In our individual journey’s in weight loss and health and wellness, many begin new fitness regimens and find they have a difficult time sticking with them, especially if they have no true back ground in fitness. It is understandable that a lot of folks have a difficult time sticking to it as even though most fitness is simple in concept, there are things you do not know that you do not know which can either hurt you or burn you out before you really hit your stride in physical fitness. I will address a few issues for newbies to consider when beginning a new fitness program. This list is in no particular order, and I may miss a couple items some may want more clarification with. If so, please ask questions in the comments and I will be glad to address specific issues you may have.
Get clearance from your doctor
Do yourself a favor, if you are new to exercise or have been out of it for some time, please consult your physician before beginning a new exercise routine. This is necessary for your own safety, especially if you have never been one to be physically active or are significantly out of shape. The cost of a doctors visit for a simple exam to clear you for exercise is much cheaper than a visit to the emergency room should you have a heart issue you were not awae of or any number of physical ailments which may be worsened by exercise, such as joint issues that will only be worsened by running at a heavy body weight.
Pick an exercise you will enjoy
This is a simple enough concept, if you do not enjoy an activity, you are going to be less prone to stick with it. If you have no idea what you might enjoy, be flexible and try several new activities. You may be sirprised and find there is an exercise you though you would never like yet get tons of persoanl satisfaction from.
Pick an exercise you can do
Just being real with this one. If you are not a runner, then you are not going to run a marathon next week. If you believe you want to run, then begin a program for running geared for the newbie such as Couch to 5K where you begin by simply walking and then build up to actually being able to successfully run a 5k which is 3 miles if you are not into metric measures.
You want to try strength training?
As with the preceeding paragraphs, you need to be realistic in your capabilities, and then understand there are many things to be learned depsite the simplicity of lifting weights. The physiology behind strength training is more complex than many non lifters assume it to be. Before you begin strength training, first develope a thought of what you think you want to achieve from it. And then for success, you must have a plan to reach your goals.
First find an already established program with linear progression from light to heavier weights and also a plan where there is MEASURABLE progress.Do not, DO NOT, think that as a newbie with no experience think you can just grab a few dumbbells or a barbell and fudge your way to the body you want just because that “dumb meathead” makes it look so easy. In my years of experience, I have found that most people who begin strength training and then quit, the reason is usually because they did not have the knowlege to proceed and once the newbie gains plateaued, they did not know how to progress further. Strength training is hard work when done right, and doing random lifts all willy nilly is not going to get you good results.
If you want to get toned and fit, this is going to take COMMITMENT on your part and not just in the weight room. This is going to involve getting proper nutrition and rest for your muscles to recover properly. You can not out work or out run a bad diet for long. You may get away with it for a while, but truth be known, a good lifting program is going to make you hungry and you must be able to control that appetite.
Start with light weights. Start with a weight far less than you think necessary. Hell, I recommend most begin with an empty olympic barbell, or no more than 45 pounds for most lifts except the squat and dead lift. The first thing you need to worry about before adding weight to the bar is perfecting the movements and your form. If you do not perfect your movements and form, you will only develope bad habits which will eventually hurt you. One of many examples would be the flaring of your elbows when performing a bench press. You might lift more weight, but in due time, your shoulders are going to impinge which will cause you at least a painful condition, at worse, you may need surgical repairs.
DID I MENTION START LIGHT?
Learn the ins and outs of the exercises you are doing in order to have success. So often I hear ladies say they do not want to bulk and then they proceed to workout with light weights for very high repetitions. Light weight with high rep sets is exactly the mix which will cause you to bulk through sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Or in other words, light weights and high reps cause more micro trauma to your muscles which in turn causes inflammation which causes the muscle tissue to retain more fluid and therefore get bigger. If you do not want to bulk, you need to lift a heavier weight as you proceed, and for a lower repetition ange such as 5 reps per set.
Do not just take the word of a person just because they look strong. There are some who look good more as a reslt of good genes than their knowlege of strength training. If you are taking advice from someone, be sure to make them fully explain themselves and then verify they are correct. Bad advice can and will hurt you. Beware of the ego’s which will steer you wrong in order for them to always be the strongest and smartest. This happens. In other words, avoid advice from the fool who stands in front of the mirror flexing between every set.
Be patient and track every workout in order to track your progress. Strength training takes time, especially once you have busted through your newbie gains. Know that at a point your progress will slow and that even one more pound or one more rep in a month is progress.
Always be mindful that in strength training, your rest and nutrition carry equal importance as the actual lifitng of the weights. You have to get rest for your musles to recover You have to eat a good mix of nutrients and you must have enough calories to fuel your routine. If you are not mindful of this, you will not have long term success.
The best routines for results are those which target multiple muscle groups through compound movements and make the most efficient use of your time. You do not need to hit your muscles from 100 different angles by doing 6 different types of Curls or other lifs unless you are an elite level and competitive body builder.
If you believe the whole MUSCLE CONFUSION non sense, lets talk about some real estate deals. This is a marketing ploy by gyms to get you to use all the different machines they have bought and is also a misguided notion perpetuated by well meaning folks who really do not understand the needs of a newbie lifter. All the confusion your muscles need is another pound per lift.
Know that getting all SWOLE through hitting muscles from different angles and other muscle confusion malarky does not necessarily equal lasting strength and fitness success. Getting all swole just means your muscles are pumped with blood and water and this condition will receed a quick as it came once you quit lifting.
Ladies, your body does not produce testosterone like a mans. Working out with weights is not going to get you all buff unless you specifically try to get that way through great effort. And even great effort is not always enough to get that way. Some female body builders are known to inject steroids to get their bulk.
Know that a good and proper strength training program is cardiovascular in nature and is as good for your heart health as running. Always do your strength training first and cardio second if you still feel like doing it afterwards. Doing your cardio first will hamper your success in strength training.
Be comfortable and wear proper gear
No matter whether you are beginning a cardiovascular or strength training regimen, be comfortable. Wear loose fitting clothing and items which not cause you to overheat. The weight you lose from sweating is only going to return when you drink a couple glasses of water.
Wear proper shoes for your activity. For example, when running or walking you want a snug shoe that properly fits your arch. Without proper arch support, you will stand the risk of developing painful plantar fasciitis. With strength training, you want to wear a shoe with a non squishy sole for lifts such as squats and dead lifts. Having a little rise at the heal is good for these lifts too.
If you wear a belt for strength training, know that it is a tool which is really only useful for squatting and deadlifting as a part of supporting your core when you do a valsalva during the lift. If you wear a belt for every lift you do, it displays that you do not that is is a tool for those lifts and just kind of makes you look like a true amateur to serious lifters. Occasionally you will encounter the guy who belts up for every lift. He will usually be the guy admiring his muscles in the gym mirror between every set of every lift. The guy on social media who takes multiple selfies a day and posts them all for the masses to see. These types simply wear me out….
Make your exercise fun
If your exercise of choice is not fun, if it brings you no pleasure, you need to stop and regroup. Figure out how you can make it fun, or be flexible to try something else. Face it, if you are achieving persoanl satisfaction, you are not going to stick with it. When it is not fun, it is only too easy to find and make excuses to put if off a day, which can lead into a week or months.
Be kind to yourself
And never compare yourself to others. Be happy with your success no matter how little. You can never compare yourself to others as we all begin with differnt ages, genders, genetics and different levels of fitness. Be patient and do not beat yourself up because someone else is doing something you can not yet do. Know that your best efforts are the warm up of someone else and vice versa. Concentrate on being the best you can be with out getting hung up on others.
Learn the difference between pain and discomfort
Lastly, being new to any exercise will cause you some pain. This is temporary as your muscles become accustomed to new work. Sometimes you will be in a little pain, but there is a distinguishable difference between new movement pain and injury. It is a myth that a sign of a good workout is to make it hurt. Hurting after a workout is neither a sign of a good or bad workout no matter the type you are doing. You will iscover this to be true through time and experience.
I know there are many other ssues which can and should be covered on this topic. I have a busy day ahead of me first with a heavy dead lifting session at the gym, then grocery shopping and food prep before going on the road in my semi tonight to wrap up my 4th 80 hour work week in a row before beginning a 60 hour work week on Monday, and with no true time off in the mix. Please, if you have questions, by all means ask them in the comments and I will get to you as soon as I can.
God bless to all and thank you for reading. We have now been read in 31 countries and our audience is growing daily. Please give a little love to my lovely co-author Brenda in the contributions she has brought to my blog. And by all means, ask her questions about fitness too. She is my strength training trainee through online coaching and her lifts have progressed superbly. I am proud that in about 9 months of training, we have brought Brenda Sue up from really weak lifts to now her strength falls into an intermediate level for female lifters between the ages of 60 to 69. In 9 months, her numbers have risen to where by professional strength standards, she is stronger than 63% of female lifters in her age category. Brenda also has great knowlege of hiing and swimming, ask away of both of us.
6 Comments Add yours
This is an excellent article, David. Anyone who wants to get active can use this article as a guide and thank you.
Interesting! Verh helpful for starters
Thank you for reading and commenting Jenny. I hope you come back for more.
I surely will!
Good for you, Jenny!