Getting into working out can be scary, frustrating, and intimidating. It’s hard to know where to begin, what equipment to use, or what style of workout might work best for you. The truth is, we all start out as beginners, even those who seem to have a well-established routine. Remember that nobody starts lifting 75-pound weights (or figures out what to do with them) on day one.
Starting a fitness routine doesn’t have to mean spending hundreds of dollars on a gym membership or investing in a bunch of fancy equipment. All it takes is a willingness to start with the basics and the determination to stick to your plan. Here are a few tips!
Do a bodyweight workout.
Simplicity is key when you’re just getting into a workout routine. You may think you need to use equipment in order to see any significant changes; the reality is that you really don’t. Bodyweight exercises can be just as effective in giving you the results you’re looking for. If you’re not familiar with them, they are exactly what they sound like … moves that use only your bodyweight rather than dumbbells or equipment.
Examples of bodyweight exercises are things like squats, push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and planks. You can choose a few of these to put together to form a circuit. Repeat your exercises 2-3 times in order to work up a great sweat. There are also lots of bodyweight circuits online that you can follow along with to get started, like this one.
Schedule in rest days.
Taking rest days is just as important as the days you work out. This will allow your body ample time to recover so that you don’t risk injuring yourself due to overuse. The Active Times® found that although it is generally a good idea to take 2-3 rest days per week, the most important thing you can do is listen to your body.
“Exercise is a naturally catabolic process, meaning it breaks down your muscles and consumes a lot of energy in the process,” says Alex Robles, a health and fitness expert. “In order to recuperate, your body needs time to rebuild itself. Without rest days, there is no progress.” (Just don’t make every day a rest day! 😉)
Don’t forget cardio.
Cardio doesn’t have to include training for a marathon or biking 100 miles (unless you like that sort of stuff). Especially if you’re not used to doing intense cardio, it’s a good idea to start out simple. Try going for a walk with a friend, or a quick bike ride around town.
Once you start to get more comfortable, increase your time and speed. Mayo Clinic suggests that adults should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. Again, it’s always important to listen to your body and do what’s most comfortable for you.
Track your progress.
One of the most important (and fun!) steps in establishing a workout routine is tracking your progress to make sure that you’re getting results. This is the best way to find out if you need to make any adjustments (i.e., add in more cardio, take an extra rest day, etc.).
Luckily, there are lots of apps out there that can help you get started, like MyFitnessPal™. You could also start a fitness journal where you can track your workouts, write your goals, keep your progress photos, and so on.
Exercise should be a celebration of what your body can do, not something that you’re constantly dreading. When starting a routine, don’t forget that working out should be fun. Yes, it’s important to push yourself during your workouts, but what’s even more important is that you enjoy it … even if the enjoyment part doesn’t happen until after it’s over, when those endorphins really start to kick in.
Struggling to reach your health and fitness goals? Read our blog post here on “Four Things You Can Start Today to Reach Your Goals in No Time.”