Getting into fitness can be tough. It can be scary. You might be wondering where to start, what to do, or even how to do it. I want to make this blog post to try and help answer some of those questions. I am posting these answers based on my own experience and knowledge in health/fitness. If you have more questions, feel free to comment or reach out and I can help answer them, too. Let’s get started! Here’s Part 1:
Where do I start? Start small. That sounds cliche, but it is true. Mentally you have to prepare to start working out, but you also have to prepare your body physically. The first few weeks you start working out are going to suck. Your entire body will ache and you will want to give up. That is why it is important to start small and adapt overtime. If starting small means exercising for 10 minutes a day, then start there. Do what feels right for your body.
How often should I workout? Starting out, I would recommend exercising 3-4 times a week. I exercise 5 times a week, with 2 rest days in between. However you want to start, just remember that rest days are VERY important. Rest days give your muscles a chance to recover. You also have to ask yourself what your fitness goals are. Whether you want to be more toned, lose weight, gain muscle, or just be healthy, there are different variations of workouts you can do. For instance, you can do a variation of the following: HIIT, upper-body weight lifting, lower-body weight lifting, full-body weight lifting, cardio machine training, no-equipment cardio, and rest days.
What variation of workouts should I do? I like to make sure that I am not targeting the same muscles repeatedly and over exhausting the same muscles. If you over exhaust your muscles, then you will not see the results you are wanting. Here is an example 7-day workout week that includes weight training and cardio.
Monday: HIIT Tuesday: Upper-body weight lifting
Thursday: Cardio machine training
Friday: Lower-body weight training
Saturday: Cardio (no-equipment)
How long should my workouts be? If you have never exercised before, then start out with a 10-15 minute workout session. How long the workout is, really depends on you. My workouts range from 15 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the workout. There is no physical way that I could do cardio for an hour and a half, haha. Sometimes, I will do weight lifting for 45 minutes, and finish with some cardio for 15-30 minutes afterwards. Again, it is totally up to YOU where you want to start.
What is the best way to lose weight? I have done a lot of research about weight loss, and it is ALL about exercising + diet. Sometimes, we will only focus on exercising and not the diet (vice versa). BOTH of these are the key to weight loss. My advice for weight loss would be to follow the 7-day exercise variation in Question #4. The term “weight lifting” often times scares people. Not only is weight lifting beneficial to gain muscle, but it also aids in losing weight. Often times, I burn more calories weight lifting than I would on a 3 mile run. When exercising, you can also choose to do exercises that target a lot of muscles at once such as: push-ups, planks, jumping jacks, burpees, squats, lunges, tricep dips, sit-ups, high knees. I will go into more detail about this in future blog posts.
Do I need to do a diet to lose weight? The short answer, is no. If by dieting you are referring to a strict Keto diet, no-sugar diet, or a gluten free diet, then my answer is no. Weight loss is all about calories. If you can manage your calories and take in the “right” calories, then I do not think a strict diet is necessary. We often times think that carbs are the bad guys. The good carbs such as whole grains are not always bad. Carbs play a huge part in muscle recovery. For weight loss, carbs should be taken in moderation, but there is no reason to cut them out completely. You have probably realized by now, that what works for one person may not work for another. We have to remember that there are SO many other factors that go into weight loss such as: exercising, portion sizes, hydration, stress, etc. I will make another blog post in the future to go more into detail about nutrition and weight loss.
What exercises should I be doing to gain muscle? Weight lifting! Lifting weights is my favorite exercise. When I first started weight lifting, I was scared. I was scared of how to work the equipment. I was scared to challenge myself. I was scared of who was watching me. I was scared to do the exercise wrong. I was scared of a lot of things. It is important to educate yourself. Often times, when you join a gym they offer a free week with a trainer. DO IT. You can learn how to work those scary machines, how to perform a new exercise, and where to start. You also need to know what your end goal is. I have focused my gym sessions around weight lifting. I have learned to target different muscles to achieve the results I want. Here is my 7-week exercise schedule to gain muscle:
Monday: Legs (Quadriceps)
Tuesday: Cardio machine training
Wednesday: Legs (Butt)
Saturday: Cardio targeting legs
As you can see, my priority is to gain muscle in my lower body. I want to note that I never repeat the same workouts in the same week. This is my preference for my body. For example, there are different ways to do a deadlift that will target different regions of your lower-body. I can do a deadlift to target my glutes and I can do a deadlift to target more of my legs. By doing different variations, you are not straining those same muscles each week. I will share in the future a real sample workout of what my exercise week looks like.
Do I need a gym membership? No. Of course it depends on your fitness goals, but there is nothing wrong with starting out at-home or in a small apartment gym. For cardio, there is so much more than a gym treadmill. For instance, you can take a hike, go on a walk, biking, running, dancing, etc. All of the above will suffice for exercise. If you want to do intense strength training, then yes, you might need a gym membership. But remember, we want to start small.
Do I have to use all of the machines in the gym? No. I actually encourage you NOT to use all of the machines in the gym. The giant cable machines are definitely worth it to learn how to use. However, you can perform almost any workout without those other machines. In my opinion, machines force your body to move unnaturally and it actually puts more strains on your joints. You are much better off doing body weight exercises and using free weights. Do not waste your time in the gym trying to figure out a complicated machine. Stick to the basics.
How many exercises should I do each workout? For how long? How many times? I generally do 7-10 workouts in a given session. In each workout, you will have to pick how many reps and sets you want to perform. To make it easy, I always do 3 sets. When it comes to reps, this depends more on your fitness goals. For instance, if you are trying to gain weight, then you will generally lift heavier weights for less reps (7-10 reps). If you want to gain endurance or for cardio, then you will do lighter weight for more reps (12-15). Remember, that there is NO RUSH. Do not rush your workouts. Focus on the workout you are doing and focus on your form.
I hope you enjoyed Part 1! I’ll post Part 2 this week. Let me know if there are any questions that you would like for me to answer! I already have 6 questions ready for Part 2.