 35 Year Love Hate Relationship with Running - Lessons Learned

This is a safe way to build up from not running in a while. In fact, it may even be wiser to run a few minutes and walk a few minutes until you get accustomed to the demands on your heart, lungs, and legs. For beginners, just walk.  Work to build up to 10,000 steps a day (5 total miles) before you start running. 

You have to realize that fitness is relative and workouts are scalable to all levels of ability. And you do not have to join a gym – you can do a lot with very little. In fact, here are ten exercises you can do in your home that will produce results if done every OTHER day combined with walking every day for 15-20 minutes (for starters). 

Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope – 1 minute - There are so many ways you can make the jumping jack easier or harder. See video link for over 30 different options. Or you can also just walk around the house or up and down stairs to get the heart pumping as this is more of a warmup drill.  If you have a stationary bike or treadmill, you can replace jumping jacks / jump rope with walking or biking for 1-2 minute sets of the following circuit:
Pushups or Knee Pushups – Do what you can but limit to 10 pushups per set
Rev Pushups -20  - These are easy and great for posture and upper back / chest muscular balance
Birds -20 – Same as above exercise but just a little different with a bigger ranger of motion.
Arm haulers-10 – This gets tough on the shoulders and you will feel this “horizontal jumping jack” for sure.
Swimmers 1 min – This is a classic lower back / butt exercise that simulates swimming freestyle flutterkicks
Plank 1 min – This is a classic core strength exercise done in yoga.  Start on knees if you have to.  But get good at this series of plank poses for a stronger core system (hips, back, shoulders).
Side plank 1 min (left) – Same as above but on the left side.
Side plank 1 min (right)
– Same as above but on the right side
You may need some time to build up to 1 minute of each of the three planks.  No problem – now you have a goal to shoot for.
Squats – 10-20 reps. If you cannot do a full squat – do half of one.  But getting good at sitting down and standing up is a functional movement that we cannot get bad at doing.
Lunges –5-10 reps / leg. This is a little more advanced than squats, but you can hold onto something at first and build up to full lunges over time.

The Home Starter Kit Workout – No equipment needed. Go through the above circuit of 10 exercises as many times as you can.  If you can get through this circuit in under 10 minutes.  Do it again. Building up to 2-3 rounds of this circuit without having to fail any of the reps or time count will take some time and practice, but is a great place to start without overdoing it in a short amount of time, in the privacy of your own home, with safe and effective exercises. However, talk to your personal medical professional before undertaking any additional activity.  But consider these questions and options to continue further into fitness training:

Do you not have much equipment to use?

Do you need ideas to train at home with minimal equipment?

Check out the programs below for more details on what you need for space and equipment as well as what level of fitness ability. You will find something for every fitness level but all of these workouts have fairly limited equipment required to do challenging workouts.

If you see a cardio option you do not need to do (swim / rucking) or do not have a bike or elliptical, that is fine, skip and replace with another cardio activity from walking to jogging or jumping rope to running stairs. Time to get creative with your training if you want to stay in shape as well as work off some stress.

The list below features books and ebooks that are designed to be accomplished with minimal equipment. Make sure the level of ability matches your own or alter to fit your ability as needed / desired.

Beginner Programs with Minimal Equipment

Stew Smith CSCS at


PT Test Related Programs:

 But one of my latest creations is called the Calisthenics and Cardio - No Equipment Needed Guide For Body Weight Exercisers and maybe a good option for people of all fitness levels to stay home or get outside and train.

Other EBOOKS (Military, Police, Fire Fighter, Special Ops, General Fitness– Most of my programs tend to focus on getting TO and THROUGH a specific tactical training program.  So you may see a mix of all the seasons in some of these books, but if you are training long term, you can take advantage of Seasonal Periodization and save yourself some of the over-use, long term pains that tend to follow many of the tactical preparations - especially on the spec ops level of training. 

Start training today with workouts that focus on the specifics of getting to and through tactical profession training from firefighter, police, swat, military to special ops. We have programs to help you get TO and THROUGH training. We also have training programs to help you with training as you age in these professions (Tactical Fitness 40+ series).

See Complete List of Books / eBooks...

Tactical Fitness Series - Tactical Fitness, Tactical Strength, and Tactical Mobility is an ALL-encompassing program that focuses on lifting, calisthenics, run, ruck, swim, speed, agility, and flexibility / mobility. Many people focusing on USMC (OCS, RECON, MarSOC) Army Ranger / SF, Air Force Special Warfare, SWAT / Federal Law Enforcement, and Navy Special Warfare have done very well focusing on the Tactical Fitness Series and developing themselves into an all-round Tactical Athlete

Tactical Fitness - At the core of this program is the Tactical Fitness Test which measures 12 standards for your physical capacity, including: cardiovascular conditioning, strength, muscle coordination, and stamina. Tactical fitness means having the skills needed to save lives and extend the limits of your endurance whether you are in the military, police, firefighting professions, or just an everyday hero. Also featured in the Tactical Fitness Test called the Dirty Dozen.

Tactical Strength - Tactical Strength is the lifting program used by Stew Smith and his Military, Police, Fire Fighter fitness program called the Heroes of Tomorrow. It is designed to build strength in the upper body, legs, and core to prepare you better for any load bearing activity (rucking, boat carry, log PT, etc). The program also does not neglect cardiovascular activity and will end workouts with rucking or swimming (or other non impact options (row, bike, elliptical) if needed. The cardio workouts will be quick and fast focusing more on speed and agility than long slow distance. We also use the Tactical Strength Test to test elements of speed, agility, and strength / power.

Tactical Mobility is a comprehensive fitness guide for greater mobility, flexibility, and performance—designed for the men and women serving in military, special ops, law enforcement, emergency services. Tactical Mobility is a perfect fit for any fitness program as a stand alone "Mobility day" supplemented into your regular routine and will help you reach the pain free level of fitness. Gaining flexibility and mobility is the goal of the program and it will help with performance and help reduce injuries.

The Warrior Workout Series - If you are solid with making your own workouts, but need some ideas.  This three part series has 300 workouts (100 / book) to pick from focusing on all the elements of fitness and training programs. Each book is organized with periodization cycles in mind along with calisthenics only, weights / calisthenics mix, cardio options and more. Warrior Workout 1   -  Warrior Workout 2  -   Warrior Workout 3. 

Personalized Training Programs
There are many more options as well as 
personalized training programs member's only program and the new :

Try Our Stew Smith Fitness Members Only Club - #1 Best Selling Tactical Fitness Programs

Questions?  Just email me at

At - List of Products and Services

  1. FREE Articles
  2. Podcasts and Swimming Videos at page  
  3. eBooks
  4. Books and eBooks in PRINT
  5. Stew Smith Fitness Club membership site
  6. Online Coaching  


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