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10 Workout Tips for Newbies

If you’re new to working out or just now getting back into at it after a long hiatus, here are some tips to help you look and feel your best without getting injured or feeling discouraged early on. You’ve got this!

Start Off Slow

Once you make the decision that you’re going to start exercising regularly, it’s natural to get really hyped up and want to go full-force into an intense workout regimen. However, when you go from zero to one-hundred immediately, you face two possible setbacks: injury and exercise burn-out. Starting off too fast or too hard can lead to injury. Of course, if you’re injured, you can’t exercise, which squashes your entire goal of getting healthy. Also, if you start off at too high of an intensity, you may get discouraged and feel overwhelmed, and you will likely succumb to exercise burnout, especially when you don’t see results immediately.

Set SMART Goals

Before you even set foot in a gym, focus on setting goals. Remember the “SMART” acronym: Be sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Make sure each goal fits this acronym to ensure success. An example of a “SMART” goal is: I will walk at 4.0 mph intensity for 30 minutes five days a week for the next two weeks.

Try to limit your goals to one or two at a time, and revisit those goals weekly to see if you need to amend them or change them completely based on your progress. Have one goal centered on fitness, such as the example above, and another goal based on your diet, such as I will eat five servings of vegetables every day this week.

Dress for Success

I’m talking more than just buying fashionable new exercise outfits. Think more specifically about gearing up with proper attire that will help you achieve your goals more easily. Be sure to get a great pair of shoes — my recommendation for newbies is a cross-trainer type of sneaker because they work well for a variety of exercises. Once you figure out what type of exercise you’ll be doing, you may opt for a sneaker that is more geared for your specific routine (running, walking, hiking, boxing, etc).

Also, select clothing that is lightweight, breathable, fits you well and allows for a variety of movements. Purchase a durable water bottle and don’t forget sunscreen and well-fitting sunglasses for outdoor exercise.

Move Your Body Every Day

While it is certainly important to ease up on exercise at least one day a week, you do not necessarily need entire “rest days”. Rather than having a day where you do nothing, have one or two days a week where you exercise at a lower intensity or for a shorter amount of time. Rather than jogging at your normal pace and distance, go for a brief walk or hike around your neighborhood to keep your body active without overdoing it.

Make Exercise Routine

Speaking of moving your body every day, establishing a workout regimen is important for long-term success. Just like you routinely brush your teeth each morning, make exercise another daily routine that you eventually don’t even have to think about--you just do it. To make this easy, try to work out at the same time every day. Eventually, it’ll become second-nature to hit the gym or go for a jog at the same time and it won’t involve much planning.

Switch Up Your Workouts

It’s pretty common for beginners (and even seasoned lifelong gym-goers) to become bored with the same ole’ routine. Keep your exercise regimen fresh and engaging by adding new forms of exercise to your routine. For example, if you typically hop on the treadmill, try giving the elliptical machine a shot for a week. Join a new class (be sure to seek out classes advertised as being for “beginners”) or try working with a personal trainer for a couple weeks.

Include All Three Types of Exercise

Getting your body fit requires these three components: cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility. Cardiovascular exercise and flexibility training should be done daily, while strength training should be done 2-4 days per week.

Meet with a Personal Trainer

Many times when you first join a gym, you can get a free one-time session with a personal trainer. Take advantage of this perk because personal trainers can show you specific exercises for beginners and walk you through the entire exercise process. They’ll give you pointers on where to begin, how to use the exercise equipment, and how to avoid injuries.

Remember to Warm Up and Cool Down

I can’t stress enough how important it is to warm up — it’s the way to get your body prepared for the stress that exercise will put on it. Start off with about five to ten minutes of low-intensity cardiovascular exercise, such as walking. Slower movements get your blood flowing and provide lubrication for your joints and muscles. Do these same exercises for cool down.

Don’t Expect Immediate Results

Getting your body in shape takes time — don’t expect results overnight. It may take weeks before you start to notice results but try not to get discouraged. Stick with it and focus at first on how much better you feel.

[Image via Getty]

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