Exercise Plan for Beginners: Zero to Hero in 4 Weeks

If exercise feels like unfamiliar territory, here’s a plan to help you get started or to ease into it again. 

For beginners or for those easing back into exercising, it can be difficult to know what to do or the level of intensity to aim for. 

To help you get started, here’s my four week plan to help you slowly introduce your body to exercise, from zero to hero. 

Feel free to switch the exercise and rest days to suit your schedule.  
exercise infographic
Your 4 week zero-to-hero exercise plan

Week 1

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Push-ups on knees:
Get into a crawling position with your Place knees on the ground, hands shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself by bending your elbows until so that your nose almost touches the ground. Breathe out as you push up.
High knees: Stand on flat surface, with a wall where you can support yourself with a hand if necessary. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and lift your right knee up to hip level. As you place the right leg down, lift up the left. Continue to alternate your legs and increase speed.
Dips: Sit on the edge of a chair that’s firmly on the ground. Bend your knees at 90 degrees with your feet on the floor. Place your hands on either side a little behind you to support your body as you dip below the chair and back up again, keeping your body close to the chair.
Alternate lunges: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands on hips. Lunge forward with your right leg, bending your knee at 90 degrees, then return to your original position. Continue alternating your legs with each lunge.
Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and lower yourself into a low squat. Keep your torso upright and engage your stomach muscles. Return to your original position slowly.   
Plank: Lie face down on the floor and use your forearms and elbows to raise yourself off the ground, holding the position for 20 seconds. 
Brisk walk
Walk at a moderate pace for 40 minutes. You’ll know you’re walking at the right pace if you feel your heart beat is raised and you have enough breath to still talk but not enough to sing. 
Swim 
In a 25-metre pool, perform one lap each of freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, resting in between. Repeat four times. 
Bike ride
Bike ride by yourself or with a friend for 40 minutes, including some short sprints.
running shoes

Week 2

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) 
This week the repetitions are set for you; however, try to fit as many circuits as possible into 12 minutes the first day and increase to 15 minutes the second day. 

  • Push-ups on knees x 10
  • Squats x 8
  • Alternate lunges x 6 (each leg)
  • Dips x 8
  • Star jumps x 10
  • Side plank x 15 seconds each side (20 on second day)
Star jumps: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms by your side. Jump at a low height, lifting your arms up alongside your head as you do so. Land softly and repeat. 
Side plank: Lie on your left-hand side, with your upper body propped up on your elbow and your legs straight. Elevate both hips off the floor, creating a straight line from your shoulders to ankles. Hold for required time and repeat on the right side. 
Brisk walk
Walk at a moderate pace for 30 minutes, including some hills or steeper paths if you can. 
Swim
See Week 1, but repeat six times. 
Boxing
The boxing session is made up of straight punches (jabs and crosses), uppercuts and hooks. Perform four rounds of three minutes using the straight, uppercut and hook combinations. You won’t need boxing equipment for this; punching in the air is fine, or holding a small weight such as a can of beans for a little resistance can work well too. 

Jab: Using your lead hand (if right leg is forward, lead hand is right hand), punch straight out from under the chin and keep elbows close to waist.

Cross: Similar to a jab, but your arm comes across the body.

Uppercuts: Punch comes out and up from underneath the chin.

Hook: Punch that comes around the side of the face, keeping forearms straight.

Week 3 

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) 

Complete each exercise for 20 seconds; rest for 10 seconds in between. Repeat each set four times. 
  • Push-ups on knees (or full push-up if capable).
  • Jog: As far as possible for 10 seconds and 10 seconds back to starting position.
  • Dips
  • Walking lunge: Similar to alternate lunge except instead of returning to original position, keep walking forward. 
  • Jump squats: After performing a squat, jump upwards and land with bended knees. 
  • Plank
Walk/jog
Walk for two minutes then jog for one minute. Repeat for a total of 30 minutes. 
Swim
In a 25-metre pool, perform two laps each of freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, resting in between. Repeat four times. 
Bike ride
Bike ride by yourself or with a friend for 60 minutes.
ladies at a pool

Week 4

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) 

Complete as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes on the first day, 18 minutes on the second.

  • Push-ups (either knee or full) x 10
  • Squats x 8
  • Burpees x 6
  • Dips x 8
  • Star jumps x 10
  • Side plank x 20 seconds each side
Burpees: Start in full push-up position, step forward into a crouch and stand up. Return to crouch position and then move back out into a full push-up. Repeat.
Walk/jog
Walk for one minute, jog for two minutes, and repeat for a total of 40 minutes.
Swim
In a 25-metre pool, perform two laps of each of freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, resting in between. Repeat five times. 
Boxing
This week, perform five rounds of three minutes using the straight, uppercut and hook combinations.
It’s never too late to start an exercise routine, but if you’ve been inactive, have a heart disease or any major health problems, or have any concerns about exercising, speak to your doctor first. 

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