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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Start a Workout Program

If the First Lady can do it, so can YOU!

Whether you are exercising at home (like I do) or going to a gym, there is essential gear that you will need before beginning any program. Your needs will differ depending on your lifestyle. So adjust the following suggestions to suit your needs.

  1. Weight gloves -- It's not sexy to have calloused fingers, especially when it can be avoided!
  2. Gym shoes -- You don't want to do weights and indoor cardio with your best running shoes, and you don't have to.
  3. Different outfits -- Be sure to check out my post for Beginner Runners Part 1 and Summer Running Gear Part 1 and 2 for some ideas.
  4. Hand weights
  5. Fitness ball
  6. Medicine ball aka exercise ball aka weighted fitness ball
  7. Fitness tubes and/or bands
  8. Mat
  9. Watch
  10. Adjustable step
  11. Static bike, treadmill, or elliptical trainer

These are basic tools you will find at most gyms. For those exercising at home, these are some things you may want to buy. I didn't buy everything at once. I got hand weights, a mat and a fitness ball to start out with. There are endless amounts of exercises you can do with just a fitness ball and some weights. So don't feel like you have to spend a fortune all at once.

The next step is finding a regimen that works for your fitness level and for your schedule. I like exercises that multitask. Meaning, they hit various muscle groups at the same time. So each time I exercise I'm doing a full body workout in a short time. Plus, those type of exercises are usually more challenging and more interesting. As always, do what works for you. 
But for your convenience, here are some tips:

Make a schedule -- It is easy to skip a day when you haven't planned your week out. Don't fall into this trap. Plan to exercise a few times a week (3 days is best at the start) and do it!

Go in with a plan -- Know what you want out of each session before you start. If you want to focus on the legs, butt, abs, focus on those muscle groups. Group each session into manageable chunks so you don't feel overwhelmed. Also, this prevents you from having to be at the gym for hours at end.

Safety first -- There is nothing worse than going to the gym and not knowing how to use the machines. Don't guess. Ask for help if you need it. If not you may hurt yourself. Or not work the muscle appropriately. You don't want all that hard work going to waste! The same holds true for at-home exercisers. 

Find a motivator -- For me it's hanging up photos of all my exercises in my gym room and posters of races I've run. (I tend to print out exercises from online sites).

Start out with the basics -- Tempting though it may be to start out with the challenging things right away, don't. The most important thing is form. Do the exercise the right way and don't rush through them. Once you have it down, increase the weight or the reps. When you get bored with that move onto something new.

Switch it up -- Even the best exercise regimen can get stale. Change something every three months for continued results. It can be using heavier weights, doing more repetitions or changing the routine completely. You decide. I like to change things up. Although I still have my "go-to" exercises that I love. 

Have balance -- You never want to lift weights all the time or do cardio all the time or hit a particular muscle group all time. Ideally, you want to incorporate some of everything. Strength training is just as important as cardio, in my opinion. 

And finally.... 

Enjoy yourself -- It goes without saying, right? 

 Stay tuned for future posts on: 
  • How to stick with a workout program.... and
  •  MY workout program!

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