It’s Okay To Start Small
The benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. Not only can it affect your overall mood, it also supports physical health, good sleep habits, and heart health.1 If you’re new to the fitness world, remember that it’s okay to start small. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve found yourself feeling overwhelmed in your gym’s weight room. Every bit of physical activity is important; once you’ve gotten started on a routine that’s right for you, you can work up from there. While a workout plan is crucial to achieving your fitness goals, taking daily walks is a great first step to help you stay motivated. Research has found that exercise habits are more likely to stick when you exercise at the same time every day.2 Try getting up just a few minutes earlier in the morning, or heading out for a trek first thing after work. Aerobic exercise is perfect for the beginner who doesn’t have gym equipment at home or who’s not quite sure where to begin.
Set Smart Goals
Do you want to burn more calories? Want to see more defined glutes? Improve your muscular strength to become stronger? Or perhaps you’re looking for something else entirely? Whatever it may be, it’s important to have your goals in mind before you start your workout. For example, if you’ve never set foot on the elliptical before, it may be worth your while to set a goal that involves a small session or two at the beginning of your fitness journey until you feel comfortable with the equipment. Same goes with weights: Don’t immediately reach for the heavy weights and deadlift 30 pounds. Instead, start with lighter ones and gradually work your way up to more intense equipment like barbells. Don’t dive into the hardest activities first—everyone’s gotta start somewhere. The best piece of advice when it comes to setting and executing your fitness goals is to focus on one goal at a time.3 Studies have found that when people focus on one goal at a time, they’re more likely to complete it. If you give yourself too many things to accomplish at the beginning of your fitness journey, you’re more likely to give up when you don’t start seeing results right away, which means you’re quicker to abandon your goals altogether. A great way to set smart goals, is to remember the acronym “SMART.” SMART goals are:
- Specific: “Get fit” is too general a goal. Really drill down how you want to do this. “Start exercising two to three times a week to lose weight” is a good start.
- Measurable: “I want to lose five pounds by the end of the month.”
- Attainable: “I should be losing about one pound per week.”
- Relevant: “I’d like to lose weight because I’m getting married soon,” OR “The doctor told me to be more active during my last visit.”
- Timely: “I want to lose 10 pounds by bikini season.”4
The best way to make sure your goal is a SMART goal is by writing it down. If it feels too broad or specific, drill it down until each letter in the acronym is covered.
Don’t Forget To Stretch
When you first start out, it can be tempting to just go, go, go, but this guide for beginners is here to tell you that stretching before any type of exercise is imperative to your success. Stretching not only helps you feel ready for a workout but also protects your muscles from injury.5 Here are some great stretch techniques that will be helpful before and after your cardio or strength training sessions:6 Pre-Workout Stretches: These are the perfect way to warm up before you run, jump rope, walk, and more.
- Toe touch: Curve your spine so that your arms point as close to your toes as is comfortable. Hold for a few seconds until you feel your muscles are more limber.
- Knee pull: Pull one knee up to your chest (or as high as is comfortable). Hold for five seconds. Lower your knee. Repeat at least five times before switching to the opposite leg.
Post-Workout Stretches: Cool down with these simple stretches.
- Hip bridge: This move is considered static stretching and is intended to leave you feeling relaxed after working your muscles. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Flatten your back to the floor as you slowly lift your hips. You should feel this in your hip flexors and lower abdomen. Lower back down and repeat at least five times.
- Hamstring stretch: Grab your resistance bands for this one (or a long-sleeved shirt if you’ve got one lying around). Place the band around the bottom of one foot while lying flat on the floor. Slowly straighten your leg; you should begin to feel this in your hamstring. Hold for at least 30 seconds before lowering your leg back to the ground. Repeat three times, then switch to the other foot.
Getting The Most Out Of The Gym
Nothing compares to a good gym workout. If you have a gym membership, it may be time to dust off that athletic wear because the perks are endless. In addition to free weights, you also have access to other state-of-the-art gym equipment that’s great for completing any aerobic or full-body workout. Runners have the track for laps, and those who are more inclined to do yoga or Pilates are also able to join in on countless fitness classes. If one of your goals is to burn more calories, most exercise equipment designed for cardio or strength training helps you count the calories burned, as well as your resting heart rate and other stats during and after use. Of course, if you’re not sure how to work a piece of equipment, you want to try using the rowing machine rather than the treadmill, you need someone to check your posture during a strength training exercise, or you have questions about resistance training, just ask one of the staff members for help. They’re there to make sure your experience meets all of your needs. Another option is to utilize a personal trainer. Not only will they be an incredibly helpful resource, they’ll also equip you with a strong workout routine that’s best suited for your needs as well as keeping you on track toward your fitness goals.7 Lastly, fitness classes are a great option for beginners to gain experience and provide structure. There are a variety of classes from yoga, stretching, strength training and more to give you a complete well-rounded routine. Some major benefits consist of:8
- Proper Form
Making Your Routine Work For You
Remember, a great workout is one that leaves you feeling your best. Don’t be afraid to try something new, whether it’s a new interval training circuit or joining a spin class. Your fitness journey is an exciting time of transformation and self-discovery. These training tips are designed to give you a starting point that will get you that much closer to your reward: a healthy lifestyle that you can be proud of. Just make sure to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise regimen. Learn More: Choosing A Fitness Fabric: Which Are Good And Which Are Worst? Do Men Lose Weight Faster Than Women? BMI, Metabolic Rate, And The Sexes How Important Is Nutrition When It Comes To Overall Fitness? Sources 1 https://www.healthline.com/health/5-benefits-healthy-habits 2 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-start-exercising#section3 3 https://www.self.com/story/how-to-set-realistic-fitness-goals 4 https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6763/a-guide-for-s-m-a-r-t-goal-setting/ 5 https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching 6 https://www.womensrunning.com/training/5-essential-workout-stretches/ 7 https://www.planetfitness.com/community/articles/7-motivating-gym-tips-beginners 8 https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/6-benefits-of-group-fitness-classes-1