Beginning a Workout ProgramJuly 27, 2018
Disclaimer: The advice in this article is intended to help individuals begin a workout program while minimizing the risk of injury. Any injuries or dissatisfaction resulting from the advice hereafter is not the responsibility of the author.
Whether you are a complete beginner or returning to the workout scene, exercise is a great way to improve your physical and mental health. As you may have already learned, the beginning is the hardest part of a workout program. Once this bridge is crossed, a workout program becomes not only bearable, but enjoyable as a great way to relieve stress and improve confidence. The following advice is intended for beginner’s who hope to make gains in their physical fitness while minimizing the chance of injury or illness. A proper workout program for a beginner should include both cardiovascular and strength training. Stretching is a secondary but important part of an exercise program as well.
A normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. The purpose of cardiovascular training is to increase a person’s heart rate for a period of time. As the heart becomes more accustomed to this, the person develops an ability to perform vigorous activity for a greater duration of time at a greater intensity. As a result, any activity that accomplishes this is considered cardiovascular. For this reason, choosing several enjoyable physical activities will help kick start your workout program. Taking your dog for a walk, playing Frisbee with a friend, or shooting hoops with a family member are all excellent ways to get moving in the beginning. As your ability to tolerate greater amounts of exertion increases, finding more intense activities will be beneficial.
The following is a list of activities you may find enjoyable and challenging: running or biking (on trails or pavement), playing racquetball or tennis, or using cardio equipment at your local fitness center. The important thing to remember is to have fun in the beginning. You may even want to invite a friend. As your tolerance increases, do not be tempted to push yourself too hard. If you do, you will likely become a victim of physical or psychological burnout. The body and mind are only capable of so much, so fast. Take it slow and make only small, gradual increases. If you notice any pain, or begin to feel uncomfortable, take a break. Runner’s, for example, are encouraged not to increase their weekly mileage by more than ten percent. In summary, take it slow and have fun in the beginning.
Several decades ago, strength training was done primarily by athletes. Today it is becoming more and more frequent for everyday people to start strength training programs. This is not surprising when we consider the daily activities most people engage in. We carry groceries, pick up children, and engage in hundreds of other activities which require physical strength. To make these activities easier and reduce our chances of injury, we can all benefit from a strength training program.
By far, the best way for a beginner to start a strength training program is with the help of a licensed personal trainer. This can help ensure your training is being done safely and properly so that you can make the greatest gains with a reduced chance of injury. Many gyms offer one or two free sessions with a new membership. If they do not, ask them about the possibility of this. Whether or not this is possible, remember the following basic principles throughout your training. Find strength training activities for your entire body. Overworking opposing muscle groups (such as biceps and triceps) can lead to injuries. Do not lift more than you can comfortably handle. It is better to lift less and make small gains than to endure an injury resulting in no gains or a loss in strength. Considering this, make sure the amount of weight you are lifting is enough to be challenging. If your muscles are not being challenged, you will not see real improvements in strength.
Warming Up, Cooling Down, & Stretching
To prevent injury, be sure to take time to warm-up before your workout and cool-down after your workout. This should include light cardiovascular activity such as walking or jogging and at least some stretching of major muscle groups. This can be done in as little as five minutes, and will likely improve the main part of your workout.
Exercise is an excellent way to improve both physical and mental health. Whether your intent is to lose weight, build confidence, reduce stress or try something new, the benefits of exercise are endless. Enjoy your workout!