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Launching Your Fitness Journey: A Guide to Gym Routine for Beginners

Launching Your Fitness Journey: A Guide to Gym Routine for Beginners

Starting a gym routine can be intimidating, confusing and even frustrating, especially after a long hiatus from working out. With so many options and a plethora of information available at your fingertips, it can be a challenge to navigate and know how to get started. With some planning and goal setting, you can find a manageable routine that can have long lasting physical and mental health benefits. There really is no right or wrong way – the reality is, to be successful you must find a routine you can be consistent with and incorporate into your daily life on a regular basis. View our Frequently Asked Questions that we have curated over the years to learn more about the Orangetheory Fitness workout.

Too many people get caught up in the mindset of “is this the best way to work out?” instead of adopting the mindset of “is this the best way to work out for my life right now?” Before you start setting your goals or workout routine plans, first spend some time considering how much time you can realistically spend each day exercising. Be real with where you are: if you currently don’t exercise at all, do not jump to working out five or six days a week. Instead, try two or three times a week. Chances are, as you begin to feel the benefits you will start problem solving for how you can fit it in more—but give yourself time to establish consistency first. Learn more about the importance of a “Cooldown” to reduce the risk of injury and more!

The Importance of Starting with Low Intensity

Once you figure out a reasonable amount of time you can dedicate to exercising each week, think about your long-term goals. Are you looking for improved health markers, increased stamina, greater strength or fat loss? Are you wanting to train for a specific event like a 5K, adventure race or hiking trip? No matter the goal, if you are a beginner or coming back after a significant time off, you will need some short-term goals to improve your fitness foundations before you start catering your routine to specific long-term goals.

Long-term goals provide motivation, while short-term goals build the foundation necessary to achieve your larger aspirations. A few key fitness foundations incorporate cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, joint mobility and stability and recovery. You want a strong foundation to build upon! If you do not build this foundation first, you run the risk of injury or burn out which will set you back from reaching those bigger goals.

Beginner-Friendly Workouts Explained

  • Cardiovascular Endurance: Begin with low-impact exercises like cycling, treadmill walking or swimming. Start with short sessions (10-20 minutes) and over time increase the duration. Once you get up to 30-60 minutes you can go back to the shorter sessions but increase the intensity (i.e. adding incline to your treadmill). The best cardio exercise? The one you like the most!
  • Muscular Strength: Incorporate resistance training exercises using your body weight, light-to-moderate loads or bands. Aim to get in two or three sessions a week and do a minimum of one set for each major muscle group. To maximize your time, do compound movements that involve more than one muscle group at a time (i.e. squats, push-ups, lunges and rows). Include joint stability and core into your program (i.e. planks, bridges).
  • Joint Mobility: You can incorporate this by starting each exercise session with a dynamic warm-up that focuses on joint mobility (i.e. hip and arm circles).
  • Recovery: Include rest days in your routine to allow your body to adapt to the stress of exercise. Nutrition, hydration and sleep are keys to adequate recovery too.

Constructing Your Weekly Workout Plan

Below is a sample weekly routine you can follow or use for inspiration to get started. It includes the major movements you want to incorporate (push, pull, squat, lunge, hinge and core). Remember, if you are aiming for 20 minutes of cardio, that could mean you do ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the afternoon. Start each workout with a dynamic warm-up and finish with a cool-down/stretch.

This plan has an upper and lower strength training session that is quick. Then, put these together for two longer workout sessions the next week. Have less time? Ditch the upper and lower workouts and do the total body workout two to three times a week. In general, you can do lower and upper strength training on consecutive days, but you will want to allow time for your muscles to rest in between total body strength sessions. Keep in mind recovery needs variation and change as your fitness level changes.

Be sure to have some way to track your workouts – you deserve to give yourself credit for your hard work! A visual display of your progress (whether in an app or on your desk) can help you stay motivated. At Orangetheory Fitness, we track all your workouts within our mobile app so that our members can see their progress in real-time and over time.

A weekly workout routine plan

Incorporating Community Wisdom

Managing your own fitness programming can be challenging—especially if you don’t know how to adapt and evolve your workouts as you progress. This is where a fitness professional can help guide you, whether that be a personal trainer, online workout program or a boutique studio like Orangetheory that provides daily programming and a coach to customize each workout to your needs. A studio like Orangetheory also provides a community of people with similar aspirations to yours to foster accountability and help you be successful.


No matter what your goals or weekly routine look like, the most important aspect of your success is consistency. It can take several months before you start seeing and feeling the effects, so be patient, be consistent and stay the course. One of the most important things you can do for your long-term health is exercise – you are worth the work!


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