If you’re new to exercise, it’s important that you start with the basics. What do want to achieve? How much time do you have to exercise? What kind of activities do you enjoy doing?
Here’s some questions to ask before creating a fitness plan for beginners.
Where are you now?
If you want to get fitter and you know that you currently get out of breath when running up the stairs, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to run for 30 minutes on the treadmill. It’s important be realistic with your fitness plan whilst still pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a little. Most gym memberships have an induction process where a fitness advisor can do an initial assessment to determine what level of fitness you are at currently and may be able to point you in the right direction with some exercises to start with.
What are the foundations of a good plan?
A good fitness plan should include a mix of cardio activity and resistance training throughout the week to make a well-rounded workout routine for beginners. Cardio activities such as running, aerobics and cycling increase the heart rate and improve your stamina whereas resistance exercises such as weights in the gym or a strength based fitness class help improve muscle tone. Swimming is an excellent all round exercise as the act of swimming itself really gets the heart rate up but pushing through the resistance of the water with your arms and legs strengthens the muscles too.
What are your goals?
If you’re looking to lose weight or tone up, you’ll need to take a look at your diet too. Are there areas where you could make healthy choices? If so, make some healthy food swaps to begin with and try to cut out as much processed foods and sugars as you can to get the ball rolling. Cardiovascular activities are great for fat loss but, you may want to incorporate some resistance training which will build muscle and increase your metabolism too.
If you’re looking to gain muscle, chances are you’ll need to up your calorie intake and include more lean protein in your diet. Focus on short, sharp bursts of cardio and then have a little more strength building exercises in the gym or try a strength class such as body pump.
How often do I need to exercise?
Some sort of exercise 3-5 times a week is optimal as that gives you enough sessions to increase your fitness but prevents overworking and damaging your muscles. Rest is just as important as the exercise itself to let your body recover and reduce the risk of injury.
What do you enjoy?
Finding activities you love is a key part in seeing real results with your exercise and fitness routine. The more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to stick to it long term and therefore stay consistent and make that activity part of your lifestyle. It may be a case of trial and error at first, so try a variety of equipment in the gym, book yourself onto some fun fitness classes or see if swimming is your thing.
How much time do you have to exercise?
Many of us have extremely busy lifestyles, so finding the time to exercise can sometimes be difficult. Our advice is, take a look at your schedule for the week ahead and block out windows of time that you know you can dedicate to your favourite fitness activities. Only have 20 minutes after work on a Monday? Try a HIIT circuit where you work really hard for small bursts of time as this gets the workout done in no time. Have a Saturday morning free? Why not go for a swim and see how many lengths you can do. If you’re really stuck for time, try getting up a little earlier in the morning so you can get a short work out in before work. You’ll feel great, plus, these small little changes will make a big change over time!
Need some more tips and advice to get going? Why not download our FREE eBook “A Beginners Guide to Health and Fitness”, available now.