Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

Monday Fitness Motivation

Monday fitness motivation seems to be a  challenge for so many people.  I suppose the main reason is coming off the weekend it's hard to wake up early if you do morning workouts.  If you do after work workouts, you're probably tired from the "Monday" and find it easy to not go to they gym or workout at home.  I look at Monday workout motivation like a muscle that has to be worked regularly so that it stays strong.  I've been on what seems like all sides of this; workout on Monday's, don't workout on Monday's, and workout on some Monday's.  Four main ideas fuel me to get up every Monday morning to workout.

1.  I don't want to miss because if I do, I feel like I wasted an opportunity.  An opportunity to improve yes, but also an opportunity to "move."  Do you realize that most people now days are mostly sedentary or get very little activity each day?  I'm no different.  I'm in an office most of the day and do almost no physical activity during my work day.  If I'm going to be active, it has to be on my own and my own determination driving me forward.  Recently, I was at the doctor's office with a cold.  One of the questions on the paperwork asked about activity level.  How active are you?  My first thought was, "I workout five days per week, I'm really active."  Then I started to think about it more.  Five hours of exercise per week and few hours doing projects around the house or yard work, does not mean a person is truly active.  What I do is more like the basic level of activity.  If I didn't workout every morning, I would almost be sedentary.  However, I don't dwell on that. Like you, and many others, I'm doing the best I can. 

I have felt less hesitation to try something new.  It's easier now to not let a challenging opportunity pass by. In the last few years, I've done several Spartan and other obstacle races.  I've gone on some challenging hikes and I've gone zip lining.  I pushed through my fear of failure and fear of heights to try something new.  You can do the same.

2. I don't want to miss because getting my early morning workout in, fuels me and gives me more energy during the day and I feel more productive. Since I'm not the most active person most days beyond my morning workout, It's vital to not miss a day.  Movement is healthy.  External movement, which are the actual exercises provide the engine for internal movement.  Internal movement is when your heartbeat increases, your lungs are taking in more air and exhaling more rapidly, and when your heart rate goes up, your blood  flow increases.  Fresh blood throughout your system provides fresh oxygenation to all systems and parts of your body.  This gives you physical and mental energy.  Physical energy to do more and with less effort.   Mental energy to stay focused, but also to start imagining what more you can do.  

3.  It's a great sense of accomplishment when I get done with every morning workout. Finishing your workout each day is a small step in a larger mindset.  It's a building block.  However, it has it's own high and it's own victory.   Just because it's just one step toward your goal, it shouldn't be treated any less significant. The more we feel within ourselves that we have accomplished something great, the more we'll keep growing as a person and as a bodybuilder.  

 Feeling accomplished isn't an all or nothing factor.  Some workouts, I'm just not  into it and I go through the motions.  I've learned to not feel like I failed and instead feel like it was another small victory because I got up and showed up and did the best that I could that day.  In other words, something is better than nothing.  

4.  The sense of accomplishment seems to be magnified when I get done with Friday morning's workout and know I've done all five weekday workouts. This brings all the smaller accomplishments throughout the week into one larger accomplishment.  Also, when you start to feel and see improvement, this will provide validation and motivation to keep going next week and the week after.  Motivation through improvement is a huge factor in staying on track and staying motivated.  

The above are what I try to focus on daily.  If you are a beginner, I guess you could call this "gym motivation for beginners."   Maybe it shouldn't be called motivation, but something more along the lines of "mindset."  Fitness is mostly mindset.  I hope it helps in some way and I hope you can build up to being consistent and therefore unstoppable.  

Workout Plan for Beginners Part 2

Workout Plan for Beginners Part 2
This is part 2 of a basic workout plan.  See part one here.  This one doesn't ask you to do anything that takes an above average skill level.  It works a different muscle group every day during the week.  On Saturday, it calls for recreational activities. This gives your newly stressed muscles time to recover.  It has basic exercises just like part one, but this one raises the sets up to 9 - 11 per muscle group.  Abs are still worked everyday with classic sit-ups and leg raises, but the reps have increased.  The goal is to continue getting your muscles used to being worked and stressed.   No workout plan for beginners is perfect for everyone.  This one can be modified based on your current fitness level and any movements that you are having trouble with. However, most people should be able to do this as it's designed.  

Phase Two:
Pick a weight that you can do all the reps with moderate exertion (remember this is still a beginning workout).
Rest 30-45 seconds between sets (or whatever time feels comfortable)
Record the weights you use, the sets and reps you completed.  Use that as a guide for the next workout.
Continue this workout for 3 more weeks. Increase the weights slowly as you get stronger.

Monday:
Chest 

Chest Machine Press: 3 sets of 12 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Incline Press 3 sets of 10 reps
Push-ups: to failure or up to 15

Abs: Sit-ups 4 sets of 15-25


Tuesday:
Back

Dumbbell Bent Over Row 3 sets of 10 reps

Lat Machine Cable Pull-Down 4 sets of 12 reps
Barbell Bent Over Row 3 sets of 10 reps

Pull-ups to failure 

Abs Leg raises 3 sets of 10-15


Wednesday:
Shoulders

Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell Lateral (side) Raises 3 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell Front Raises 2 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Upright Rows 3 sets of 8 reps

Abs Sit-ups 4 sets of 15 - 25 reps



Thursday:
Legs

Body Weight Squats 4 sets of 12 reps

Dumbbell squats 3 sets of 10 reps (hold the weights to your sides)

Leg Press Machine 4 sets of 12 reps

Standing or Seated Calf Raises 3 sets of 15 reps

Abs Leg raises 4 sets of 15 - 25 reps


Friday:
Arms (Triceps and Biceps)

Standing Barbell Curls 3 sets of 10 reps

Seated Dumbbell Curls 3 sets of 10 reps
Seated Dumbbell Hammer Curls 3 sets of 10 reps

Tricep Kickback with Dumbbell 3 sets of 10 reps

Overhead Tricep Extension (alternating) 3 sets of 10 reps
Tricep Pressdown with Cable 3 sets of 12 reps

Abs Sit-ups 4 sets of 15 - 25 reps


Saturday:
Be Active

Biking, Swimming, Jogging, Hiking, Yard Work, etc.

Sunday:  Rest

This is a five day per week plan that you can build a beginning foundation with.   Many at home workouts for beginners are body weight based.  However, I believe body weight exercises are to be done after your initial phase.  If you are looking to lose weight, this is a gym workout for beginners to lose weight.  You'll get stronger and lose weight as you begin to transform your body.   This may not be the best strength training program, (because it's not specific to strength) but you will slowly see your strength improve.  

Workout Plan for Beginners Part 1

Workout Plan for Beginners Part 1
This is a basic workout plan that doesn't ask you to do anything that takes an above average skill level.  It works a different muscle group every day during the week.  On Saturday, it calls for recreational activities. This gives your newly stressed muscles time to recover.  It has basic exercises  and has only 6-8 sets per muscle group.  Abs are worked everyday with classic sit-ups and leg raises.  The goal is to get your muscles used to being worked and stressed.   No workout plan for beginners is perfect for everyone.  This one may need to be modified based on your current fitness level and any movements that you are having trouble with. However, most people should be able to do this as it's designed.   After 3 weeks the initial soreness will be gone and you'll be starting to feel more comfortable with this routine.  

Phase One:
Pick a weight that you can do all the reps with only mild to moderate exertion (remember this is a beginning workout).
Rest 30-60 seconds between sets (or whatever time feels comfortable)
Record the weights you use, the sets and reps you completed.  Use that as a guide for the next workout.
Do this workout for 3 weeks. Increase the weights slowly as you get stronger.

Monday:
Chest

Chest Machine Press: 3 sets of 10
Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 8
Push-ups: to failure or up to 15

Abs: Sit-ups 3 sets of 10-15


Tuesday:
Back

Dumbbell Bent Over Row 3 sets of 8

Lat Machine Cable Pull-Down 4 sets of 8

Pull-ups to failure

Abs Leg raises 3 sets of 10-15


Wednesday:
Shoulders

Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 sets of 8 reps

Dumbbell Lateral (side) Raises 3 sets of 8

Dumbbell Front Raises 2 sets of 8 reps

Abs Sit-ups 3 sets of 10-15



Thursday:
Legs

Body Weight Squats 3 sets of 15

Dumbbell squats 3 sets of 10 reps (hold the weights to your sides)

Leg Press Machine 3 sets of 12 reps

Standing or Seated Calf Raises 3 sets of 15 reps

Abs Leg raises 3 sets of 10-15


Friday:
Arms (Triceps and Biceps)

Standing Barbell Curls 3 sets of 8 reps

Seated Dumbbell Curls 3 sets of 8 reps

Tricep Kickback 3 sets of 8 reps

Overhead Tricep Extension (alternating) 3 sets of 8 reps

Abs Sit-ups 3 sets of 10-15


Saturday:
Be Active

Biking, Swimming, Jogging, Hiking, Yard Work, etc.

Sunday:  Rest

This is a five day per week plan that you can build a beginning foundation with.   Many at home workouts for beginners are body weight based.  However, I believe body weight exercises are to be done after your initial phase.  If you are looking to lose weight, this is a gym workout for beginners to lose weight.  You'll get stronger and lose weight as you begin to transform your body.   This may not be the best strength training program, (because it's not specific to strength) but you will slowly see your strength improve.  



How to Become a Bodybuilder

Did you know that you are (almost) a bodybuilder even though you are a beginner?  That’s right.  You don’t have to be a massively muscled up person before you can be considered a bodybuilder.  People won’t label you one and you don’t want to list that as your occupation.  But, in order to gain some momentum and succeed, that’s exactly how you have to think of yourself.  You are in fact building your body.  Think of yourself as a beginning bodybuilder.

You need a foundation.  Bodybuilders have always built a foundation.  You may be like me and seemingly be building your foundation for years.  That is ok.  Keep progressing and keep moving forward.  Don’t get caught up with the hype of a product you see on TV or a trendy workout fad. As always, I’m not saying they don’t work, but you don’t need them as you begin your fitness and bodybuilding journey.  Get into the gym and do all the basics that you can do;  bench press, shoulder press, squats, leg press, dumbbell curls, bent over row for your back muscles, tricep kickback, and tricep press down, and any machine that is available to mimic these same movements.  At this point, you don’t need to get fancy.  I’ve seen more than a few personal trainers take a beginner who is 100% untrained and have them attempt moderately difficult exercises and movements.  This is a disservice to their client.  No foundation has been built and no progression has been followed that led them to be ready for the more difficult movements.  Basic exercised worked 50 years ago and they will still work today.   Have you seen all the crazy, intricate and advanced abdominal exercises that people are doing?  You don’t need them, just do basic situps and leg raises for now.  As you get more comfortable, you can add some of those in.  Never abandon the basics.

You need to work on your nutrition.  So many diets and eating plans out there.  So confusing at times.  Your nutritional foundation should not necessarily be a certain eating plan, but more a plan to eat real food.  You don’t need to order any of those prepackaged foods that you see advertised on TV.  They claim to be full of nutrients and perfectly healthy for you.  They aren’t nearly as healthy as making your own food using whole foods.  Lean cuts of meat, such as chicken on the bone roasted or grilled.  Much better than sliced deli meat.  Slow cooked pork roast with potatoes and carrots.  More healthy than a canned or frozen counterpart.  Do you like peanut or almond butter?  Hummus?  These can be easily made at home in a blender so you know what goes into them.  Do you like cucumbers in vinegar with a little sea salt?  It can be prepared in 5 minutes, travels well and you get a dose of raw vegetables.  Do you like fast food?  The best fast food is an apple or some raw nuts.  It doesn’t get any faster than that.  Fast and whole make it easy on you.  For every food or meal, there is a whole food (fairly easy to prepare) substitute.  You must always be prepared with your food as a bodybuilder.  Be ready to always have food to take with you when you are at work or on the go.

You need to develop the mindset that this is a journey and not a trip.  A journey that takes many, many years instead of a trip that takes 6 weeks.  All the programs that are designed for 6 weeks or 12 weeks can put you in the mindset that once that time is up, you’re done.  There are many great programs out there that are 6 and 12 weeks long.  They are, however, usually designed to be repeated.  I recommend programs that have a time frame.  My point is, don’t let those small amounts of time lock into your mind and take you on a “trip.”  The journey is what you want so after your 6-week program is up, keep moving forward with another round or another program, etc.  Never get locked into a program’s time frame as your final time frame.

You need to realize that it’s ok that life gets in the way.  I’ve known a few people with the generality – they’ve been on their diet for 3 weeks and just ate a whole pizza and now it’s all over and the previous three weeks were wasted.  That is not true and you have to form your thoughts to just move on after eating pizza, cheeseburgers or cake.  Form your thoughts to be disciplined so you follow your plan very closely, but that you have to live also.  If you want a piece of cake, eat a piece of cake.  Form your thoughts to get back to clean eating after you eat the cake.  Form your thoughts to look long term.  Life will always get in the way, but it mostly stays out of your way if you have the right map in your mind.  You might get busy with life and not go to the gym for a week.  No worries, get back the very next day you are able and keep working on your mind have a long-term outlook and that a few small setbacks won’t matter.  In fact, small setbacks can make you more determined.  You missed workouts or ate cake, now you’re mad and are more focused on getting a streak going.

You need to get on a streak and the streak will become a powerful driving force.  I know this first hand about streaks and the power they have.  At the beginning of 2017, I was in a “life is getting in the way” mode.  From Jan 1st to Aug. 27th, I went to the gym 26 total times.  From Aug 28th thru Dec. 22nd, went to the gym 84 times.  I went every morning at 5:30, 5 days per week. After just 2 weeks of not missing really motivated me to keep going.  It didn’t matter how tired I was, I went.  If I had a headache, I still went.  There were a few mornings where I didn’t really feel like going, but that feeling didn’t last long because I was motivated.  The more I went the more I did not want to miss.  Every weekday morning without fail.  The streak and not missing just kept me going.  However, it wasn’t hard to do.  I enjoy going to the gym and I enjoy the process no matter how slow it seems to go sometimes.  I’ve been down the road before where you have a good streak going and then you miss.  It feels horrible.  You feel light you’ve wasted an opportunity.   No problem, get back on a streak and keep moving forward.

I realize this isn’t a ‘How to Become a Bodybuilder’ article as it relates to sets, reps, nutrient ratios, and timing.  However, I believe that these are some points that will help get your foundation started.  This is a neverending journey if you want it to be.  Along with that journey, you’ll start to learn the weights, sets, reps, and how much protein to eat per day.  

Good luck moving forward.  As a beginner, there is an adjustment period, but it doesn’t have to be a long one.  In fact, the shorter the better.  Just show up every day and do your best.  You are a bodybuilder.

Take a look at this great program to help get you started.

5 Reasons Beginners Need to do Strength Training Instead of Cardio

Many beginners often times don’t know what to do more of, strength training or cardio.  Here are my top 5 reasons why I believe you must do strength training, especially if you are a beginner looking to get started.  Doing something is better than nothing, but I believe if you are going to put in the effort, you should be maximizing those efforts.  Disclaimer: you can get fit with just cardio, but it’s a different type of fitness and in my opinion, it’s not true fitness.  It’s not functional fitness.  Whichever way you go, use the below items as a guideline and as a way to further your understanding as you move from a beginner into an intermediate phase and beyond.  These will apply at any age, even for exercise for beginners over 50.  So many people in their middle years, have done very little strength training in their lives.  It’s never too late to start.

1, Muscle burns fat even at rest.  The greater your muscle to fat ratio is, the more efficient your body becomes.  Think of your fitness as having two parts; your muscle strength and conditioning, and your metabolic efficiency.  Metabolic efficiency encompasses your heart, lungs, and how each one operates.  With cardio as your only fitness mechanism, your missing the muscle strengthening component.  Your heart and lungs will get more efficient, but you won’t build stronger muscles.  Your muscles won’t develop the tight elasticity that is so important for injury prevention.

2. Cardio burns fat and muscle.  Ideally, you only want to burn fat so that your muscles maintain their strength.  You never want to exercise away your muscles.  There is a huge misconception that doing daily cardio will get a person ripped and with a six-pack.  In reality what happens is you maintain a more constant body fat percentage.  You will most likely lose overall weight, but your overall look and musculature reduce equally.  I have an acquaintance who runs about 40 miles per week and has run over 300 marathons.  He is not ripped and does not have even good muscularity.  He’s in shape to run but does not work on his muscle strength.  Next time you’re at the gym or if you go to watch a local marathon, just look at the people on cardio machines and the majority of the people at the race.  They are not super fit looking or ripped or anything.  They have trained their bodies to run.  If any of these people went to the doctor for a check-up, they would be classified as obese.  It’s not taking anything away from their efforts, it’s just a fact of how the human body works.

3. It gets boring.  Not for the die-hards, but for the general population it does.  A few years ago, I was training for a Super Spartan Race which is the medium length race for that brand.  I believe they are between 8-9 miles long.  So for about 12 weeks before the race, in addition to my strength and skill training, I was running up to 5 miles per day.  I did some days on a treadmill and some days running trails near my house.  After the Super Spartan, I signed up for a Spartan Beast, which is in the 12-15 mile range.  Lots of obstacles in these, but also lots of distance in between.  From the Super to the Beast, I went from running 5 miles per day, 5 times per week to about 3 miles per day, 2 times per week.  Why?  I simply got bored and could not maintain the previous pace.

4. There is much more variety with strength training.  There is virtually an endless number of exercises and all exercises have several variations.  You can adjust a bench or machine to target different areas of the same muscle.  You can also make adjustments to work around an injury.  Workout progressions are easy with strength exercises.  For example, you can adjust the height of a bench, adjust the amount of weight, or adjust the range on a cable exercise.  With cardio, you basically have speed and elevation functions.   Variety is the spice of life right?  Variety is very important when it comes to fitness. It ties into your mental drive and your ability to stay motivated.  With different exercises, you are challenged both mentally and physically.  This allows you to see and feel progress and keep you progressing forward.

5. Injury prevention is greatly increased with strength training.  I mentioned earlier “tight elasticity.”  Essentially that means that your muscles are strong and flexible.  They surround your joints and keep them from moving beyond their limitations.  Joint sprains can still occur, but they are usually less severe when they do happen.  The stronger you are with every functional movement or movements that mimic your daily life, you’ll have less chance of injury.  Lifting things at work, moving furniture, doing yard work, or playing sports with your kids can all benefit from increased strength.

I hope you find these thoughts helpful.  If you are a beginner to fitness, stay with it.  If you are more advanced, also stay with it.  Anyone can fall out of their routine at any time for any reason.  Keep going, keep at it and stick with it.

If you would like to learn more about a great workout that can be adapted to the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, and that I recommend click here.

 

4 Reasons Why Getting Fit is Easier Than You Might Think

 

  1. It all starts with food when you want to get healthy and fit.  It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner and are trying to get fit for the first time or you are just getting back after a layoff.  Meal planning has become a huge buzz-word and lifestyle for many.  It’s in our conscious mind but can overwhelm us.  At least it can me.  Shopping, chopping, cooking – rinse and repeat.  This is not meant to be a “7-day diet plan for weight loss” or something quick and effortless. Take a step back and just start by substituting one food for another.  (Just generalizing, your plan would be specific to you.)  If you are starting a diet tomorrow, you can incorporate these steps right away.
  • Whole grain bread like Ezekiel instead of regular white bread
  • Lean ham instead of bacon
  • Mustard instead of Mayo
  • Greek yogurt instead of Mayo or half Greek yogurt and half Mayo
  • Olive oil instead of vegetable oil
  • Baked potato with salsa instead of with butter and sour cream
  • Baked foods instead of fried foods
  • Flavored water with lemon and other real fruits instead of soda or other bottled drinks
  • Black coffee with honey instead of fully loaded drive-thru coffee
  • Baked chicken or fish (homemade) instead of store-bought
  • Vinegar and oil dressing instead of creaming dressing
  • Roasted or steamed vegetables instead of creamed vegetables
  • Whole rice instead of processed minute type rice

There are many more substitutes and everyone has to find what works for them.  Some are better and some are easier.  Find what works for you and expand from there.  Don’t be afraid to work harder on your healthy food.  It is more time consuming, but it’s worth it.  You’ll feel better about yourself from a health perspective and from a self-satisfaction perspective also.  I don’t know how to cook you ask? Practice and learn.  Start slowly by baking your chicken and fish.  Roast vegetables by coating them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

  1. Slowly start to crowd out the bad foods. The more good and healthy foods you eat, the less you’ll be hungry for the bad foods. Everyone knows this, but it’s a mindset that takes time.  Start slowly and take small steps.  Once you see and feel some results it will fuel your mindset to keep going.
  • Drink one less soda per day
  • Eat one more piece of real whole fruit per day
  • Eat one less piece of pizza
  • Get one more scoop of roasted vegetables on your plate and half the amount of fried chicken
  • Phase out national brand coffee drinks by ordering a smaller size and work toward fewer per day/week down to only the occasional indulgence
  • Healthy fruit and vegetable smoothie in the morning instead of a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit
  • Less beer and/or wine per sitting and less frequent indulgences
  • Drink more water – strive for 3-4 quarts per day
  1. Basic weight training works so much better than those trendy group classes when you are a beginner.  I’ve seen more than a few personal trainers take brand new clients who are not at all fit and have them do fairly complex movements.  I know why it’s done.  It’s done so that the client thinks they are getting value by doing exercises and routines that you can’t just get anywhere.  And you also have an “expert” helping you. (I say “expert” because for both of my national certifications; the CSCS by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the ATC by the National Athletic Trainers Association, a college degree is required and you have to sit for an all-day exam that includes written and oral sections.)  I’m not saying all personal trainers, but many just take an online “test” and boom, they’re certified.   If personal trainers do just the basics, their clients will fire them because they can do the basics on their own.

Group classes have their place, but for the beginner, I think a foundation should be built.  You need to get stronger and learn how to do the basic exercises and how to use the different machines.  You need to learn by feeling what each one targets and adapt it to your current level of fitness also with regard to any limitations that you might have.  A group class is too fast-paced and often too complex for the beginner and that can lead to an injury or too much soreness that limits or discourages continued participation after the initial excitement wears off.  Again, group classes have their place for sure, but only after a foundation is built.  Remember, your foundation isn’t just physical.  It’s also heavily mental.  It’s your mental fortitude that is the driving force and that has to be developed and nurtured in the beginning.

There is nothing wrong with the basics.  They worked in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond and they for sure will work today.

Some basic exercises:

Dumbbell bench press for chest
Dumbbell shoulder press
Bicep curl
Tricep kickback
Bent over row to work your back
lunges for thighs
Squats
Basic crunch or sit-up

All of these can be duplicated with an exercise machine if you are a gym member or are thinking about joining one.

My philosophy on exercise as it relates to free weights and machines:

All free weights is good
Half free weights and half machines is good
All machines and no free weights is not my favorite method (but there is certainly nothing wrong with doing all machine work)

In other words, it’s best to get a mixture of both free weights and machines.

  1. Workout for shorter periods per day. You may have heard how in order to get fit you’ve got to work out 2 hours per day.  You’ll get fit for sure.  Most people don’t have that much time or energy.  Don’t even go there as a beginner unless you just want to.  Focus your mindset to go for 30-60 minutes.  Work at a good intensity with good concentration.  Try to get a variety of exercises completed each day.  Feel the sense of accomplishment that you’ve earned and got on with your day.  When the next day rolls around, be ready to give it all you’ve got.  That may be a lot or a little, but whatever you have, do your best for that day.  As long as you show up and do the best that you can do that day, you should never feel like you failed.  In fact, you should feel a great deal of accomplishment.

Hopefully, this has helped you with your belief that you can take small steps that add up to a huge amount of satisfaction and accomplishment. My goal is to help anyone, especially beginners, break through the fear and the apprehension when starting a new journey.  It takes time and there is no hurry.  Just stay the course and keep pushing through any hurdles or obstacles in your mind or body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workout Motivation Tips

Hopefully, the below workout motivation tips will help you push through and start seeing results.

1.  The beginning is the most challenging time.  This is the case for several reasons, but initially you just are not sure of yourself.  You might ask yourself, "is it worth it?"  If you've joined a gym, you might be intimidated by the equipment and not knowing how to use it.  You may also be feeling a little self conscious when you see all the fit people in the gym.  Take a step back and look around.  You aren't the only unfit person in the gym.  There are plenty of people who aren't super fit.  No one is going to judge you negatively if you are consistent and have a friendly disposition.  If you show up regularly and do your best, you'll be respected by more people than you realize even if you don't know it.  The more you go, the more you'll get used to the gym life; mainly the etiquette and the in's and out's of each machine, station or apparatus.  

2.  You have to get through the initial soreness.  Start slow and take it easy for the first week or two.   As you've probably heard before, it's a marathon and not a sprint.  However, you will have some soreness at first and this is normal.  Even seasoned lifters get sore when they change their routine or push themselves beyond what they normally do.  For you, the workout beginner, you need to go slow and get used to the overall lifestyle.  Don't let soreness keep you from coming back.  If you work your chest and it's sore, just work your back or arms.   If you did a workout with mostly dumbbells one day, you might just use machines the next time that workout comes around.  In other words, if you do a dumbbell chest workout on Monday, then do a machine chest workout on Thursday.  Once the first two to three weeks pass, you'll see yourself recovering more quickly from workout to workout.   If you don't want to have start back soreness again, then don't stop working out.  Sure, a week of every so often due to life is fine, but if you take off 3-4 weeks every so often, you'll not see results.  

3.  You have to break the learning curve.  The learning curve happens with repetition.  I start every workout with a five minute stationary bike ride and I still don't know every setting.  I don't care.  I use the settings I need and then start my workout.  If you want to add treadmill running to your workout, there are several settings that can help you get a good workout with variety.   There are more steady running settings and various interval settings that can each be adjusted to your liking.  The dumbbell benches have different angles and positions.  Try several to see what you like.  I don't do any bench press on flat bench.  If I'm doing dumbbell bench press, I have it angled up one notch.  It's just a thing with me, I don't like to be all the way flat.  Different stations feel better with different foot positions.  For example, when I do dumbbell dead lifts, I like a very narrow stance.  You may have heard "shoulder width apart."  I just like my feet narrow.  I learned this by trial and error and that's essentially what you'll have to do.  Don't feel "dumb" when learning each machine.  Don't feel like anything in the gym is a waste of time.  As a beginning workout warrior, if you're moving, you're improving.  

4.  You have to realize that you are seeing results.  These results may not be seen when you look in the mirror and no one may be seeing them and complimenting you.  Results come in all shapes and sizes.  So many people start out with a certain expectation about the fitness results that they are working toward.  Most beginners don't know how long it will take to get there or the commitment that is needed.  Start looking for results in different places and through a different set of eyes.  Can you see any strength improvements with the exercises that you are doing regularly?  If you start out with a 10 pound weight and do 12 reps for a set one week and then next week you can do 15 reps, it's time to add some weight.   Hello new strength.  This is improvement.  Now after adding weight, you can only do 10 reps.  Keep working until you can do 12-15 reps.  This is the basic foundation; when an exercise with a certain weight gets too easy, add weight.   You can also just add more reps.  For example, if you do 50 jump ropes and it's a struggle, keep doing them until you can add 10 more.  When something gets easy, you simply add weights, time or reps.  

Has your breathing gotten easier?  If you are consistent, you will see improved breathing.  This is because you are adapting and your body is becoming more efficient.  Also, your breaths will become deeper and slower.  Shallow breathing means your body is working harder and you don't get much oxygen in your lungs with each breath.  

Have you noticed your heart rate?  As you get more fit, your beats per minute will go down.  This is because your circulation has improved and your heart has become stronger.  Now it takes fewer beats to get the blood pumped through your system.  This the core of fitness; the part that can't be seen.  

Do you have more energy?  If you notice that you can do more work in less time or you don't get tired as easily or as quickly, then your energy is definitely improving.  

You may be thinking about joining a gym or working out at home.  If you know you'll be working out alone, you'll have to learn how to motivate yourself to workout alone.  Sometimes it's not easy, but you can do it.  Just stay consistent and focus on your goal and know that slow results are far better than no results.

Before you begin, you might want to take an easy fitness test.

If you are starting to feel motivated and ready to get started, here is a great program that I recommend.

Let me know if you have questions.


Home Fitness Test

When you are beginning a workout program or after a long layoff, you will benefit from performing a fitness test.  This will give you a baseline on some basic movements.  There is no right or wrong when performing a fitness test.  There are many tests out there.  Just perform the same one at least twice so that you can see your progress with that particular test. 

This test doesn't grade you like others.  Some tests, for example, will state if you do 0-10 it is poor, 11-20 it is fair, and 21-30 if good.  I've never believed a fitness test should try to grade your fitness.  They should only establish a baseline so you can measure your improvement.  This one simply puts you through 5 basic tests that are relatively easy to perform and record.   The only goal is improvement, not certain level of improvement.  Sure, if you get to a certain fitness level and begin competing, you'll want to perform other tests that are more specific to what you are doing.  For fitness beginners, you just need something basic.   This is just a guideline.   You could make up your own test based on your lifestyle and job.  You might want to use some tasks you perform at work and design a test around that. 

Below is a simple and easy one to perform.

1.  Get your blood pressure taken for free at CVS or Walgreens pharmacies.  Call to make sure your location offers this.  This is very important for two main reasons; the first is to check high blood pressure so that any irregularities might be detected.  If you are unsure, make an appointment with your personal doctor.  The second reason is so you will have your resting heart rate.  This is important because as your fitness improves, your resting heart rate will decrease.  Improved cardiovascular health is one of the main by products of getting fit. 

2.  Sit and reach test.  You'll simply sit on the floor with you feet against a wall.  You will then reach as far as you can toward the wall.  Measure in inches the distance from your fingertips to the wall.  Have someone help you with this if needed.  If you can reach past your toes, measure how far past and keep a record of this, because you will perform the same test at regular incriments.

3.  Grip strength test.  You will hang onto a bar overhead that will allow your feet to dangle off the floor.  This could be a chin up bar in the gym or anything around your home.  Use a chair if needed to get up.  All you do is grab the bar and hang.  Time yourself until you have to let go and that is your baseline grip strength.

4.  Push up test.  Count the number of total push-ups you can do with good form.  Remember to keep your body straight and lower yourself down slowly.  Do as many as you can at one time without resting.   If you can't go all the way down, it doesn't count.  

5.  One mile run.  This is done either on a treadmill, a track, or on any path you choose where you know the distance.  If you use a treadmill, it should be set with no incline and a speed that allows you to run comfortably.  You don't want it too fast where you are struggling to keep up or too slow where you are waiting on the machine.  If you need to slow down and walk, that is fine too.  The goal is really to get a one mile travel time.  It doesn't matter if it's running, jogging or walking.  Simply record how long it takes you to travel one mile.  When you repeat this, you'll of course want to use the same method each time.

That is all you need to do.  Record all of your reps and times and repeat every 4-6 weeks.  If you are consistent, you'll feel results before you see them in your next test.

Once you've tested your fitness, you'll be ready to start seeing and monitoring your improvement.  Check out these beginner exercise tips.

Exercise Tips for Beginners

There are so many avenues one can take when beginning an exercise program.   Gyms of all interests and skill levels can lead to confusion.  There are traditional gyms, group fitness gyms, CrossFit, Zumba, Boot Camps, and on and on.  Break them down further and there is strength training and bodybuilding, there are high-intensity programs, machine specific and cardio specific.  On top of all these, there are tons of home DVD programs, YouTube videos, and apps.  I’m getting confused myself just writing about it.

How do you know if you are doing the right workout program?
On one hand, maybe you don’t.  On the other, if you enjoy the program you are doing, having some fun and feeling some results, this is a program to stick with.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t try something different.

My Top Exercise Tips for Beginners:

  1. Start slowly at first.  You don’t want to get too soar at first.  However, this is a time when you could get soar easily since you haven’t done much ever or in a long while.  Take it easy at first and work your way into it.  If you get too sore at first, you might get discouraged.
  2.  Always warm up before you begin your exercise program.  Warm up on the bike or treadmill or if you are at home, you can do jumping jacks.  Ideally, you want to work up a light sweat so you know your muscles and joints are warm.  This not as important if you have worked all day versus if you workout first thing in the morning.  Light stretching after warming up is recommended.
  3.  Make sure you perform each exercise or movement slowly and under control.  I’ve seen too many people lift a weight and then practically drop it at lightning speed.  Your muscles work more on the way down than on the way up.  (Exercises aren’t always up and down).  Think of it also as the return part of the movement that brings it to completion.
  4.  Even though you are a beginner, don’t be afraid to break a sweat.  It is very important that you feel yourself working and feeling the resistance.  A friend of mine gets on the treadmill every morning, goes at a snail’s pace and never breaks a sweat.  You guessed it, never even remotely improves her fitness.  That’s a huge waste of time and effort.  Sure it’s easier than working harder, but what is the point?  You do want to improve your fitness right?
  5.  Know that even though you are a beginner, you must be consistent.  Do Not miss just because you are tired or get lazy.
  6.  Don’t buy into the 3 days per week idea that has been the “gold standard” for decades.  Five days a week even as a beginner is key to your success and seeing results. Getting fit as a beginner is much easier if you don’t skip workouts.
  7.  If a weight or resistance level seems too easy, just stick with it for now and see how your body reacts tomorrow and the next day.  I once did Kettlebell swings and was feeling so good that I did approximately 300 front swings.  I felt great!  The next day and the day after, I was so sore I could hardly move.  What should I have done?  I should have done maybe 40-50 swings and been done.  Then, monitored my recovery and soreness levels.  Three or four days later, do it again by adding 10-15 swings and monitor it again.   After a progression of this and getting used to it, then you can do more, go heavier, do it more frequently etc.
  8.   Remember the Rule of 2’s:  Don’t do 2 many, go 2 heavy or workout 2 frequently until you have tested and monitored your soreness and recovery.  Then you will have a baseline for progression.  This one is a very important exercise tip for beginners.
  9.   Always start slowly and work your way into more; whether it be more weight, more reps or both, you must progress slowly and in an intelligent manner if you are a beginner or if you have been off for an extended period of time.
  10.   Be consistent.  I know, I’ve already mentioned this one.  It’s the most important factor assuming you are being safe and following good exercise technique.
  11.  Learn the proper techniques.  There are many videos out there.  
  12.  Soreness is OK.  Popping, stiffness, grinding, sharp pain or anything that just doesn’t feel right should be closely monitored.
  13.  Don’t believe that you have to do just cardio machines and you’ll get fit.  In fact, if you do only cardio machines, without any resistance training, you’ll never get fit.  You’ll get somewhat in shape, but not fit.  If you’re in shape, you can go for a decent amount of time on the cardio machine.  If you are fit, you have gotten stronger, you can lift and carry things, you can bend over and pick things up, you don’t fatigue easily, you can do at least one pull-up and several push-ups,  You can do several exercises back to back to back.  If you’re fit, you can do more around the house such as yard work or furniture moving.  You can do more at work if you are fit.  
  14.  Exercise does not work nearly as effectively as it can unless you have a very good eating plan.

These are just some considerations to keep in mind.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive how-to guide or workout tips guide relating to program design and exercise demonstrations.  Hopefully, this has given you a few exercise tips for beginners to think about and work on. 

Click here for a great beginner program if you don’t have one.