I want to get fit, But where do I begin?

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Chances are, if you are out of shape or overweight, you don’t enjoy your current status.  Even if every other aspect of your life is under control, the stress of getting in shape weighs on you, causing more negative health effects.

There are many barriers keeping you from reaching your optimum fitness level, including work, family, finances, etc. , but the ultimate barrier is the lack of knowledge on the subject.  Most people don’t know what to do when they go to the gym, and it makes them feel awkward when they exercise around others.  Now obviously personal trainers eliminate this problem by providing professional instruction and individualized program counseling to their clients, but a lot of people are not willing to spend the extra money for a trainer, especially when they are first beginning to exercise.

This is where the internet shows its true beauty, allowing anyone to research and come up with a pretty good idea for a beginner exercise and strength training program.  If you’re having trouble translating all of the information into a program of your own, here’s a basic outline to get you started on your voyage to better fitness.

Remember that you’re a BEGINNER.

This is very important.

Just because you’ve been doing your research on the internet and you’ve even bought a few books, don’t make the mistake of walking into the gym and pulling off a 15 miler on the treadmill.  Not even half of that.

Even if you used to be fit at one point in your life, don’t act like you’re 18 again and overdo it in the gym.  You will either end up burning out or seriously injuring yourself.  Remember that you are just beginning on your path to becoming ‘fit’ and design the workouts accordingly.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Most likely, there is someone employed at your gym who knows a little about fitness.  Ask that person for help if you need it.  Want to know how to operate a particular piece of equipment? Ask.  Have a question about recommended reps on a certain exercise? Ask.

Chances are, there are knowledgeable people working out at your gym as well.  There will be seasoned veterans working out in your gym who possess a ton of knowledge, and if they are a decent person, they won’t mind answering some well-timed questions.  After all, if you enjoy working out, you should inspire others to do the same by helping those who are just starting out.

 

Always start with a warm-up!

Never begin your workout without warming-up first.  When you perform activity and place strain on a “cold” muscle, you severely increase the chance of injury.  A sufficient warm-up will get the blood flowing to the muscle tissue and increase elasticity of the fibers, thus allowing proper movement and reducing the chance that an injury will occur.

A proper warm-up should include a cardio-based exercise such as a light jog or ride on a stationary bike.   The jog is an ideal warm-up because it involves muscles in both the upper and lower body, instead of the bike which is a mainly lower body dominant warm-up.  The warm up should be between 10-20 minutes, depending mainly on the amount of time available and the intensity of the planned session of exercise.

After this warm-up, you should have a light to moderate sweat going and should feel ready to perform the bulk of your work out.  The warm-up should not leave you feeling exhausted.  If you are tired after the warm-up, cut back the length and intensity until you find what works for you.

 

Use a full-body scheme.

When designing your new workout program, I suggest performing at least one strengthening exercise for each of the major muscle groups:

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Arms (biceps, triceps, and forearms)
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Core / Abs

By performing at least one resistance exercise for each muscle group, you wil ensure that you aren’t neglecting a certain muscle group.  You will be setting the stage for optimum balanced muscular development.  Plus, if you happen to miss a workout, you can just pick right back up the next time in the gym, instead of throwing your entire program out of whack.

Use this site, and others around the web, to come up with a set of exercises for each of the categories above.  There’s your program. Simple yet effective.

 

Don’t forget to cool down.

Just as you had to warm-up before your workout, you should make sure to properly cool down afterwards.  This will allow your muscles to relax and will help the blood circulate to remove waste from the muscle tissue which will reduce soreness and tightness in the future.  The less tight and sore  you are within the next few days, the more eager you will be to workout again.  Therefore, you will have a better chance of sticking with your new program, which is the ultimate goal!

To cool down, I’d suggest a short 10-15 minute cardio session on a different piece of equipment from which you used for your warm-up.  An elliptical, stepper, or bike would be ideal.  After the cardio, it is important to stretch.  Perform your favorite stretch routine, making sure to hit on all of the same muscle groups included in your strength training regimine.  Make sure you hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds to properly lengthen muscle fibers.  This stretch will prevent soreness and reduce the risk of injury, while improving the elasticity and efficiency of the muscle tissue.

Well, there you have it.  The simplicity and effectiveness of this begginer workout program outline will ensure that you stick to your new ‘good habit’ of exercising.  Hopefully, by utilizing this method, you will not only build strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility, you will be paving the path along your new voyage to a healthier, happier life.

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