What are the best workouts for overweight beginners? It really depends on the individual. There are so many different options, but you shouldn’t just jump right into something without giving it a little thought, and maybe even getting a professional opinion. If you’ve been carrying extra weight, there’s more to consider than just losing that weight. Anyone can have muscle imbalances, and issues with range of motion, stability, and flexibility, but overweight people will most likely have some of these issues. But that’s why you need a good exercise routine and I have all the info you need here to decide where you should start! With the right plan and the right attitude, you can begin a safe and effective exercise program. In this blog post, we will explore the best workouts for overweight beginners so that you can start on your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

​The Benefits of Exercise for Overweight Individuals

Exercise offers a multitude of benefits for everyone, beyond just weight loss. One of the most significant advantages is improved cardiovascular health. Regular physical activity helps to strengthen those heart muscle, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease. It also aids in the management of other health conditions, things like type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Exercise is not just about the physical benefits; it also has a positive impact on mental health. Engaging in regular workouts releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. It can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, promoting a sense of overall well-being. Plus, exercise can improve self-confidence and body image, as you start to feel stronger and more capable.

Beyond the immediate benefits, incorporating exercise into your daily routine sets the foundation for a healthier lifestyle. It helps establish healthy habits, like eating nutritious foods and getting enough sleep. Regular exercise can also improve sleep quality so you can wake up refreshed and energized.

Preparing for Your Workout Journey

When starting your workout journey as an overweight beginner, it’s essential to take some time to prepare both mentally and physically. Here are some key steps to help you get ready for this exciting new chapter in your life.

Consult with your doctor

First and foremost, consult with your health care provider, especially if you have any existing medical conditions. They can provide valuable insights into your current health status and any limitations or precautions you should take during your workouts. This step is crucial to ensure your safety and optimize your progress.

Get a fitness evaluation

As a certified personal trainer, I know that this part doesn’t sound fun to most people, especially overweight or obese individuals who aren’t comfortable with their bodies. While the hesitation to get a fitness evaluation is totally understandable, I cannot stress the importance of it enough. Excess weight and even level of fitness aside, many people have functional issues that need to be addressed for the efficacy and safety of any exercise program. 

A good evaluation with a qualified professional (physical therapist or experienced certified personal trainer) will give you a clear starting place. Do you have muscle imbalances that need to be corrected? Do you have a lack of flexibility or range of motion in any areas that could cause issues when you begin exercising? Do you have mobility issues that will determine what kind of exercises you can do to begin with? Where is your cardiovascular endurance/health? How should you approach cardio training? Many of these issues go unnoticed by the people who have them, but an evaluation can help you get a clear picture of where you are and show you where to go from there.

Set some goals

Next, set realistic goals. Start by defining what you want to achieve with your exercise routine. Maybe you want to lose weight, improve your stamina, or simply feel better overall. Whatever your goals are, make sure they are attainable and measurable. Make sure to set short and long-term goals

Get geared up

Invest in the right gear. You don’t have to have a whole new wardrobe to start exercising. You just need comfortable workout clothes and supportive footwear. Shoes are important for comfort and safety, so make sure you find a good supportive pair of training shoes.

Make a schedule

Create a workout schedule that works for you. Consistency is key when it comes to fitness, so find a time slot in your day when you can commit to regular workouts. My number one piece of advice when you’re starting anything new is to ease into it!  Don’t dive in head first, just slowly start to incorporate exercise into your schedule. Start so small, with one or two days a week, or 15-30 minute walks a few days a week. Whether it’s early mornings or evenings, choose a time when you have the most energy and can fully focus on your exercises.

Find support

Lastly, find a workout buddy or join a support group. Having someone to exercise with can make the journey more enjoyable and help keep you accountable. Alternatively, connecting with others, even online, who are on a similar path can provide motivation and a sense of community.

Best Workouts for Overweight Beginners

Cardio Exercises for Overweight Beginners

When it comes to cardio exercises for overweight beginners, there are plenty of options to choose from. These exercises are great for getting your heart rate up, burning calories, and improving your overall cardiovascular health. Plus, they can be modified to fit your fitness level and comfort.


One of the best cardio exercises for overweight beginners is walking. It’s a simple, low-impact exercise that can be done anywhere. It doesn’t require a gym membership or any other start up costs (unless you need some shoes). Start with a brisk walk for 15-30 minutes at a time and gradually increase the duration and intensity as you get stronger and build endurance.

Cardio Equipment

I have a love/hate relationship with cardio equipment as a trainer. Recumbent bike, elliptical, and treadmill workouts can be great, especially for beginners who need low-impact exercises and at the beginning of a weight loss journey when there is a lot of weight to be lost. However progress in weight loss, strength, and cardiovascular fitness can actually be limited by these types of workouts. Steady-state cardio is not the best exercise longterm for progress. While some steady-state cardio is good for your heart health, you need more than that to continue to make progress. Starting with this type of workout is totally fine and it’s a good option for beginners, but don’t get stuck there. 


Another great option is swimming. It’s a full-body workout that is gentle on the joints. Whether you choose to swim laps or join a water aerobics class, you’ll be getting a great cardio workout while having fun in the water.


If you prefer something a little more intense, try cycling. You can ride a stationary bike or take a spin class at your local gym. Cycling is a great way to get that heart rate up and improve your endurance. 


Don’t forget about dancing! It’s a fun and energetic cardio exercise that can be done in the comfort of your own home. Put on your favorite music and dance like nobody’s watching.

Strength Training Exercises for Overweight Beginners

Strength training exercises are a crucial component of any workout routine, especially for overweight beginners. Not only do these exercises help build muscle and increase strength, but they also play a vital role in weight loss and improving overall fitness. When starting strength training, it’s important to focus on exercises that target multiple muscle groups and can be modified to fit your fitness level. Starting with bodyweight exercises that have room for advancement is the best way to get into strength training.


One of the best exercises for beginners is the squat. Squats work your legs, glutes, and core muscles, and can be done with just your body weight or with added resistance like dumbbells or a barbell.


Another excellent strength training exercise is the push-up. Push-ups primarily target your chest, shoulders, and triceps, but they also engage your core muscles for stability. If regular push-ups are too challenging, you can start with modified versions, like doing them on your knees or against a wall, and gradually work your way up to a full push-up.


This full-body exercise is perfect for everyone from overweight beginners to elite athletes. It can be modified and done on the knees as needed and can also be advanced as you get stronger.

Glute Bridges

Great for strengthening your posterior chain, a lying glute bridge can be modified to start and advanced in many different ways. Start with body weight and short, low repetitions and work your way up.

Other great beginner strength exercises:

  • Step-ups or knee raises
  • Dumbell curls
  • Dumbbell overhead press
  • Tricep dips
  • Anti-rotational holds
  • Bird dog
  • Dead bug

Remember to start with body weight and/or light weights and focus on proper form before increasing the resistance. Aim for two to three sets of 10-12 repetitions for each exercise, and take breaks between sets to allow your muscles to recover.

Tips for Staying Motivated During Your Workout Journey

Now that you know some of the best workouts for overweight beginners, let’s get into sticking to them! Staying motivated on your workout journey can sometimes be a challenge, but don’t worry, I’ve got some tips to help keep you on track! 

Find activities that you truly enjoy

If you love dancing, join a dance class. If you enjoy being outdoors, try hiking or biking. By doing activities you genuinely enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with them and stay motivated.

Track your progress

It’s also important to track your progress. Whether you keep a workout journal, use a fitness app, or take progress photos, seeing how far you’ve come can be incredibly motivating. It reminds you of the progress you’ve made and keeps you motivated to keep pushing forward.

Mix things up

Lastly, don’t forget to mix things up! Trying new workouts, exploring different fitness classes, or incorporating variety into your routine can help prevent boredom and keep you motivated. Challenge yourself with new exercises, increase the intensity of your workouts, or try a different fitness class each week.

Give yourself non-food rewards

Food is a big driving factor for many people, we reward ourselves with it all the time. When we celebrate nearly anything, food is almost always part of the celebration. When you’re trying to get healthier, loose weight, and reach your fitness goals it’s important to use non-food rewards to keep yourself motivated. You can read more about non-food rewards here. 


Remember, motivation can ebb and flow, so be patient with yourself. Start with simple best workouts for overweight beginners made of simple exercises that give your body time to adjust and help build a solid foundation for your fitness. Focus on the reasons why you started your workout journey in the first place, and keep reminding yourself of the amazing benefits exercise brings. You’re doing incredible things for your body and overall well-being, so keep pushing and stay motivated!