8 simple exercises blog header
Do you feel like you are ready to achieve great things in fitness for yourself, but you just do not know where to start? The Internet can show you all the exercises in the world, but how do you know which ones are safe to start with?

If these are questions you ask yourself, remember that you are not alone. There are plenty of other people out there looking for the exact same answers. In fact, it is one of the questions I get every single day. Today you will learn about the most important exercises, what they will bring you and how to perform them safely. I will even provide you with a sample workout plan that you can use in the gym right away.

Remember that if you are completely new to exercise and have never performed these movements before, you need to start light and master the basics before adding weight and challenging yourself with harder progressions. If you have questions, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond in a timely manner.

Goblet Squat

I see too many people jump into barbell back squats before they have the control and mobility necessary to perform it safely. That is why I start most of my clients with the goblet squat.

The goblet squat is a great movement for beginners. Because the load is in front, it forces you to keep your abs activated and is one of the best ways to learn how to squat.

It will build your legs, your glutes, and your back. It is a whole body movement that has the potential to get you stronger than you ever were before!



Dumbbell Row

Most people tend to neglect their upper back when they are in the gym. They bench press, do some dumbbell flys, but they leave out a big player that will make a real difference in how they look and feel.

The dumbbell row should be a staple in anybody’s routine, from beginners to advanced athletes. It will strengthen your whole back, including lats and traps, as well as the back of your shoulders and your biceps.



Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift with a kettlebell is a great way to learn the deadlift for the beginner. In time, it will help you build strong hamstrings, glutes and back. When done right, It is a safe and effective way to strengthen your whole posterior chain with one movement.

Just like the dumbbell row, practice your hip hinge without weight first, and keep your core tight and your back flat. Start light with the weight and feel your hamstrings and glutes working more than your lower back.

Hint: If your lower back is on fire the whole time, you are doing it wrong.



Dumbbell Bench Press

The bench press is a staple for anyone who wants to get stronger. I like the dumbbell variation because it requires more stabilization work for each arm and is slightly easier on the shoulders than the barbell bench press.


Forward Lunge

So far we have worked the squatting and the hinging patterns with both legs mirroring each other. It is important to also work your legs individually, to assure you do not develop left to right imbalances.

The lunge is the movement to start with. You can test each leg to see if some strength differences appear between your left and your right side.



Bear Crawl

Moving using your feet and hands is something that is not done enough in most gyms. Crawling will teach you how to keep a stable core as your limbs move independently. For some, this might be a great challenge in coordination and balance!


Glute Bridge

The glute muscles are often neglected in training. Besides helping you stabilize your hips better, powerful glutes will also increase your performance in all athletic endeavours.

The glute bridge is a great movement to make you activate your glutes the right way. 
Adding holds at the top will increase the difficulty of the movement.

And did I mention that you would also get a nice back-side out of it?




Despite having a horrible name, it's one of the best core exercises you can do. It will teach you proper position, alignment, and breathing. Once you master the basics, you can use implements like bands, blocks, kettlebells and yoga balls to add complexity to this simple, yet effective movement.


Putting the pieces together

This sample workout is designed to help you familiarize yourself with the basic movements outlined above. Start light and make sure you always have a few more reps in the tank. If you are failing reps before the end of your set, the weight you picked was too heavy.

Perform this workout twice a week. Progress the weights by small increments each week for 4 or 5 weeks. After you have gone through the workout 8-12 times (total), take a few minutes to let me know how everything went. Your feedback will allow me to make this plan better, so I can help you and others like you get started towards their fitness goals!

Sample “Safe Progression” Workout:
A1. Goblet Squat 3x8-12
A2. Dumbbell Row 3x8-12/side
B1. Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift 3x8-12
B2. Dumbbell Bench Press 3x8-12
C1. Forward Lunge 2x8-12/side
C2. Crawling 2x10 steps forward & back
D1. Glute Bridge 2x15-20
D2. Deadbug 2x10-20/side


-Take a few minutes to warm up before you start. Once you break a light sweat and feel ready, you can start with the exercises listed above.
-"3x8-12" stands for "3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions"
-Perform 1 set of A1 followed by 1 set of A2. Repeat until all 3 sets are completed then move on to B

-Rest as needed between exercise. Never be out of breath when starting an exercise as this might compromise your form and focus.
-Perform a 10 minutes stretch/cool down after your workout. This will help with your recovery and flexibility!


woman facing gym mirror
It is important to start with these simple movements and learn how to train with proper form. Master the basic patterns first, then add load and complexity.

You might not get all these right from the beginning, but it is important to be consistent and keep working at it.

Email me now at info@upsidestrength.com to request your free workout tracking sheet!

If you have any questions, be sure to join my private Facebook group and ask them there.

Sean is a Strength & Conditioning Coach based in Vancouver, BC. He focuses on beginner strength training and online programming for recreational lifters and athletes. He believes in the value of hard work when applied to a smart training program. Sean has a keen eye for good movement and encourages a positive lifestyle to support good training results.

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