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Last Updated on December 16, 2020

How to Start Exercising Right Now (And Stick to It)

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How to Start Exercising Right Now (And Stick to It)

So, do you want to learn how to start exercising right now?

Let me start by saying this: I am practically giddy with the idea of you sitting on the other end of this computer. You’re about to start a whole new lifestyle, and that’s no small feat. The confidence, energy, vibrancy, passion, and discipline it will bring to your life will be well worth it!

While I know you’re committed, I’m sure there are some questions you have on your mind as well, including “Where do I even begin?”

Well, because I care about your success, my answer won’t be as cut and dry as “You need to do these exercises” and such.

Creating a new lifestyle does not only mean changing your physical but also mental habits, after all. Yes, you could start working out, but that would be a disservice. You would be making things far more challenging on yourself than you need to.

There are three things that you can build on to make a change last:

Mindset

Let’s start with the foundation of your goals: mindset.

As a fitness manager, I have witnessed how a slight change in mindset has the power to change lives. You just need to:

1. Know Your Why

If you were to walk up to me in a gym and ask how to start exercising, I would stop you in your track and answer you with another question. “Why do you want to start exercising?”

I do this because behavior change is an emotional thing! Typically, it takes someone hitting rock bottom to commit to change.

For me, I was chronically ill for years. I started working out to save my life! For some, they might have gotten out of breath and have not been able to play with their kids. One client of mine saw a picture of herself that brought her to tears. She didn’t even recognize herself anymore.

These are the emotions that will propel you to your goal. You need to know why you are doing what you are doing. Just knowing what to do will never help you reach the potential you deserve.

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Check out this article to start making your dreams come true: 10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

2. Create SMART Goals

Now for the fun part: goal setting. This is an exciting moment. You get to dream up what you want out of your habits. What dreams and goals do you want to reach?

Merely writing a goal down will make you 42% more likely to achieve them.

But there is another professional secret I would like to share with you. It is the power of a SMART goal.

A SMART goal is a way of breaking your big goal into actionable steps to help you reach that goal!

Take the goal of someone wanting to lose weight, for instance. Turning that into a “smart” plan will look like this:

Specific: I want to lose 40 pounds of body fat.

Measurable: I want to lose 40 pounds by February 1st.

Achievable: I can safely lose 2 pounds a week by doing strength training and cardio 3x a week.

Realistic: Am I willing to commit enough time to reach this goal?

Timely: Each week, I will lose 2 pounds. Each month, I will lose 8 Pounds. By 5-6 months, I will reach my target weight.

Using this goal-setting method indeed clarifies your goal. It gives you simple action steps that will guarantee your success!

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Behavioral Change and Habits

How to start exercising can be relatively simple: do it. But if it were easy, we would all be doing it, wouldn’t we?

What if I told you there was a way for you to work out naturally? You wouldn’t have to think about it — you would just wake up and do it.

It all lies in the power of the habit.[1]

If you’ve ever read atomic habits, you understand that you will be spending tons of unnecessary energy without patterns. Once the practice becomes second nature to you, you will find the goals easier to accomplish.

Why? Because a habit “is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.”

Think about a bad habit you’ve always wanted to break. It’s hard to stop doing that because the pattern is literally ingrained in your brain.

The same thing goes with good habits. Once a good habit is achieved, your brain will do it almost automatically.

How nice would it be to find yourself working out without even having to think about it?

There are several ways to build a habit, but these are my two favorites:

1. Habit Stacking

Habit stacking is a way of building new habits by taking advantage of existing ones.[2]

Your brain likely has already formed hundreds of habits. E.g., brewing coffee every morning, brushing your teeth, pulling out your phone when you get stressed, or driving a particular route from work.

Instead of trying to build a whole new habit from scratch, you can just borrow from these other habits.

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For instance, you change out of your work clothes each evening (I hope!). So, you could make your new habit of changing into your workout clothes instead and texting a friend your workout for the day.

This is actually how I built my love for working out in the first place. Each evening, I would place my workout clothes and gear on my bed. Then, first thing each morning, I would change into them and go for a walk or jog. Before long, mornings became a foundational habit that I later built on.

2. Make the Habit Accessible

Our brain always likes to do the easy thing. If we complicate a situation by adding unnecessary steps, it’s doubtful that we will follow through.

The simple solution is to make your habit easy.[3] For instance, when I learned how to start exercising, I prepared for it the night. This way, it only took one step (changing) before I was ready to workout.

Now, that’s turned into me creating a gym bag, writing my workout programs in advance, or hiring someone to write my workouts for myself. I also have a specific area for tracking all my goals and progress.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure the heavy lifting is already done the day before you actually do it.

3. Commit Daily

This might seem obsessive, but it’s crucial to commit to your goals daily. If you don’t, you will likely fall out of the habit.

In my case, that means working out every morning. Sometimes my workout might not be intense. In fact, I limit my movement to recovery for at least one day and go on a hike, walk, or stretching. However, the daily consistency guarantees that I won’t fall off the bandwagon.

For most people, this isn’t something that they have to commit to for a lifetime. Still, I think everyone should do it for the first 30-90 days.

I use something called a thermometer checklist to track my consistency.[4] It has been a game-changer!

Exercises

The final step is actually to choose what exercise to do.

My recommendation is to spend the first 30 days, just creating a habit. That could mean attending classes, going on walks, doing strength training — whatever it takes for you to gain consistency seven days a week.

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Once your habits are built, there a few types of exercise you can incorporate to see positive results.

1. Cardio

Almost everyone already knows about cardio. Working in a gym, I always see the cardio equipment more flooded than anything else!

Cardio is excellent for your heart and helps you burn calories immediately. However, cardio doesn’t boost your metabolism and make you lose fat long-term (if that is your goal).

Another thing to keep in mind is that cardio isn’t beneficial unless you are either working out often or pushing yourself to raise your heart rate.

2. Strength Training

Strength training sculpts the body and allows you to burn more fat over a more extended period.

This is true for several reasons:

  • It reduces insulin resistance (if you are sensitive to eating carbs, that is).
  • Muscle burns fat, so the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn daily.
  • Recovery from strength training boosts your metabolism for the next 2-3 days.

If you were to ask any fitness expert if cardio or strength training gives people better results, almost all of them would say strength training will do the job fast.

How to Do Strength Training:

If strength training works so well, then the obvious question is, “Where do I start?”

From a personal trainer standpoint, I always recommend starting with stabilization exercises.[5] These workouts will help build up your core muscles and increase your balance so that you don’t get injured later on.

If the linked exercises above seem hard to learn, I would recommend starting with either hiring a personal trainer (my apparent preference) to guide you through everything or taking up yoga classes (which improves your stability and core moves).

Once you’ve mastered some balance and stability, then you can do other workouts as well.

Bottom Line

Best of luck on your journey! To make things easy, you need to remember the following:

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  1. Know your why
  2. Create SMART goals
  3. Make accessible habits
  4. Commit to your daily habits
  5. Spend 30 days just making a habit of moving forward
  6. Do cardio and strength training

If you’re struggling with the nutrition side of habit building, here are more tips for you.

More on Jumping Into the Fitness Wagon

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

How to Find Weight Loss Meal Plans That Work for You 8 Weight Loss Tracker and Exercise Apps for Your Fitness Goals 20 Easy Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss 20 Delicious and Healthy Breakfast for Weight Loss how to start exercising How to Start Exercising Right Now (And Stick to It)

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Last Updated on September 23, 2021

Best Bodyweight Workouts For Beginners (The Complete Guide)

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Best Bodyweight Workouts For Beginners (The Complete Guide)

Think you can’t get a great workout or build muscle with your body weight? think again. Getting fit doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep it simple, safe, and effective with bodyweight workouts you can do anytime and anywhere for the rest of your life.

Regardless of whether you are an athlete, recreational exercise enthusiast, or someone who hasn’t lifted anything but small children or everyday household items, using your body weight as resistance is one of the best ways to get and keep your body in tip-top shape for years to come.

What Is Bodyweight Training?

Bodyweight training or workout uses your body as resistance and is essential for gaining and maintaining muscles, especially as you age. According to the National Institute of Health, beginning as early as age 30, we gradually lose muscle mass and strength as a natural part of the aging process.[1] The rate of loss varies from person to person and will increase due to a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutritional selections. If you don’t do anything about it, the average human will lose 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade. But there is excellent news. With the addition of daily movement, weekly strength training, and proper nutritional choices, gaining muscle is more straightforward than you will expect.

If you want to build confidence, endurance, move better, feel stronger, and lose weight, start with bodyweight workouts. Your body is one of the most fantastic fitness machines ever created to handle life’s physical demands and challenges, and it is always available to you. With a bit of effort, consistency, and proper progressive programming, you will not only improve your fitness level, but you will also continue to feel mentally focused, and you might even minimize the effects of the aging process.

    Photo Credit: Kaileen Pfeiffer of Pfeiffer Photography

    Need more convincing?

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    Jane M. Taylor, MS, CSCS, PN L1, Owner/Coach of Raw Fitness Performance, says:

    “Mastering bodyweight strength is crucial if you plan to add strength training to your overall fitness plan. Having coached thousands of athletes, adults, teens, and kids, I apply the same movement paradigm to everyone, especially beginners.

    First, can you get in position? In other words, do you have proper mobility and stability? You do? Great.

    Next, can you get in and out of position? That’s bodyweight strength—movement with control.

    Spending time practicing bodyweight workouts is time well spent. Not worrying about an external load allows you to groove the movement, laying down the foundation and establishing the fundamentals to eventually express more significant amounts of strength with weights when you are ready to progress.

    Not only that, no matter where you go, you’ll NEVER miss a workout!”

    Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises

    Here are 12 benefits that will motivate and excite you to put your body to work.

    1. It helps improve any muscle imbalances, especially from rounded shoulders and tight hips from sitting too long (hello, new work from the home model).
    2. It works the whole body.
    3. It lays down an excellent foundation for future weighted programming.
    4. It helps improve strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and coordination.
    5. It can increase your confidence.
    6. It saves time going to the gym.
    7. It can be done anywhere, so there is never an excuse not to work out.
    8. No equipment is necessary.
    9. It never gets boring.
    10. It’s free.
    11. It’s great for any body type.

    Will I Build Muscles With Just My Body Weight?

    Yes!! Following an intense workout, muscle fibers break down and need to repair. It’s during this repair phase that the muscles will strengthen and grow. Note that for this process to occur, the body must be pushed outside of its comfort zone. Using external resistance, aka free weights, barbells, or bands, will speed up this process and is a fantastic addition to any strength program, but it is doable with just your body weight.

    As you improve, the trick is to continue changing your training variable (sets, reps, intensity, time under tension). Once you have mastered your technique, it is time to take it to the next level by mixing high-intensity exercises with exercises performed slowly, focusing on engaging the muscle during the contraction phase, which I will demonstrate in the video.

    Let’s break down a few beginner exercises and body parts to get you started.

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    First, there are seven basic movements the body can perform; pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting, twisting, skipping, jumping. From these seven, there are many different variations for each body part which I will show you below. With bodyweight workouts, you work all your muscles, including your heart, as you elevate your endurance.

    1. Back – Plank Push-Ups, Back Extensions
    2. Chest – Push-Ups, Incline Regular, High to Low Plank
    3. Arms – Modified Side Plank, Side Plank Hip Drop, Dips
    4. Core/Hips – Planks (high and low; you may perform off your kitchen counter), Elevated Mt Climbers, Opposite Arm Leg Reach, Bear Crawl Hold, Isometric Knee Press (Single and Double Knee Hold), Heel Drops (Single and Double Heel Drop), Deadbug, Crunches, Floor Bridge
    5. Legs/Hips
    6. Quadriceps – Seated Bent Knee Extensions, Seated Straight Leg Lift
    7. Hips – Side Leg Raise, Deadlifts, Prone Leg Lifts, Glute Extensions
    8. Squats – Chair Squat, Step Out Squat, Plie Squat, Wall Squat Hold
    9. Lunges – Step Ups, Stationary, Side Lunge, Curtsy Lunge, Swing Lunge

    Designing a Bodyweight Workout Program

    With bodyweight workouts, the variety is endless and can be applied to any current life situation. Whether you have 10 minutes or an hour, use the simple format below to keep your muscles constantly guessing. If you are just starting, begin with 20 minutes twice a week for two to four weeks. As your fitness level improves, increase the time and amount of days/week.

    The greatest thing about bodyweight workouts is there are multiple variations, and you will never get bored. Select an exercise from each category. Always starting with a movement that works numerous muscles at once ex push-ups and squats, then move to exercises that work smaller muscles, aka dips for the triceps.

    Best Beginner Total Body Workout

    Beginner: two times a week

    (Repeat 2 x 10 to 15 repetitions)

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    1. Plank Push-Ups

    1. Begin on your elbows on an elevated surface such as your kitchen counter or dining table.
    2. Step your feet back and together so you are supporting your body weight on your elbows.
    3. Maintain a straight line from the top of your head to your toes.
    4. At the same time, brace your core by pulling your stomach muscles in towards the back of the body and begin to retract your shoulder blades as if you are squeezing a pencil, then push the counter away with your core and elbows and come back to the starting position.
    5. Perform the prescribed repetitions (reps).
    6. Your whole body should move as a unit.

    2. Push-Ups

    1. Begin by placing your hands shoulder-width apart on an elevated surface such as your kitchen counter or dining table.
    2. Step your feet back and together so you are supporting your body weight on your hands, maintaining a straight line from the top of your head to your toes.
    3. At the same time, brace your core by pulling your stomach muscles in towards the back of the body and begin to bend your elbows and lower your chest towards the counter, then straighten your arms and push back up to the starting position.
    4. Perform the prescribed reps.
    5. Your whole body should move as a unit.

    3. Step-Out Squat

    1. Begin standing with your feet together.
    2. Step out to the right and lower your hips back behind you, pushing through the heels. Keep the knees behind the toes.
    3. Stand up and step together, tucking the tailbone under and squeezing the butt at the top.
    4. Perform the prescribed reps.
    5. Repeat on the left.

    4. Stationary Lunge

    1. Step out about hip bone/hip distance.
    2. Step the right foot back and stagger your stance about the same distance as the length of your leg.
    3. Keep the back heel off the ground and begin to bend into both legs, lowering your body towards the floor.
    4. Be sure to place more of your body weight through your front heel and keep the front knee behind the toe.
    5. Perform the prescribed reps.

    5. Hip Bridge

    1. Lie on your back, either on the floor or couch.
    2. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
    3. Press through the feet, squeeze your butt and press the hips to the sky.
    4. Lower down 1/2 way, then repeat.
    5. Perform the prescribed reps.

    6. Isometric Knee Press

    Depending on your core strength, begin with one side at a time or both legs on a tabletop.

    Level 1: Single-Leg Knee Press

    1. Lie on your back, either on the floor or couch.
    2. Bend your knees and place your right foot on the floor.
    3. Keeping the left knee bent, bring it up off the floor into a 90°-angle (otherwise known as tabletop position).
    4. Place the left hand on your thigh.
    5. At the same time, push your hand into your thigh and thigh into your hand. You should feel your abdominals contract.
    6. Hold that contraction for 10 sec, then pause.
    7. Perform the prescribed reps.
    8. Switch sides.

    Level 2: Double Knee Press

    1. The exact format as above, only this time, both legs will be in tabletop.
    2. Keep the abdominals braced for 10 sec, then pause.
    3. Perform the prescribed reps.

    Conclusion

    If your goal is to move and feel better in your body and continue to progress to an advanced fitness level, begin with bodyweight workouts. Not only will it lay down a solid foundation, but it will also help you minimize injury and give you the confidence to keep progressing to more challenging workouts.

    Commit to yourself and future strength gains by incorporating bodyweight workouts into your weekly routine. I promise you won’t be sorry.

    More Beginner Workouts You Can Try

    Featured photo credit: Fortune Vieyra via unsplash.com

    Reference

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