How to Start Working Out for the First Time

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Hello there!

Welcome to my first blog post. First, I want to congratulate you on finding this post. You might be asking yourself, “Why is this guy congratulating me for doing absolutely nothing?”

To tell you the truth, you’ve done something very important. Self-reflection.

Discovering that YOU want to change your lifestyle (for the better) is pretty awesome. Many people who live an inactive lifestyle tend to avoid any changes in their daily routine. I was like that for years.

I would wake up, go to school/work, come home, play computer games, and go to bed. Rinse and repeat. Does this sound familiar?

Change can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially when developing a fitness routine. But fear not. I am here to help kick-start your journey!

In this post, I will be sharing with you my step-by-step process on how I started working out for the first time. I hope you find this information helpful and motivating.

Now, let’s get started!

What Are Your Goals?

A plate with words in the middle
Source: Natasha Spencer, Unsplash

Everything you do in life has a purpose. Whether it’s playing video games for entertainment, trying new foods out of curiosity, or reading a book to learn something new. The things we do motivate intention.

When it comes to fitness, I separate my goals into two categories. Short-term and long-term goals.

Short-term goals are things I plan on completing within a three to six-month timeframe. For example, I REALLY suck at doing pullups. My goal for the next few months is to improve my form, increase my grip strength and perform more repetitions in a set.

For long-term goals, these would be anything I want to achieve in the next six to 12 months. Actions that are challenging in the short-term but completely doable through hard work and consistency. A long-term goal for me is to learn callisthenics (bodyweight training).

Now that I’ve explained what short-term and long-term goals can look like, it’s time to find goals that resonate with you. Undecided on what goals to pursue? Not a problem! I have hand-picked some excellent ones that are right for you. Take a look.

Short-Term Goal Examples:

  • Workout for three days in a week
  • Learn how to do a proper push-up
  • Run a mile(1.61 km) outside or on a treadmill
  • Find a favourite exercise for each muscle group
  • Burn X amount of calories in a week

Long-Term Goal Examples:

  • Lose X amount of weight
  • Build some muscle
  • Bench press 80 to 100 percent of your body weight
  • Take part in a marathon/triathlon
  • Climb a mountain

Write Down Your Goals

Cup of coffee on a table with the word "begin" on it
Source: Danielle MacInnes, Unsplash

It’s time to take note.

Once you’ve compiled your list of goals, put them in a place you can easily access. This could be in a notebook, your phone, a sticky note by your bed, or maybe an audio recording. It’s up to you. I myself prefer a tangible means of writing my goals down.

Writing my thoughts down creates a set in stone mindset that helps me memorize things better. One study found that those who wrote their goals down and shared them with a friend had a success rate of 76 percent. It may seem ineffective to some, but it has worked great for me.

Establish Your Workout Routine

A painted gym sign on the ground
Source: George Pagan III, Unsplash

This is where the fun begins.

You have created several destinations for yourself, now it’s time to choose the journey you want to take.

Are you interested in bodybuilding, powerlifting, or CrossFit? Maybe something else? As long as it involves YOU being physically active, the choice is yours!

When I began my fitness routine in 2012, I went with the bodybuilding approach. I was greatly influenced by my peers, YouTubers, and social media at the time. Today, there are so many ways to get fit, it’s actually overwhelming.

Here are 10 activities you might consider for your weekly routine:

  • Bodybuilding (weights, cardio, strength training)
  • Powerlifting (bench press, squat, deadlift)
  • CrossFit
  • Callisthenics
  • Interval training (low, moderate, or high intensity)
  • Zumba
  • Spin class
  • Yoga
  • Hiking
  • Sports (rock climbing, parkour, swimming)

Yes, some of these activities burn more calories and build more muscle than others. The point is, you should feel enthusiastic and happy with what you decide to do. Don’t feel pressured into doing exercises you are not comfortable performing.

Build a Schedule and Stick with It (For Now)

A weekly schedule with a pen, camera, and some jewelry
Source: Jazmin Quaynor, Unsplash

Alright. So you now have an idea of what you want to do, how about we make a schedule?

Get yourself a physical or digital calendar (I use Google Calendar for my desktop and phone) and view it in a monthly format.

For beginners, I recommend scheduling at least three days a week for working out. Also, try and space these days out to help with muscle recovery. I know this too well. The aching sensation after my first leg workout is still stuck in my mind.

A three-day workout schedule can look something like this:

Monday – Workout

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Workout

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Workout

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Rest

Once you accumulate enough strength and endurance, give a five-day routine a try. Here’s a look at my current routine:

Monday – Chest/Abs/Cardio

Tuesday – Back/Cardio

Wednesday – Shoulders/Abs/Cardio

Thursday – Arms/Cardio

Friday – Legs/Abs/Cardio

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – Rest

After a month of performing the same routine, take some time to review your schedule. Make some tweaks, add/remove certain exercises, or even do a complete overhaul. Repetition can cause serious burnout for most people. This is why I recommend a schedule change every month.

My future schedule may look something like this:

Monday – Push Day/Cardio

Tuesday – Pull Day/Cardio

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Push Day/Cardio

Friday – Pull Day/Cardio

Saturday – Legs/Cardio

Sunday – Rest

All in all, feel free to make micro-changes to your schedule. The most important thing is that you perform at least 30 to 45 minutes of physical activity on your designated days of working out. And it doesn’t need to be at a high intensity. As long as you do something, you should feel proud!

Take It One Step at a Time

A shoe on some steps
Source: Ayo Ogunseinde, Unsplash

My last piece of advice is to go at your own pace. Just because the person next to you is running on a treadmill at 10 mph, doesn’t mean you have to. Or if someone is curling 30-pound dumbbells, should you do the same? Absolutely not!

Those individuals you see at the gym or on YouTube have trained consistently to get to where they are. There’s a reason why we start at level 1 in video games. You have to develop new skills and train before you can progress to the next level.

Remember, consistency, discipline, and patience are essential for sticking to your workout plan. Without them, things get messy and out of control. Is that something you want? I didn’t think so.

One more thing, do not worry about your visual progress. Imagine your body as a swimming pool (the water is your body fat). When you drain it, the first area that is revealed is the shallow end (this was my upper back and shoulder muscles). As time goes on, the bottom of the deep end is slowly exposed (lower abs are my deep end).    

Things take time. And when that time comes, it is such a great feeling!


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