How to start a fitness plan – The Complete Beginner’s Guide

It’s a great idea to start exercising! You’ve taken the first step towards a better and healthier lifestyle.

Unfortunately, keeping up with a workout routine is easier said than done, but we’re here to help you.

In this article, we teach you how to start a fitness plan and stick to it. We have tips for beginners and ways to stay motivated and make exercise a part of your routine.

Keep reading to learn all about it.

Why exercise?


Working out comes with a lot of benefits. It improves your health, body, and mind.

Exercise can reduce your risk of chronic diseases as well as improve your mood and self-esteem. It also helps to prevent feelings of anxiety and depression.

It can also boost your energy, increase your sleep quality, enhance your brain health and memory, and even promote a better sex life. [1]

Besides all that, regular exercise helps you lose weight and achieve the body you’ve always wanted. In this list, you can find some of the best pre-workouts that can help you with your weight loss efforts.

Get in the right mindset


It’s okay if you’re struggling to start working out. It happens to a lot of us. You just need to learn how to overcome some obstacles that might be preventing you from having a healthy dose of exercise. Getting in the right mindset can make a huge difference. We have some tips for you:

Drop the all-or-nothing approach. You don’t need to exercise for hours at a time to get results, a little exercise is better than no exercise at all. It’d surprise you what 5, 10 or 20 minutes of physical activity can do for your mental and emotional health.

Dumbbells on the ground
Don’t expect to get in shape overnight. It’ll only lead to frustration. The results may take a little longer to be noticeable but they will come, be patient. Don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than you’d like, just keep going. It’ll be worth it in the long run.

No one’s perfect, so go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for your unhealthy choices in the past. Instead, take this opportunity to learn from your mistakes and grow.

Overcoming obstacles


Good things don’t come easy. Working out can quickly become a dreaded chore. Because we want to make this article as helpful as possible, we put together a list of some obstacles to exercising and how to overcome them. Here they are:

Not enough time

It’s the most common excuse people give for not following a workout plan, and we get it. It’s hard to add another step to our already full routine. However, you can do it. Even the busiest people find time to exercise so it’s all a matter of time management. Again, you don’t need to spend hours at the gym. Squeezing in a 10-minute workout in the morning can do wonders. And if you don’t have time during the week, make some progress on the weekends when you have more time.

Low energy

Focus on getting enough sleep before you start working out. If your body is too tired, the session won’t be beneficial. [2]

But if you’re already getting the recommended amount of sleep, you should go for it. Exercising can actually boost your energy levels and make you feel more refreshed and alert. [1]

Lack of motivation

Set short-term goals to keep you motivated. It works like a to-do list. Crossing things off and achieving your goals will get you excited to keep going. We’ll give you some more tips later.

No fun

Don’t force yourself to go to the gym several times a week if you don’t like it. You’ll never stick to a routine that’s not enjoyable. Try going for a walk outside or finding an activity you like. Hiking, dancing, and swimming are some examples of fun activities that will get you moving.

Choose your equipment


Now that you know how to overcome some of the most common obstacles of following a fitness regime, there’s something else to consider. Working out at home is great and it may make it easier to have some materials to use. Maybe you don’t want any equipment at all and that’s okay, but in case you do, here are some fitness gear options for you:

Shoes

Having a nice pair of sneakers might be important to you, depending on what type of exercise you’re going to do. Be sure to get ones that serve your needs. Running shoes are very different from hiking shoes, for example, so keep that in mind.

Treadmill

This is the best-selling home fitness equipment. It’s amazing for cardio workouts and you can even run while watching TV. It makes you keep up with a consistent pace and you don’t have to worry about the weather so you can work out whenever you want. What happens most often though, is that people get bored easily, since it doesn’t offer the same feeling of running outside. Still, it’s a good choice if you want to work out without leaving the house.

Dumbbells

Dumbbells are good to build muscle strength and you can use them to work out different muscle groups. There are three types of dumbbells and you can use all of them in a variety of exercises. Do a little research so you know which ones you should buy and how much they should weigh, considering your specific needs and goals.

Resistance bands

They’re absolutely amazing. Affordable, travel-friendly, and versatile. They offer a lot to your exercise, such as enhancing your strength and mobility, besides being low-impact and joint-friendly. Resistance bands are an amazing boost to your workout routine.

Exercise ball

They improve your balance and stability and provide a good workout that strengthens your abs and back. When you exercise on an unstable surface, you actually use a lot more muscles and your workouts are way more effective. Exercise balls come in different sizes so you should choose one appropriate to your height.

Exercise mat

An exercise mat provides a non-slip and cushioned surface for you to exercise on, that is, it offers you stability and comfort. The type of mat you should buy depends on what type of workout you’re planning to do. If you want to do yoga, you’ll probably want to invest in a yoga mat. It is thinner and has a greater gripping ability that allows you to hold poses without fear of it slipping away. If it’s pilates or abdominal exercises you’re into, a thicker mat would be a better option to cushion your spine when you’re lying on your back.

Workout plan


To succeed in this journey, you need to have a plan that works for you. Here are some points to keep in mind:

Have a specific goal

It’s important to set specific and realistic goals. If you want to start working out more, instead of having ‘exercising more’ as your end goal, try something like ‘work out three times a week’. It simplifies everything and gives you something real to achieve.

Start small

Create small stepping stones that will help you reach your end goal, whether it’s walking 5 miles, do 50 push-ups, or anything else. Taking small steps towards that main objective keeps you motivated and increases your chances of success.

Create a balanced routine

You need a routine that’s balanced, effective, and safe, to reduce the risk of injuries. Keep in mind that there are three types of workouts you can do and they all have different purposes and results. We’ll get more into it later.

Schedule your training sessions

It can be difficult to find time to exercise so it might help to schedule it like any other important appointment. That way you’ll be more in control of your time and you’ll get everything done, even your workout session.

Rest

Don’t push yourself to the limit. Exercising too much can cause injuries or soreness. Remember to save some time between workouts to rest and recover.

Write it down

Putting your workout plan on paper makes it more real and encourages you to stick to it.

Types of exercises


Having a balanced routine with all these three main types of exercise will help you reach your goal and stay healthy.

Aerobic exercises

This kind of exercise increases your heart rate and breathing. It’s great if you want to lose or maintain weight but it comes with a lot of benefits besides that. It can lower your blood pressure as well as reduce inflammation, and improve your mood. [1, 3, 4]

Over time it can prevent several medical conditions. Some examples are type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, breast and colon cancer, and depression.[1, 5]

These exercises include activities like running, swimming, walking, cycling, dancing, etc.

Strength training

This type of workout helps you gain muscle and endurance. It also promotes bone growth, good posture, and lower blood sugar levels, besides reducing stress and lower back pain. [1, 6, 7, 8]

A man doing strength training
They will help you feel better when you’re doing tasks like going up a flight of stairs, carrying the groceries, or lifting heavier objects.

Squats, push-ups, and weight-lifting are all examples of strength training exercises.

Flexibility workouts

They expand your range of movement and make daily tasks easier and more accessible, especially to older people with stiff muscles. Doing this regularly helps keep your muscles more flexible, which reduces the risk of injuries and pain.

You should always warm up before doing these exercises since you can get hurt if you don’t. They’re great for cooling down, not for warming up. And be mindful of how much you’re pushing yourself, you should stretch only until you feel the tension. If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.

Stretching and doing yoga are some good flexibility workouts.

Workout sample


Here is a sample of a balanced one-week workout routine. It includes all types of exercises. Remember to warm up before and cool down after each session.

Monday

  • 30 to 45-minute brisk walk or light jog

Tuesday

  • 15 squats
  • 15 regular push-ups or modified (knee) push-ups
  • 15 back extensions
  • 15 crunches with twist

(repeat one more time)

Wednesday

  • Rest

Thursday

  • 30-second jumping jacks
  • 10 burpees
  • 1-minute running in place
  • 20 mountain climbers
  • 15 jump squats

(repeat one or two more times)

Friday

  • 30 to 45-minutes brisk walk or light jog

Saturday

  • 15 squats
  • 15 reverse lunges
  • 15 incline push-ups
  • 15 lateral lunges
  • 50-second elbow plank
  • 15 supermans
  • 15 bicycle crunches

(repeat one more time)

Sunday

  • Rest

You should go for a fitness plan like this, with a variety of exercises and enough time to rest properly.

How to get started


Even small amounts of exercise are a huge benefit when added to your routine. There is a recommended amount of exercise of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. It’s up to you how you spend that time. Two longer workouts per week are as beneficial as exercising five days a week for shorter periods of time. [9]

It’s important to start small and add intensity over time to keep up with your increasing fitness level.

Be flexible and give yourself a day or two off if needed. Don’t push yourself too hard and remember to always warm up and cool down. Time to recover and recharge is also crucial.

How to stay motivated


Exercising can be tough. It’s important to stay motivated if you don’t want to fall into the same unhealthy habits you had before.

If you don’t like the gym, don’t go there. Look for other places to exercise at, like a local park or even the beach. It’s also crucial to find an activity or sport you actually like.

Whenever you’re tired of your current regime, check a new activity. You can try skateboarding, gymnastics, martial arts, or anything else you can think of. Another option is to switch up the exercises you’re doing for new ones.

"You Got This" quote
Try working out with a friend or take a fitness class. Set new goals, it will keep you motivated to achieve them. Listening to music is also a good way to uplift your mood and make your workout more enjoyable.

Exercising doesn’t have to be boring and feel like a chore. You can and should make it fun in your own way. Get creative!

Record your progress


Tracking your progress and seeing how your body is changing can help you stick to your workout plan. You should measure some key areas, like your biceps, bust, waist, hips, and thighs. Taking some photos (or even a video) of your body in the mirror is also a good idea. Check in again after two to four weeks.

You can also test your fitness level to see your progress. Try recording:

  • Your heart rate before and after walking 1 mile.
  • How long it takes you to walk 1 mile or to run 1.5 miles.
  • How many push-ups, squats, or burpees you can do in a minute.
  • How far you can reach forward while sitting on the ground with your legs in front of you.

Repeat this test six weeks after you start exercising and again every few months.

Tips for beginners


We put together a few beginner tips to help you get started and make the most out of your workouts.

Stay hydrated

Being hydrated is essential for a good workout session. Drinking water after you exercise promotes your recovery and gets you ready for the next session. [10]

Adapt your diet

It’s important to adapt to what you eat to support your exercise program. You should have a balanced diet made up of every food group to help you preserve healthy energy levels and benefit the most from your workout. Nutrients are critical when it comes to working out and they take on different roles:

  • Carbs provide energy to your muscles. [11]
  • Protein builds muscle mass and repairs tissues. [12, 13]
  • Healthy fats reduce inflammation. [14]

Warm up

Warming up before your workout promotes blood flow and makes your muscles loosen up. Besides getting you ready for a challenge, it prevents injuries and improves your flexibility. [15]

It only takes 5-10 minutes and it can make all the difference for a good fitness session.

Cool down

Cooling down after exercising helps you recover and return your body to its natural state. It gets your heart rate and breathing patterns back to normal, preventing them from dropping too fast. It can also reduce muscle soreness. [16]

Listen to your body

If the workout is pushing you to your limit and you’re feeling pain or discomfort, stop and rest for a bit. You can get injured if you keep going. It’s always better to take it easy than to try too hard and end up hurt.

Hire A Personal Trainer

If you are having a hard time creating a plan that suits you or need some motivation, then hiring a personal trainer to help you is a great choice. Also, if you are in the personal training business, the Bookee app is a modern fitness business software that takes away all your admin loads. From VODs and live streaming to gift card sales, Bookee gives a brand new virtual avatar to your fitness business with simple and easy-to-use tools.

Summary


Starting a fitness program is great for your health and well-being. It doesn’t have to be hard and tedious, you can make it fun so it’s easier to keep up with. It’s important to set goals and stay motivated. Remember to start small and slow, giving yourself time to rest and recover.

Martim Pintão

Martim Pintão

Martim is a fitness enthusiast who loves to help people get into shape. He founded Dream Strength in order to do just that, and he doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon!

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