How to Start Working Out
Although nearly everyone likes the idea of regularly exercising or hitting the gym, maintaining the motivation to exercise regularly is a different story. It can be tough to establish and maintain a workout regimen. Fortunately, there are some tricks that can help you. Focus on establishing and meeting easily attainable exercise goals. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up when you don't see results immediately, focus on exercising 2 or 3 times a week, for as little as 20-30 minutes each time.
Personal Trainer Michele Dolan says:"A good starting place is working out twice a week for 20 minutes each time. Gradually work up to 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes each session to meet the basic 150 minute total per week."
Setting Clear Goals
Talk to your doctor before beginning a workout regimen.If you're a rookie to the workout game, check with your doctor to see if there are any types of workouts or exercises that you need to avoid. This is especially important if you suffer from any chronic illnesses or have a physical disability. If this is the case, it's wise to consult a doctor.
- If you're a male over 45 or a woman over 55, do not start an exercise regimen without speaking to your doctor first.
- Your physician may even be able to suggest some specific exercises that you can safely perform.
Choose an exercise goal and a timeframe in which to accomplish it.This can be totally different for each person. Maybe you want to build muscle, maybe you want to lose weight, or maybe you want to keep your body fit and healthy. Having a clear goal will motivate you to continue exercising even when you don't feel like it. Aim for something specific: to run a half-marathon in 6 months, or to perform 30 push-ups per minute in 3 weeks.
- Think about what you want to be good at. Maybe you don't have a weight goal or a waistline goal, but you want to be able to run a 5k, no problem.
- Many people exercise so they can lose a little weight. Do you want to be 4 inches (10 cm) thinner around the waist by summer? 15 pounds (7 kg) lighter in 6 months? Lose 5% of your body fat by next year?
- Make sure to set healthy goals for yourself. Don’t try to lose an excessive amount of weight in a short amount of time. If you’re uncertain whether an exercise or weight-loss goal is healthy or not, check with your doctor.
Make exercise a priority in your schedule.It’s easy to fill up your free time with activities other than working out. To avoid this situation, prioritize daily (or weekly) exercise over other inessential parts of your day. Making exercise your first priority will ensure that it doesn’t get put off as mundane obligations start to pile up during the day.
- For example, set your alarm an hour earlier and get in some time at the gym before work every morning. Or, let your friends know that you can’t make it out for happy hour, since you need to exercise right after work.
- Conversely, be careful not to obsess over exercising, or to cut off social ties for the sake of working out. Keep yourself motivated by interspersing exercise with other components of your life.
Method 1 Quiz
It is especially important to talk to your doctor before working out if:
Choosing the Right Workouts for You
Join a gym if you like a mix of strength and cardio.A gym’s main benefit is convenience: it has cardio machines, weight machines, and free weights (among other equipment) all in 1 place. If your main exercise goals are to improve your heart rate, lose weight, or bulk up on muscle, a gym is the best place to start.
- Don’t worry about feeling intimidated by other gym members, either. Most people at gyms are supportive of one another, and mind their own business.
- Average gym membership costs can range from -45 USD per month. If that’s more than you can afford, try looking around for a discount gym in your area. Discount gyms may have fewer machines and weights, but can cost as little as USD per month.
Try yoga if you’re looking for a low-impact exercise.Yoga is a great add-on exercise to a cardio routine, and it is very relaxing. Look into yoga if you’d like a calming, centering experience that also stretches and builds tone in your muscles.
- Many YouTube channels offer yoga guidance. You can also look into taking a yoga class at a nearby gym.
Take group classes for extra motivation.Being around a group of other people who are doing the same exercise routine as you are can be fun. You’ll be motivated to keep up with everybody else in the group, and can make some friends among your classmates. Taking classes is also a great way to figure out which type of exercise you enjoy most and would like to pursue further.
- Most gyms and workout facilities offer classes at all different skill levels. If you’re just starting a new type of exercise—e.g., a spin class or yoga class—check out the beginner-level course.
Work with a personal trainer if you want more individual attention.A trainer can familiarize you with the gym, show you how equipment works, and answer any exercise-related questions you may have. Even if you don’t plan to work with a personal trainer long-term, having 2 or 3 sessions with a trainer can be a great way to learn about different types of exercise and find one that you enjoy.
- Depending on the gym you’re a member at, you may be entitled to a free session with a personal trainer just for signing up.
- Once the free sessions have expired, you’ll be looking at an average cost of -125 USD per session to work with the trainers. If you’d like a less-expensive option, see if trainers at the gym offer group-training sessions.
- You can also hire a private personal trainer to come to your home, but this is a much more expensive option.
Work out at home if you have time or financial constraints.If you don’t have the time or money to purchase a gym membership, you can easily find ways to work out at your own home. You can purchase a few small weights and do simple exercises while lying on your bed. Or, carry a heavy object around with you while you’re going about your day.
- You can purchase barbells or dumbbells at a local sport-supply store. If you’re more inclined towards cardio, purchase a jump rope and jump for 15–20 minutes a day.
Focus on the basics of weight training.Nobody starts out curling 85 pounds (39 kg) or bench pressing 200 pounds (91 kg). Begin your weight training with simple, reliable workouts that effectively build muscle. Start doing 4 to 8 different exercises, making sure to work out different muscle groups. Don't go for heavy weight when you start—it's better to lift lighter and maintain the right form.Good weight lifts include:
Use a fitness app to track your progress.If you have a smartphone or tablet, download 1 or 2 fitness tracker apps to log your progress and monitor weekly improvements. Using an app can help motivate you to work out regularly, by allowing you to track calories, steps, sleep cycles, and other elements related to exercise and health.Try out apps like:
- MyFitnessPal, which allows you to track calories in the food you eat and features a step counter.
- Sworkit, which provides exercise videos that show you how to perform over 200 types of workout.
- MapMyRun, which will present you with multiple route options in your area based on how far and long you want to run for.
Find a workout buddy for accountability.It’s easy to get burned out on exercise if you’re doing it alone. To prevent this fatigue, find a friend who wants to start an exercise program too. Ask if they’d like to join you on your bi-weekly trips to the gym, or a daily jog. Having a friend or 2 around to work out with will help keep you accountable and ensure that you stick to your exercise schedule.
- If you have a friend who already regularly works out, ask if you can join in on their schedule.
Method 2 Quiz
Even if you don't want a trainer in the long-term, what is the benefit of 2 or 3 personal sessions?
Implementing a Workable Routine
Select days and times when you can exercise.This will help the exercise regimen become a habit. In order to integrate this into your lifestyle, you'll need to make it a priority.To do this, set aside a time at least a few days a week. For example, plan to run for an hour every morning a 7am. Or, plan to hit the gym on Mondays from 6 to 8 pm.
- Getting over the initial hump will be the hardest part. If you exercise sporadically, whenever you feel like it, you'll fail to start an effective habit.
Start with some simple exercises.For general-purpose exercise, it's best to develop a well-rounded exercise regimen. As you figure out what exercises you prefer, you can later tailor your regimen and goals towards these exercises. Focus on strength training and cardio workouts at first.
- Try incorporating cardiovascular activity to your workouts. Start out simple with walking or running, whether on a treadmill or a trail. Do this for 20 minutes, 3-5 times a week.
- Incorporate strength-training exercises (like free weights or weight machines) into your weekly workouts too. Exercise all of your major muscle groups (chest and arms, legs, and core) at least twice a week.
Put together a fun exercise playlist.You’ll be more motivated to start exercise—and to keep going—if you have energetic music to listen to. Put together an hour’s worth of upbeat rock, pop, or hip-hop songs. Listening to music while exercising will distract you from the pain your muscles are in, and motivate you to push your body.
- Or, if you don’t have time to put your own playlist together, find pre-made workout playlists on music streaming sites like Spotify or Pandora.
Sneak in a few mini-workouts throughout the day.You don’t have to spend hours at the gym in order to exercise. There are plenty of short, effective workouts you can do during the day, whether at an office building or your home.You can work out at your office or work desk and get in some cardio exercise without even leaving your office.
- For example, if you work in an office building, take a 20-minute walk during lunch. Or, jog up and down the stairs for 15 minutes to raise your heart rate.
- Or, every 2 hours, take a 10-minute break to do 30 push-ups and 30 sit-ups.
Don’t exhaust yourself in the early phases of exercising.At the beginning, it's very important to know what you're capable of and listen to your body. Once you find yourself getting very short of breath, or your legs feel weak and wobbly, it’s time to stop running. Or, if your arms are shaking and you’re worried you may drop a weight on yourself, stop lifting immediately.
- If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, take a break. You may be pushing yourself too hard.
Allow recovery time after each workout.Give your body 1 day off to recover between sessions. You may not be able to exercise tomorrow, but you'll be able to exercise in the long run. Don't work out the same muscle group two days in a row—the muscles are literally ripping as you strengthen them.
- For strength training, it's very important to give your muscles 24 to 48 hours to repair themselves. Let them heal. If your muscles are still sore after 1 day off, add an extra off-day to be safe.
Method 3 Quiz
If you are doing strength-training, it is important to:
Creating New Habits
Make new goals that reflect your improving fitness level.When you feel it's time, reassess your fitness level. If you've already met your weight-loss goal, you can decide if you want to lose more weight, or start thinking about muscle definition instead. If your goal was to bench press 250 pounds (110 kg), keep working and set a new goal of benching 275 pounds (125 kg).
- Your expanded goals don't have to be limited to the gym. Have you been hiking that one trail without fail and with ease since you started? Time for the harder one.
- Or, lengthen the amount of time you work out. Instead of working out twice a week for 20 minutes, start working out 4 times a week for 30 minutes.
- As another alternative, if you’re happy with the way your body looks and the amount of muscle tone you’ve gained, you can set a new goal to maintain your current strength and appearance.
Try different types of workouts and exercises.Maybe your workout routine includes various activities, such as walking, bicycling or rowing. If you crave more variety, don't stop there. Take a weekend hike with your family or spend an evening ballroom dancing.
- As you explore activities, you'll most likely find something that tickles your fancy. When you do, latch onto it. Was swing dancing surprisingly enjoyable? Great! That's one more hour each week you'll stay moving.
- If you've been running that same 5k five days a week, take it outside. Find a new trail, start running at night, or start for a 7k. If that's not enough, pick up a new activity entirely. A yoga fan? Try Pilates. Always wanted to try kickboxing? Go for it.
Build up the frequency of your exercise sessions.As you progress, you'll find that your routine is just too easy. It may be tempting to be content with that, but push yourself. For example, it’s smart to start exercising with 2 workouts per week. After 6 months at this rate, add a third exercise sessions per week. Then, in another month, add a fourth and fifth.
- You can also alternate different types of workouts. For example, hit the gym on Tuesday and Thursday, and run a couple miles on Monday and Wednesday.
Method 4 Quiz
When your routine starts to feel easy, you should:
QuestionI'm trying to lose weight, but I have to eat the heavily proccessed foods from the provided school lunch. I can't pack my lunch though because of my family's lack of packable foods. What do I do?
Personal TrainerPersonal TrainerExpert AnswerLimit the quantity of food you eat from the processed lunches and control your other meals to avoid processed foods and too many calories. Eat fresh, unprocessed foods at breakfast and supper.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get motivated to start working out if I am a couch potato?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStart slowly but have a clear schedule for each day, and under no circumstances allow yourself to break the schedule. Soon you will work your way up to fitness.Thanks!
QuestionCan a 15 year old girl start working out?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDefinitely, although most gyms may not accept those under16, there are plenty of other options. If by working out, you mean getting into shape, school teams and other activities are a great choice. Another is to work out at home, or go for a jog, whatever you do, just stay active.Thanks!
QuestionI am 12, and I want to work out but I don't want my parents to know. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStart from the bottom. Eat healthy, and drink a gallon of water a day. Work out in your room if you can. Do push ups, and use objects as weights. You can run around your house or, if your school has a track, stay after school to run. Make sure to start slowly and move up from there.Thanks!
QuestionIs a cheat day actually necessary?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot necessarily, but it really depends on what your goal is. A cheat day is designated to be a day when you "reward yourself". If your goal is to lose weight, then a cheat day might not be ideal.Thanks!
QuestionI have started working out, but how do I lose all the fat around my waist?Community AnswerYou cannot spot-reduce a specific area, the fat will come off all parts of your body as you lose weight. Aerobic exercise can help with weight loss, and core and ab targeting workout can help tone the area.Thanks!
QuestionIf I don't have access to a gym, let alone a kayak, what are some exercises I can do at home that are similar to a rowing machine?Community AnswerSome aspects of a rowing machine are possible to replicate with simple materials. Use lightweight hand weights (or even cans of food) to help develop upper arm strength. Another option is to use resistance bands or surgical tubing.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the perfect age for a teenager to join the gym?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can join a gym at any age! I think the best age for a teenager would probably be around 13-14 though.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I find out what the best thing to eat and drink to lose belly fat?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere's no miracle food to make you lose weight. You have to eat lots of leafy greens and lean protein, and stay away from processed foods and sugars. Drink lots of water and unsweetened green tea. Drinking vinegars and kombuchas are also great for your gut bacteria and metabolism.Thanks!
If you want to start working out, try walking or running in your neighborhood. Even doing this 3 times a week will make a difference! At home, you can try combining exercises like pushups, sit-ups, and dips to build muscle. If you want to expand your exercise routine, try following a workout video online. You could also try joining a beginner level class at your local gym or going to the gym twice a week to work out.
- If your goal is weight loss, know that 1 pound (0.45 kg) is 3,500 calories. You need to create a 500 calories a day deficit by reducing your caloric intake and working out (if you're on a balanced diet) to lose 1 pound (0.45 kg) a week. Or, create a deficit of 500 calories every other day to lose 1 pound (0.45 kg) in 2 weeks.
- Don't force yourself to do exercises that you hate. Going to the gym does not have to be your only option. If you like swimming, dancing, or hiking, great! These are all exercises, too.
- Finding friends to exercise with can keep you motivated and hold you accountable to meet your exercise goals.
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Video: HOW TO START WORKING OUT || Gym for Beginners - Life After College: Ep. 492
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