If you’ve decided it’s time to get fit and are looking for some information about fitness for beginners, we’ve come up with some essential dos and don’ts for fitness for beginners. These should help ease you into your new lifestyle of being healthy and active. You’re less likely to scare yourself off if you approach it right from the star.
Make a plan
You should start with a plan toward a goal. You inevitably will go off course if you don’t actually set one. This means you can track your progress on the way, which means celebrating milestones!
This could mean running a 5k in 30 – 40 minutes, being able to deadlift your bodyweight, or sustaining a plank for 60 seconds or more. If you don’t set a goal, how will you know you’re getting close?
Here’ a fitness tracker will be your best friend. If you have multiple goals, good for you! Try a multisport watch. If you have one focus, say, running or swimming, then there are dedicated devices that will aid your journey better than going it alone.
If you head to a new gym, you’ll be offered an induction. It’s usually a whistlestop tour and you won’t be given all the information about the various machines that you need. This is so the gym can tell you they warned you, should you later do yourself an injury. The reality is you need time to learn about everything. This is the first don’t…
Don’t use a machine you’re unfamiliar with
Gyms constantly create new machines. Some of them are pretty weird compared to conventional machines like the treadmill, elliptical and rowing machine. As keen as you are to reveal your new 6 pack, if you’re not 100% sure how to use a particular machine at the gym, learn first. Do you know what position to be in and what form is needed? What muscle is it working? What variations of move can you use it for? Most gym machines only target one muscle, so you need to get it right.
Do use a machine that will help you reach your goal
If your goals are to tone your back and shoulders, why would you use an ab machine? You should absolutely use various machines for a full-body workout. However, you should prioritise those machines and movements based on what you’re hoping to achieve on your road to fitness.
For fitness beginners, you should talk to a personal trainer about what you want. They’ll offer expert advice. You can easily find other fitness fanatics that won’t ask you for a huge payment, too.
Going to a fitness class has multiple benefits. You’ll be in a social environment with people of a similar ability to you, which will boost your confidence. You’ll also be introducing yourself to a new form of exercise, which can be empowering. Plus all the physical and mental benefits of the exercise itself. You might find something you love and it’ll soon be part of your routine.
Some gym memberships offer classes thrown in, others you may have to pay an additional fee for. There are so many different types from yoga to dance styles, boxing to HIIT and they’ll all be offered at progressive levels you can move up as you improve.
Don’t over-do it
When you’re in the mist of trying these new things, you will be brimming with enthusiasm. Don’t mistake this for an ability to do it all. It’s a good rule of thumb to walk away from a gym session or class with a feeling that you could’ve or wanted to do just a little bit more… It means you’ll be hungry to go back, but you haven’t over-exerted yourself in that particular session.
Don’t walk before you can run. Literally. The gym or a new form of activity should be a fun progression. There is no end to it so there is no need to progress to heavier weights or a faster setting on the treadmill before you’re ready. Push yourself, but learn what the right level of intensity is for you. It’s really important to listen to your body and avoid any injuries that could put you off ever going back.
Do your homework
The best thing you can learn is that you don’t have to train one muscle at a time. In fact, in functional fitness training, the very concept is working smaller muscle groups around the major ones. This improves your strength and reduces the risk of injury by utilising the supporting muscles at the same time.
Once you have a plan, you can look at the specifics to achieve your goal. It’s worth looking into the best form for the movements you want to try, for example, squats benchpress and deadlifts. Look into what the averages are for your height and weight so you get an idea of what kind of weight you should be aiming for. Which leads us into the next don’t…
Don’t skip strength training
Adults should be aiming for a total of 150 minutes of exercise per week, which can be broken down into 30 minute cardio sessions and 2 strength training sessions.
A common fear of novice gym-goers is that if they weight train, they’ll get too bulky. Honestly, if it were that easy, don’t you think we’d all be posing on the beach in skimpy swimwear? Bodybuilders take years to build their physiques; no one has ever accidentally built too much muscle.
Weight training will not only sculpt your body in a good way, but it helps your bones and joints to stay healthy too. It’s great for maintaining a healthy metabolism and it does wonders for mental health with data supporting a reduction in levels of anxiety.
Never give up
You might be instantly successful. If you are, you’re lucky. Progress takes time, especially when you’re a beginner and you have learning to do before you can even begin to improve. You must fight the feeling of being defeated and accept that you will get better with patience and persistence.
There will be times when you feel frustrated because what you see in the mirror or how you feel doesn’t reflect the level of work you’ve been putting in. That doesn’t mean it’s not working. It actually means you should keep going because those physical and visual results are close. Using a fitness tracker to monitor everything will allow you to look at your data and see how well you’ve been performing or where you might need to make some adjustments.
Being mindful will also help you accept and even appreciate the now. You could add a few minutes of proactive mindful meditation to the end of a workout to boost your mood and appreciation of the amazing things your body can do. Accept this is a journey and that you’re at the start, but things will improve over time.
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