After working in the fitness industry for almost 15 years I’ve talked to a lot of people, and something that is always interesting for me is why people decide to get started, or not get started with a healthy lifestyle.
In this post I’m going to talk about what a someone new to working out (or thinking about getting started) can expect to experience. Hopefully this will shed some light on what actually happens, and will break down some of the barriers to getting started yourself.
Humans are creatures of habit. Once we get something that feels normal to us we don’t like to move away from that normalcy. The first hurdle that someone new to the fitness lifestyle with encounter is having to change their “normal” schedule.
For example, maybe your normal schedule is to wake up, go to work, meet friends at happy hour, go home, watch some tv, go to be, and repeat. And I think that could be a very normal schedule for a lot of non-married professionals. If you’re married (or in a relationship) you might head out to dinner with your significant other instead of going to happy hour.
But what I’m getting at is that you need to change that routine if you want to become healthy, get into fitness, get six pack abs, or whatever else your goal is…
Now you NEED to make time to go to the gym.
That could be before work, at lunch, or after work. The time of day doesn’t matter. What matters is that you make it part of your “normal” schedule. Does that make sense?
If you can make it your normal to be going to the gym 5 days a week, you will have a very high probability that you’ll reach your fitness goals, or at the very least be moving towards them. This doesn’t mean that you need to start with 5 days a week. Going just 3 days a week will definitely make a difference, and will be a good start.
So, start scheduling your gym time into your calendar and life today! Make it a commitment that you cannot break. Make it as important as going to work for the day.
What to do
If you’ve overcome your schedule the next question that most people have is… now that I’m at the gym what should I do? It’s a very good question that people who have been working out for a long time might take for granted.
The easiest answer is to hire a trainer to teach you the ropes. Even if you only hired a trainer once a week, and asked them to write you a workout plan for the rest of the week that would put you at a huge advantage.
But, if you don’t have the money to hire a trainer you’ll have to do some work on your own.
There are workout plans all over the internet that will get you started. And the truth is that you just need to get started, and be safe while getting started.
You can find workout plans at places like BodyBuilding.com, or CrossFit.com, or you can do a google search for “your goal” workout plan. Then once you find a plan to follow, make sure you are clear about how the movements should be performed. This is the safety part. And fortunately these days you can find quality videos on YouTube.com of people showing you exactly how to perform movements/exercises correctly.
ALWAYS do a YouTube.com search to see the correct form of the movements that you don’t know. It’s VERY important that you are using great form when exercising. This will keep you healthy and get you the best results in the shortest period of time.
When you’re getting started with a new workout program it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to get really sore. This isn’t a bad thing, and it’s actually a sign that your body is changing for the better. I always suggest that you learn to love the soreness, and even crave it.
The hard thing for some beginners to figure out is the difference between being sore, and being injured. Or being so sore that it could lead to an injury. I don’t want to scare you, I just want you to think about the difference.
You want soreness, but if you’re too sore you might want to modify your workout. For example, let’s say that you did a legs day on Monday, and the next Monday you’re back at the gym for another legs day. If your legs are still so sore that it’s painful to squat or get loosened up, you should probably skip your legs day that week, and spend some extra time doing some slow cardio to help flush some additional blood through those muscles.
It’s all about listening to your body.
Some ways that you can reduce muscle soreness are…
- Do 20-40 mins of very low intensity cardio. A bike, elliptical, or some other form of non-impact exercise is perfect.
- Doing daily compression. Once of my favorite tools is the Voodoo band. It’s essentially a big rubber band that you wrap around the sore area for 2 minutes, move through a range of motion, then remove. You will feel a rush of fresh blood entering the sore area to encourage faster recovery.
- Contrast therapy. This is great, but can be a little uncomfortable. The idea is to go from cold to hot, which will constrict the blood vessels with the cold, and then open them up with the hot. You can do this with cold and hot showers, or baths, or even ice to hot packs. Just make sure to NOT put ice packs directly on your skin.
- Foam roller and stretching. This is another great way to help promote faster recovery and help your muscle work more efficiently. Most gyms will have foam rollers, and you simply roll the tender muscle over the roller, and leave it there until you feel relief. Side note, don’t roll your lower back.
Putting it all together
If you can create a habit to go to the gym, find a good program to follow, and learn how to deal with your muscle soreness, you are well on your way to living the life of an extremely fit and healthy person.
Trust me that once you get into great shape you will never want to feel bad ever again. Health and fitness will make you feel amazing all the time. Not only physically, but emotionally as well. This article only scraps the surface of what your journey will be like. Just remember to have fun along the way!
If you want to reach me you can do so at www.AllAroundJoe.com.
Joe Bauer CSCS