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The Best Tonal Programs for Getting Started or Making Your Comeback

Try one of these programs if you’re new to resistance training or returning after an injury, illness, or extended break.

Tonal programs for beginners and injury recovery.

By John Christie and Karen Iorio Adelson

Strength training is one of the most effective steps you can take for your long-term health and wellness, with benefits that include weight loss, stronger bones, and feeling happier. But there’s a misconception that you have to already be fit, athletic, and injury-free to get started. 

Resistance training enables pain-free, functional movement, allowing you to feel and move better every day. So if you’re a total beginner—or returning after an illness, injury, or time in your life that derailed your routine—you have even more to gain from making strength training a habit

That’s why Tonal offers programs designed to help you get started—or come back better than before. Led by expert coaches guiding you on form and technique, these workouts are safe and engaging for both new exercisers and those returning from a break. 

Check out the programs below to find one that meets you where you’re at in your fitness journey. Of course, if you’re dealing with an illness or injury, check with a medical professional before starting a new workout routine.

How to Make These Programs Work For You

When you’re exercising on Tonal, you have the opportunity to customize your workouts to fit your specific needs. If you can’t do a certain exercise or it just doesn’t feel right for your body, use Tonal’s movement replacement feature to swap out a certain move for one that’s more comfortable. You can also filter workouts by muscle group if you need to avoid working a specific body part or if you need to strengthen a certain area. If you’re feeling especially sore and need a deload day, do your workout with Recovery Weight turned on to lift lower resistance for active recovery.

Programs for Getting Started or Coming Back

The right beginner-friendly program will meet you where you’re at and provide a safe and engaging introduction (or reintroduction) to strength training. With Tonal’s beginner programs, you’ll feel confident from the start as you develop your skills with the help of an expert coach. Mastering new movements will leave you feeling empowered and excited to keep moving forward. 

If you’ve had trouble consistently exercising in the past, these multi-week programs provide structure, taking the guesswork out of what to do each day, so all you have to do is press play. With gradual increases in intensity week-over-week, you’ll make steady progress without burning out or getting bored. 

Fundamentally Fit – Coach Trace Gotsis

Fundamentally Fit - Coach Trace Gotsis

In this one-week program, Coach Trace will guide you through fundamental movement patterns, such as squatting and hinging, that will help you in everyday activities like carrying groceries or picking up your kids. Getting comfortable with these essential strength training exercises will boost your confidence when you advance to more challenging programs. 

Back At It – Coach Allison Tibbs

Back At It - Coach Allison Tibbs

Designed as a “welcome back” to strength training, this two-week program focuses on movement efficiency and reestablishing your cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance. While there are some more technical moves in the program, Coach Allison will prep you for those with stability and muscle activation exercises first. 

Beginner Breakthrough – Coach Jared Rodriguez

Beginner Breakthrough - Coach Jared Rodriguez

A safe and accessible muscle-building challenge, this two-week program is all about mastering proper form in major lifts including the bench press, squat, and row. Coach Jared’s clear and confident instruction builds you up as you encounter new movements and rep ranges that’ll test your strength potential.

Programs for Dealing with Injuries or Pain

Progress isn’t a straight line and even advanced-level lifters can get set back by an acute or chronic injury. The following programs are designed to accommodate, not aggravate, your injuries with a focus on functional strength and improved joint mobility and stability. Remember you can reduce the resistance in any workout with Recovery Weight to help you ease back to your full strength. Remember, if you’re diagnosed with an illness or injury, check with a medical professional before starting or continuing a workout routine. 

More Gain, Less Pain – Coach Liz Letchford

More Gain, Less Pain - Coach Liz Letchford

The simple-but-effective workouts in this program are designed to reduce general pains throughout the body. You’ll work at a slow pace and concentrate on moving from a stable base of support. In just two moves per session, you’ll get in a full-body workout without overtaxing your muscles and risking re-injury. Coach Liz is considerate with her coaching and will help you establish a rich understanding of pain-free movement in strength training.

Knees with Ease Challenge – Coach Liz Letchford

Knees with Ease Challenge - Coach Liz Letchford

This four-week program is a great re-entry to training after experiencing knee pain that limits your movement. You’ll focus on strengthening the muscles that stabilize the hip and ankle joints, which takes the burden off your knees. With minimal kneeling positions, the workouts won’t aggravate existing knee pain.

Workouts for Soreness

If you’re dealing with occasional pain or soreness from your workouts, try one of these active recovery sessions to maintain your momentum and loosen up tight muscles. 

Just Enough Active Recovery – Coach Ash Wilking

Just Enough Active Recovery - Coach Ash Wilking

This full-body strength and mobility workout encourages movement through full ranges of motion, increasing blood flow to your recovering muscles to help them feel refreshed. You’ll use Recovery Weight to move safely through soreness. 

Lower Body Recovery – Coach Tim Landicho

Lower Body Recovery - Coach Tim Landicho

After a tough leg day, try this session that incorporates Recovery Weight and unilateral moves to ensure you’re restoring the balance of flexion and extension in your hips. You’ll focus on regeneration and recirculating nutrients to extra sore or sensitive areas in the lower body.

Complete Body Recovery – Coach Trace Gotsis

Complete Body Recovery - Coach Trace Gotsis

In this workout, you’ll perform full-body movements with Recovery Weight to actively work through complete ranges of motion. Moves with a rotational component give your posture and mid-spine mobility some extra attention.

Programs for Preventing Pain

Even if you aren’t dealing with a specific injury, it’s common to experience aches and pains because of everyday activities that degrade our posture, like slouching forward and craning our necks. In these programs, you’ll work on movement control, mobility, and core strength, which will make you more resilient and resistant to injuries.  

Slow and Strong – Coach Liz Letchford

Slow and Strong - Coach Liz Letchford

This four-week program focuses on controlling movement through resistance to establish a strong and stable core. You’ll work on moves that promote a healthy posture and your ability to transfer force in movement—just like you would if you’re getting down to or up from the ground or walking up stairs.

Fit and Focused – Coach Frances Flores

Fit and Focused - Coach Frances Flores

This program blends strength and mobility with an emphasis on the controlled movements you’d find in a yoga class. You’ll develop functional strength and stability in your core, and test your body’s ability to preserve postural integrity in different positions, helping you carry yourself with confidence beyond the workout. 

Stronger for Sport – Coach Allison Tibbs

Stronger for Sport - Coach Allison Tibbs

In this two-week program, you’ll develop balanced strength and motor control through movements that you’ll find in sports like tennis, running, or pick-up football. Coach Allison takes you through functional strength training at a steady pace that’ll prep you for dynamic movement in any activity.

Substitutes While On the Go

While you’re away from home, you can continue the progress with a number of on-the-go sessions, such as restorative yoga flows, rehabilitative mobility sessions, and bodyweight strength workouts that respect your body’s needs for extra attention in key areas.

What’s Next?

Once you’ve gained confidence in your new strength training habit—or your feeling more like your old self after a break—you’ll have the foundation to jump into any of Tonal’s three main training tracks. To continue working on movement proficiency and building endurance, try an Improve Fitness program. If your goal is to add muscle mass or gain strength and power, check out the Build Muscle offerings. Finally, Tonal’s Get Lean programs are ideal if you’re looking to charge up your metabolism and shift your body composition.

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. Individuals with pre-existing health conditions, injuries, or concerns should consult with their healthcare provider before trying a new exercise or nutrition regimen.

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