If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. There are so many different forms of exercise, machines at the gym and ways to go about achieving your goals. Knowing where to begin can be half the battle. But getting fit doesn’t have to be confusing, or stressful. There are some key rules that apply to everyone when it comes to seeing progress.
This beginner’s guide to getting fit will teach you how to set yourself up for success and stay motivated to reach your goals.
7 steps to getting fit for beginners
1. Set short term goals
Regardless of where you are in your fitness journey, you always want to have goals. But if you’re a beginner – short term goals are essential. I’m talking about fitness goals that you can accomplish within a couple of weeks to a couple of months. The reason this is so important is that when you achieve these goals, that sense of accomplish will fuel your motivation to keep working. If you’re only setting longterm goals, you’ll likely feel discouraged that you can’t reach them.
Getting fit and changing your lifestyle is a huge undertaking during the beginning stages, so you need to set yourself up for success. The more you can do this in the beginning, the easier it’ll be to get to the point where fitness becomes a habit. So for example, if you want to run 5km, but you otherwise have never run before, start your goal at 1km.
Short term goals have the benefit of meeting you where you’re at then pushing you just a little bit further at a time. The more you see yourself achieving your goals, or maybe even sometimes surpassing them, you’ll start to appreciate the entire process.
2. Track your progress
Much like setting short term goals, tracking your progress is key for lasting motivation. But the most important consideration is that you’re tracking your progress in a healthy way. Start by ditching the scale. As a beginner, getting fit has to be a positive experience to keep you focused and encouraged. So when you step on the scale and reduce all your efforts to that one number, you can end up feeling pretty crumby. The more discouraged you are, the less motivated you will be to keep working.
Instead track your progress with body measurements (using a measuring tape), before and after photos or just simply by judging how your clothes fit. Not only will you likely feel way more excited to notice the differences you created when comparing your before and after pictures side-by-side, but these methods of tracking are also far more accurate than the scale.
Weight alone can’t account for muscle versus body fat, yet muscle is denser. So while you may be building muscle that helps to tone and shape your body, your scale won’t tell you that.
3. Train with a friend
If you’ve already done your first workout as a beginner, you can probably attest to the fact that it was really hard. Starting a fitness journey is a bit like climbing a mountain. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. So while you’re panting and sweating, and counting down the minutes until it’s over, your mind can do a lot to convince you to never do it again. To overcome that, you have to balance the challenge and struggle of getting fit with something that’s fun, energetic and motivating.
One of the best ways to do this is to train with a friend. You’ll be able to push each other through a workout, hold each other accountable, and maybe even have a little healthy competition. You can turn up the music, feed off of each other’s energy, and making getting fit an excuse to be social as well. That way it’s a win-win.
4. Follow a set routine
As a beginner, if you aren’t familiar with a lot of gym equipment, or how to organize your workout schedule – you might struggle to see the progress you’re hoping for. This happens a lot with people who just go full-on cardio, or strictly strength training. The truth is, both are important, but how much you do of each is dependant on your goals.
I generally recommend 3 days of full body workouts, 2 days of cardio, and 2 days of rest for beginners. But that still begs the question of “which full body workouts should I do?” In those cases, online fitness programs that offer a set routine work really well. They instruct you a full week’s worth of workouts, and walk you through how to perform each individual move. They even switch up your workouts every 4-6 weeks to keep your body guessing and prevent plateaus.
My online workout program MOVE with Janine also offers ways that you can make each exercise easier or more challenging so you can adjust the workouts based on your fitness levels now, as well as later when you get a bit stronger.
5. Stay consistent
Getting fit requires commitment and consistency – yet it can be really hard to maintain. If you have your workout routine set out and planned, I recommend that you stay as consistent as possible.
For example, if you want to work out in the morning, get up a bit earlier each day, and do your workout at the same time everyday. Same goes for those of you who prefer to workout in the evening, stick to a consistent time.
The more routine your workouts are through each day, the easier it will be to build habits and stay consistent.
6. Take rest days
When it comes to getting fit, more exercise doesn’t always mean better results. In fact, it can even lead to injury, and over-exhaustion. You need to take your rest days. Beginner should take two rest days per week. You can decrease it to one day per week as you get more fit.
Rest days ensure your muscles have time to recover and repair themselves, which is necessary for muscle-building. Days off will also help restore your energy so you can push harder in your next workout.
7. Be patient
Like we discussed above, setting yourself up for success and building a positive mindset can help to maintain your consistency and motivation through your fitness journey. But it is also normal to experience setbacks from time to time. It could be a case of not seeing results as soon as you’d like, or just feeling like you’re too out of shape.
Whatever is discouraging you, it’s important that you remind yourself to be patient. Not everybody will experience change at the same rate. Health is a combination of how you move, eat and think, plus a bit of genetics. You have to work with your individual needs and fitness levels.
Love your #innerbabe
At the end of the day, your fitness journey is about you. It doesn’t matter how your friends or family look. Nor does it serve you to compare yourself to people on social media. If you’re new to fitness, remember that everybody was a beginner at some time. Don’t sweat the small stuff, with a little hard work you will reach your goals.
If you need a little extra motivation and support, join our inner babe community on Facebook.
What do you find most challenging about getting fit? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.