Molly McNamee | 5 Exercises All Beginners Should Learn
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5 Exercises All Beginners Should Learn

If you are new to exercise and feeling a little lost, let me help you.

I know how confusing it can be to walk into a gym (or start a home workout plan) for the first time. Where do you start? What exercises do you do? How do you structure a workout?

I recently released an 8-Week Beginner’s Program that is packed with home workouts. If you are new to exercise, I highly recommend you go through that program. You can sign up HERE. But if you are just looking for some quick tips – read on for my top 5 exercises for beginners.


Bodyweight squats are a great foundational movement. As you progress through your fitness journey, you will notice that many exercises build off of the squat. If you want to do more advanced exercises like lunges and that fancy leg maneuver you saw on Instagram, you need to learn how to do a basic squat correctly first.  My beginner tip is to do your squats with a chair. Sit down, stand up, and repeat. Squats are a functional movement, meaning it simulates how you move in real world situations. Pay attention to what muscles naturally engage as you move in and out of a chair. Just make sure you keep your heels on the ground as you squat (or sit) down and stand up. Once you feel confident squatting with a chair, you can take it away to challenge your muscles more.

Forearm Plank

Planks are a fantastic exercise to build core strength. I recommend beginner exercisers start with forearm planks to keep pressure off of the wrists. A straight-arm plank can be quite strenuous on the hands and wrists, so build your core strength from your forearms first.


The push-up is a scary exercise for some, but it does not have to be. There are many ways to modify a push-up, and people of all fitness levels should be working on this movement. My beginner tip is to do your push-ups with a wall. Find a plank position with your hands on a wall and do your press up there. Once you feel strong doing that, do your push-ups with your hands on your kitchen counter, then a coffee table, and gradually get your hands closer and closer to the floor. Keep in mind you many not do push-ups on the ground for a year or more. Trust the process.


I do not let my beginner clients lunge, ever. Step-ups however, are a great single leg exercise that can and should take the place of lunges in a beginner’s program. It is important to do single-sided exercises as they challenge the core and ensure you are working both sides of your body evenly. My beginner tip is to use a box or a bench that is shorter than knee-height. Any higher may cause complications.

Calf Raise

This exercise is really simple. All you have to do is stand with your legs straight and lift your heels up and down over and over. I really like this exercise for beginners because it will help prepare the body to run and jump and do more demanding exercises. If you struggle with balance, you can always hold onto something as you do this exercise.