How To Start Working Out, The Right Way

African American Woman relaxing from exerciseWhat most personal trainers will say the key to working out is to start. You’ve got to begin to be great. But many of us don’t start exercising or stop because we don’t know what really works or how to begin in the first place. Beginning an exercise program can be very overwhelming– even painful, if you aren’t careful. So we’ve created a few key areas (and even a sample workout) that will help ANYONE get a good workout in.

Warm Up

Warming your body up prior to exercise is very important for your health (and safety) and will also help you enjoy your workouts more. Warming up for 5-10 minutes will raise your body temperature and prepare your cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems for the demands of exercise by slowly increasing the blood circulation to and from your heart and muscles.

Warming up helps your connective tissues better handle the stress of exercise, decreasing your chance of injury. Connective tissue is similar to hard plastic; if you don’t warm-up plastic it won’t be flexible, and is much more likely to “break.”

Proper warm ups (and cool downs) also help reduce the severity of soreness in the next day or two following your workout. The increased blood flow helps deliver more oxygen to the muscles and gets rid of the waste products that contribute to soreness. Increased blood flow also helps bring more fuel to your body, resulting in better performance.

Warm up with a low-impact exercise at a slower, more comfortable pace than your actual workout. Warm up exercises like biking, an elliptical machine, walking, or rowing allow your body to warm up with limited stress to your joints.

Pace Yourself

Another reason for soreness is trying to do too much too soon. Don’t try to make up for lost time. Start out with a few exercises and slowly progress. Your body will gradually adapt to the increased stress. If you are starting resistance training for the first time, try picking 1-2 exercises for each area of the body – the upper body, lower body and core. Also take into consideration the anterior (front) and posterior (back) parts of the body. For example, if you pick two core exercises, you might try bicycle crunch for the abdominals (front of the body) and lumbar extension for the lower back (posterior part of the body).

Choosing The Right Weight

If your form breaks down before the last 10-20% of your repetitions then you are using too much weight and you still need to be fighting to keep that form solid for those last few movements as well.

On the other hand if you can finish all three set with clean, proper form and without difficulty then the next time you do that exercise you need to use a heavier dumbbell, kettlebell, medicine ball, etc for at least the first set and possibly for all three.

Here’s a SAMPLE WORKOUT (Alternate workouts each week, 3 times a week):
Workout A

Squats
3 sets of 8-10 reps.
2 minutes rest between sets.
Bench Press
3 sets of 8-10 reps.
2 minutes rest between sets.
Rows
3 sets of 8-10 reps.
2 minutes rest between sets.

Workout B

Deadlifts
3 sets of 8-10 reps.
2 minutes rest between sets.
Pull-Ups (or Lat Pull-Downs)
3 sets of 8-10 reps.
2 minutes rest between sets.
Overhead Shoulder Press
3 sets of 8-10 reps.
2 minutes rest between sets.

If you are a beginner to aerobic training, start out with something like walking that raises your heart rate a little bit, nothing that will get you too out of breath. Try doing this for 10 minutes the first few times you exercise, slowly progressing the duration of the workout. If you’ve increased the time to a point where you can handle 30 minutes at that pace, start building a little more intensity. For example, you could attempt 2 or 3 days of 30 minutes each at your initial pace, followed by a 10-minute day at an increased intensity.

Monitor Your Energy Level

Another area of frustration for the beginner is energy level. Most people expect to exercise the first few weeks and…