These 10 fitness tips for beginners worked for me and there’s no reason they won’t for you too.
For some people, myself included, the hardest part about exercising was starting. I was waiting for the perfect time when I wasn’t busy and I had all of the right workout gear and fitness equipment. It must have taken me six months to realise that I was using my schedule and lack of “accessories” as an excuse not to begin.
The hardest part after starting, was being patient. This is common with newbies. We expect to lose weight or see a visible improvement almost right away. When this doesn’t happen, some people do longer or more frequent and intense exercise sessions, hoping to speed things up. This can result in an injury that will lengthen the time it takes to reach your goal. It may even stop you exercising all together.
Another thing new exercisers can struggle with is motivation. Again, this is often due to not seeing the physical changes we’d hoped for as quickly as we’d expected. In such a situation, it’s common for people to think their workout is ineffective. Some will abandon working out. Others will stick with it, then slacken off when they start seeing positive changes, thinking they can get away with doing less. This tends to happen with people who don’t enjoy their workout. I experienced it when I was doing a particular form of exercise solely because I’d read that it was very effective. The problem was, I found it boring and repetitive.
If you are constantly looking for excuses to skip workouts, stop what you’re doing and try something else. Find an exercise you enjoy and look forward to doing, and sticking to a schedule will be easy.
Keep reading to find out 10 of my best fitness tips for beginners, that also work for experienced exercisers.
10 Fitness Tips for Beginners
10. Use visual inspiration
Visualizing the way you want to look can help you to stay motivated. If you used to be in good shape, find some photos of yourself when you looked your best. Photocopy them, and stick them up where you will see them often. For example, on your fridge, your bathroom mirror, your closet door and your computer’s screen.
If you’ve always struggled with your weight, search online and find images of people with a body shape you aspire to, and pin those up. This will help you to stay on track. While I didn’t need to lose weight, I wanted to tone up. Having a clear image in mind of the way I used to look and wanted to look again, gave me something to work towards.
9. Don’t be deterred by preconceptions
If you’re a woman who only wants to tone up, seeing pictures of female bodybuilders could make you think lifting weights is not for you.
The reality is that the average exerciser will never look like a bodybuilder. Bodybuilders follow a very strict workout schedule and diet and take nutritional supplements to achieve this look. Some even take illegal drugs. For the rest of us, lifting weights will result in increased strength, nicely sculpted muscles and a reduction of body fat.
8. Set realistic goals
If you are really out of shape and have a lot of weight to lose, set yourself an achievable timeline to reach your goal. If you want to lose 40 pounds, don’t plan on doing so in two months. It’s unlikely you could achieve this without burning yourself out and even jeopardizing your health. If you did manage to lose the weight, it would require a lot of work and probably not be sustainable. Instead, give yourself six months to lose the weight and consistently work towards your goal.
This same strategy applies to exercise. If you haven’t exercised before or not for a long time, you won’t get a six-pack overnight. Be patient, stick with it, and you will get there.
7. Keep it simple
Beginners should ease into fitness. Learn the basics, start with short sessions and don’t overdo things. This will help you to avoid an injury that could result in you giving up. As your fitness improves, you can work out for longer with more intensity.
When I started exercising, I walked three or four times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. Within two to three months I’d increased this to 5 hours a week. I still exercise for five hours a week, but I vary what I do. Currently, along with walking, I also work out to fitness DVDs and use a Maxi Climber.
6. Stick to a schedule
Following a schedule can make it easier to get into the habit of exercising. With a fitness plan, you will know when you are going to be working out, and you can schedule your day to fit your sessions in.
Including one or two exercise-free days each week works for me. I look forward to the downtime and am energized and keen to get back into working out after having a break.
5. Commit 100%
If you want to transform your body shape, it will take dedication and commitment. It’s easy to start skipping the occasional session here and there thinking it won’t matter and that you will make it up the next day. Do this, and before you know it you could be missing one or two sessions a week. This won’t make a big difference in the short term, but it will in the long term.
Plan your rest day or days and stick to your schedule. Or do as I do, and keep a fitness diary. At the end of each exercise session I make a note of what I did and for how long. Sometimes I do an hour each day, so I am done in five days. Other times, I spread my workouts over 6 days.
I never look back at what I’ve done, but writing it down somehow keeps me accountable. I’ve done this for so long, I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t meet my weekly goal. I’ve only not done so twice in about 20 years. Once was when I was ill and the other time was when I moved to another state and could only manage to exercise for two or three hours that week.
I even pack a pair of walking shoes when I go on vacation so that I can keep up with my schedule.
4. Include cardio
Even if your main aim is muscle definition, it’s important to include cardio in your workouts. With regular cardio workouts you will burn calories and lower your body fat, enabling the muscle you’ve built to show.
3. Monitor your calorie intake
Fitness and health go hand-in-hand. If you’re taking the time to exercise, do yourself a favor and eat healthily. There’s no point spending 30 to 60 minutes a day working out, only to sabotage your efforts by tucking into calorie-laden junk food on a daily basis.
When working out regularly you will be burning more calories, so you will be able to eat more without gaining weight. You will, in fact, need to take in more calories to be able to exercise optimally. So don’t starve yourself, and by all means, indulge, but do so in moderation.
If you eat nutritious, low-calorie foods 80% of the time, you should be able to relax your eating standards 20% of the time and not gain weight. This works for me, and my cholesterol level is now where it should be.
2. Change bad eating habits
Along with eating healthy foods and practicing portion control, be sure to eat properly. Having a sweet tooth and enjoying crispy food, this is something I struggled to accept. The thing that made it harder was that I wasn’t overweight, so I could get away with eating chocolate and fried food daily. The thing that pulled me into line and made me reassess my diet was having my cholesterol checked and finding it was higher than the level recommended by medical professionals.
Try to eat at regular intervals, too. Don’t skip meals and don’t eat a large meal right before going to bed. Along with not being able to burn it off, eating late at night can make it harder to fall asleep.
1. Make every workout count
If you’re going to take the time to exercise, don’t be half-hearted about it. Pick up the pace and put more effort into your moves.
If you’re unsure as to whether you are working hard enough, invest in a fitness tracker. This will enable you to exercise in your maximum training zone and burn the most calories. If you are going too slowly, the tracker will alert you to pick up the pace. If you are going too hard, you will know to ease off to avoid burning out or injuring yourself.
Fitness Tips for Beginners Summary
One of the best fitness tips for beginners I can pass on to you is not to worry about or complicate exercising, but to just start doing something. I thought I’d have to join a gym to get fit. I didn’t really have the money to do so and also buy workout clothes, so I delayed starting. Even if my budget had permitted it, I had no one to go to the gym with, and I didn’t want to go alone.
If a lack of finances or a workout buddy has stopped you from exercising, try walking. It’s easy, it doesn’t require any special equipment, and there’s no learning curve. All you will need is a pair of supportive walking shoes, and you will be ready to go.