I Never Exercise, How Do I Start?
You can’t suck more than me!
It all started with a motivational video on Youtube. Some guy yelling at me that I’m a fat piece of sh*t. Though he did add I can get abs if I worked hard enough.
Strangely enough, it worked to get me pumped up. I already hated my body. So I started with light jogging. Then tried some body weight exercises at home. Always testing out different diets.
One whole year without seeing any change in my body. No idea how I made it that far without losing motivation. Though my frustration started to turn into depression.
Finally, I signed up for a gym. Then another year passed. Things did not get any better. I was feeling super tired all the time. My joints hurt. All because I was doing workouts that were clearly not for me. Oh, and I gained even more weight.
Yet Another Disappointment
Being so fed up with the lack of progress I decided to try online coaching. I wish I can tell you my life changed that very day. But it didn’t. Maybe if I signed up for coaching right from the start I would have experienced rapid results.
However, the damage I’ve done in the 2 years trying things on own was too great. Took us 7 months to get to the initial starting point (my weight from 2 years ago).
This is when all the good stuff started happening. Finally, I had a clear direction. A great workout that was right for me. Diet was no longer a mystery. And my body was starting to shape up quite nicely.
Oh, and abs as well!
How Should a Beginner Start Working Out?
You don’t have to make the same mistakes I did. You want to get shredded fast. The more time you waste getting nowhere, the more damage you do. This is because:
- Motivation starts to diminish over time
- Life starts getting in the way, responsibilities pile up
- Frustration and depression start to grow
- Your health may start deteriorating
- Unwanted fat gain becomes more likely
However, you can’t rush the process. You'll just get overwhelmed. More is not always better. You have to consider your body’s limits.
It’s important to strike a nice balance between the right amount of challenge and proper recovery. Slowly progressing forward. Not too fast nor spending too much time dabbling.
Here are 3 tips to help you start working out for the first time:
#1 How to Stay Motivated Long Enough to Finally Get Abs?
I hate to say it, but getting shredded takes time. Even if you’re following a solid fitness program. There are no shortcuts. Your level of commitment is what will determine your success.
If you give up too early you’ll waste time and achieve little. However, being 100% committed can make up for a less-than-perfect approach.
Before you think about exerciseing you have another important task. Ask yourself this:
- “Why do I want t get in shape?”
Be very clear when answering that question. Create a vivid image in your head. Focus on all the details. Create a mental picture of that new person you want to become.
The Mindset of a Winner
When someone asks you why you’re training you should be able to reply immediately. Have a clear, and detailed answer. Have it written down. Meditate on it. Refine and improve it over time. Get obsessed with the idea.
If you don’t even know why you’re in the gym, chances are you’ll give up sooner or later. Change is hard. Having a clear goal will keep focused. If you stay committed long enough, you’ll achieve your goals eventually. There’s no other way!
Read more on motivation in our article: How to Motivate Yourself to NEVER Miss a Workout?
#2 How to Overcome the Challenges of Being Overweight
If you’re out of shape, exercise can feel pretty damn hard. Even running is a real challenge when you’re caring extra 20-40 lbs of fat.
As we already discussed, commitment comes first. But to stay committed you have to make exercising manageable. However, exercise selection is not that important.
You need a simple process that is easy to execute. Something that can be summarized in a single line. Complex programs can be very effective. But they can be overwhelming to beginners.
Training as a Beginner vs Being Advanced
Remember when you were learning to drive. Your first lesson didn’t begin by you having to start the engine in the middle of a busy street. Cars and pedestrians rushing around you. Traffic signs everywhere.
It was a step-by-step learning process. Each driving lesson focused on a single aspect. Each one adding a new layer and more complexity. First, you learned all the basics: setting up the car’s seat and mirrors. Then kept building on top of that while still practicing the initial lessons.
Stat with a very simple commitment. For example:
- Be at the gym every other day at 8 am.
That’s it. That’s your only commitment. Focus on creating the habit of going to the gym. Don’t bother with any exercises. You can leave as soon as you came to the gym. Your goal is so simple that it’s hard to feel any resistance to it.
Soon your initial efforts will evolve into a solid routine. Then expand it and make it a bit more complex. For example:
- Be at the gym every other day at 8 am
- Exercise for 20 mins
Chose any machine or piece of equipment you like. Experiment. Have some fun. Your goal is you spend time in the gym. But again, nothing too serious or complex.
In a week or two, add another layer to your routine. For example:
- Go to the gym every other day at 8 am
- Exercise for 20 mins
- 10 mins on the treadmill
- 10 body weight squats
- 3 sets on the bench press
You’ll likely discover what exercises and machines you like. Just pick a couple and add them to your routine. Your goal evolved from simply spending time in the gym to spending productive time in the gym.
Progressing in the Gym Over Time
Over time you can keep increasing your workout time. Add new exercises. Increase the number of workout days, and so on. The initial steps are small. The process is super simple.
There will be little friction with other responsibilities in your life. Yet, because everything is so easy you crave more.
We like to progress and get better. You’ll naturally look for ways to add more and more. And your excitement will keep you going. Also, you’ll have time to experiment and find what works for you.
#3 How to Choose the Right Exercises: Home Workouts & Gym Training
You can either explore different options yourself at home. Or, work with a coach in a gym. You can also combine aspects of both. Or even ask friends for advice and tips. Each strategy has its pros and cons.
How to Discover the Right Approach Yourself:
Here are the pros:
- You can test different approaches to training.
- Pick an approach that leverages your natural strengths
- Be very flexible and try home workouts
- Save money
Here are the cons:
- Lose a lot of time experimenting
- Get subpar results and face a greater risk of injury
- Lack support and accountability
- Dedicate too much time to research and education
The less external support and help you have, the more motivation and willpower you’ll need. But you won’t succumb to someone else’s biases. The type of workouts you prefer may not be what your coach (or mentor) believes in. Also, if you'd like to train at home this may be very convenient.
By testing things yourself you can figure out what works best for you. Though that’s for those who have the luxury of time and patience.
How to Determine If You Need a PT and Gym Membership
Here are the pros:
- Save a lot of time
- Get fast(er) results
- Enjoy social support and accountability
- Receive almost instant feedback and improve fast
Here are the cons:
- Your program may not be the best one for you
- You might not get along with your coach
- You’ll be dependent on someone else
- The cost may be high or overpriced
When you’re working with someone else you have to consider the human factor. Maybe you won't like your PT or other members of your fitness class/group. Also, just because someone has a certificate doesn’t mean they know what’s best for you.
However, this is a service like any other. You can always cancel and try another one. Paid programs do save you a lot of time. You might not pick the best fitness program initially.
But even then you usually get better results than experimenting on your own. Home workouts are also overrated and you won't get the best possible results.
Complete beginners are likely better off working with someone more experienced. Unless money is an issue, you can usually find a service that fits your needs.
Note that you can achieve a lot on your own. Working with someone is no guarantee of success. Just like taking a cab, it’s a service meant to get you from point A to B faster.
Yet sometimes the driver is an a**hole, or maybe the car breaks down. In any case, you decide if you’d rather be walking or taking that cab.
Until next time!
~Niki, Fitness Momentum Coach