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Exercising 101 Handbook: Starting The Fitness Journey

So you’re into the second month of your New Year’s resolution to get yourself in shape. It’s around this time that your resolve starts to be a little less, well, resolute. There are a lot of reasons that it happens. Not seeing the type of results you want, lack of patience, real life getting in the way.

Racing off into the fitness facility of your choice is noble—but not always smart. Getting it right from the start can give you just the type of base you need to set you up for long-term success. So what do you need to do?

KISS—Keep it Simple, Silly

You are just starting out. Balancing on a swiss ball doing curls with 70lb dumbbells might not be advisable as one of your sets on your first day out.

Take it slow. There is no shame in only putting in a 10-minute treadmill shift on the lowest setting. The key is to build yourself up, not knock yourself down. Focus on getting incrementally healthier, stronger and fitter. Make sure you are working up while working out.

Weighty Choices

Don’t skip the weights. Many seasoned pros advocate for compound muscle exercises. Exercises like squats, bench presses, pulls ups, barbell curls and overhead presses all using multiple joints to move the weight, which employs more muscles making them work harder.

Start off with small amounts of weight or even body weight at first. Focus on form rather than finishing a particular number of reps. Not doing the exercises correctly means you aren’t getting the full benefit of the rep and it can be dangerous.

Keep Track

Calendar on wall denoting days of exercise Knowing how far you have come is important in staying motivated. That starts by keeping records. There is a slew of wearable tech that helps you track your progress.

PCMag offers a look at some of the best wearable tech on the market today as well as offering a comparison on price, some other “vitals” and links to reviews.

There is even wearable tech for weightlifting that tracks metrics like heart rate, reps and sets, type and speed of your workout, distance traveled and calories burned, power, intensity and density. Some can recognize exercise types and can learn new ones while others provide recommendations for improving or escalating workouts.

Of course, there is always the good ol’ pencil and notepad technique, too….

Eat Well

What you do outside of the gym can influence what happens inside it too. Your diet is instrumental in helping you to both maintain caloric intake, providing the building blocks you need to maintain energy in the gym as well as to help you recover after a workout.

To get you started, here is a list of pre-workout foods. There are plenty of variations on recipes that will help to keep your diet fresh. Look around for some that work for you and your particular tastes.

And then there are those meals that you will need to get in to help your recovery after you have put the hard yards in at the gym. Men’s Fitness looks at the types of food that can be helpful after you’ve left the fitness facility.

Get Yourself a Trainer

Spend the extra on getting help. Especially at the beginning. This is all about gains (or losses, depending on what you’re looking to do). So it is those gains (or losses) that are more likely to see you coming back to the gym to keep the gains/losses party rolling.

Also, learning the correct form can keep you in the gym for an extended period of time. And the opposite is true, too. Some facilities will offer discounts on a personal trainer starter pack for new members, too, so keep your eyes peeled for specials.

Talk to Your Doctor

WebMD advises that “anyone with major health risks, males aged 45 and older, and women aged 55 and older should get medical clearance.”

This goes for those that are returning from injury or have taken a substantial break from exercising for whatever reason, too. You can almost consider yourself a beginner. Trying to harken back to the glory days of your peak physical prowess can get you into trouble—especially when you are older and less flexible.

Gear Up

Wearing proper workout gear can not only be comfortable, the can help enhance your workout experience too. From proper footwear to compression gear that aids blood flow, choosing proper clothing aids the workout.

It can act as motivation, too.

A principle known as “enclothed cognition” essentially maintains that if you look the part you are more likely to act the part. Wearing clothes that are designed for a workout will make you more likely to workout. It creates a subtle shift in behavior to push you off the couch and into a fitness facility (even if that facility is your basement and the treadmill in it).

Have Fun

Yes, exercising can be a chore sometimes, but first and foremost you should look to enjoy it. Go with a buddy, make a buddy or join a couple of classes. It can give you something to look forward to when you are exercising.

Take a Tour

A proper one. With a trainer. Or an employee. Find out about your facility. What it offers. Where the machines are. If there are any amenities of which you might be able to take advantage. Your gym can be a treasure trove of hidden exercising gems. You just need to know where to look.

Know Thine Equipment

Man in black and white using old fashioned fitness equipment

Friday night workout, by Satya Murthy cc by 2.0

As part of the tour, ask questions about the machines. Especially the ones that you may never have used. It’s better to seem like a rank beginner by asking simple questions than it is to seem simple when you try to use the machines and fail.

As easy as getting onto treadmill or elliptical might seem, chances are there are some bells and whistles that you might not know about that can enhance your experience. Also, if you know how they work and have been shown how to use them properly, there is a good chance that you will continue to use them and start getting results. There are numerous exercisers that avoid using machines for fear of looking silly—to their detriment. Machines like the Precor AMT are somewhat off-putting to look at but the overall effectiveness of it is not fully appreciated.

There are numerous exercisers that avoid using machines for fear of looking silly—to their detriment. Machines like the Precor AMT are somewhat off-putting to look at but the overall effectiveness of it is not fully appreciated.

The same goes for weights and weight machines. You can find out about the equipment and then have your trainer (please see point 2) explain how to use them to maximize your workout and your plan.

With a little plan and a lot of grit, you can turn your exercising into a great and fun experience—both of which help you achieve your fitness goals.

One Response to Exercising 101 Handbook: Starting The Fitness Journey

  1. Adam Williams February 22, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

    Thanks for the information. Great post and keep sharing your knowledge.

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