Last updated on February 4th, 2023 at 12:23 pm
Exercise makes us feel good, is good for us, but if you’ve never had an exercise routine in your life, getting started can be a bit confusing. And it doesn’t have to be, it’s actually pretty simple. All it takes is a decision, your body and 20-30 minutes a day. So today, if you don’t have a workout habit yet, let’s talk about how to start working out for beginners!
Just to make something clear: I’m not going to show you how to equip a gym at home. You know what you need to start working out? The very basics? A functioning body. Even if you want to exercise at home, anyone can look up a beginner workout on Youtube and try it. So, let’s lose the excuses and find some ideas here.
The Mindset: Make Working Out Fun
Exercise is not that hard thing that you have to do to get fit, so you can look good and tell people look at me now and laugh at them.
It can be a very fun thing. It’s something you do because you want to make your life better. Not because someone’s gonna applaud when they see your abs. But because it makes you feel good. Because it’s a completely natural part of your day that brings you back to who you really are.
We are made to move, to play and to be active.
Think about children. Nobody makes toddlers move. Young children don’t know or care about the benefits of exercise. They’re not trying to lose weight or get abs. But if you try to stop them from running around all day…well prepare to be screamed at and possibly bitten.
When I was a kid, my mom put me in a gym class and I was a little gymnast for a little bit. I loved it. I could bend my body any way I wanted and I was really quick. Then I became a teenager and suddenly hanging out in coffee shops and talking about guys became the cool thing to do. Another cool thing back then was to start smoking. Thankfully I didn’t start it, but I had fallen out of love with exercise for a while. I only worked out because I wanted abs, or…No that’s it. I wanted abs. Well, I never got them, because I was eating pizza every day. But at some point, I changed my perspective and started actually craving exercise.
When you think of exercise as something you like, something that brings you joy, you start wanting to do it more often. You start looking forward to it. You want to make it a part of your daily routine.
How Much Exercise Should You Do?
Officially, we need between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. This means, at least 30 minutes five days a week of brisk walking, light jogging, dancing, swimming, or water aerobics.
Another way to get enough exercise is to do 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise. That’s 15 minutes five days a week of running, cycling, hiking uphill, basketball, soccer or even intense gardening.
Now imagine your days having these activities in your life! I don’t know about you, but it sounds pretty good to me. It doesn’t sound like the treadmill five days a week. It sounds like a lot of fun. Sounds like doing a variety of memorable, fun things.
The WHO also wants you to add 2 strength training sessions to strengthen the major muscle groups in the body. And if you don’t have a gym – you can do that too. I’ve seen people do it using tires or even cement blocks outside. I personally have some dumbbells and a kettlebell.
The Benefits Of Exercise
Cardio and strength exercises are shown to improve sleep, reduce depression, prevent diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, some cancers, prevent fractures and help maintain weight loss.
Strength training can not only make you look super hot, so you can create an Instagram profile, but, almost as importantly, – preserve bone mass, prevent fractures, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, improve sleep and help you burn more calories even at rest. (source)
If you’re feeling unmotivated, chances are, once you start working out regularly for at least a few weeks – you’ll become more motivated by the action itself. Not just to exercise, but in life in general. You might even want to start eating better in order to move faster and perform better.
How To Make Exercise A Habit For Beginners
If you’re a beginner and want to make exercise a habit, start by being more intentional about it. You can’t just keep saying “I’ll start working out tomorrow” for an entire week and expect that something’s gonna change because you’re saying it all the time.
You need to be more specific, you need to make a plan and you need to make a specific plan and then you need to take action.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when you’re serious about starting to work out and making it a habit:
- What? What type of exercise do you want to do? Yoga, pilates, swimming running, weight lifting, team sport, bodyweight workouts, HIIT?
- Where? Where are you going to work out? At home, gym, outside – pick a place!
- How? Are you going to exercise alone or with a friend? If you want someone to exercise with someone else, you might be more likely to do it, because they’ll hold you accountable.
- How long? How long do you want to work out in a day, in a week? 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 1 hour? Each one is a good option when you actually do it.
- When? What time of the day or which days of the week do you want to exercise?
Write all that down and your action plan to start working out regularly is ready. Now it’s time to start taking action!
5 Tips To Start Working Out For Beginners
These are just some basic tips and ideas that can help you to make exercise a part of your life. This is what works for me and comes from my own experience.
1. Exercise In The Morning
I find the best way for me to stick to a new habit or a workout schedule is to exercise in the morning. It makes me feel good physically and mentally, and it gives me that sense of accomplishment early in the day.
Plus let’s be honest, whenever I say I will exercise later in the day – I don’t exercise at all. And I’m having a pretty mediocre-mixed-with-crappy day. Why? Well, there’s always something better to do later in the day, always some excuse that sounds really good.
So if you can: wake up early and exercise in the morning.
2. Join A Local Fitness Class
Sign up for local dance, yoga, Pilates, barre or team sport (like basketball) class. The reason I recommend this is that you simply learn differently when you’re doing a class in person.
You can ask any question you want right away and if you’re not doing a movement right, the trainer will most likely give you feedback and teach you how to do it properly. Plus it’s more fun and you get to meet new people and create relationships! This is also key for good health and will make you look forward to working out.
Joining a local fitness class is also great for accountability. If you don’t know how to find classes near you, simply google the class you want to join and the city you live in. You’re welcome.
3. Disguise Exercise As A Fun Activity For Friends Or Family
Instead of going out for beers or eating pizza every week, you can also suggest certain types of exercise as a fun activity for your family or friends. Even to people at work.
Most people love to try new things. You know why? Because otherwise life gets boring. So, be the one with the ideas. All you need is one to two people who join you. If you can’t find anyone – there are plenty of groups online that you can join and meet in person with.
You can play basketball, badminton, try indoor climbing, go hiking or swimming, seriously any team sport is good.
I’m telling you, I’ve made some very lazy people play basketball with me. If I can do it, you can do it too. We have a good time and then they suddenly want to do it again. Focus on simply having fun and being active with the people you love.
4. Exercise At Home
For a more regular workout routine, I find the easiest option to be doing at home workouts. Or to go out for a run in the morning. I, personally, don’t have the habit or motivation to go to the gym every day and I always make excuses not to.
So if you’re the same – set aside 20-30 minutes and do an at-home workout.
When you exercise at home, you shouldn’t have too many excuses. You don’t need to go anywhere else and it’s free. My favorite types of workouts to do at home are definitely yoga, Pilates and barre, especially for beginners. When I do them regularly, I feel relaxed, lean and strong.
5. Track Progress And Keep Making Plans
Now, something that really motivates many people is tracking their progress and workouts.
I used to track a lot, but now I don’t anymore. However, I love to reflect and look back at what I’ve done on a weekly basis. It just makes me feel good and brings so much gratitude that I got to experience those things. They didn’t seem like huge accomplishments in the moment, but they did bring me joy and made me a healthier human.
Also, keep making plans. Sit down on Friday or Sunday and make a workout plan for the week. It can be as simple as picking seven 30-minute workouts that you want to try out during the next week. Then you just check them off once you’ve done them. This will keep the routine going.
Best Types Of Workouts For Beginners
What type of workouts you do, depends on your fitness level and your own preferences. If you’re new to working out, some beginner-friendly options to help you start working out include:
- brisk walking
These sports are challenging, but they’re low-impact, which means there’s no jumping involved. And they won’t be hard on your joints. So whenever you look for a workout class, either look for the word low-impact or beginner.
Beginner-Friendly Workouts & Workout Plans
Here are some workout plans and workout collections that you might find helpful:
- 7-Day Workout Plan For Beginners
- 7-Day Workout Plan For Complete Beginners
- 8 Pilates Workouts To Tone Everything
- 9 Barre Workouts You Can Do At Home
- One Week Pilates Workout Plan To Get Lean & Strong
Consistency: The Key To Start Working Out Successfully
Start small. You don’t want to do 1 really tough workout the first or second time you try and then give up. Be patient and consistent.
You have time to do more of them. You just need to learn how to rest and then come back the next day. Imagine what you can accomplish in three months, not just today. Rest is just as important as the work you do.
When you plant a seed in the garden, you don’t expect it to grow that same day, right? Good things take time, because they need the time to develop properly. You can’t force progress as much as you push it. So, be patient and consistent.
Hopefully, this post helped you if you struggle to start exercising regularly. I know I lose my motivation every now and then, but whenever I go back to what exercise should be – FUN! – I want to do more of it and I love how it makes me feel.
This post was originally published in July 2019 and last updated in February 2023.