It’s never too late to take your first step into fitness. Along with nutrition, it’s the first step in leading a healthier, longer life. Beginner athletes stepping into the gym for the first time ever or after a hiatus have a lot to learn, which is why we’re making this guide. Although it’s a long journey for beginner athletes to learn the do’s and don’ts of fitness, it’s a journey worth taking.
This guide is by no means going to touch everything you need to know – no fitness expert knows everything, no matter how reluctant they are to admit it. But, this will give you a basic understanding of what to do on your first day at the gym.
Define your fitness goals
Before you even start scheduling rest, cardio, and strength days – define what you want to accomplish. Are you trying to lose weight? Build muscle? Gain endurance? Whatever it is, your workouts and nutrition plan will revolve around that big picture.
But that’s just the first step. Losing weight is a healthy goal worth pursuing, but it’s not a S.M.A.R.T. goal. That means it’s not specific enough. The key to being a successful as a beginner athlete to evolve into a seasoned one is – being purposeful in your actions. Doing random workouts at sporadic times might help you get in shape, but not reach your end goal.
Set mini-goals to help keep you on-track. Your mini-goals will dial you in on your end goal, and motivate you throughout your journey. See how these fitness goals are closer in reach than simply “losing weight”:
- Go to the gym four times a week
- Take the stairs
- Run three miles a week
- Use 10-pound weights with an exercise
- Walk 10,000 steps a day
Invest in a personal trainer
Now that you have a vision in mind with specific steps you want to take, it’s time to create a workout plan that reflects that. But beginner athletes may be unsure how to go about that. The good news: personal trainers are well educated to guide you expertly to reach your goals.
Even experienced athletes overestimate how much fitness advice can be found in a search engine. Personal trainers are well worth the investment when you’re just getting your bearings on fitness. They give beginner athletes a foundation to develop good fitness habits, like:
- Proper form
- Number of sets and reps
- Workout timing and schedule
- Specific exercises to tone muscles
- Efficient HIIT workouts
- Best stretching and warm-up techniques
- Nutrition and lifestyle advice to support your fitness program and keep you on track
People will debate on never-ending online threads about form and reps, but you don’t know the person on the other side of the computer. With personal trainers, you can trust their voices since they have the education and certification to back up their advice. They’ll explain what exercises to do, when to do them, how to do them and most importantly – why you’re doing them. When beginner athletes understand the why behind their workouts, they can develop their own plan later.
Explore different workout avenues
Even beginner athletes know that there’s an array of fitness niches out there. Oftentimes, these branches of fitness become “trendy,” but that doesn’t mean you have to go with the flow. Dip your feet in different areas of fitness, such as:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Functional fitness
- Strength training
- Yoga or pilates
- Group fitness
Try it all. Beginner athletes can sometimes fall into a routine they don’t genuinely enjoy, just because it was “cool.” Explore, find your niche, and roll with it. You won’t ever get bored working out when you’re having a great time doing it. If more than one type of fitness appeals to you, even better! That means you can mix up your workouts without feeling pressured to only lift weights or cardio.
Get the hang of it
Be patient and don’t try any complex, extravagant workouts. This can put beginner athletes at risk for injury, since their muscles haven’t accustomed to the stress they’re under during their first workouts.
If you’re pursuing yoga, perhaps start with slow-paced hatha yoga. That way, you can start nailing your fundamentals and save the complex poses for down the road. If you’re learning to pump iron, do high repetitions (number of movements) and low weight. That way, you can focus on developing proper form, which will potentially save you from injury. In this aspect, beginner athletes are actually at an advantage. Instead of having to shake old habits and replace them with healthy ones, they can build the right ones from the get-go with the help of personal trainers.
Grab other beginner athletes and partner up
Beginning your fitness journey becomes a lot easier with a friend. One study found that 95 percent of people that started a weight loss program with others finished it, while only 76 percent finished it alone. Some research even says that working out with a partner can increase performance, like running faster. This boost of motivation and confidence can propel you through intimidation and shyness around the gym. Workout partners can also:
- Keep you accountable and stay focused
- Ensure you’re keeping proper form
- Spot you when increasing weight
- Help you ease into a routine you may have never tried previously
- Provide positive encouragement and help push yourself harder
Take the leap of faith into fitness. Beginner athletes, no matter what shape or size, can learn what their minds and bodies are capable of with consistency and dedication. With the help of Thrive Fitness’ personal trainers, you can find your niche and learn proper farm with an expert’s supervision. Every professional athlete or bodybuilder started somewhere – so just start. Start your fitness journey today, email email@example.com.
Cardio is oftentimes either drastically overlooked or underlooked. Many lifting enthusiasts forget to make time for cardio, while many athletes looking for weight loss resort to heavy amounts of cardio daily.
However, there’s no need to neither avoid it entirely nor run dozens of miles a week. The solution is either High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS). With the two differing programs, you could incorporate either of them to meet your cardiovascular needs.
What’s the difference between HIIT and LISS cardio?
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT is typically more challenging than LISS. Only lasting about 20-30 minutes, HIIT consists of short spurts of maximum effort with even shorter spurts of rest. These 30-60 second intervals are sure to elevate your heart rate and burn more calories in less time.
- Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS): LISS is an excellent stepping stone into fitness because it’s not as challenging as HIIT. Activities like jogging, walking, and light biking are all examples of LISS cardio. Usually lasting longer than HIIT, LISS activities place less strain on your body – but it takes much longer to burn the same amount of calories.
The Pros of HIIT and LISS Cardio:
- You burn more calories. After an effective HIIT session, your body continues to burn fat hours afterward. This is because HIIT yields higher Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) than LISS. EPOC is your body’s way of cooling down after a workout – and the more intense your workout, the more your EPOC is stimulated. This is why HIIT is well-known for boosting metabolism.
- It takes less time. As long as you keep your breaks to a minimum, all you need is 15-20 minutes for a killer HIIT session. This makes HIIT ideal for busy individuals who don’t have much time for exercise.
- It builds muscle. In the matter of 20 short minutes, you can burn fat and build muscle. HIIT often incorporates strength exercises, which prevent you from losing muscle mass. Therefore, all the calories you burn are fat.
- It’s sustainable. Because LISS isn’t as challenging, you can keep it in your routine for however long you want. LISS should be something relatively easy and enjoyable.
- It’s safer. Since LISS doesn’t require bursts of muscle action, this makes it easier on your body. While HIIT can consist of plyometrics and other high-stress exercises – LISS doesn’t. You’re less likely to pull or injure yourself while doing LISS.
- It takes less recovery time. After you’ve established a level of endurance and muscle tone, your muscles are less likely to feel sore or exhausted after LISS. That means you can bounce back and repeat LISS workouts 5-6 days a week (be sure to take rest days).
The Cons of HIIT and LISS Cardio:
- It’s hard on your body. During HIIT, you’re constantly moving and doing exercises. It’s easy to get tired during HIIT and your movements may get sloppy – which may increase your chance for strain or injury. Staple HIIT movements like jumping and rowing can be taxing on your joints, as well.
- It takes more recovery time. Unlike LISS, you’ll likely have muscle soreness after HIIT since your muscles are growing by repairing themselves. Because of this, it’s best to do HIIT only 2-3 times a week.
- It can affect your nutrition. You may be taking advantage of how many calories you’re burning. Although it’s easy to shed 600 calories an hour (post-HIIT) – that doesn’t mean you should go splurge on fatty “comfort” foods.
- It can shed muscle mass. Because you’re not actively gaining muscle during LISS, the calories you burn can and do include muscle. If you’re looking to settle muscular imbalances or disproportions, LISS can help. If you’re trying to bulk however, HIIT may be best.
- It’s less convenient. LISS can take up to an hour, even more – so LISS doesn’t have the attractive convenience of HIIT. In order for LISS to be effective and burn a decent amount of calories, an hour is recommended.
- It burns less calories. If quick weight loss is your goal, LISS may not be for you. There’s no EPOC effect after LISS because it’s purely aerobic exercise.
So whether you like short bursts of intense activity, or lengthy runs of predictable exercise – there’s no excuse not to get some form of cardio in. HIIT may be more suited for athletes and individuals on the tenacious side. Whatever kind of athlete you are, you need cardio for the benefits it brings to your brain, blood, muscles, weight, mood, and more.
At Thrive Fitness Atlanta, our personal trainers can help you find out which kind of cardio and workout program is best suited for your goals and lifestyle. Email firstname.lastname@example.org today to inch one step closer toward your goal.