Recently I have received lots of requests to post about fitness for beginners. Everyone starts at one point and I actually would have loved it if I had had someone to give me a few pointers. So I am more than happy to put together a little list of things to keep in mind when you want to start working out more and making it a habit to live a healthier life.
First of all I want to point out that I am no expert on the subject and am simply sharing things that have worked for me in the past. That being said, one of the most important things is to have fun with whatever you are doing. It may take some time to find something that you enjoy at the gym. However, know that if you want to see results it’ll have to “hurt” (I don’t mean hurt like if someone punched you, but hurt as in ‘not an easy workout’).
– find a workout buddy: It makes it 100x easier to get your butt to the gym when you know there is a friend waiting for you. I never want to be the one to cancel and neither does she. You’ll end up working out twice as much than you would by yourself.
– wear the right stuff: Be sure to wear clothes that are made for working out. No energy should be wasted on re-tucking your shirt every 5 seconds on the treadmill or worrying about your boobs falling out. When I first started running I had old shoes, soon enough I was getting pretty bad pains in my right knee. The second I got new running shoes the pain was gone.
– good music: One of my favorite things is to blast music while running. It is so motivating and I feel like my breathing is more regular since I concentrate one the beat of the music. You guys can find a sample of my gym playlist HERE.
– don’t over-do it: Especially in the beginning your body will need to get used to new muscles being worked and running long distances. If you’re just starting out, don’t start with a 10km run. Work with realistic goals and give your body the chance to improve over time. The whole point of working out is to feel better and to actually enjoy it. Trust me, you wont go to the gym for very long if you’re torturing your body and not having fun.
– change it up: I try to incorporate lots of different things into my workouts to keep it interesting. Some classes, some weight lifting, some running. That way I never get bored or stuck in a routine.
– ask for help: Nobody expects you to know how to lift weights properly or how to use all of the machines at the gym when you are just starting out. There is a reason they have trainers there and the reason is to help you! You can actually do more damage than good if you lift weights the wrong way so make sure you ask someone to show you how to. Even after years at the gym I still ask questions about new machines or workouts whenever I am not sure.
– push yourself: Going to the gym 3x a week to spend 45min. on the cross-trainer certainly isn’t bad for you. But you won’t really be seeing any improvements. Working out should be exhausting, some people tend to cheat themselves when going to the gym. For me personally, high intensity training seems to do the most. I can tell my body is getting stronger with every workout and my time / distance / strength is improving on a daily basis. When I am doing running sprints or lifting weights I have to really push myself – especially the last few minutes on the treadmill with 16km/h sprints or the last reps of bicep curls require some mental power as well. You need to leave your comfort zone in order to see improvements.
– be patient: Most girls go to the gym twice and want to see results right away. I am no different! But after listening to my boyfriend and brother for years I now know that it takes at least 2-3 months to actually see improvements. So give the whole thing a chance before calling it quits :)
For those that were wondering about workouts to start out with. In the beginning it is important to build strength in your legs and get your cardio up. I would recommend the following to start out with:
Monday: 30 minutes on the treadmill at 7 – 8 km/h + 200 crunches or sit-ups + 30 push-ups (girl push-ups are also OK, but it shouldn’t be easy!)
Wednesday: 10 minutes on the treadmill or bike to warm up at an easy pace. 3 sets of 15 reps of THIS exercise + weight training for the arms (ie. bench press, bicep curl, …)
Friday: take a class. It is fun to do stuff in a group! It may feel a little awkward at first but you’ll enjoy it once you get the hang of it. I can recommend a high intensity pump, pilates, step aerobics or spinning. If you enjoy dancing you should try Zumba, I’ve never tried it but it is supposed to be super sweaty and exhausting in a good way.
Saturday / Sunday: rest
For all 3 workout days you should be out of the gym within an hour. That is basically an episode of Gossip Girl plus 15 minutes of time wasted on Facebook :) Once these workouts are getting easier, try to add an incline to the treadmill or run at a faster pace. The exercises I have posted on the blog in the past (ie. HERE, HERE and HERE) can also be done by everyone. Just adjust the weight or intensity to suit your level of fitness.