How Should You Start A Fitness Program
Starting A Fitness Program
No matter what fitness level you are, whether you’re a professional body builder or an 80 year old grandmother, you have to start out as a beginner. It can be confusing to know how to start when you’re told so many ways to go after your fitness goals. Couple that with the fact that you have different goals and different conditions (physical limitations, geographical, etc), and it really can be intimidating. I’m here to help clear things up a bit.
STARTING POINT. Once you decide on a health and fitness goal, you can move forward with figuring out a plan of attack. Having a solid plan will be important because it will keep you on track and help you trust the process. In general, most health and fitness goals are very similar: lose unwanted fat/weight, improve endurance, increase lean muscle, boost energy, increase strength, tighten body. Typically, these are all benefits of a properly designed program. It all starts with identifying your goal so you can aim toward it and make steps to achieve it.
For many people, the very first step in exercise is not even accomplished in a gym, it can be done at home or outside – Move more. Seem simple enough? You need to ease into the stresses of exercise by exposing your body to an increased demand of the bones and muscles in order to better prepare for an additional “load” (weight-training). Moving more will help improve leg and core strength, which will be even more important as you exercise.
WEEK 1-2. From there, you can challenge yourself with hills, treadmill inclines, and stairs. All of these things will begin to engage the musculature more effectively. This challenge will begin the improvement of muscle and strength, which in turn burns calories and balances hormones. Remember, after this first starting phase, cardio will be most useful as a supplement to a solid resistance training program. Depending on how often you’re getting cardio in will dictate how soon you move toward the weight room. If you’re exercising 2-3 times a week, you should be ready to move over there in a couple of weeks.
WEEK 3-4. After getting more comfortable with the cardio challenges, You’ll need to start venturing over to the free-weights and resistance training area. This is where you’ll end up making the biggest changes. You see, weight training (resistance training) challenges the body in a very effective manor, which leads to an improvement in insulin sensitivity (this helps with reducing your waistline as well as your chances for heart disease), improves blood flow and heart strength (making your body more efficient), increases muscle density (leading to a stronger, tighter body with a faster metabolism), and improves balance, stability, and endurance – just to name a few things. Proper weight training will essentially reverse the aging process to a degree by increasing bone density, boosting energy, lowering stress, etc. You’ll look and feel better.
Weight training/resistance training doesn’t have to be a scary thing. You can start off with very basic (but proven) movements and progress from there. Here are some basic movements that you can start with:
Squats or Leg Press
Chest Press or Push-ups
Romanian Dead Lifts
These movements can be performed in either machines or with free weights (dumbbells, medicine balls, kettle bells, etc). Make sure you use proper lifting technique in order to keep the focus of the exercise on the muscle rather than the joints and ensure you target your muscle safely, without the possibility of injury. For proper exercise technique, you can check out my YouTube channel here.
Week 5-6. Now that you’re getting into the weight room (and adding in a little cardio when you want), you’ll need to have a plan. Getting a workout in once a week won’t go a long way in helping you reach your goal. Going every single day out of the gates might not be the best approach, either. Try going at least 2-3 times a week. Health.gov and Health and Human Services recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of intense exercise each week, which equates to about 3 resistance workouts each week.
Week 6 +. As you get more and more comfortable with weight training, make sure you challenge yourself by increasing the load (weight) you’re moving, the repetitions (how many times you lift in an exercise), and reduce your rest times (the wait time between exercises). You should feel like your body did some exercise every time your workout is over.
Nutrition. This is probably the most important aspect in regards to weight loss. What you put in your body as food will either be used for fat storage or for fueling the body (leading to muscle, strength, and other improvements). Here are some very simple nutrition tips that can help keep your body operating optimally and help get the fat off and keep it off.
Eliminate Sugar. This little culprit is one of the main reasons for adipose (fat) accumulation during the holidays. The dangers of sugar are far-reaching: easy fat transition, lower immune system, and being 8x more addictive than cocaine.
No Processed Foods. Along with sugar, you should also avoid high fructose corn syrup and sugar alcohols – these are found in candy and processed foods. Your body has difficulty digesting processed foods. Because of this, your body doesn’t trigger your “full” feeling until you’re well over-full, leading to more fat storage and increased inflammation internally. An easy way to do this is to stick with whole, unprocessed foods such as fresh meats and fresh produce.
Drink Water. Most people are under hydrated every day. This leads to several major problems regarding your metabolism.”Drinking water is important during weight loss because it provides hydration without unwanted calories. Drinking non-caloric fluids like water before or with a meal can help a dieter feel full sooner,” explains Donna Logan, RD, a registered dietitian at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. “So in addition to not adding calories, drinking water may help replace or avoid unnecessary food calories found in snacks or extra servings at mealtime. Drinking water also helps flush wastes from the body, which is especially important during times of fat metabolism and weight loss.” Recommendations from the Food and Nutrition Board are for women to get 91 ounces and men get 125 ounces. Again, make sure to replace your high-calorie drinks such as sodas, sports drinks, Starbucks drinks, and alcohol with water. Oh and your body can’t distinguish the difference between being hungry and being thirsty so many times when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually dehydrated. Try drinking 20 ounces of water before every meal.
This should get you started on your way to some serious results. Remember, it’s a “slow and steady” journey, not a quick fix. The work you put in today will show itself in 2-4 weeks down the road. Be patient as you consistently plug away at improving your health and fitness and you’ll see the payoff.
If you need a more detailed program or plan that’s customized for you and your goals, click here.