Image source: Everyone Active
Have you decided to take the plunge finally and hit the gym to boost your overall health and get fit? If the answer is yes, then you’ve made a great decision!
But given all the workout types, plans, and machines, everything may seem so overwhelming that you could easily give up. That’s why we’ve created this complete beginner’s guide to working out.
This article will show you how to define your goals and develop the right mindset to power you through the whole workout process. You’ll also learn how to examine yourself to be sure you’re up to the challenge physically and mentally.
But that’s not all. Read on to learn about every little detail that you need to consider before starting your workout plan.
- 1 Getting Started
- 2 Make Sure You’re Healthy Enough to Workout
- 3 Where Is The Best Place To Workout?
- 4 Do You Need a Trainer?
- 5 Can You Exercise with YouTube Videos?
- 6 Are Workout Training Apps Effective?
- 7 Streaming Workout Online
- 8 Plan Your Work Out
- 9 Exercise Gear and Equipment
- 10 Phases of Exercises
- 11 Types of Exercise
- 12 Common Workout Moves
- 13 Common Forms of Exercise
- 14 Types of Machines
- 15 Results and Progress
- 16 Conclusion
Like any other activity, working out needs some planning in advance to help you get an idea of where to start, what to expect, and how to proceed.
Diving into the whole thing without knowing the nuts and bolts will likely throw you off the track much sooner than you think.
To avoid this from happening, here is what you can do:
Get the Right Mindset
Let’s face it, starting a workout routine isn’t easy. It takes a lot of dedication and mental strength to get off the couch, go to the gym, and get all sweaty and tired.
Plus, the modern culture of instant gratification makes it challenging to stick to a plan for a long time. Click here to know how delayed gratification will help you become healthy.
Having the right mindset matters – it’s the fuel you need to achieve your fitness goals. With your mind on track, you can conquer your fears, stay focused, and overcome challenges that may stand in the way of your workout progress.
Having a perfect summer body can be a great goal to push you through the gym classes, but is it achievable in two months? If you set goals that you can’t achieve in a reasonable time, you’ll lose motivation.
On the other hand, setting general long-term goals can make you fall off the wagon easier.
Experts recommend breaking your goals into smaller steps that you can achieve weekly or bi-weekly. This way, you’ll get a sense of achievement, getting more motivated. Plus, don’t try to get too much done too soon. Instead, you can start small and grow slowly.
For example, instead of signing up for one-hour daily gym sessions, try to take a 10-minute walk in the park. You don’t need to look like a professional from the beginning. Small wins and manageable goals build up over time and lead to a meaningful result. Read this outstanding testimony of workout success through gradual steps.
Set Your Goals
Setting fitness goals is the first step to making you mentally prepare for the workout. Plus, it gives your plans a structure and direction while determining the type and length of exercises, the type of diet and nutrition, and even the gear and equipment you’ll use.
For example, you may want to lose weight, shed off some belly fat, build muscles, or be healthy overall. In addition, some people try to fight depression by regularly working out (a study supports that working out helps fight depression).
The amazing thing about working out is that once you aim for one of these goals, you’ll automatically achieve others in the long run.
Whether you’re looking to shed weight or build muscle strength, your goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Let’s take a look at how to set SMART fitness goals
While setting your fitness goals, be clear on what you’re looking to achieve. Defining your fitness goals gives you a more precise direction on how to achieve them.
For instance, goals like “I want to improve fitness or lose weight” are vague. Instead, you should be specific about how you want to improve your fitness or how many pounds you want to lose.
An example of a specific goal could be: “I want to obtain a gym membership or hire a private gym instructor and work out three days a week to lose weight.”
Set Measurable Goals
Making your workout goals measurable will help you track progress. It will also motivate you to follow through the journey and reach the end goal.
Using our earlier example, a measurable goal could be “I want to lose 30lbs in six months.”Or I want to do 20 push-ups and pull-ups daily. You can set milestones (5lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs, and more) during your workout journey to measure how close you are to your overall weight loss goal.
Your Workout Goals Should be Attainable
It’s okay to get pumped up, dream big, and set challenging fitness goals. However, it’s also vital to ensure you can achieve those goals.
Do you have the capabilities and resources to attain those goals? Has anyone at your level achieved such a feat?
Let’s say your goal is to lose 70 pounds in six months. For someone who’s a fitness beginner, that goal may be over-ambitious and unattainable.
To achieve success, consider setting smaller and achievable short-term fitness goals. This will keep you motivated towards smashing your long-term goals. For example, you can start by targeting more achievable fitness goals like shedding 3lbs to 5lbs per month or doing 100 push-ups per day, etc.
Your Fitness Goals Should be Relevant
When setting fitness goals, make sure they matter to you. They should also be realistic goals you can achieve given your fitness level, lifestyle, resources, and available time.
Think about why you want to achieve your fitness goals. Is this the right time to work towards this goal? Is this goal relevant to your overall health and well-being? Does it align with other goals?
If the answer is yes, then your goal is relevant,
When your fitness goals are relevant, personal, and emotionally driven, you’ll most likely become motivated to achieve them.
Let’s say you’re exercising because you need to lose weight and stay healthy. You certainly want to stay alive, become more active, and live your best life. So the chances are that you’d be more committed because it’s critical to your overall health and well-being.
Other examples of relevant fitness goals include:
- “I want to lose 20 pounds before my wedding day so that I fit into my dress.”
- “I want to build my muscles so that I can feel confident about my body structure.”
It’s not enough to have relevant fitness goals. Make sure your goals are realistic and align with other relevant goals.
For instance, losing 20 pounds before your wedding may be important to you. But do you have the time and resources to commit to this goal?
Let’s say you have a tight job schedule or lots of social commitments. Daily workouts may not be realistic, meaning it will take a longer time to lose 20 pounds.
Set Goals That Are Time-Bound
Every workout goal should be time-bound – it should have a start and finish date. The start date should mark the beginning of your exercise. And the finish date or deadline is when you plan to achieve your goals.
While setting your goal, ask yourself:
- Does my goal have a deadline?
- What is the timeframe to achieve these goals?
- Is this time frame realistic enough to accomplish these goals?
Setting time-frames and deadlines milestones are essential. It creates a sense of urgency and motivates you to work towards your goals.
With a realistic timeframe, you can
- Break your goal into daily tasks and exercises
- Plan your schedule and allocate time to accomplish individual exercises
- Set milestones and work towards reaching them
For example, a time-bound goal will be “I want to do push-ups for 1 hour, three days in a week,” or lose 5 pounds per month for one year.
Visit this resource to read more about setting SMART fitness goals.
Check out this good read on the importance of setting smart fitness goals and learn some tips on how to set your personal goals.
Find the Motivation
If you’re afraid that you may fail to follow through with your plans, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, sticking to your workout plan is even more challenging than making the plan in the first place.
However, you need to find your motivation to workout. Generally speaking, motivation is important in our day-to-day living. Your motivation will drive you to the gym for your routines.
For example, most people are motivated by the need to stay fit and healthy. Others get inspired by the social connection with their workout squad or the quality of the fitness program. Whatever be the case, find a reason to keep pushing your fitness levels to the top.
Looking for ways to motivate yourself to workout? Here are some great tips to get you going.
Have the End in Mind
No matter what your goal is, picturing yourself when you’re there can help you stay motivated.
Imagine yourself overcoming your obstacles, doing the exercise, and being committed. This way, the mental commitment makes you follow through with it even when you don’t feel like it.
You can read this well-written article about how starting with the End in Mind helps you succeed with your fitness goals.
Have a Workout Buddy
Read on to discover how having a buddy can help make your workouts more effective.
It Helps You Stay Motivated
Having a workout buddy can motivate you to keep going, maintain consistency, increase your workout time and intensity. If your gym partner is fitter than you, they can become that body image you want to achieve, making you try harder and longer.
Gives You a Sense of Accountability
Having a gym buddy helps you be accountable. You can give each other positive reinforcement and push each other forward. When you have somebody to meet at the gym, you’re less likely to devise excuses to ditch the plan.
Makes You More Adventurous
Having a friend by your side makes you more adventurous and encourages you to try new things. This way, you’ll be more likely to find an activity you love and stick to it.
Workouts Will be Fun
Working out alone could get lonely and tiring. However, a little bit of banter and chats with your gym buddy between workouts can make your exercise fun and less boring.
Friendly competition and challenges during workouts can motivate you to attain and exceed your fitness goals.
For example, you can challenge your partner to do a certain number of push-ups or pull-ups per session. And the winner either goes home with a prize or bragging rights for the week.
That said, there are many different ways to find a workout buddy. For example, you can look for a workout partner among your existing network of friends or make new friends at the gym while taking a walk in the neighborhood or walking your dog.
You could also use social media pages or workout apps to connect to new people and even organize workout groups.
The options are countless for people who don’t want to work out solo. All you need to do is to widen your network and look for new opportunities.
Prepare for Potential Setbacks
The worst thing that can easily throw you off your game is to be idealistic. Things happen, and you may not be able to stick to your routine all the time.
Some of the potential setbacks you could experience includes
- Injuries or illness
- Loss of motivation
- Change in your workout schedule etc.
- Work schedule
- Holiday activities
For example, there will be times when you feel too tired to go to the gym or have an emergency that keeps you from working out for a few days.
If you skipped one day, you could replace it with a short walk or light workout later that day. Or watch what you eat to make up for it and feel committed to your plan.
Remember: It is easy to plan to work out, but in reality, it is difficult to stick to the plan.
You’ll most likely find a sea of valid and invalid excuses to skip workouts.
When you’re faced with these setbacks, don’t panic. Whether you’re a beginner or veteran, you can gradually make a comeback by following these steps.
- Identify the setbacks and find out why you experienced them
- Make plans to restart your workouts
- Set new and SMART fitness goals
- Focus on what you can achieve and build on it
- Find a support group
- Speak to experts about your situation and get help
Click here to learn more about overcoming fitness setback
Make Sure You’re Healthy Enough to Workout
There’s no doubt that workouts improve your health, well-being, and overall quality of life. However, it’s also important to know when to slow down and give your body the rest it deserves.
We get it. You must have heard the popular maxim “No pain, No Gain” over and over again. Well, exercising while you’re feeling unwell may cause more harm than good.
Workouts are physical activities that require energy and exertion at different levels. So, you need to make sure your body is ready to take on that challenge. For example, if a person has an underlying heart condition that they don’t know of, a heavy workout may increase the chances of a heart attack.
You can check out this helpful question and answer about getting checked before starting a workout routine.
While making any plans about your exercise routine, you may need to consult a qualified healthcare professional and get a physical examination. This is particularly important if you have a pre-existing health condition or are over 40 years of age.
This way, the doctor can tell you which type of exercise you can or can’t do, where to start, and how to integrate the fitness program into your lifestyle.
Although everyone should get a routine physical, it’s even more vital for people who haven’t worked out before, aren’t used to strenuous exercise, or are over 40—both men and women. This guide on health screenings for men and women might help you.
The doctor should check if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance, or a history of heart or kidney disease in your family. In addition, you must get a physical test if you’re overweight, smoke, or haven’t exercised in a long time.
In addition to the pre-workout tests, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends taking these signs seriously if you experience them during exercise:
- Feeling pressure or pain in the chest, jaw, arm, or neck
- Shortness of breath or unusual fatigue
- Dizziness or unusual heartbeats
- Ankle swelling
Where Is The Best Place To Workout?
Working out doesn’t have to be limited to one specific place. Although exercising in one place provides a sense of commitment, you create variety and excitement by working out in different places.
You may be wondering if it’s possible to achieve your fitness goals by working out at home. Or if working at home produces similar results as sweating it out at the gym?
The answer is Yes! There’s nothing you cannot achieve if you set your mind to it.
- Working at home is less expensive and saves time
- You’ll enjoy privacy and less exposure to unhealthy competition
- Working out at home is flexible as it allows you to plan and squeeze workouts into your schedule
- Working at home comes with lots of distractions that may prevent you from getting into the fitness zone.
- You’d have to deal with the lack of quality equipment.
- Limited space to set up your equipment
All in all, if exercise at home sounds great to you, here are a wide range of workout moves to help you get started.
Despite all the flexibility you have by working out at home, you need to be more organized and disciplined. It’s easy to give in to the temptation of hitting the couch instead of sweating. Hence the need to have a strict routine and take it upon yourself to stick to it.
An excellent place to start is by setting reminders. Even more, you can ask your distant workout partner to be your accountability partner, exercise with you, or even set rewards and punishments.
You should also consider the added expense of buying machines and equipment and dedicating a space to your home gym. In cases where you have to buy equipment, go for compact machines that wouldn’t take so much space.
But if you don’t need machines, you can work out in any part of your home, be it the living room, bedroom, or yard.
Gym workouts are often the go-to option for many people. The beautiful thing about visiting the gym is there are lots of workout equipment to choose from. This means you can increase the variety of your exercise and achieve your fitness goals faster.
There are other benefits of getting a gym membership. Also, there are downsides to choosing this option. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of getting a gym membership.
- Going to the gym helps you be more organized and committed.
- You’ll get the chance to workout with fitness-minded people who can push you to try harder.
- Visit the gym gives you access to more equipment and workout options
- Exercising under the supervision of fitness trainers at the gym will lower the risk of injuries (here is a good article about avoiding injuries when exercising).
- You can effectively track your progress and pivot if you don’t get your desired results.
- High-end gyms may be expensive
- If you have a busy itinerary, fitting gym visits into your schedule can be very challenging.
- You’ll face the hassles of long travel time, which may affect your consistency.
If you choose to join a gym, consider these tips:
When looking for a gym, ask about the opening and closing hours, when the trainers are available, and what you can do during these hours. If you have a tight schedule, a gym that’s closed for certain hours isn’t the right choice.
The best option for a gym is proximity to work or home. However, long journeys to and from the gym can be a major turn-off for your initial enthusiasm.
There are national franchising clubs with different locations in the same city and across the country. They help you stick to your workout routine if you travel to other cities.
When you begin a gym membership, it’s better to have the guidance of a professional trainer. You may prefer to be in group training sessions and feed off your peers’ energy. Or, you may want to benefit from a one-on-one session. Whatever your choice, the gym should be able to offer what you need.
The Overall Atmosphere of the Gym
You may think how a gym building looks can’t affect the quality of your workout. But you don’t want to have a sweat session in a dingy and moldy place. A clean, light, and spacious place can significantly improve the quality of your workout.
So, before joining the gym, ask for a tour to see what the place looks like. How advanced is the equipment? Will you have to wait for a long time to get a chance to use the machines? Is there enough parking space? Would you feel at home while exercising?
Costs and Fees
Think about the gym fees and other additional costs and if they’re worth the services the gym offers.
Do you get enough value with clean and safe workout space and enough facilities? And remember, you don’t have to pay a fortune to get a decent service with high-quality equipment and a clean and spacious environment.
Most gyms charge the following fees:
- Initiation fee – joining fee
- Contracts – some gyms have membership contracts and charge a fee if you cancel your membership early
- Surplus Charges – fees for a personal trainer, locker, etc.
- Freeze and Suspension Fees – penalties when you don’t go to the gym
Typical gym fees charged by national gyms as collated by “The Hustle.”
Working out doesn’t mean you have to visit a posh gym with high-end equipment and machines. It can be any form of movement that keeps you active and healthy, whether at the park or some open space.
Depending on the goals you define for your workout plans, you can take a walk or run in the neighborhood’s park.
It can be a satisfying experience of feeling healthy, being in nature, and meeting new people. In this case, the whole city can be your gym, and you don’t need to pay anything for the machines. You can use the benches and other things to plan your routine.
You can read this article on how to perform a winning workout at the park.
Do You Need a Trainer?
Deciding on whether you need a trainer or not is up to you. However, it depends on your goals and conditions. Having a trainer can help you, especially if you’re brand new to working out.
Whether you go to the gym or start a home gym, it can feel overwhelming with all the types of exercises, machines, and programs. But hiring personal trainers can make the process much easier for you. They’ll adjust the program to your current fitness level, health conditions, and goals.
If you are not disciplined, have a hard time staying motivated, and want to avoid injuries, a personal trainer is the best option for you.
You can watch the video below on why you should hire a personal trainer.
How to Find the Right Trainer
The first place to look for a personal trainer is your local gym. Look through their website and the list of trainers, check out their training background and experience, education, areas of interest, and expertise.
Then decide which ones match your goals. Next, ask around the gym and see if anyone has achieved the same goals as you. Some websites, such as Trainerize (work like Tinder), can help you find a trainer that matches your goals.
Through its algorithm, it helps you narrow down your options from thousands of personal trainers. You can find your ideal trainer based on location, cost, specialty, and your desired service.
Go ahead and schedule an interview with your selected trainer to ask them questions about their coaching styles and how they will help you in your program.
Then, work together to set goals and specify how you’ll achieve them. Along the way, don’t hesitate to talk about your concerns if you feel you’re not getting the right results.
How Much Does a Trainer Cost?
A trainer’s fee usually depends on the following:
Location: The training fees will vary depending on whether you hold the session at the gym, home, or outside. Some gyms give extra benefits to their members. So, if you have a gym membership, the costs will likely be lower.
Length and time: Training sessions are usually offered in 30, 60, or 90-minute timeframes. You could have your sessions every day, several times a week, or once a week. Longer sessions usually cost more.
Group or personal: One-on-one training sessions cost more than group sessions. Understand the differences between group and personal training here.
Trainer: If you train with an expert trainer, you’ll have to pay more because of the higher quality services you receive. Plus, if they’re certified, you pay extra costs.
Based on the above factors, a typical one-on-one session can cost between $25 and $120. You could get discounts by getting packages or other options offered by the gym. Here are some additional tips to consider.
Can You Exercise with YouTube Videos?
If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, why not train with one of those YouTube expert trainers?
They allow you to work out from the comfort of your home, any time you want, without paying any fees. All you need to get is some affordable gear and equipment.
However, a big minus of working out with YouTube videos is that the trainer can’t see you. As such, they can’t make sure you’re on the right track with the moves, the equipment, and the program as a whole.
(Remember, if you don’t perform the moves correctly, you might injure yourself)
Also, they are unable to give you the advice to help you improve.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get fit via YouTube.
You could talk to a personal trainer and ask them for advice on taking full advantage of these videos. For example, do you need full-body fitness exercises, or do you need to work on specific areas?
There are so many useful YouTube channels that help you keep fit. For example, I’ve been watching HasFit videos covering a wide range of exercises aimed at different fitness levels. You can start training with their videos and gradually level up.
Are Workout Training Apps Effective?
Fitness apps are everywhere these days. Many people swear by them while others think they can’t replace the good old-fashioned gym classes or personal trainers.
While there’s research supporting both views, deciding whether to use these apps is up to you. They can be beneficial if you can hold yourself accountable and have enough discipline to stick to the app’s recommendations.
They can help you remain active, follow a healthy diet, and give you exercise plans and lots of different moves. One of the best fitness apps with high user ratings is Fitness Buddy, with Android and iPhone versions.
It has hundreds of personalized meal plans and workouts that you can perform at home or the gym. You can learn the moves through clear instructions and videos, taking you from beginner to advanced levels.
Another helpful app is MyFitnessPal, which combines nutrition and workout to help you achieve your fitness goals. It helps you keep a food diary, scan barcodes, save recipes and meals, and track your eating habits.
It allows you to choose your goal, whether to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain weight. Plus, you’ll get expert and practical advice on how to go about it.
Here are some of the best fitness apps that can power your workout routines as you look to smash your fitness goals.
Streaming Workout Online
When you can’t visit the gym, you can turn to online workouts programs to keep your mind and body in shape.
The beautiful thing about streaming online exercises is that you don’t need to download an app to your device. With a solid internet connection, you can access fitness programs anytime and anywhere.
There are tons of sites to stream fitness routines on a daily basis. However, the key is finding a platform with workout programs that align with your needs and bring joy into your day.
Here are some of the best free and paid sites for streaming different types of exercises
Dance cardio workouts
- Perfect for people who prefer dance-based workouts and a strong physique
- Price: starts at $14.99 per month (after a 14-day trial)
- Available on Amazon and Apple
- Pricing: Starts at $34.99
- Suitable for beginning and intermediates
- Cover a wide range of dance-focused workouts and routines
- Great for all ages and fitness levels
- Variety of workout routines that fit your lifestyle and align with your fitness goals.
- Start with slight routines and become motivated to increase workout intensity.
- Pricing: Starts at $24.99 per month (with a 14-day free trial)
1. Alo Moves
- Variety of Yoga classes to help you improve your balance, strength, and flexibility
- Develop your body, mind, and spirit with classes for all levels, from beginner to advanced.
- It starts at $20 per month.
- Hundreds of yoga and meditation classes to increase flexibility, gain energy, and better sleep.
- Taught by expert teachers and suitable for people at every level, beginner to advanced
- It starts at $11.99 per month
- Learn tons of poses to gain flexibility and develop mind and body strength.
- Access to over 300 classes and 15 programs
- It starts at $18 per month (plus a 7-day free trial)
- Stream over 350 live and on-demand workouts on your devices to increase strength, lose weight and get in shape
- The classes are taught by top fitness trainers
- The program starts at $8 per month
2. Neou Fitness
- You’ll get unlimited access to fitness programs dedicated to helping you increase strength and core.
- Set weekly and monthly goals and track your progress as you smash your fitness goals.
- It starts at $4.99 per month
- Build strength and develop muscle tone with thousands of workout classes designed to help you track progress and achieve your fitness goals.
- Buying the Peloton Bike or Tread gives you all-access membership to a rich library of online workout classes.
- It Starts at $12.99 per month (30-day trial)
- Access over 1,600 pilate workouts on demand and practice at home or the go on any device.
- Whether you’re just starting out or an expert, you’ll get tons of pilates exercises taught by world-class instructors to build your core and strengthen your powerhouse.
- It starts at $20 per month.
- They offer over 3400 Pilates classes and programs that will help you relieve tension, stress and achieve the right balance.
- Workouts videos are updated weekly, and classes are taught by over 195 experienced instructors.
- Start at $18 every month.
- Enjoy free pilates classes led by Vicky, an experienced Physiotherapist, and qualified Pilates Instructor.
- Classes range from easier to moderate to tougher pilates routines to develop your overall health and well-being.
1. Daily Burn
- Access over 2000 Online HIIT workout programs designed for people at all fitness levels.
- Simply provide some quick details about yourself, and your programs will be tailored for your level and goals—including a schedule of workout routines, rest days, nutrition plans, and more.
- It starts at $14.95 per month (30-day trial)
- Perfect for people who want to keep fit and enjoy total well-being wherever they are.
- Access tons of workout videos and classes taught by professional instructors
- It starts at $19.99 per month (free for 14 days)
- Enjoy a virtual total body workout that will strengthen your muscles, increase flexibility, and revitalize your mind.
- You don’t need prior experience to get started. The program is suitable for people from all fitness levels, backgrounds, and body types.
- Members get unlimited access to a library of bar workout classes taught by engaging and inspiring fitness instructors that help you achieve your fitness goals.
- It starts at $19 per month
- Get unlimited access to hundreds of workouts designed to transform your physique, improve body balance and increase strength.
- Members are exposed to workout challenges, plans, bonus workshops, and community support to help them stay on track.
- It starts at $15 per month. (15-day trial inclusive)
Plan Your Work Out
Now that you know where to workout, you should plan your sessions and consider everything necessary.
What Time Should You Work Out?
Image Credit: Dancudes
One of the most important parts of planning your workout routine is coming up with the best time, especially if you have a tight schedule.
Are you struggling to choose between morning, afternoon, or evening workouts? Here’s what you should know about different workout schedules.
It also gives you a sense of achievement because you’re active when most people are sleeping. Plus, you’ll have the rest of your day to yourself and free to plan whatever you want to do.
On the other hand, a sweat session in the afternoon means you can exercise harder and still enjoy your sweet sleep at night.
Here’s what you need to know.
Intense exercise increases body temperature, lung function and tends to disrupt your sleep at night. So afternoon workout, which is several hours before sleep time, minimizes the risk of difficult sleep.
Evening workouts are often a great way to relieve the stress accumulated during the day.
If your schedule can’t accommodate morning and afternoon sessions, evening workouts may be your best bet. The beauty of this option is that there are no time constraints.
During evening workouts, you’ll also have optimal strength, energy, and flexibility to do high-intensity training. Not only that, it promotes higher testosterone levels induced by exercise. You’ll also have more time to sleep, especially if you don’t need to get up early.
So what’s the best time to exercise?
If you want to know which time of the day is best for your body, there’s no definite answer.
Another study suggested that you may burn more fat by working out in the morning. On the other hand, several studies have shown that your body is at its peak in temperature, muscle strength, and stamina in the afternoon.
So, you’ll have fewer chances of getting injured and more chances of building muscles.
Whether you hit the weight room in the morning or afternoon, it’s best to have it at a fixed time of day. Research suggests exercising at a specified time of day will improve your performance in the long run.
It all boils down to your preferences and schedule. Since there’s no preferred time of day to hit the gym, feel free to do whatever you’re comfortable with. This way, you won’t feel under pressure to exercise when it’s not ideal for you.
Image Credit: Treadmill Reviews
The image above is a statistic from a survey showing the percentages of when men and women exercise. The study also indicates that a greater share of baby boomers, generation X, and millennials prefer morning workouts to evenings.
How Long Should Each Workout Session Be?
The length of a training session is one of the most important considerations that depend on many factors. When you start working out, it’s vital not to place your body under a lot of stress.
If you’re new to working out, high-intensity workouts will put you at significant risks of injury or burnout. So, it’s essential to start small and ease your body into the process.
For beginners, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends taking everything slowly until your body gets used to regular activity.
Forget about the all-or-nothing mindset because any activity is better than being sedentary.
The duration of your workout also depends on
- What your workout goals are
- The type of workouts you’re doing
- How often you’re exercising
- The intensity of each workout session, and much more.
For effective workout sessions, start with 30-minute sessions or even shorter if your body can’t handle it. Then, try to increase it to 45 minutes and 90 minutes. Go ahead and add to each session as your body builds strength gradually.
If you’re looking to burn calories or lose weight, the 30 minutes mark is a great place to start. You can increase your gym time to around 45 to 90 minutes when you attain certain fitness levels.
When it comes to building muscles, weight workout sessions lasting between 30 to 45 minutes are ideal. Beyond this duration, your workout sessions may be counterproductive or regarded as overtraining.
Click here to read some of the side effects of overexercising.
How Much Rest Time Do You Need?
Rest is an important element to consider while planning your fitness routine. Not only is it recommended by health and fitness experts, but it helps you make the most of your fitness programs.
However, taking intermittent water breaks during workouts isn’t enough. You need to maximize your rest days whether you’re just starting your fitness journey, a veteran, or a professional athlete.
Let’s look at how rest days and rest periods during workouts help you improve your exercise routine.
Studies have shown that rest days are important during workouts. They give your body ample time to recover and replenish energy lost during the last workout. It also helps to prevent fatigue and muscle damage.
If you want to get the most out of your workout, you should spread sweat sessions with different duration across the week and have some rest days between them.
When you engage in consistent workouts without rest days, it’s regarded as overtraining. Overtraining exerts repetitive pressure on your muscles and exposes them to stress and strain. This leads to burnout, injuries, and poor performance,
Rest days reduces the risk of getting injured during training and helps you recuperate after workout sessions. The ideal number of rest days depends on several factors, including:
- The intensity of your exercise
- Frequency of your exercise routine and
- Your overall lifestyle
Generally, beginners should take one or two days to rest after intense workouts like running, bodybuilding, and other weight loss exercises.
This study supports the idea that one to two days of rest is ideal for beginners for optimal workout results.
Fitness experts can also take about one or two rest days after five to seven days of intense fitness routines. All in all, your rest days should help you stay injury-free and maintain high-performance levels during subsequent workout sessions.
Rest periods refer to the number of breaks between sets of routines.
Depending on the intensity of the exercise, you need to add periods of rest and recovery to avoid straining your body.
For example, you can alternate between 20-minute and 40-minute sessions and have a few minutes’ rests in between.
So if you’re looking to build muscle size, studies have shown that rest periods between 30 to 90 seconds are optimal.
And if your workout goal is to build strength and power, you should rest about 2 to 5 minutes between sets of exercises like bench press, squats, and deadlifts. Here’s a study to support this recommendation
For workouts like High-Intensity interval training (HIIT) designed to build endurance and shed weight, shorter rest periods between 20 to 60 seconds is excellent.
Bottom line: When starting out, these rest periods may seem too short, and workouts may be daunting. However, as you make progress, you can gradually adjust your reset periods to perfect your form.
For more information on why you should add rest to your workout plan, click here.
According to the AHA, adults should get at least 150 minutes of weekly moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous weekly activity. In addition, they recommend two weekly strength training sessions, each at least 20 minutes.
You need to spread this amount over the sessions in the week. You can have five days of 30-minute sessions or anything that feels comfortable and matches your schedule.
But how do you create a workout schedule that works for you?
If you’re new to workouts or trying to get back to form, knowing where to start can pose a challenge. The right workout schedule will depend on several factors like your age, goals, fitness level, and other limitations (health condition, injuries, etc.)
For example, if you’re just starting out, here’s what your sample workout plan may look like
- Monday: 10 to 30 minutes of light and intense cardio exercises
- Tuesday: Total body strength and core training (30 minutes to 1 hour)
- Wednesday: Stretching, Yoga, and Rest
- Thursday: Cardio (10 to 30 minutes)
- Friday: Core training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Saturday: Light cardio plus rest
- Sunday: Rest
Remember to begin your workout sessions with about 5 to 20 minutes of stretching and light cardio exercises. Not only that, but you should also cool down with flexibility exercises.
Exercise Gear and Equipment
Like any other activity, sweat sessions also need their specific gear and equipment. While you don’t need to hit the bank to get high-end equipment, it’s possible to get some decent things that feel comfortable and work for you.
After a workout, you’ll be all covered in sweat and feeling tired and sore. Wearing the wrong outfit can make things even worse. You don’t need to go for fancy brands or the latest fashions. All you need is a set of comfortable clothes that have the following features:
Breathability: Nothing is more frustrating than heavy clothes that feel thick and soaking after the workout. Pick clothes made of breathable fabric that allow the sweat to evaporate off the skin. Polypropylene, COOLMAX, and SUPPLEX are some of the best wicky fabrics.
Plastic-based or rubber-based materials are the worst choice since they don’t let the sweat evaporate and raise your body temperature. Cotton isn’t a good choice either because it absorbs the sweat but doesn’t pull it away from the skin.
The right fit: Your workout clothes shouldn’t be too loose to get in the way of activities and too tight to make you sweat. For aerobics, weightlifting, and yoga, you can wear breathable and stretchy outfits that evaporate sweat.
In addition to being comfortable and allowing for your desired motions, you don’t want a wardrobe malfunction in the middle of a sweat session.
So, if you’re going to wear something loose, go for stretchy, moisture-wicking options under your clothes to feel comfortable.
Color: Apart from fashion and tastes, colors can be functional too. They can affect you psychologically.
For example, red can be a better choice for high-intensity workouts as it raises your heart rate, while blue and green are better for yoga as they give a feeling of calmness. Or, when you go running on a warm day, it’s better to wear light colors that don’t absorb light and heat.
Check out some best-selling workout clothes for men and women below. Note that this section updates every now and then.
Weights are essential for strength training to avoid muscle loss, develop resistance, and increase mobility. If you’re working with a trainer, they can tell you which weights are better for you.
But if you’re working out solo, you should start with the weights you feel comfortable with. Plus, you may not be able to use weights from the beginning.
First, you need to do the movements using bodyweight and gradually add them to your squats and lunges. Then, whenever you feel ready, you can add weights and make them heavier.
However, things shouldn’t be too comfortable. If you see that you can easily do all the movements with one weight, the weight is probably too light for you.
You want to add a bit of a challenge to each session to increase your body’s strength and resistance. As a rule of thumb, the weight should be easy to carry the first reps and get difficult the last few reps.
There are different types of weights that you can choose from depending on your goal.
Check out some items on the table below.
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Dumbbells are an integral part of any strength training routine. If you can afford to get one piece of workout equipment, it should be dumbbells.
You can use them for various purposes, including joint-isolation (chest flyers, shoulder raises, or bicep curls) and compound movements (squats, lunges, and shoulder press), and much more.
Find out how to use dumbbells properly in the video below.
If you are interested in purchasing dumbbells, check out the best-selling dumbbells below. The items update every now and then, depending on the ranking.
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Barbells are used for powerlifting, bodybuilding, and weightlifting movements. They provide loads of benefits when used as workout equipment. You can also use them to isolate muscles and build stability. Deadlifts, squats, bench presses, and lunges are the most common types of exercises to go with barbells.
Check out this beginner’s guide on how to use a barbell.
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Kettlebells are like weighted balls with a handle on top of them weighing 5-100 lbs. The easy grip on the handles makes them perfect for many movements to work out the lower backs, shoulders, and legs. There are kettlebell routines that will surely help you improve your body shape.
There are incredible benefits that you will get from using kettlebells for your exercises.
You can check out the video below for kettlebell basics.
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An exercise mat is another essential thing you should have at the gym. So why do you need a mat?
First, you’ll need it for the comfort and benefits it provides. Also, you’ll need it for different stretching exercises and crunches.
It comes in different sizes made of synthetic or natural materials, which are more expensive and environmentally friendly.
The most important feature to look for in a mat is the ability to wick moisture. Otherwise, they collect mildew because they’re hard to clean.
The current best-selling mat below could be what you need.
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It’s better to get a pack of bands with a wide range of resistance levels because you should gradually add to resistance as you get stronger.
Watch the video below to learn more about how to use resistance bands for your workouts.
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Exercise balls are great for full-body workouts, core stability, muscle balance, and posture. They’re also perfect for recovering from back and knee injuries. Since they come in various sizes, you should choose the one that fits you the best.
When you sit on the fitness ball, you should be able to put both feet flat on the floor with knees at 90-degree angles. Wonder how to exercise with workout balls? See these fun moves.
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Last but not least, a water bottle is an indispensable part of any sweat session. You need to stay hydrated during workouts. So, make sure to bring a reusable water bottle with you to the gym.
If you workout at home, it’s still ideal to have a water bottle that you can conveniently drink from to rehydrate. Some gyms provide service water, but in most cases, you would need to source your own water container.
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Phases of Exercises
Any sweat session consists of different phases that help you get the most out of your workout sessions. Each phase plays a vital role in helping you achieve your fitness goals while improving your overall health and safety.
If you follow through these phases regularly, you can help support your cardiovascular system and minimize the risk of injuries such as muscle stiffness and fatigue.
Let’s take a look at the different exercise phases.
Warmup exercises prepare your body for more vigorous activities by increasing flexibility, blood flow and oxygen, and range of motion.
It brings up your body temperature and heart rate slowly to ease your body into more strenuous activities. This way, you can reduce the risk of injury and improve your performance.
You could do sport-specific warmup exercises or go for general movements. For example, a light jog is suitable for running, and weightlifting requires lifting light weights.
Whatever you do, it should be a form of dynamic movement for 5-10 minutes. Common warmup exercises include squats, planks, lunges, pushups, and leg lifts.
Here are other warmup moves that can get you into the mood for intense workouts.
You may refer to this classic warmup guide as you prepare for the real work.
The conditioning phase is where you perform the intense workouts to achieve your fitness goals, such as
- Burning calories and weight loss
- Building and strengthening muscles
- Increasing stamina and building resistance
Let’s dig deep into the different types of movements that happen during conditioning exercises.
Sets and Reps
When doing workout movements, sets and reps are usually used to organize each session and measure progress.
Your trainer will design the number of sets and reps before each session based on your goals to make sure you hit every target. Short for repetitions, reps are the number of times you perform each action.
For example, when you do pushups, you perform one rep every time you go up and down. Sets are the number of reps you complete in a row.
For example, if you do ten pushups in a row, you’ll do one set. Then you take a rest and do another set of 10 pushups.
How many Sets and Reps?
If you’re a beginner, it’s better to ask a trainer to determine the number of sets and reps. But if you don’t have access to one, there’s a general rule of thumb to follow.
The number of sets and reps depends on your strength and the intensity of exercise. The higher the intensity, the smaller the numbers.
However, you should work out your muscles until you get tired. So, continue doing the same movement as long as you can.
When you seem to lose your form, it’s when you should stop. Then, rest between 20 seconds to one minute, and then do the next set. Here’s a detailed guide on how to organize your sets and reps.
Workout splits divide your body into different parts to focus on each session. Depending on your goal, schedule, and fitness level, these body splits can differ. Here are some of the most common training splits:
Whole-body splits are perfect for beginners because they target all major muscle groups in each session. You perform one movement for each body part and a few sets.
This way, you teach your body to activate more muscles. Whole-body part splits are better to have one rest day between each session to recover fully.
Body part splits are popular among bodybuilders because they allow for a symmetrical physique and full muscle development. In this split, the body is divided into three parts, and each day, you focus on each part.
For example, chest and triceps, back and biceps, and legs and shoulders are paired together. You work on them every day, have one day’s rest, and then repeat for the next three days.
In this split, you divide your body into upper and lower parts and focus on a single part every session. This split is also perfect for beginners and to transition from a full-body workout.
You can dedicate one day to the upper body, another day to the lower body, and the next day for rest. Then repeat for the rest of the week.
The PPL split is also a popular one that includes pushing muscles on one day, pulling them on another day, and working out the lower body on the next day.
For pushing muscles, you focus on the chest, shoulders, and triceps; for pull, you focus on the back, abs, biceps, and forearms; and for the lower body, you focus on hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
Cooldowns are also essential parts of workouts to gradually take the body to a normal state by reducing heartbeat and body temperature. Yoga, meditation, a walk, and stretching movements can be great cooldown exercises.
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These movements can create a feeling of relaxation while preparing you to go back to your daily activities. While some experts say it’s not absolutely essential, it’s recommended to spend 5-10 minutes to cool your body down.
Click this link to find a quick cooldown guide for your workout routine.
Types of Exercise
Exercises are different in terms of their goals, the body parts they engage in, and their influence on your body. Here are the most common types:
|Type||Why do it?||Common Mistakes|
|Cardio||Helps in weight loss and blood sugar||Overdoing|
|Flexibility||Reduces muscle and joint tightness||Over-stretching|
|Strength||Helps build muscle and burns fat||Not warming up|
|High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)||Improves blood sugar levels and heart health||Losing the proper form|
|Functional Patterns||Engages multiple joints and muscles at the same time||Not warming up|
Cardio is any type of exercise that increases your heart rate and blood flow, making you breathe quickly and sweat like crazy. While many people think cardio is only restricted to aerobics, any movement that can raise your heartbeat can qualify as cardio.
Benefits of Cardio Exercises
Cardio exercises offer immense benefits, including weight loss, blood sugar an,d pressure control, overall health, and even cognitive ability. Other benefits include strengthening heart muscles, controlling appetite, reducing pain, boosting mood, and improving your sleep quality.
Who Shouldn’t Do them?
Before starting your workout regimen, your doctor will tell you if cardio can be dangerous for you. But doing too much cardio may lead you to harm your body instead of reaping the benefits.
If you feel too tired even after a good night’s sleep, it shows you’ve done too much and increased your cortisol levels. Plus, if your heart rate doesn’t lower even after 4-5 days, it can be a dangerous sign that cardio isn’t the right exercise for you.
The most common mistake regarding cardio exercises is overdoing them. You may think the more you strain your heart, the better the results, but you could seriously hurt your body.
Doing too much cardio leads to excess fatigue, slowed-down weight loss, and sore muscles. So, try to follow the guidelines provided by CDC to make sure your efforts don’t backfire.
Flexibility exercises are stretching movements designed to prevent injury. These routines improve your overall range of motion. And having a full range of motion during workouts reduces the probability of injury and spasms in the muscles.
Flexibility exercises should be an essential part of your routine because only focusing on cardio will put your body at risk of injury.
Some of the most common types of flexibility exercises include different types of squats, lunges, and straddles.
Benefits of Flexibility Exercises
The most significant benefit of flexibility exercises is reducing muscle and joint tightness. That’s why you should incorporate them into your cooldown routine to make it safer and more efficient.
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These movements leave your muscles stretchy and loose, widening the range of motion. They increase your mobility while doing exercises and during your everyday actions.
Who Shouldn’t Do them?
There’s no harm in doing these movements. However, if you have a knee problem, you may want to steer clear of those movements that involve bending the knee.
If you don’t do flexibility exercises correctly, you’ll injure your muscles. Common mistakes include:
Overstretching: Flexibility exercises shouldn’t be painful. However, if you go too deep or exert too much energy, you may end up with torn muscles.
Bouncing into the movement: You should do flexibility exercises slowly and smoothly. Never perform ballistic motions because it can cause a pulled muscle.
Holding your breath: If you hold your breath during flexibility movements, your muscles will be tense and resistant.
Here are excellent examples of flexibility workouts that can help relieve your muscles and boost core mobility
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- Breathing techniques
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Strength training (also called weight training or resistance training) should be an essential part of your fitness routine. As the name suggests, they make your body stronger and improve muscle resistance.
You use different types of free weights, stretch bands, and machines in doing these movements.
Benefits of Strength Movements
Strength training has a plethora of benefits, including:
- Burning calories.
- Reducing body fat.
- Building muscles.
- Aiding weight loss.
- Raising energy levels.
- Boosting the mood.
Who Shouldn’t Do them?
If you’re a beginner, a smoker, middle-aged or older, you should talk to your doctor before doing strength training. Likewise, if you experience pain while lifting weights, you should stop them and talk to your trainer or doctor.
Not breathing: While doing strength exercises, you may be inclined to hold your breath. However, you should breathe out when you lift the weights and breathe in when you lower them. This way, you’ll improve your performance and minimize the risk of injuries.
Not warming up: That’s the worst mistake you can make before strength training. Without warmup, your range of motion will be limited, and you’ll be more likely to injure your muscles.
High-Intensity Interval Training
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can mean a wide range of activities. However, its essence is hard work with equal or longer rests. So you should do a short period of high-intensity cardio followed by a longer rest.
For example, you can run fast for 30 seconds and walk for one minute. The point is to make your heart rate reach 80% of its maximum capacity.
Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training
According to Time, many studies have found that HIIT can be more effective than regular cardio exercises. It can improve blood sugar levels, build strength, improve heart health, and burn fat much more effectively than other types of exercise.
Who Shouldn’t Do them?
If you’re obese, you should take care not to push yourself too hard. You can always do modified HIIT exercises to reap the benefits. It never hurts to talk to your doctor before doing these exercises.
Since the exercise is high-intensity, you need to be super careful to avoid injury. If you’re a beginner, don’t perform the movements with weight because you can easily lose form.
Another mistake is having a long HIIT session because of its high intensity. The best option is to hold a 10-minute session.
Functional exercises focus on the practical, everyday benefits of the workout. They train and strengthen your muscles to efficiently and safely perform daily activities, such as cleaning the house or carrying groceries.
The exercises simulate daily activities by focusing on core stability.
For example, a movement that resembles the daily activity of sitting down and standing up is a squat. You can incorporate weight training and even high-intensity functional training both at home and gym.
Benefits of Functional Patterns
Functional training engages multiple joints and muscles at the same time. This way, you can make your daily activities easier and improve the quality of your life. It’s perfect for older people who simply want to reduce the risk of falls and improve their balance.
Who Shouldn’t Do them?
These exercises are so safe and effective that anybody can do them and benefit from the whole range of functional advantages. However, if you’re obese or haven’t exercised for a long time, it’s better to consult your physician.
The functional training movements aren’t much different from other exercises. So, it’s better to start with bodyweight and then move to free weights as you build strength. Make sure to warm up your body to avoid injuries.
Common Workout Moves
Here are the most common moves performed at typical workout sessions.
|Workout Move||Highlighted Benefits|
|Sit-ups||Targets multiple muscles and is great for working out your core|
|Push-ups||Helps build upper body strength and engages triceps, shoulders, and abdominal muscles|
|Planks||Excellent for core strengthening and targets all body muscles|
|Pull-ups||Best for arm, shoulder, and back muscles|
|Squats||Full body workout that activates your core muscles|
|Lunges||Targets lower body muscles including hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes|
Image Credit: Jonathan Borba from Pexels
Sit-ups are one of the best moves to work out your core. They target multiple muscles, including the chest, neck, hip flexors, and lower back. However, you may strain your muscles if you don’t do them properly. To perform sit-ups:
- Lie down on your back and bend your knees.
- Stabilize your body by putting your legs firmly on the ground.
- Place your hand behind your shoulders or cross them to opposite shoulders.
- Move your upper body toward your knees, exhaling as you curl.
- Lower your body down slowly to the starting point while inhaling.
You can do them anywhere because they don’t need any equipment, but if you don’t do them correctly, you’ll experience lower back pain. To perform a pushup:
- Kneel on the floor or your exercise mat, with your feet placed together.
- Put the palm of your hands shoulder-width apart, on the ground, with fingers slightly turned in. The hands should be below the shoulders with your back flat and your abs pulled in.
- Lower your torso by bending your elbows until your chest touches the ground, flaring the elbows as your chest goes down.
- Make sure to keep your torso rigid and your back flat. In addition, your head and spine should be aligned, and the hips shouldn’t be upward.
- Try to move back up by pressing your arms and extending them until you’re in the plank position again.
Continue for ten sets or until you can do it in proper form.
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Plank is another basic core-strengthening exercise that resembles pushups and can target all body muscles, including abs, quads, glutes, back, pecs, and even feet and ankles.
Although plank is a simple exercise, not many beginners can perform it correctly. To activate all muscle groups, you need to keep your body aligned correctly.
- Lie down on all fours and move your knees above the ground.
- Extend your body fully by straightening your legs.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and place your palms below your shoulders and press them against the ground.
- Straighten your spine, engaging your abs, arms, and legs.
- Elongate your neck and look down.
- Stay in this position for 10-30 seconds or as long as it feels comfortable.
- Go back to the relaxed position.
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Pullups are an advanced strength training workout that is also possible for beginners in the modified form. They’re the best workout for the arm, shoulder, and back muscles and boost grip strength and overall fitness.
It can be a great functional training exercise because you can perform tasks such as shoveling snow, opening jars, and carrying groceries by improving grip strength. To perform pullups, you need a pullup bar to hang onto.
- Hang from the bar, holding a firm grip while your hands are facing away from your body.
- Pull your body up by exerting pressure from your arm and back until your chest becomes parallel to the bar.
While this exercise is a simple one, it’s difficult to master for beginners. To perform pullups for beginners: Hang from the pullup bar for 30 seconds to strengthen the arm and back muscles.
Alternatively, you could use assisted pullup machines if you can find them in your gym.
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Lifting weights is the most crucial resistance training workout to help build muscles, improve overall body strength, and boost energy levels.
You can use a whole range of free weights, including dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells, to build strength. You can add weights to your regular workout moves, like lunges and squats.
Or, you can perform dedicated weight training exercises. The key is to go small, without straining your body, by starting with lighter weights.
Warmup and cooldown are also essential to ease your body into and out of the exercises. Here’s a full beginner’s guide on incorporating weight training into your workout routine.
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Squats are dynamic full-body exercises that improve mobility and everyday functions. They activate your core muscles supporting your back, reduce the risk of injury, and burn calories.
One of the most significant advantages of squats is that they don’t need any equipment, and you can do them anywhere.
There are different types of squats, including back squats, jump squats, and overhead squats. To perform basic squats:
- Place your feet hip-width apart or a little wider.
- Push your hips back as if you’re sitting while keeping your chest up.
- Lower your hips while shifting your weight on the heels until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor.
- Pause for a few seconds, exhale and move back up to the starting position.
This video shows 20 different types of squats to shape up your booty and build strength.
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Lunges are dynamic resistance exercises that target lower body muscles, including hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes.
It can also be a functional exercise to avoid injury and falling by strengthening your leg muscles. It can also be a warm-up exercise for sports like tennis, basketball, and even yoga.
There are different lunges, including
- Walking lunge
- Lunges with a torso twist,
- lateral lunges, and many more.
Lunges are similar to squats in terms of the muscles they target.
But lunges can help with stability and improve strength because it targets one leg at a time.
- Stand up tall, extending your whole body.
- Put one foot forward and make a 90-degree angle with your knees, placing the rear knee parallel to the ground. Make sure your front knee stays behind the toes, and don’t overextend your leg.
- Go back to the starting position by lifting your front leg.
Repeat for 12 reps. You could switch legs after each move or repeat 12 times on one leg and switch to the other leg.
Common Forms of Exercise
In addition to the movements you can perform at the gym, many types of exercise help you stay active and healthy.
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If you want to improve your health without going to the gym or overdoing it, jogging is the perfect exercise for you. It helps you build stronger bones and muscles, boost heart health, burn fat and lose weight.
It’s a sweaty run that’s faster than a stroll. Running can burn more calories and engages the lungs and heart more because it’s more intense than jogging. However, jogging can be a better option if you’re new to working out or aren’t fit.
- If you’re a beginner, start by 10 to 20 minutes of jogging at least three times a week.
- Do a light warmup and cooldown to prevent injury.
- Flat and grassy routes are better than sandy and hard surfaces for reducing injury.
- Have at least two rest days to give your body a rest.
As I said, running is a more intense version of jogging with more robust benefits. If you’re unfit, you can start with jogging and, after a few months, slowly incorporate running into your routine. You don’t need to run fast to reap the benefits of this exercise.
On the contrary, easy running is less taxing, allowing you to do more of it. As you get fitter, you can increase your pace as long as your body feels comfortable and do it as a form of HIIT.
To boost your overall fitness, you could mix running with other forms of cardio exercises, such as swimming. Here’s how you can find the right pace for your runs.
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Cycling is a low-impact, social, and versatile exercise that you can do anywhere and anytime you want. You can cycle to work, with your children, and without any special skills. It’s good for muscles, strength, and overall health, and fitness.
Plus, it can be as intense as you want, depending on your fitness levels. The key to riding a bike is getting a bike set that perfectly fits your body to make your workout more efficient and less painful. Getting the right saddle is also essential.
Like any other form of activity, the best way to avoid plateaus is to start according to your fitness levels and gradually up your game as you build more resistance.
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Nothing can beat swimming as a relaxing and peaceful exercise that improves flexibility and burns calories simultaneously.
The only catch is that you should know how to swim, which is not a big deal as it’s easy to learn. Make sure to warm up before swimming, and don’t overdo it if you’re a beginner.
To avoid hitting a plateau, you should change your swimming pace and style from time to time and mix it with another form of cardio.
If you want to lose weight, you should swim four to five days a week to reap the benefits. And to avoid muscle soreness and fatigue, start small, with 15 minutes every other day, and gradually increase it.
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Types of Machines
When you go into the gym, you may get confused by the wide range of machines you see. If you have a trainer, they’ll tell you which ones are best for you and which ones take higher fitness levels.
Here are some of the basic machines that beginners can use:
The leg press is the seated form of squats, which is very popular at the gym because it can help build key leg muscles. While it’s a simple machine, it’s crucial to maintain proper form.
- First, sit on the machine comfortably and place your head on the padded support.
- Next, put your feet on the footplate, maintaining flat heels.
- Push the plate with your forefoot and heels while exhaling, and pause for a few seconds.
- Slowly bend your knees to return the footplate to the original position while inhaling.
If you’re a beginner, start with two or three sets of 10 reps and increase as you build strength.
Common Leg Press Mistakes
At first glance, the leg press routine may seem idiot-proof. However, a lot of things could go wrong.
You can easily lose form with the leg press if you:
- Don’t maintain flat buttocks against the seat.
- Put your hands on your knees instead of gripping the handles.
- Start with an explosive movement.
- Raise your head as you move the legs.
People with weak pelvic muscles shouldn’t use the leg press since it strains these muscles. Plus, if you experience pain in your knees and back, you should avoid it.
Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
The lat pulldown machine targets the back muscles through the pulldown exercise. It can also be an upper-body workout that improves your posture and helps you with other movements, such as pullups. To use the machine:
- sit on the padded seat and place your feet flat on the floor. Make sure the bar height is good enough by adjusting the cable. It should be high enough so that you can grasp it with your overstretched arms while you’re sitting.
- Grasp the bar and pull it down until it’s parallel with your chin, keeping your torso fixed.
- Return the bar to the original position in a controlled and slow movement.
Complete one set of 12 reps, take a rest, and do another set.
Common Lat Pull Down Mistakes
Some of the mistakes people while performing this routine include
- Failure to maintain a stationary torso.
- Pulling down the bar too low. You should stop when you feel your elbows go backward.
- Using your forearms to pull the bar. Instead, the muscles in your back should perform the movement.
People with wrist, elbow, or shoulder problems should avoid this machine or consult their doctor before using it. If you feel it’s straining your shoulders too much, stop using it.
Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
The chest press is another beginner-friendly machine that works the main muscles of your chest. That’s the machine that helps you have bulging pecs and biceps. Plus, it helps develop strength for sports like baseball, tennis, or golf.
- Sit comfortably on the bench and place your feet on the ground shoulder-width apart.
- Grasp the handle firmly and place your wrist in a neutral position in line with the forearms.
- While exhaling, push the bars outward, keeping your head and neck steady.
- When the bar reaches full extension, pause for a few seconds and slowly return the bars to the starting position while inhaling.
Common Chest Press Mistakes
You are using this machine the wrong way if you:
- Push the elbows too far backward (Make sure you keep the hand grips in front of your body line).
- Make explosive movements.
- Fail to maintain a flat back and shoulder blades.
If you’ve had chest or shoulders surgery, you should talk to your doctor before using this machine. Stop using it if you feel pain or pressure in your chest, shoulders, or arms.
Here’s a list of other gym machines
- The treadmill ( running machine)
- Rowing machine
- Elliptical machine
- Recumbent exercise bike
- Spin bike
- Upright bike (stationary bike or indoor bike)
- Stair mill
- Hack squat machine
- Leg press machine
- Leg extension machine
- Leg curl machine
- Lat pulldown machine (aka pulldown)
- Standing calf machine
- Seated calf machine
- Ab crunch machine
- Chest press machine
- Pilates reformer machine
- Leg abduction machine
- Pec deck machine
- Cable crossover machine
- Butt blaster machine
To read more about different workout machines, read this article.
Results and Progress
If you exercise to lose weight or build muscles, it’s crucial to track your work as you move forward. This way, you can see if your efforts are paying off and where you need to pivot.
How Long Does it Take to See Results?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because it depends on many factors such as your physiology, nutrition, and the intensity and number of workout sessions per week.
However, if you keep a healthy diet, eat less than your energy consumption, and exercise regularly at least three times a week, you’ll start to lose weight within the first three weeks.
If you haven’t worked out before, you may need to wait for at least two months to see noticeable gains in your muscle mass. But if you already have muscles, you may see results in just two weeks.
However, the key is to be persistent and see your workout routine as a lifelong plan instead of something that takes you to your desired destination as quickly as possible.
How to Monitor your Progress
While you’re putting in the shift during workouts, monitoring your progress can motivate you to keep going. Even more, it helps you stay accountable throughout your workout journey.
With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to track your overall workout progress
Get a Workout Journal
The best way to track your progress is to keep a workout journal. Keep track of every machine you use, all the weight training workouts you do, and the number of sets and reps.
You could also measure how much weight you can handle by keeping their records. For example, if you use dumbbells, write down how many pounds you can handle every month.
That’s particularly important because your body will get used to the exercise, and you always need to change the type and intensity of movements to avoid plateaus.
Track Your Body Fat
Another thing you should track is your weight and body fat/muscle ratio. Your body weight may not be a good indicator of your progress because as you lose fat, you’ll hopefully add muscle, keeping your weight unchanged. Use skinfold calipers to measure your body fat percentage to see how much fat you’ve lost.
If you’re looking to buy skinfold calipers, visit this link to get the best-selling skinfold calipers in your location.
Capture Useful Progress Photos
Taking photos before you start your workout your exercise journey is an incredible way to track your progress.
Start by taking full-body photos before your first workout session. Then, continue taking pictures from the front, sides, and back every week.
After one month, line up your pictures to look for even the slightest change every week and after 30 days. Repeat this process throughout your workout journey to see how much progress you’ve made within a certain period.
Use Apps to Track Progress
Most workout apps don’t just offer workout programs alone. Instead, they come pre-loaded with features that help you track your daily activities such as distance walked, heart rate, nutrition, weight loss, and more.
The health app on your iPhone is great for monitoring your daily activities. Apps like My Fitness Pal, Google Fit, Fitnet, Nike+ also help you keep your nutrition and workout plan on track.
Fat Burning Vs. Fat Loss
A common misconception about fat burning is that it leads to fat loss. Well, that’s not always the case.
While your body is at a constant state of fat burning to produce energy, you may not lose fat as quickly. That’s because you’re constantly filling up on fat resources through the food you eat, hormones, and other biological processes.
Let’s say you take in about 3500 calories daily, and your daily activity burns about the same amount. Because the body’s capacity to burn fat is already balanced, you’ll most likely not lose any significant amount of fat.
If you’re looking to make your fat burning result in actual fat loss, you need to do more than just working out. What you eat and how much you eat also play pivotal roles in losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight.
Achieving your weight loss goals involves a combination of several exercise and diet control routines, including
- Eating more protein-filled diets
- Add more healthy fats to your meal plan
- Eating plenty of fiber (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, etc.)
- Doubling down on strength exercises
- Getting more hours of sleep
- Reduce intake of refined carbs.
To learn more about fat loss, follow this link
How To Burn Fat Fast
In addition to the exercises I mentioned, especially resistance training and HIIT exercises, there are many ways to boost fat loss:
Muscle gain goes hand in hand with fat loss. While building muscles, your body weight increases and requires more energy to fuel it. So your body is left with no other choice than to burn more fat to produce energy.
Studies have shown that stress can directly lead to fat gain through a hormone called cortisol. When you need a spur of energy, your body releases cortisol to help you handle stress and maintain balance.
On the flip side, elevated cortisol levels stimulate your appetite and result in weight gain. Unfortunately, this becomes a continuous cycle, and your body is unable to shed the fat gained quickly.
Many trainers recommend drinking coffee before going to the gym, and many fat-burning supplements have caffeine in them. That’s because of the influence of caffeine on increasing metabolism.
To learn more about using caffeine to boost weight loss, click here.
Go on a Diet
Certain diets like the Keto diet have strong fat-burning capabilities. You could also give intermittent fasting a try to see a boost in your fat burning. However, make sure to consult your doctor to avoid hurting your body.
Looking to change to diet to something healthier and more effective for weight loss? Learn some of the best diet plans to help you get started. You can also follow the 7-day diet plan for weight loss.
It’s a known fact that vegetables can help you lose fat more quickly and efficiently. There are many zero-calorie and even negative-calorie vegetables that can help you burn fat.
Negative calorie vegetables are those that burn more energy than they produce in your body.
As I said, the more muscle you have, the more fat you’ll burn. You can do the following to boost muscle formation:
Have a Protein-rich Diet
The most important ingredient for making muscles is protein. If you don’t work out, you need 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of your body weight.
If you work out, this amount can go up. In addition to having a protein-rich diet, it’s recommended to eat protein before and after your workout.
Limit Your Carbs Intake
You need carbs for energy, but it should be limited to post-workout nutrition. Don’t eat carbs with meals and consume complex carbohydrates in brown bread, brown rice, and pasta. Plus, avoid white sugar, white bread, and other foods with simple carbs.
Staying hydrated can’t be stressed enough. Losing your body’s water can hurt you in many ways, one of them being lowered muscle formation. When you lose water during exercise, your muscles can’t recover fully, so they can’t build more mass.
Nutrition and workout go hand in hand in creating a healthy lifestyle that leads to weight loss and overall health. When you begin workout programs, be sure to change your eating habits.
Paying special attention to what you eat is critical because it can significantly affect your performance.
The first thing you should forget about while working out is fast food and processed foods. Without a specific meal plan, you may be tempted to go out and eat at the MacDonald’s around the corner.
The best way to prevent this is meal prepping by cooking at home. Many athletes try to prepare their meals in advance for one week and keep it refrigerated.
Make sure to include proteins and vegetables in every meal to help with fat loss and muscle gain. You can follow this guide on how to effectively meal prep.
When you try to build muscles, the food that you eat helps you achieve your goals. But taking supplements can help you meet your goals much faster. Here are some of the most important supplements:
Since you need to take protein after your workout, many people decide to take protein supplements in shakes or pills.
The most popular types of protein are whey, soy, and casein, while you can find protein isolated from beef, eggs, or chicken.
Here are some of the best protein powders for building muscles.
- Myprotein Pro THE Whey+ (Strawberry Milkshake)
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein
- Bulk Pure Whey Protein
- SiS REGO Rapid Recovery+
- Healthspan Elite Complete Vegan Protein
Creatine is a naturally occurring substance that your body produces to provide energy. If you take creatine supplements, you can increase creatine in your muscles and improve their performance. However, it can cause problems such as anxiety, fatigue, and diarrhea if taken excessively.
Check out some of the best creatine supplements for muscle gain.
- Crazy Muscle Creatine Pills
- EFX Sports Kre-Alkalyn
- Muscle Feast Creapure Creatine Monohydrate Powder
- Pure Gains Advanced Creatine Monohydrate
- Genius Creatine Powder
Certain amino acids, such as beta-alanine, can reduce fatigue, increase exercise performance, and build muscles. For example, a study found that beta-alanine can improve performance, especially in high-intensity workouts.
Another study found that beta-alanine can reduce muscle acidosis during the workout. Muscle acidosis or lactic acid buildup is a common problem among athletes experienced when the muscles don’t get enough oxygen to break down glycogen and glucose. Common symptoms are trouble breathing, muscle cramps, confusion, and many more.
Another type of amino acid that can be a helpful supplement is Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAA). They can boost muscle growth by reducing muscle fatigue and damage. Here are some of the best workout supplements for men and women.
- Truth Nutrition Fermented Vegan BCAA
- XTEND Original BCAA
- Zhou Muscle BCAA
- Plant Aminos Organic Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) & BCAA
- Evlution Nutrition BCAA5000
There you have it. We’ve shared everything you need to know about working out. Before you start your workout, ensure that you have conditioned your mind to get through it. Set realistic goals to help you maintain consistency and achieve success.
Depending on your workout goals, there are different types of exercises and workout moves to choose from. You can work with a physical trainer in the comfort of your home or a gym. Or you may opt to train with YouTube fitness experts or workout apps.
Before any exercise or lifting your first weight, ensure that you are physically fit. Then, you can start your routines slowly, build up your fitness level, and rest between workout days to recover and prevent injuries.
Last update on 2023-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API