The best starting workout for obese beginners is exercises that are low-impact, gentle on the joints, and gradually increase in intensity as fitness levels improve. When beginning your fitness journey, it’s important to start slow, and not overdo it so you don’t get injured or burn out.

What is the Best Starting Workout for Obese Beginners?

Starting workout plan

There are so many ways you can start to get fit. If you are severely overweight, there are many exercises that can be uncomfortable and cause difficulties. I’ve been there, I know what it’s like. And I know that you are worth the effort, so let’s dive into it.

Remember, before starting ANY kind of exercise, consult with your doctor to make sure they recommend it.

If you want more of my weight loss story and how I grew up on little Debbies and soda and learned how to change my health and life through exercise and nutrition, check out this nutrition guide. It has some basic dos and don’ts that my wife and I used for me to lose 100 pounds and be on no medication at age 53. There are also some sample meal plans in there. It was a long process, not a quick fix, but if I can do it, so can you!

beginner doing sit ups

Best starting workout routine

Here’s a suggested starting workout plan:

  1. Walking: Walking is one of the best exercises for obese beginners because it’s low-impact and can be easily adjusted to fit individual fitness levels. Start with short, manageable walks, and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time. Aim for at least 30 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week once you can work up to it. If you can only do 5 minutes, do it consistently until you can do more. You’ll get there. Just don’t give up. If you have trouble walking because of your weight, don’t give up. There are other options that have less weight bearing involved to get you started until you can walk more.
  2. Water Aerobics: Water aerobics is another excellent option for obese beginners because it provides resistance without putting stress on the joints. Look for water aerobics classes specifically designed for beginners or individuals with mobility issues. These classes often include a variety of movements to improve cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility.
  3. Chair Exercises: Chair exercises are ideal for obese individuals who may have difficulty standing for extended periods or performing high-impact movements. These exercises can be done sitting or holding onto a sturdy chair for support. Examples include seated leg lifts, seated marches, arm circles, and seated torso twists. These are a great way to get movement in without having to hold your weight up with your legs until you can. You will get stronger and you can get there.
  4. Strength Training with Light Weights or Resistance Bands: Strength training is essential for building muscle, improving metabolism, and increasing overall strength and endurance. Start with light weights or resistance bands and focus on performing exercises that target major muscle groups, such as squats, lunges, bicep curls, and chest presses. Aim for 2-3 sessions per week, with a day of rest in between each session.
  5. Yoga or Gentle Stretching: Yoga and gentle stretching can help improve flexibility, balance, and relaxation. Look for beginner-friendly yoga classes or follow along with online videos that cater to individuals with limited mobility. Focus on gentle poses and movements that feel comfortable and promote relaxation.
  6. Tai Chi or Qi Gong: Tai Chi and Qi Gong are ancient Chinese martial arts practices that emphasize slow, flowing movements, deep breathing, and mindfulness. These practices can improve balance, flexibility, and overall well-being. Look for beginner classes or instructional videos that focus on basic movements and breathing techniques.
obese woman planking

Gym starting workout

Starting a gym workout routine as an obese beginner requires careful consideration of exercises that are safe, effective, and gradually progressive. Here’s a sample starting workout plan for the gym:

Warm-Up (5-10 minutes): Begin with a 5-10 minute warm-up to increase blood flow to the muscles and prepare your body for exercise. This can include walking on the treadmill at a moderate pace, cycling on a stationary bike, or using an elliptical machine.

Strength Training (20-30 minutes): Perform a full-body strength training routine focusing on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once. Start with lighter weights or resistance bands and gradually increase as you become stronger. Aim for 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise. Here are some examples:

  1. Bodyweight Squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and hips to lower your body as if sitting back into a chair, then return to the starting position.
  2. Dumbbell Chest Press: Lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, press the dumbbells upward until your arms are fully extended, then lower them back down.
  3. Seated Row: Sit on a rowing machine or use a cable machine with a low pulley, grasp the handles with palms facing inward, pull the handles towards your body while squeezing your shoulder blades together, then return to the starting position.
  4. Assisted Pull-Ups: Use an assisted pull-up machine or resistance bands to assist with pull-up motion, focusing on engaging the back muscles.
  5. Leg Press: Sit on a leg press machine, place your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform, push the platform away from you until your legs are fully extended, then return to the starting position.
  6. Plank: Hold a plank position on your forearms and toes, keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels, engaging your core muscles.

Cardiovascular Exercise (20-30 minutes): Incorporate cardiovascular exercise to improve heart health, burn calories, and aid in weight loss. Choose low-impact options that are gentle on the joints. Aim for 20-30 minutes of continuous activity. Options include:

  1. Walking on the Treadmill: Set the treadmill to a comfortable pace and incline, focusing on maintaining a brisk walking speed.
  2. Cycling on a Stationary Bike: Adjust the resistance and speed to your fitness level, aiming for a moderate intensity.
  3. Elliptical Machine: Use the elliptical machine with smooth, controlled movements, focusing on the lower body and arms.

Cool Down and Stretching (5-10 minutes): Finish your workout with a 5-10 minute cool down to gradually lower your heart rate and stretch your muscles. Perform gentle stretches for all major muscle groups, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds.

obese man doing yoga

Important Tips:

  1. Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity, duration, and weight as you progress.
  2. Listen to your body and rest as needed. It’s okay to take breaks during your workout if you feel fatigued or out of breath.
  3. Stay hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after your workout.
  4. Focus on proper form and technique to prevent injury. If you’re unsure, consider working with a certified personal trainer who can provide guidance and support.
  5. Consistency is key. Aim to exercise regularly, at least 3-4 times per week, to see progress over time.

For more ideas for beginners, check these out: