The “why”, “how” and “what” of creating a successful workout program.
Starting to exercise
Whether you’re new to exercise or have simply stepped away from it for a while, congratulations on making the decision to get active! There are so many great benefits to working out and making exercise a part of your life is such a good goal – but you already know all that. The question is: where do you even start?
We’re so glad you asked!
We could tell you to go out and buy a new fitness outfit or to invest in some home gym gear, but in our experience, it’s not the clothes or the equipment that makes the difference, it’s something much deeper than that. We find that it’s the people who start from the right place with clear and simple information that tend to stick with it, so we’ve put together our two-cents below with three considerations to make if you want to start working out.
Think about why you want to be active
The first and most important step to take when starting with exercise is to determine why you want to work out in the first place. We all know that we should be exercising, but why should you be exercising and what does “fitness” mean to you? It may take a bit of soul-searching to truly figure this out, but by gaining real perspective into your motivation, you will create a different type of buy-in from yourself that will drastically increase your chances of sticking with it for the long haul.
When determining your “why”, consider your life from a very internal standpoint. There are so many benefits to exercising regularly (improve your heart health, tone up, lose weight, improve your mental health…to name just a few), but how will that affect your life on a deeper level? What’s important to you?
Would losing weight help you feel healthier? Would fitting into a pair of skinny jeans boost your self-confidence? Would improving your strength and mobility help you accomplish something bigger or make your life a bit easier? Whatever the reason, make your “why” personal and make it meaningful to your life.
Not entirely sure what your “why” is? Here are some examples:
– I exercise to be able to keep up with my kids
– I exercise to feel strong and confident in my own body
– I exercise to create a space where I can focus on myself and my well-being
Knowing your “why” may not seem especially important while you’ve got the motivation to get started but, trust us, there will come a time where the couch vs. the treadmill will not be a fair fight and your “why” may end up being the thing that finally pushes you past the excuses and out that front door.
Determine how exercise is going to fit into your life
Once you’re clear on why you want to start working out, the next step is to create a general plan for yourself as to how you’re going to actually go about incorporating it into your lifestyle.
Let’s start with structure:
It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else seems to be involved in, but it’s important to remember that we’re all very unique when it comes to what drives us and what we feel connected to. Think about both your goals and your personality to get a sense of what realm of exercise might be a good fit for you, then try “dating” a few of your options to see what clicks.
Do you do better in a group setting where you can feel a sense of community? Maybe attending group classes is right for you. Try barre, spin, yoga, rowing, boxing, etc…
Do you prefer a more personal approach and a plan that’s specifically for you? Maybe seeing a personal trainer is a good idea. Check out boutique training studios, mobile personal trainers, etc…
Do you like to fly solo and motivate yourself? Maybe attending the gym on your own is the right fit. Look into your home/apartment/work gym, community centres, big box gyms, etc…
When testing out a space or a company to work with, you’ll want to look for a couple of things on your first “date”:
– The location should be convenient to get to within your day-to-day life
– You should feel comfortable in the environment that’s been created there
Once you’ve found a spot that you connect with, then consider frequency and timing.
In the case of frequency, more is not always better. Consistency is key at this stage, so setting a weekly frequency that you can actually maintain is far more important than trying to fit in 7 workouts a week. It’s perfectly fine to start your relationship with exercise as a slow burn and build on that a little later on.
Our recommendation? Ease into things with a 30-60 minute workout once or twice a week and build from there once you get the hang of things. Look at your schedule and book your workouts in for days and times that are convenient, where you don’t feel like you’ll be rushed either before or after the session.
Create a template for what your workouts will look like
If you’ve chosen to go with either groups classes or personal training, lucky you! This part’s already taken care of!
If, however, working out on your own is more your style, here is where you’ll want to figure out what specifically you should be doing in the gym.
Our best advice? Start simple.
It’s worth repeating that consistency is key, so the best workout for you at this stage will be the one that you’ll actually continue to do. Typically, you’ll want to start with a program that holds the following characteristics:
– It’s easy to follow
– It doesn’t take too long to complete
– It doesn’t leave you too sore the next day
There are tons of online workouts that you can try; however, we suggest being a little strategic when building your program so that you don’t put too much focus in one area and not enough in another as this can lead to imbalances, pain and/or injury.
A basic formula that you can follow to make sure that all the major muscle groups are hit would be to create a 6-exercise workout that includes the following movement patterns:
1. An upper body “push” – This is where you’re pressing something away from your body (like a chest press, a pushup, etc.)
2. An upper body “pull” – This is where you’re pulling something toward your body (like a row, a lat pull-down, etc.)
3. A “squat” – This is where you’re bending at the hips and the knees to “sit down” toward the ground (like a goblet squat, a sumo squat, etc.)
4. A “hinge” – This is where you’re bending at just the hips (like a deadlift, a glute bridge, etc.)
5. An “anti-rotational”, “anti-extension” or “anti-flexion” core exercise – This is where you’re resisting the urge to either twist, arch or round your torso (like a plank, a pallof press, etc.)
6. A “cardiovascular” exercise – This is where you’re getting your heart rate up with quick, successive movements (like jumping jacks, burpees, high knees, etc.)
Start by choosing which exercises you want to put into each category. Next, using little or no weight, complete one set of 8-12 reps of each exercise in the circuit. If that feels good and you have time left over, complete a second or even third set.
Once you create a habit of attending regularly, you can then look into making your workouts longer, more challenging, and more often.
Ready to get started with exercise?
Take a moment to write down your “why”, your “how” and your “what”, then get out there and try some things out! Don’t be afraid to revisit these categories every now and again to see if they still hold meaning to you or if it may be time to switch some things up.
Ultimately, success comes with finding what works for you, being consistent, and having some fun so, on that note, happy exercising!Tags: How to start working out, Kitsilano, Vancouver