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I'm 24, and an absolute beginner when it comes to working out. I just googled exercises that you could do at home and then decided to try them out. Its been a few months but I don't really see any difference can anyone tell me if I should add any more variants or do more reps?

Warm Up: Jumping Jacks for about 30 seconds.

Pull ups: I cant really do even one so I hang for 10 seconds on the bar(learnt this from a Youtube video) with the hopes of being able to do one in the near future.

Push ups: Around 25.

Plank: For about a minute.

Squat: Around 10.

I'd like the workout to help me feel more energised and increase my stamina.

  • youtube.com/watch?v=3YvfRx31xDE check this for improvement on your pull ups – Snow Feb 14 at 15:56
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    The most important thing is, why are you working out? Nobody should just 'workout', you should have a reason to workout, a goal, then that will help inform you of what activities you should be doing. Then you should stop working out, and start training toward your goal. – Glen Yates Feb 14 at 20:47
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    I suspect you aren't doing push ups with correct form: if you can't do a pull up and find planking for 1 minute strenuous then I think you would be unusual if you could do 25 push ups. – rlms Feb 15 at 17:05
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Welcome to the Fitness SE!

Making your own program

When it comes to making your own program, the general rule of thumb is one simple rule: Don't.

The reason for this is something you've already touched on. Namely the fact that you're

an absolute beginner when it comes to working out

A beginner simply doesn't have the know-how to make a good program that

  • covers all the muscles, and not just the big ones

  • prevents muscular imbalances

  • prevents injury

  • includes the variation necessary for progress

  • adapts to one's body undergoing change

and so much more.

Reviewing your program

To answer your question about an honest review: It's not good. I'll give you some reasons why.

Let's start at the warmup: It's not enough to get you warm. 30 seconds isn't nearly enough time to get all the muscles and joints warm and loose for the workout. A warmup is usually adjusted based on which muscles you'll be using for the day. For a regular full-body workout, there's a LOT to cover. 15 minutes should be considered a minimum if you really want to prevent injuries in the long run.

For the pullups, it's perfectly OK not to be able to do any. Most people have that as a starting point. But there are some pretty neat ways of achieving your first one. As an example, you can do assisted pull-ups by using a rubber band. You can also to negative repetitions, where you climb to the top, and then lower yourself slowly. Simply hanging from the bar doesn't seem like it's going to get you there.

For the pushups, you have a decent starting point. But simply doing dozens of repetitions isn't going to give you the progress you want. Instead of just doing more and more repetitions, you should be focusing on adding weight instead. Put a plate on your back, or have someone apply a bit of downward force to make each repetition heavier. That's one of the main keys to muscle growth.

For squats, same thing applies.

You mention increasing stamina. This program isn't going to do that. In order to increase you stamina, you have to do aerobic training, such as running for instance. High-intensity interval training is by far my favorite methodology for this. I highly suggest checking it out, and googling for some beginner-friendly examples.

Finding a program

The best thing you could do at such an early stage, is to find a beginner-friendly program that is already made by someone who knows how to make one. There are plenty of them out there. You can either Google for some or take a look at one that has been a community favorite for quite a long time: Starting Strength.

When can I make my own program?

It takes many years to learn how to make a good program. A lot of people think that after a year or so, they know enough to make one, but fact of the matter is, you have to not only learn about a lot of exercises, you have to know exactly what each exercise does, identify muscles that are getting neglected, and cover all your bases. In fact, it's as much about learning about the human anatomy, as it is about learning a large number of exercises and movements.

Personally, I made my own after about five years of working out. I thought I had learned all I needed, but I was dead wrong. My progress stagnated almost immediately, and I didn't have the knowledge to know why. As soon as I jumped back on a program created by an educated trainer, I started getting stronger again.

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    I mostly workout at home and the starting strength link involves bench press and deadlift, are there any programs I can start from home? – Sujay Feb 13 at 8:52
  • Literally thousands. google.com/… – Alec Feb 13 at 9:05
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    Sorry, it may seem cheap for me to just link a google search like that. I don't have any real experience with at-home full body workouts, but those search results give a good starting point. In fact, if there's one added tip I'd like to give, it's that you should pick many of them, and cycle through them. Don't stick to doing the same workout over and over. Variety is key!! – Alec Feb 13 at 9:06
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    @Sujay - Also, not sure if you have room (garage maybe?) but I have this system at home for when I can't get to a gym - store.trxtraining.com/products/trx-home-gym/… – JohnP Feb 13 at 14:55
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    "Put a plate on your back, or have someone apply a bit of downward force to make each repetition heavier" actually in a home/no equipment environment, I think a neat trick is to put your feet on something - your bed for example. Raising your feet will put more weight on the arms by simple physics. – Nobody Feb 13 at 21:34
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I think Alec's answer is really great but I'd like to add some more thoughts for you (a bit too big for a comment). I agree, it's not a great workout but not necessarily just due to exercise choice. You will find many body-weight workouts online that you can just follow, and for free!


Warm Up: Jumping Jacks, 30 seconds.
Pull ups: Hang, 10 seconds.
Push ups: Around 25.
Plank: For about a minute.
Squat: Around 10.

These by themselves are not bad exercises at all. You'll likely find them in a lot of workout plans. What I think you're missing here is volume and possibly intensity. Does this workout challenge you? Without picking apart your workout choice, you could run this as a multi-set circuit:

Warm Up: Jumping Jacks, 30 seconds.

Pull ups: Hang, 10 seconds;
Push ups: 10;
Plank: 1 min;
Squat: 10;
Rest 3 minutes, repeat five times.

With that kind of idea, you've got from doing 25 push-ups in a day to 50, 10 squats to 50, 1 minute of planks to 5, etc. The circuit style will help improve your stamina and the increased volume will help with strength.

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    absolutely right, the OP's proposed routine lacks volume and intensity, simply making it a circuit is the simplest way to begin improving it – BKlassen Feb 14 at 21:19
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Know Your Goal

There are two competing attributes when it comes to physical training: strength/power vs. endurance. This is reflected in the very makeup of our muscles, which contain fast-twitch fibers for short, high-intensity movements, and slow-twitch fibers, which are weaker but can maintain movement for a much longer time. Also, fast-twitch fibers generally run on glycogen (an anaerobic process), which is created slowly and stored in your muscles and liver, while slow-twitch are able to burn fat and glucose aerobically.

You can train for either or both, but it's pretty difficult to reach peak condition for both (powerlifters are generally bad marathon runners, and vice versa). I'll give some brief tips for both, and you can do more digging on your own.

Aerobic

The most important muscle in your body is your heart. It's the only muscle that works 24/7 every day of your life. The best way to "train" this muscle is to create a high oxygen demand on your body, which forces your heart to pump more oxygenated blood. This is why you want to reach a moderate level of aerobic fitness, no matter what your ultimate goal is. While there are lots of good aerobic exercises, one of the best is simply running.

Running is obviously a body weight exercise, and requires no special equipment (although decent shoes help). You should aim for a continuous 2-mile run. If you can get up to 6 mph, this will be a 20-minute exercise. If you have trouble running that distance, start with a 1 mile goal, and run slowly enough that you can maintain the same speed over the whole distance. This might be barely over walking speed to start. That's ok. The point is that you want to train your heart and lungs to work harder for a long time, and train your mind to accept the idea of continuous load over a whole mile or two. Start easy and only run 2-3 times a week if you feel that's all your body can handle, and increase the frequency as you can, up to 5x a week. 4 mph is a very fast walk, so most folks can "jog" at 4.5 mph for a mile, even without training. Getting to 5 mph should be easy, and 6 mph should be achievable by almost anyone. If you can get to 7-8 mph, then you're doing well and should talk to serious runners about how to progress.

I would argue that running is a better warmup than jumping jacks, because while both put a load on your skeleton, which is good for your bones, running creates a much higher load because of the forward movement. Also, it's a lot less boring to run outside for 20m than doing jumping jacks. Finally, I only run 1 mile for warmup, and 2 miles for aerobic training. If you want to run races, you should train for longer distances, but if you just want basic aerobic fitness, 2 miles is a good distance.

Anaerobic

In order to change your body, you need to know this one simple trick: your body has a genetically programmed "baseline" muscle mass which it will always seek, and to increase your strength, you need to convince your body that it is not strong enough. This happens when the intensity of your workout causes micro-tears in your muscle fibers, which stimulates your body's repair mechanisms. The body has two rules: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", and: "If it broke, fix it better than it was before." This is also why bones which break can become even stronger: the body assumes your bone broke because it was too weak, so the repair process makes it stronger. The same goes for your muscle.

The problem with push-ups and bodyweight squats is that you can quickly reach a level of strength which no longer challenges your muscles. If you want to get stronger, you need to provide more resistance. As others noted, you can do this by adding weights. Unfortunately, this becomes pretty challenging without proper equipment. If you're really hard-pressed for cash, you can make a squat bar out of a sturdy tree branch, some rope, and some water jugs, but I can't say I would recommend it. I would try deadlifts instead of squats, because you can improvise weights for deadlift easier than for squat (with a squat, the weight has to get up to your shoulders, but a decently fit lifter can easily squat more than their body weight, which is pretty hard to lift onto your shoulders safely and by yourself).

A push-up is just an upside-down bench press, so anything you can put on your upper back without slipping will add resistance. A bag of sand should do the trick, although positioning it would get pretty annoying.

Gym

If you can spring for a gym membership, even the cheapest gym with free weights will help your progress tremendously. With consistent effort, you should be able to bench press your body weight and squat 1.5x your body weight (in a year, most likely, but quite possible in less than 6 months). Note that a push-up is only about 60% of your body weight because you aren't lifting your legs, which contain a pretty significant amount of your total mass. At that point, I think you would be quite happy with your energy level and stamina.

If you can make it into a gym, you can train most of your muscles with just 4 exercises: bench press, pull-up, shoulder press/clean, and squat. A simple workout plan is called the 5x5: do 5 sets of 5 reps, with the highest weight such that you can just barely finish the last rep without a spotter. Start with a low weight that you know you can do, and work your way up until you find your limits. Ideally, you want to work your muscles to the fatigue point at each workout, because this is what causes them to develop most quickly. But without a spotter, this can be risky. So stay safe and always quit if there is a doubt that you can do another rep. Or, ask someone at the gym to spot you. For pull-ups, it is useful to use a machine that gives you assist until you are strong enough for your full body weight. Alternatively, you can use a "lat pull-down" machine to achieve a similar effect. Increase your strength until your pull-down weight equals your body weight, then switch to pull-ups.

Conclusion

The program I've sketched above will target strength more than anything. I think this is beneficial, because it should also increase your muscle mass, which will increase your base metabolic rate and make it easier to burn excess calories (the ultimate first world problem). Also, having excess strength makes a lot of things easier (and less injury-prone), and carrying around extra protein is actually protective if you get sick for a long time. If you are keeping up with the aerobic portion, you should also see your resting heart rate decline. This is a good indicator of heart health (a stronger heart uses fewer more powerful contractions to pump blood). Maintaining good cardio fitness is one of the keys to living longer.

If you find a sport that requires moderate endurance, then excess strength can provide that. You'll find that with higher strength, you can perform low-effort actions for a much longer time. In this way, strength confers endurance up to a point (for low-intensity activities). For instance, you should be able to do many more push-ups with a max bench of 180 lbs. than a max of 120 lbs., regardless of how much push-up training you've done. If you pursue a high-endurance sport, especially one with high effort, then you will likely have to change your training to fit that profile. But at that point, you will hopefully have learned enough to know what you want and how to get there. Good luck!

  • Your answer is very detailed and informative, but does not actually review the workout plan in the question. – Zera Feb 13 at 19:29
  • I think I explained why jumping jacks, push-ups and body-weight squats were not producing any improvement, and how to do better. – Lawnmower Man Feb 13 at 21:00
  • My bad. The information is just a bit scattered. – Zera Feb 13 at 21:23
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One problem you'll find with your current workout plan is it's stagnant, nothing is changing and you won't be pushing yourself hard enough.

Our bodies are resistant to change therefore in order to make our workouts have an effect you need to ensure that you're pushing yourself hard. Doing a single set of an exercise to target a muscle group is no where near enough to encourage your body to change. A good rule of thumb is that to build muscle you should aim for completing 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps, do note though that at the end of each set you should feel like you could only manage one or two more before complete failure.

You've mentioned that you're working out from home mostly, which I'm going to assume means limited access to weights, that makes finding the right weight to reach your rep range harder and you may have to modify your exercises to make them harder. An example would be to set your feet higher for your push ups so that you max out closer to 10 reps, or slowing down and making each movement last longer.

The other problem your plan has is that it doesn't change and it doesn't target all of the muscles. If you were to commit to your plan you would inevitably develop many muscle imbalances that could negatively affect your ability to move without pain. This is why its important to have a larger selection of exercises that target the muscles in different ways. Most workout programs have an alternating schedule such as 1 day upper body, 1 day lower body, 1 day rest, repeat, etc. Not only does this mean you spend more time on a given body part to ensure that you aren't neglecting areas of your body it helps to make sure you give yourself enough time to get the volume of training for each muscle group that you need to have it grow.

The best Plan
Until you've started figuring out how to work all the different muscles and how to balance your own plan I would recommend searching for one created by someone else. You should be able to find plans on Youtube or Google fairly simply by searching for home workout plans

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