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The Best Workouts for Beginners: How to Start Strength Training on Tonal

Master the fundamentals of strength training, even if you’ve never lifted before.

A woman using Tonal's touchscreen.

If you’re seeking out the best workouts for beginners, you’re probably already aware that the benefits of strength training are many, including a sped-up metabolism, happier mood, healthier bones, and improved sleep. But if you haven’t lifted weights before, you might not know where to start. Tonal makes it easy to jump right in with dozens of programs and workouts designed exclusively for beginners

Several elements go into programming strength training for beginners. “Consistency is key,” says Tonal Director of Curriculum John Christie, explaining that beginner workouts on Tonal often repeat the same exercises or basic structure to encourage competency with these movement patterns. The overall volume (or total weight lifted) in these workouts is less than in advanced workouts, making them more approachable for anyone learning the ropes. 

The exercises in beginner workouts are also generally less complex and easier to master than those in more advanced workouts. These moves typically mirror natural movement patterns (think: sitting down, walking up the stairs, carrying groceries) and don’t require extensive technique. They may be isolated exercises that target one muscle at a time (such as standing biceps curls) or simpler variations of compound moves (like bodyweight squats instead of weighted front squats). 

When you’re establishing an exercise routine, it’s important that your new habit fits your schedule. Christie says workouts for beginners are often shorter because they’re easier to slot into a busy day. You’re more likely to stick with a 20-minute workout than an hour-long one when you’re starting out. 

Ready to get started? Build your foundation with these beginner-friendly programs and workouts, all designed to familiarize you with the basics of strength training.

Four-Week Programs

Multi-week programs are the best way to introduce yourself to Tonal because they give you plenty of time to develop competency in the movements. As Christie says, “competence begets confidence.” 

The programs below make strength training for beginners accessible. They’re listed in order of increasing difficulty—in terms of volume, duration, and movement complexity—so you can work through them over your first few months on Tonal.

More Gain, Less Pain – Coach Liz Letchford

More Gain, Less Pain - Coach Liz Letchford

The workouts in this four-week program all clock in at under 25 minutes, and they’re meant to be easy on the joints. “Each workout is simple and minimal,” says Christie. “It would be good for someone first starting to train. Coach Liz is very mindful of a beginner’s need to feel safe and secure.” 

New Strength – Coach Nicolette Amarillas

New Strength - Coach Nicolette Amarillas

In this muscle-building program, Coach Nicolette helps you lock in proper form for major lifts that’ll pop up in intermediate and advanced workouts. “This program is repetitive, which is good for beginners developing competence with compound moves—deadlifts and squats, for example,” says Christie. “It will be the same programming for four straight weeks, but knowing that going in makes it more palatable and gives a beginner something consistent to come back to each week as they develop new habits.” 

Good to Great – Coach Paul Wright

Good to Great - Coach Paul Wright

The workouts in this program get progressively more challenging as Coach Paul ups the intensity and complexity of the exercises in the final two weeks. “Paul does incorporate a couple of moves that are more challenging—a half-burpee, for example—but in general this is a good program for a beginner,” says Christie. 

Beginning Strength Fundamentals – Coach Amy Schemper

Beginning Strength Fundamentals - Coach Amy Schemper

Because this program is similar in structure to Good to Great, with new moves introduced in the second half, it’s a logical next step, says Michelle Grabau, Fitness Programming Director at Tonal. 

Starting Strong – Coach Gabby Sansosti

Starting Strong - Coach Gabby Sansosti

Grabau says Starting Strong is a solid follow-up to Beginning Strength Fundamentals because it follows a similar structure but adds a fourth day of weekly strength training. 

Slow and Strong – Coach Liz Letchford

Slow and Strong - Coach Liz Letchford

Even though the workouts in this program are on the longer side for beginners (around 35 to 45 minutes each), Christie says Coach Liz keeps the flow smooth and approachable. “Liz is great at explaining moves and their purpose,” he adds.

Two-Week Programs

If you don’t want to commit to a four-week program, or you want to take some time getting to know the different coaches on Tonal, try a two-week program. These programs are listed in order of increasing difficulty but they’re all appropriate for beginners.

Back At It – Coach Allison Tibbs

Back At It - Coach Allison Tibbs

Designed to ease you back into exercise after an extended break, it’s also ideal for total beginners. “It’s got a good mix of simple moves,” says Christie. 

Best for Beginners – Coach Natalie Carey

Best for Beginners - Coach Natalie Carey

The three workouts in this program repeat in weeks one and two, offering multiple opportunities to practice fundamental exercises such as the standing overhead press, triceps extension, and split squat. 

Better Posture Every Day – Coach Nicolette Amarillas

Better Posture Every Day - Coach Nicolette Amarillas

“This is an approachable program with a specific purpose: improving posture,” says Christie. It introduces some more technical movements—like the half-kneeling single-arm overhead press—but with Coach Nicolette’s expert guidance, these new exercises are easy to learn. 

Beginner Heat – Coach Amy Schemper

Beginner Heat - Coach Amy Schemper

Coach Amy picks up the pace in this introductory high-intensity program that’s designed to get your heart rate up and burn fat. “It’s a ‘Get Lean’ program so it has a bit more challenge built in,” says Christie. You’ll take on moves that challenge your balance, coordination, and rotational ability. There are only a handful of different moves in each workout so it’s perfect for beginners who learn through repetition.

Workouts

Tonal also offers a variety of standalone workouts for beginners. Try one of these when you’re looking for a quick sweat session. 

Quick Fit: Strong and Smart – Coach Nicolette Amarillas

Quick Fit: Strong and Smart - Coach Nicolette Amarillas

In just 15 minutes, Coach Nicolette squeezes in a full-body workout while educating beginners on important lifting techniques. You’ll learn the basics of how pushing and pulling exercises come together to challenge your muscles from every angle. 

Quick Fit: Start Confident – Coach Trace Gotsis

Quick Fit: Start Confident - Coach Trace Gotsis

Start here if you’re looking to build your arms, chest, and back. Coach Trace gives detailed instructions on foundational upper body exercises including the bent over row, overhead press, and bicep curl. 

Quick Fit: Spicy Stability – Coach Frances Flores

Quick Fit: Spicy Stability - Coach Frances Flores

In addition to targeting the big muscles of the lower body, this workout focuses on balance through unilateral, or single-sided moves. Each exercise is done for time instead of repetitions, so you can concentrate on your form and not stress about getting in a certain number of reps. 

Quick Fit: Powered Up Core – Coach Paul Wright

Quick Fit: Powered Up Core - Coach Paul Wright

Either on its own or added on to a longer workout, this short core burner introduces essential Tonal core moves such as the farmer march and half-kneeling lift. Learn how to activate your abs and obliques in a variety of positions.


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