You just decided to get fit and swim in a sea of choices: How to start working out? Here are the five golden rules that will get and keep you going.
Keep It Realistic
If you just discovered working out or have only done it for a short while, don’t count on looking like Superman or -girl by this time next month. Building muscle is a slow process. If it was something you can do in four weeks then we all would look like underwear models. Expect to see a difference in strength after four weeks of training and a noticeable difference in appearance after six months.
Keep It Simple
Beginners don’t need to tackle one muscle group from five angles with as many specialized exercises. The muscles that support the main muscle being worked on are not yet developed enough to do their job and you also don’t know yet how these exercises feel when done correctly. You might end up exercising a muscle totally different from the muscle you actually think you are working on.
An example that comes to mind here is a triceps exercise called “skullcrushers“, which require you to hold your upper arms still. Many beginners won’t manage that and will involuntarily move the upper arms and turn the whole thing into a mixture of skullcrushers and yet another exercise, pullovers, which involves the chest muscles. This happens because the deltoids, which act as stabilizers during skullcrushers, aren’t yet fit enough to, well, stabilize.
Do Compound Movements
The last directly leads us over to this recommendation, because compound movements – those that involve many muscle groups at once – set up your basic strength in the larger muscles and get all those smaller muscles ready for the more detailed tasks.
For example, push-ups not only train the entire chest, but also the triceps and the deltoid muscles. This preparation will later help your deltoids do the stabilizing when you integrate the above mentioned skullcrushers into your workouts.
Do Whole Body Workouts
As a beginner you aren’t taxing your muscles to physical exhaustion and can do whole body workouts 2-3 times a week. In the early stages it is the less the muscles that tire, but the brain, that is stressed from learning to activate all required muscle fibers and concentrating on doing the movements correctly. Intermediate and advanced trainees truly tax their muscles to the limits and need to rest for longer amounts of time before exercising that area again, but the brain is able to recuperate faster.
Get A Check-Up
Make sure you are physically ready for what you want to start. Some medical conditions can go undetected for quite some time and may become worse when you pile more stress on top of what your body already has to cope with. Or you have a health problem you already are aware of and which may set certain limitations to what you can do.
In any case, before you begin your workout adventure, it’s very advisable to get a check-up by your doctor and receive his ok, because it would be really unfortunate if your health goes into worse condition from something supposed to make it better.
And Now Get Started!
If you heed these tips, then success in fitness and working out should soon be yours. Now have a look at what equipment you need to train at home and check the example for a beginner program you can find here.
If you are unsure where you stand, there is a personal rule of thumb I have that may help: When you are able to do at least 30 consecutive push-ups in fully controlled form, which means 2 seconds up and 2 down, and seven pull-ups, without kicking yourself off the ground or swinging, you have left the beginner stage.
Picture courtesy of “Ambro“.