Exercise - The Beginners Guide

By: Dr. Gary Huber

Posted 01/22/2023

Want to begin some form of exercise but unsure where to start? Then this article is perfect for you. Just open the door and look around for safe and effective advice.

The following exercise program will meet you wherever you presently are and show you how to gradually advance your ability. The following description will offer a suggestion to guide your starting point. Select a starting point that is well within your capabilities so that you can gain some confidence and momentum. Exercising, in general, is not a sprint, but rather a marathon. We want to develop habits that we enjoy and gradually increase the challenge so that we can pursue them for a lifetime. Starting too aggressively or in an activity that is beyond our present fitness level can lead to disappointment followed by frustration. Who needs that?

Finding your Level:     Level: 1 – 2 – 3

Level 1: Has never exercised or in significantly deteriorated fitness due to excess weight or illness. Needs complete guidance in how to initiate an exercise program. Would be unable to walk a mile without significant exertion.

Level 2: Some exercise experience, casual exercisers. Has been exercising occasionally but needs to increase endurance and/or strength. A classic weekend warrior that exercises only on the weekends perhaps at softball game or a round of golf. Has graduated from Level 1.

Level 3: Exercises regularly and wants to compete on some level with other like-minded people. Serious about conditioning and/or body sculpting. Exercises a minimum of three times a week and more typically 5 times per week. Competitive team or solo sports such as triathlon, marathon, powerlifting, hockey, soccer, etc.

Challenge Tests

There are two “Challenge Tests” that are offered to establish which group you are best suited for. To advance to a higher fitness level simply use the challenge tests to gauge your readiness for advancement. There are three portions to the challenge test: aerobic, resistance, and functional. To advance to the next level you should be able to complete one challenge in each section – aerobic, resistance, and functional, or alternatively two strength challenges and one aerobic challenge. It is recommended that if you have not exercised in some time or have had prior injury or medical condition that causes you to question your fitness level than the safest route is to start at level one for a week or two to help gauge your present status. You can always advance if this level does not challenge you.

CHALLENGE TEST #1 – you should be able to complete these challenges as a demonstration of readiness for level 2. If these challenges prove to be too difficult or if you are in doubt that you can complete any of them, then simply begin at Level 1 with the confidence that these abilities will be within your grasp in a short period of time by working the Level 1 program.


  • Walk/run a mile in under 15 minutes
  • Bike 10 miles in less than 50 minutes
  • Elliptical or treadmill with wattage meters – generate more than 120 watts of power and maintain it for 5 minutes.


  • Push ups – standard push ups, body in a plank position
    • Men need to perform 10 repetitions without a pause.
    • Women need to perform 8 repetitions from the “knee” position. Knees stay on the floor and from knee to head is a plank position.
  • Pull ups (chin ups) – pull your body weight from a complete hanging position up to a point where your chin is above the bar.
    • Men need to perform 2 repetitions.
    • Women need to perform 1 repetition.
  • Squats with dumbbells in each hand – 8 repetitions. The knee should be to, but not beyond a 90-degree position in the performance of this exercise.
    • Men hold 20 pound dumbbells in each hand.
    • Women hold 15 pound dumbbells in each hand.


  • Burpees - perform 10 repetitions in less than 30 seconds.
    • How to do a “Burpee” - from a standing position drop to a frog position with hands on the floor. Now thrust your legs backward in unison to land in a push up position. Now in one movement spring back to the frog position and then stand erect. That is one repetition.
  • Jump rope for 30 continuous seconds
  • Box jumps, 8 repetitions in less than 30 seconds – 12 to 15 inch box
    • Using a sturdy 12-15 inch tall box, jump from a standing position to the top of the box and then back down to the floor.

If you completed at least one task in each category then congratulations, you are moving on to Level 2. If you were able to complete at least 2 of the resistance challenges and one of the aerobic challenges then you are ready for level 2 as well.

If you were unable to complete these challenges then congratulations to you as well!! You gave a good effort and are celebrating your desire for change and the willingness to learn and grow. So let's move on.

Go to one of the next articles:

If you need personal guidance, then find a qualified personal trainer to offer insight and experience to your journey.

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