Kerry Washington's Trainer Shares a Beginner One-Month Workout Plan

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Stocksy/Design by Cristina Cianci

Ready to commit to a fitness program, but not sure where to start? Kicking off your journey with a one-month program that combines cardio workouts and strength training will allow you to gradually build up strength without getting bored. 

We asked celebrity fitness trainer Juliet Kaska to create a four week program that’s designed with beginners in mind, but can be leveled-up if you're already well-versed in the exercise world. “This one-month workout plan is a combination of strength training and cardio, and to give the beginner fitness enthusiast what they need to get stronger and more confident for their fitness pursuits,” she says.

Meet the Expert

Juliet Kaska is a celebrity ACE- and NASM-certified personal trainer, master Pilates instructor, and Vionic Innovation Lab member. Her clients include Kerry Washington, Karlie Kloss, and Pink.

The Plan 

This workout has four weeks of workouts to complete. Start with the cardio segment and immediately follow it up with the strength circuit during each workout. Be sure to drink plenty of water and stop and rest if you feel tired or dizzy. Consult with a physician first to ensure this plan is suitable for you.

Week 1

Plan: Work out 5 days (35 to 50 minutes of cardio + strength); completely rest on the other 2 days.

Cardio Segment  

Note: Throughout the month, you will use the “Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion” to monitor yourself and to push yourself in your progress. On this scale, you will be working between a 13-16.

Start with a 20-minute walk (or jog) on the treadmill or outside. Push your intensity to the point where you can feel your heart rate increase, but you can still talk (Borg scale 13-15). Before your walk, preload a podcast or playlist that is 20 minutes long. When your walk/jog is over, log the distance you covered in the 20 mins. A great app which will store your mileage and pace for you automatically is the Runkeeper App.

Strength Segment 

Lay down on an exercise mat (or lay in the grass outside and enjoy the extra benefit of natural vitamin D, which is known for boosting mood, energy, and the immune system). Lay on your back with your hands behind your head, knees bent, and your feet on the ground and squeezed together. Complete the following circuit:

  1. Crunches: 25 reps regular crunches and 25 oblique crunches (twist rather than lift straight up with your chest) on each side, and then 25 more regular. Complete a total of 100 crunches.
  2. Back Extension: Flip onto your stomach for Superman back extension lifts. 10 reps. 
  3. Plank: Flip back over and do three 30-second plank holds on your knees.
  4. Bridges: Flip back onto your backside, lift into a hip-bridge and hold for 60 seconds; repeat this 3 times. Keep your legs together and your pelvis lifted high (but not to the point of overexerting your back).
  5. Pushups: Flip over one more time (assisted pushups on your knees are fine here). Do 3 rounds of 10 pushups.


Week 2

Plan: Work out 5 days (35 to 50 minutes of cardio + strength); completely rest on other 2 days.

Cardio Segment

Bump up your cardio. Keep your walk to 20 minutes, but pick up your tempo. (If you were walking 1 mile in 20 minutes during your first week, push yourself to walk further in that 20 minutes.) A general week-2 goal could be 1.5 miles in 20 minutes. Every day, log your distance covered in your 20 mins and stay aware of your Borg Scale level (Borg Scale 13-16).

Strength Segment

This will be generally the same as week 1, but add exercises 6 and 7. 

  1. Crunches: Lift your legs into a tabletop position, where your feet are off the ground and your knees and hips are both at a right angle during the regular crunches. For the oblique crunches, lower the opposite foot to the ground as you rotate toward the lifted leg with your opposite elbow. Keep the repetitions the same as week 1 for a total of 100 crunches.
  2. Back Extension: Superman lifts—hold 3 reps for 30 seconds each.
  3. Planks: Increase your time to 1 minute for 3 sets on your knees.
  4. Bridges: Increase your time to 1 minute for 3 sets.
  5. Pushups: 3 sets of 15-20 reps on your knees.
  6. NEW week 2 move: Squat holds against the wall, 3 times for 30-45 seconds. Keep your knees and hips at a right angle during the hold.
  7. NEW week 2 move: Dips—3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Week 3

Plan: Work out 5 days (40 to 70 minutes of cardio + strength + optional weights), rest on other 2 days or do a 20-minute gentle yoga/stretch session. 

Cardio Segment

This week, you’ll add in intervals for 10 minutes of your 20 minutes of cardio. At the end, log the total distance covered. It should be longer than week 2. If it isn’t, you may need to increase your medium and/or your fast pace. Still rely on the Borg scale to verify you are not overexerting yourself (Borg Scale 13-18).

  1. 2-minute walk at a medium pace
  2. 1-minute run/jog at fast pace
  3. 2-minute walk at medium pace
  4. 1-minute run/jog at fast pace
  5. 2-minute walk at medium pace
  6. 2-minute run/jog at fast pace
  7. 10 minutes medium pace

Strength Segment

  1. Crunches: Keep the repetitions the same as week 2, but after each set of 25, add in 10 small tight pulses. Complete a total of 100 crunches and 40 pulses.
  2.  Back Extension: Superman lifts are advancing to 2 reps each held for 1 minute
  3.  Planks: Decrease your hold time to 30-45 seconds for 3 reps, but extend and lift your knees off the ground into a full-body plank.
  4.  Bridges: Increase your time to 1 minute for 3 sets
  5.  Pushups: 3 sets of 15-20 on your knees
  6.  Squats: 3 sets against the wall, hold for 45-60 seconds
  7.  Dips: 3 sets of 15 reps
  8.  NEW week 3 move: Lunges—20 lunges on each leg for a total of 40 alternating lunges

Level-up: Add weight training this week (optional).

Use 1 set of light free weights (2-4 lbs) and 1 set of heavy weights (5-10 lbs). All exercises should be 1-2 sets of 15 reps; rest 30 seconds between sets.

1. Chest press (heavy weight)

2. Bent-forward rows (heavy weight)

3. Straight arm tricep extension (light weight)

4. Lateral shoulder raises (light weight)

Week 4

Plan: Work out at least 4 days (50-75 minutes of cardio + strength + weight training), alternate with 1-3 rest days, or do 1-2 days of a 20-minute gentle yoga/stretch session.

Cardio Segment

Total of 20 minutes. At the end, log the total distance covered—it should be longer than week 3. If it’s not, you may need to increase your medium and/or your fast pace. Still rely on the Borg scale to verify you are not overexerting yourself (Borg Scale 13-18).

1st 10 minutes:

  • 2-minute walk at a medium pace
  • 2-minute run/jog at fast pace
  • 1-minute walk at medium pace
  • 1-minute run/jog at fast pace
  • 1-minute walk at medium pace
  • 1-minute run/jog at fast pace
  • 1-minute walk at medium pace
  • 1-minute run/jog at fast pace

2nd 10 minutes:

  • 1- minute at medium pace
  • 2-minute run/jog at fast pace
  • 1-minute at medium pace
  • 2-minute run/jog at fast pace
  • 1-minute walk at medium pace
  • 2-minute run/jog at fast pace
  • 1-minute walk at medium pace

Strength Segment

  1. Crunches: Keep the repetitions the same as week 3 with the added pulses.
  2. Back Extension: Superman lifts 3 reps each held for 1 minute
  3. Planks: 45-60 seconds for 3 sets with legs extended into full plank position
  4. Bridges: 3 sets held for 1 minute—after each minute, do 10 tiny upward pressing pulses
  5. Pushups: 3 sets of 10-20 reps with legs extended into full plank position
  6. Squats: 10-20 reps followed by 30 second holds, 3 sets              
  7. Dips: 3 sets of 20
  8. Lunges: Holding your heavy free weights (5-10 lbs), alternate your lunges for 40 total reps (20 on each leg).

Weight Training

Use 1 set of light free weights (2-4 lbs) and 1 set of heavy weights (5-10 lbs). For each weight set, complete 2-3 sets for 15 reps each. Rest 30 seconds between sets.

  1. Alternate between chest press (heavy weight) and reverse flys (light weight)
  2. Alternate between bent forward rows (heavy weight) and lateral shoulder raises (light weight)
  3.  Alternate between bicep curls (heavy weight) and triceps extension (light weight)

Bonus Move

Do round 2 of crunches. Keep the repetitions the same as week 3 with the added pulses.

Keep It Up! 

Congratulations on completing your one-month fitness kickoff. At this point, Kaska recommends sticking with the week-4 routine, but increasing the speed for the cardio component and increasing the weights or reps each week for another two to four weeks. 

After a total of six to eight weeks, it is time to advance to a new program before your body plateaus, she says.