How To Start Exercising: Beginners Guide To Working Out
Whether you’re working out at home or in a gym, I’m excited you want to start exercising! Although it can feel intimidating to beginners, don’t let that deter you from getting started. I’m going to give you helpful knowledge and guidelines to keep in mind while forming your new exercise routine.
Educating yourself will not only make a difference in your results, but it will help you avoid injury and establish realistic goals.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the one-size-fits-all style posts where someone tells you to run 3 miles and do 50 crunches for 30 straight days to get the ~perfect beach bod~, but people usually don’t stick with those, and if they do- they rarely see real results.
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Exercising is NOT and SHOULD NOT be one-size-fits-all! We all have different bodies, different goals, different starting points, and different resources!
As you begin your fitness journey, don’t lose sight of that truth. What works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa, and that’s okay. It will help you to get out of the habit of comparisons and instead listen to your body, track your efforts, and reward yourself often!
(Disclaimer: I am not a certified personal trainer or strength coach. I have a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Sports Studies with a focus in Exercise Science, and that is where I draw the majority of my knowledge. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS AT NO EXTRA CHARGE TO YOU. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN READ IT HERE).
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Why Start Exercising?
Exercise has literally countless benefits. It can improve physical and mental health, improve sleep routines, and even enhance your sex life.
Routine exercise has been proven to reduce levels of depression and anxiety while improving those who struggle with sleepless nights! It also reduces your risk of chronic diseases and gives your body everything it needs to age gracefully.
Before You Start Exercising
Before starting any routine or physical activity, always consult your doctor or primary physician. Your doctor will always know better than a Pinterest article about losing weight or a YouTuber who’s a fitness guru!
Your doctor can give you the best practices based on your personal health history to ensure a safe and successful start in your fitness journey.
Structuring Your Workout To Start Exercising
As a beginner exerciser, there are absolutely basic guidelines you should listen to before beginning. There are ways to structure multiple workouts in a week to help avoid injury, muscle strain, and promote weight loss.
Less is more in the beginning stages of working out. It will not help your cause to start exercising 5-6 days/week if you have been mainly sedentary until that point. It is far more wise and beneficial in the long run to begin your regimen with 2-3 days/week as tolerated, and gradually increase after a few weeks.
If your goal is weight loss, you may find that you lose weight quickly in the first few months of exercising. This is great! If you notice yourself in a rut or plateau, don’t be discouraged. Things to help to avoid plateaus include:
- For strength training exercises, try increasing your weight at least every two weeks
- For cardio exercises, try either increasing your speed OR duration of exercise, but not both at the same time.
General guidelines to be aware of:
- Adults should do between 2.5-5 hrs of moderate-intensity aerobic (aka cardio) per week (1) OR 75 min-2.5 hrs of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise
- This works better if you do at least 30-minute-1hr sessions spread throughout the week rather than 2+ hrs of aerobic exercise only once a week.
- Adults should do muscle-strengthening exercises for all major muscle groups at least twice a week.
- The more, the better! Looking “manly” from weight lifting doesn’t exist, google it, I promise.
The FITT Principle serves as a seriously awesome resource to help figure out the best way to structure exercises throughout the week.
FITT stands for frequency, intensity, time, and type and outlines training guidelines for a successful exercise routine (2).
I’m going to break up cardio style exercises and strength training style exercises to lay out the best recommendation for weight loss.
Recommended FITT Cardio Routine For Weight Loss
Frequency: 5-6 times
Intensity: Easy to moderate
Time: Between 30-60 minutes or more. Aim for at LEAST 30 minutes.
Type: Whatever you enjoy best! Walking, running, cycling, swimming, stair climber, elliptical, rower, etc.
Recommended FITT Strength Training For Weight Loss
Frequency: 2-3 times per week, but not back to back. I.E. Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.
**Ideally, we should wait at least 48 hours before strength training the same muscle groups, especially for beginners! This will help to avoid overexertion, muscle strain, and injury!
Intensity: This depends on your goal. A good rule of thumb: the less weight, the more repetitions/sets. The heavier the weight, the fewer reps/sets.
**Lower weight & higher repetitions (8-12/set) are great for muscle toning goals while higher weight & lower repetitions (1-5/set) are great for improving strength.
Time: Lower intensity, lower weight, and higher reps will take longer. Higher intensity, higher weight, and lower reps will be quicker.
Type: Machines will be a great tool and have instructions for proper use on them. This will help you to learn how the exercises should feel.
**It sounds silly, but think about the muscle you’re working during the exercise! This helps your brain target the muscle in the right way and not use other muscles to incorrectly perform the exercise.
Listen to your body. While exercising, you create damage (at the microscopic level) throughout all your muscles. These muscles need time to repair before we damage them again! That’s why it’s so important to wait at least 48 hours between muscle groups.
Drink lots of water, and make sure you eat enough to have adequate energy for your workout! Calories, by definition, are a source of energy. Do not fear them. They are the reason we can get out of bed in the morning, get up from a chair, or jog our way to the train station hoping we don’t miss it.
Always be safe about limiting calories to promote weight loss, and do lots of research before deciding what’s best for you! And of course, always consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet
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I wish you luck on your fitness journey, and I’m excited you want to start exercising!