Regular exercise is a blast once you have your routine set. But what about if you’re new to working out and confused about where to start? While hitting the gym for the first time can be a little scary, the physical and emotional benefits associated with working out far outweigh any initial jitters.
Before you jump right to the front row of an indoor cycling class, consult this list of tips three top personal trainers created specifically with exercise novices in mind. From how to gauge success to what to eat and drink before and after a workout, this guide will help you feel like a superstar in the gym in no time.
Eager to make sure you’re avoiding making amateur mistakes? Check out our list of the 10 Mistakes People Make the First Time They Work Out.
Play it Safe
Before jumping on the exercise bandwagon, celebrity personal trainer Michael Blauner emphasizes the importance of getting medical clearance. Only a doctor will know what kind of physical strains your body is ready to endure, so make sure to get the greenlight from them first.
Start with Basics
Instead of attempting to max out how much weight you can lift, begin with body weight exercises such as lunges, sit-ups, and push-ups. Not only will these help you avoid overuse injuries, it will also build strong muscles or what Blauner likes to call “true strength.”
Listen to Your Body
“Forget no pain, no gain,” advises Blauner. While you may feel a burn, especially during strength work, acute pain is a sign to back off in order to avoid injury.
Focus on Form
Instead of knocking out hundreds of sloppy reps, strive to maintain the best form you possibly can. Blauner recommends prioritizing “full range of motion always” which will ensure that you’re making the most out of each rep.
Keep Your Blinders On
It’s easy to compare yourself to others in the locker room, but Blauner believes it is important to avoid judging your results based on what others have achieved. Every body is different and your fitness journey is exactly that: yours.
Mix it Up
Instead of sticking to the same elliptical routine, change up the exercises you do. “[Do] a mixture of multiple forms of exercise to see what you like and what seems to suit your body,” Blauner advises.
Change Your Perspective
Blauner recommends viewing exercise as an investment, but you will get back more than what you put in. “Exercise is a long-term commitment that you can count on forever, ” he says.
Remember What Matters
Instead of trying to get 6-pack abs or squeeze into a form-fitting dress, think about how being healthy and active will make you feel. The emotional benefits that come with routine exercise are what matters; “looking great is just a super side effect,” Blauner says.
While Blauner emphasizes that results should not be measured by the size of your biceps or the number on the scale, he does believe that your waistline is the most important measurement to pay attention to. “It tells the whole story,” he says.
Ask for Help
Instead of improvising, consider reaching out to a personal trainer. Blauner promises that more often than not, they would love to give advice.
Find Your Motivation
Samir Becic, personal trainer and author of the upcoming book ReSYNC Your Life, emphasizes the importance of thinking about the impact your workouts will have on your life. “Find an underlying motivation as to why you want to be fit and healthy. People who understand the reason behind what drives them have a higher percentage of success long term,” he explains.
Celebrate Every Success
Instead of waiting until you can crank out 7-minute miles on the treadmill, reward yourself for small victories like upping your mileage or increasing your speed a bit. Becic recommends surrounding yourself with healthy and positive friends who will keep you on track.
“The weight that it took ten or twenty years to gain will not disappear overnight,” Becic says. “Do not be so hard on yourself.” Instead, find fun active social activities so you don’t get bored. Not sure where to start? Check out these 30 Tips from Today’s Hottest Workouts to learn more about trendy ways to break a sweat.
Hydration is Key
Making sure you chug H2O will go along away, according to Becic. He believes that hydration will help you be more productive during your workout, lower the risk of injuries, and make your body more flexible.
Slow and Steady
It may be tempting to go all out your first time back in the gym in an attempt to make up for lost time but this isn’t the best idea. Becic explains that the majority of people beginning a workout routine make this mistake and end up failing down the road due to injuries, exhaustion, and discouragement.
Latreal Mitchell, a Previnex Fitness Ambassador and Celebrity Fitness Trainer, recommends having a friend take your circumference measurements and weight so you can get an idea of where you’re starting. In four weeks you should reassess your measurements and check in on your success. “Write [your goals] down and make sure they are realistic,” she says. “Set yourself up for success.”
Planning is a Must
“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” Mitchell says. She recommends using an app in the gym to help guide you through your workouts and make sure your routines are well rounded and effective. Plan to workout at least 2-3 days a week and commit by marking the event in your calendar.
Find a Support System
Let family and friends know about your new fitness goals and see if any are interested in jumping on the workout bandwagon. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people will encourage you to keep going even on days you feel like throwing in the towel, says Mitchell.
Dress for Success
Mitchell is a strong believer that “when you look good, you feel good.” She recommends getting great workout clothes that fit, even if they are in a bigger size than you wish they were. “Love yourself and respect the fact that you are making positive changes so you can love yourself even more,” she advises.