I frequently get asked questions from people who want to start working out but simply don’t know where to start. So here is my guide to working out for beginners. I’m going to help you figure out how to get started the right way!
- Have a plan and start it NOW!
No more I’ll start next month – start your life change today, or better yet, right now! Make a plan to workout 5 days a week, start a running program, join a recreational sports league with your friends… whatever it is, make the plan and start now.
- Make specific goals for yourself and know the reason why you have those goals
First, don’t make general goals. The more specific your goals are, the more likely you are to stick with them. Here are a couple examples: lose 15lbs, be able to do a pull-up, get stronger legs and a bigger butt, run a mile in under 10-minutes. Secondly, if you don’t get to the heart of why you are working out, it probably won’t stick. You want to lose weight, okay, why? Do these goals relate to wanting to complete something for the first time in your life, are you trying to start dating again and want to feel more confident, are you worried about your health, or do you want to be a good role model for your children? Know why you want what you want.
- Proper form is a must!
If you don’t know exactly how to do a certain exercise, find out. Hire a trainer or simply do your research. Without the proper form, you put yourself at risk for obtaining an injury AND you won’t get the most out of your workout. If you goal is to get nice legs and butt, you better know how to squat correctly!
- Have a workout planned before you go to the gym
Having a plan will make you feel more confident and keep you from wasting time at the gym. Walk into the gym and know what muscles you plan to work and what exercises you want to do. This way you always know what’s happening and won’t walk around feeling lost. It helps to have a plan of your entire week of working out because then you can decide how you want to split up your days and what muscles you want to work each day. You can’t work your legs everyday, you can’t work your biceps everyday – you want to give each muscle group 24-48 hours rest between training sessions to let them heal and grow. So, planning your week in advance will allow you to decide what you want to do each day with recovery time in mind.
- Reps, sets, and how much weight to lift
Generally speaking, this is a good start-up plan… Do 4-6 exercises per muscle group, 8-12 reps per exercise, and 2-3 sets of each. As far as how much weight to lift goes – start light and then increase from there. The last 2-3 reps of each set should be challenging. So, if the whole set is hard, drop the weight. If it’s all easy, then you should increase it! You also want to keep your rests between sets between 30-60 seconds. If you keep your rests short, resistance training can double as cardio!
- You NEED to stretch (everyday)
Stretching is both of the most important and most skipped step of a workout. You need to stretch out and hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. Check out some of my stretching videos on the MFit channel for ideas!
- The best time of day to workout is…
Whenever! It really doesn’t matter. The ideal time to workout is different for everyone. You want to try and workout when you have the most energy, but sometimes that’s not possible because of work or other conflicts. Working out will give you energy and help relieve stress. So, if the only time you can workout is after work and you’re tired and don’t want to do it – still workout. If you need a boost of energy have some pre-workout before.
- Don’t be intimidated by the gym/weight room
It’s easy to feel self-conscious when you are in a new place, and the gym can be intimidating. But remember this, no one actually cares what you are doing. No one is judging you. And even if you think they are, you won’t remember those people in a month’s time, so just get over it! If you are worried about people talking to you, just do set off the leave me alone vibes (headphones on, eyes forward).
- Rest days
Especially as a beginner, I recommend one full rest day and one active rest day a week. A full rest day is one where you simply do not workout. Let your body heal, but don’t sit on the couch all day. Move around but make sure you’re not doing anything strenuous. An active rest day may include and easy jog, a simple hike, or just doing something active that doesn’t take too much out of you. You really do want that rest day, especially as you’re just starting out. This will ensure that you don’t injure yourself on account of overworking your muscles, and it will keep you from burning out.
- Length of workouts
Workout length is going to vary on intensity. You could do a very intense workout and be done in 15 minutes or you could reduce the intensity and be working for 90 minutes. As a beginner your workouts should probably be between 40 minutes to an hour. But, like I said, it truly depends on what your workout includes. So, this is a tough question to answer. However, EVERYONE (beginner or not) should include a thorough warm-up and cool down in his or her workout.
- Keep a journal
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to make fitness and nutrition a habit. So start writing out your workouts and food intake everyday. Do not skip a day, a meal, a workout… list everything and turn journaling into a habit. List absolutely everything you do and eat, and then at the end of the day take notes on how you feel. If you feel great, awesome! You should continue to do what you did that day. If you feel bad, look at what you ate and did and change that for the next day.
- Rid your house of junk food
If you are serious about changing your body, you also have to improve on your nutrition. And if the junk food is there, you’ll eat it. So get rid of that food by donating it or giving it to friends. Then go to the grocery store and fill your house with clean food! Again, if it’s there – you’ll eat it.