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New to Strength Training? Learn the Basics in This Beginner-Friendly Program

You’ll gain confidence and competency in essential exercises with these workouts.

The Why Behind the Workout: Fundamentally Fit

Every time you do a coach-led workout on Tonal, you’re completing a specific series of exercises in a particular order designed to maximize your results. In this series, The Why Behind the Workout, we break down the science behind a particular workout or program. 

Here, we go deep on the Fundamentally Fit program with Tonal coach and certified personal trainer Trace Gotsis.

Who It’s For

Gotsis calls Fundamentally Fit “an educational and empowering program” for beginners—or anyone seeking a thorough introduction to essential strength-training movements. Even if you’re a more experienced lifter, the program will help you gain a better understanding of these basic exercises so you can feel more confident lifting heavier. 

“This is a great starting point to find more meaning and more purpose in your strength training,” says Gotsis. 

The Goal

Jenna Moore, a certified strength and conditioning coach and Programming Specialist at Tonal, explains that Fundamentally Fit emphasizes “the main movement patterns that we experience as humans and that we focus on in training.” These movements include squatting, lunging, hinging, pushing and pulling, and core stability. In the workouts, Gotsis explains how to do the movements properly and why they’re so important to building a stronger body. 

"We don't just move for movement's sake here at Tonal. Everything we do is very intentional and evidence-based." - Jenna Moore, Tonal programming specialist

Besides building the foundation for a successful strength-training journey, mastering these exercises will improve how you move and feel throughout your day. “We don’t just move for movement’s sake here at Tonal,” says Moore. “Everything we do is very intentional and evidence-based.” 

Becoming more aware of your body through strength training will encourage better posture and allow you to lift, pull, and carry heavy items more efficiently. 

Learning new skills is always challenging, but Gotsis’s approachable and motivational coaching style ensures you won’t get frustrated. “Trace is so great at being super positive and making sure you enjoy the experience,” says Moore.

How It Works

Throughout this program, Gotsis spends time breaking down the form and technique of each exercise so beginners can focus on movement quality as they learn. Each of the workouts consists of three blocks with only two exercises per block, offering plenty of time to get comfortable with every movement. The program combines both on- and off-Tonal exercises, mixing in bodyweight moves such as the pillar bridge, isometric split squat, and scapular pushup. 

“Each of the blocks represents a particular movement pattern,” says Moore. For example, you’ll start the first workout alternating between an assisted squat and a goblet squat to train the squatting movement pattern through two different styles. 

Generally, the workouts include one block focusing on the lower body, one on the upper body, and one that includes accessory and core movements. Unilateral (or single-sided) exercises are mixed in as well to target any imbalances in the body. The program also includes an introduction to rotational exercises and balance work. 

For each exercise, you’ll complete around 8 to 10 reps. Moore explains that this rep range emphasizes movement competency, giving you enough opportunities to lock in how the move should feel. “When you’re getting started or you’re coming back after a break, using that 8 to 12 rep range is a really good place to come back into exercise or start with exercise in a safe way,” she says. 

The Key Moves

Goblet Squat

Goblet Squat; beginner strength training exercises

Squats are an essential part of any workout program, targeting the glutes and quads and encouraging stabilization in the core while forcing you to maintain good posture. Once you master this basic movement, you’ll find it benefits you even when you’re not exercising. 

“At its most foundational description, a squat is literally just bending down to pick something up,” says Gotsis. “You’re bending down to pick the kids up or you’re bending down to pick up a bag of mulch. Gaining strength and confidence so you’re not going to injure yourself while doing those everyday tasks is exactly what this move is about.” 

"Gaining strength and confidence so you're not going to injure yourself while doing those everyday things is exactly what this move is about." - Coach Trace

Bench Press

Bench Press; ; beginner strength training exercises

The bench press is another foundational movement that’ll make you stronger for everyday life by working the muscles of the upper chest, shoulders, and triceps. “We’re constantly pushing stuff,” says Gotsis. “The funny thing is that you don’t really recognize you’re doing this action throughout the day because it’s so second nature, like pushing open doors or moving furniture.” 

Seated Row

Seated Row; beginner strength training exercises

To balance out the pushing motion of the bench press, the seated row works the pulling muscles of the upper back, which are essential for maintaining a strong posture. 

Assisted Reverse Lunge

Assisted Reverse Lunge; beginner strength training exercises

Because lunging is a unilateral movement that works one side of the body at a time, it also challenges your balance and core stability. In this modification, you hold on to Tonal for balance, training your body to carry an uneven load on the front hip with just your own bodyweight. 

When To Do It

The three workouts in this program are designed to be completed in one week. Moore says that’s enough time to master the basics, but you can repeat the program if certain exercises still feel awkward. 

“I would certainly recommend that participants who are brand new do it for two or three weeks before they move on to something else to really ensure that they feel successful and the moves feel natural to them,” Moore advises. 

While it’s best to add a day of rest in between the workouts, Moore stresses that consistency is most important. If your schedule forces you to do two workouts in a row followed by two days off, that’ll still be beneficial. 

Perfect Pairings 

High Intensity, Low Impact – Coach Amy Schemper 

High Intensity, Low Impact - Coach Amy Schemper

“Fundamentally Fit is slower paced,” says Moore. “It’s not meant to be HIIT style. It’s meant to be really about finding your form.” Since you might not get a heavy sweat on during these workouts, a cardio session is a good way to raise your heart rate on one of your off-program days. Consider this quick workout that’ll get your heart pumping while being gentle on your joints. 

Quick Fit: Triceps in 10 – Coach Natalie Carey

Quick Fit: Triceps in 10 - Coach Natalie Carey

Because Fundamentally Fit emphasizes major movement patterns that target large muscle groups, you may want to add in some isolation work to strengthen smaller muscles on your off-days. “You could do a couple of Quick Fits that are for body-part specific regions that complement this program,” says Moore. This 10-minute session is all about burning out the triceps. 

Back Mobility Clinic – Coach Liz Letchford 

Back Mobility Clinic - Coach Liz Letchford; beginner strength training exercises

It’s always a smart choice to take time for stretching and recovery on your off-days. “Mobility and recovery is huge because, if you’re new to fitness, your body might not be used to these movement patterns and working with resistance in this type of way,” says Gotsis. 

Moore recommends a mobility clinic with Tonal coach Liz Letchford, a board-certified athletic trainer with a PhD in kinesiology and rehabilitation science, to learn more about how your body moves and improve your range of motion. “The educational aspects that Dr. Liz offers in all of her sessions really complements the educational tone of this program,” she says. This back-focused clinic will ease soreness after a hinging workout. 

What to Do Next

Back At It – Coach Allison Tibbs

Back At It - Coach Allison Tibbs; beginner strength training exercises

Moore calls this two-week program with Coach Allison Tibbs a “nice next progression” from Fundamentally Fit because it’s “a little bit more strength-focused, and there’s a little bit more volume.” You’ll work on building muscular endurance through another set of beginner-safe, low-intensity workouts. 

Beginner Heat – Coach Amy Schemper

Beginner Heat - Coach Amy Schemper; beginner strength training exercises

If you do want to give high-intensity workouts a try, Moore says this popular, cardio-based beginner program with Coach Amy Schemper offers more burn.

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