I’ve put together 7 workout tips for beginners to help you get healthy and strong while lowering the risk of injury and failure.
Millions of people start working out with the best of intentions to lose weight, get healthy, and start an exercise routine, but don’t really know where to begin.
These tips will help you get started without risking injury or fizzling out too soon.
They come from my own experience along with suggestions from a well-rounded group of fitness experts and coaches. All agree that thinking through your goals and knowing why you’re exercising before joining a gym or buying your home body works is key.
Knowing if your workout time is for controlling your weight, decreasing stress, or increasing your fitness and health is the first step. Your goals will keep you on track, motivated, and help you begin with the best exercises for your demands.
The benefits of regular workouts aren’t just for beginners, and neither are these 7 tips.
So, if you’re ready to start exercising the right way these tips will help you with the basics of staying safe and eager to workout.
1. Start Slow
There’s plenty of controversy about how often and how long your workouts should be, but here’s what the pros have to say: Beginners do best by committing to 2-3 days a week with about 30 minutes for each session.
If you’re not accustomed to physical activity, doing more than this will leave you wondering what to do about sore muscles. Start slow and easy to learn to enjoy all the benefits of regular exercise.
How Often Should I Work Out?
I can’t tell you how long before you move to the most productive routine, which is 4-5 times a week for closer to 60 minutes each session. The best solution is to let your body and muscles tell you when to increase your schedule and intensity.
I would say it’s beneficial to start out with cardio exercises a couple of times a week, and some kind of strength training one time a week. Strength training can be as simple as planks, weights, kettlebells, these resistance bands, or pullups.
2. Warm Up First
It is vital to warm up cold muscles before taxing them for injury prevention. The simplest of stretches and merely shaking legs and arms for as little as 2-3 minutes before starting any workout increases blood supply.
The increased blood supply warms up muscles, tendons, ligaments, and organs to alert them that they are about to be stressed. Before you stretch and warm-up, your body is in a contracted position.
Starting any intense exercise while muscles, tendons, and ligaments are contracted is an invitation for strains, tears, bruises, and other injuries.
So, always warm up first with any basic movements that stretch out and loosen muscles. You will help avoid any injury along with getting the best and most enjoyable exercise.
3. Three Main Workout Routines
One common mistake beginners make is doing the same workout routine. Sticking to the same exercise day after day has several disadvantages that include:
- Not building enough flexibility
- Only strengthening or toning limited parts of your body
- Overworking some muscle groups
- Getting burnt out and quitting
There are 3 main groups of exercises and it’s important to work each type into your overall program. They are aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises.
Aerobics is any exercise that increases the demand for oxygen to your body during the workout. Aerobics are generally thought of as cardiovascular exercises and include things like:
- Brisk Walking
- Exercise Bikes or bicycling
- Running or jogging
- Aerobics classes
Strength exercises are workouts that strengthen both bone and muscle. You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to benefit from strength exercises either. More strength means better balance, fewer falls, and better ability to do everyday tasks. Here are a few examples:
- Lifting weights
- Using weight machines found primarily in gyms
- Resistance bands
- Planks, pushups, pullups, etc.
Flexibility exercises keep you limber and increase your range of motion. These workouts are anything that intentionally stretches muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Few people consider flexibility until they get older, then the range of motion becomes a real issue as muscles tend to shorten. Avoid this scenario while keeping a full range of motion with:
- Stretching exercises
- Tia Chi
Including one of the three main groups of exercise, each week will ensure you are
4. Adequate Recovery Time
You can plan on sore muscles when you start, it’s just part of changing your body, toning muscles, and getting in shape. Even though I’m not a fan of the no pain no gain theory, when your body is hurting a little in the beginning, it’s a sign you’re on the right track.
The key is to allow adequate recovery time without quitting. Pushing your muscles to strengthen and build mass requires time to heal and recover. It’s important to remember that muscles grow during recovery time, not while you are stressing them.
Anytime you’re stressing muscles, you are causing micro-tears in the muscle fiber. Recovery time is essential for the tears to heal, and as they do the muscle tones and strengthens. It’s best to not take any painkillers to mask the pain but taking protein supplements can help speed up the recovery time.
—How to Allow for Recovery Time
Depending on your goals, you could work out as many as 5 days a week. All research, fitness experts, and pro coaches that I’m aware of use 3-5 times a week as the baseline for regular exercise. So, how do you get recovery time if you’re stressing muscles 5 times a week?
Easy, just vary your routines. I’ve listed the 3 main routines, everybody, using exercise for toning muscles, losing weight, or bodybuilding should use. They are aerobics (cardio), strength training, flexibility and doing each on alternate days gives the muscles used yesterday a chance to rest and recover.
5. Develop Workout Habits
All gyms see exponential membership growth right after the first of the year, but then only a very small percentage stay active. Starting an exercise program is the first step, but unless you can make working out a habit, you aren’t likely to see any changes.
New habits take time, but once you’ve developed healthy habits into your weekly and daily life, missing your session will leave you with bad feelings. That’s the point that you start seeing real results from your exercise.
The first week will probably be a honeymoon, then the next 3 or 4 weeks will take a lot of determination and will power to make it happen. Staying consistent with your schedule and goals will soon make it annoying to miss an exercise session.
6. Maintain Good Form
Beginners always need to start right out learning about form and that form is more important than how much you lift or even walk or run.
Learning how to use good form in any exercise will increase overall performance, conserve energy for higher output, and reduce the risk of injury.
The best solution is to start out working with a trainer who can monitor your form and reposition you until the right positions become habitual. Without the help of a trainer, try looking for videos of proper form on youtube and even watching yourself in a mirror.
Using the best form isn’t about looking good, but essential to your best workouts and safety. It will make a real difference in the success of your exercise and keep you free from injury.
7. Diet and Exercise
The easiest thing to do is to spend a grueling hour at the gym and stop by Dairy Queen for ice cream on the way home. The fact is that exercise is only one piece of fitness or muscle building.
Keeping a clean and healthy diet is actually what makes it all come together and work for real results. Proper nutrition is easy and keeps you fit and healthy.
Just setting goals and going to the gym several times a week isn’t enough. When you keep on eating the same junk and processed foods you were eating before, you’re hindering the results.
Your body always deserves the best food, but even more so when you are physically taxing its limits. A diet comprised of healthy proteins, fats, carbs, and plenty of water will keep you strong and looking your best.
Some people don’t care at all about exercise and fitness, others think a workout routine is every now and then, and then there are those of us who can’t get through the day without some sort of workout routine.
To be honest, no matter how often you exercise, these tips will save you a lot of grief and make your workouts count for something.