I know we all get sick at the thought of going to see the doctor. I mean who wants to sit there all day and wait for hours just to get called into the office. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where you need to pay a visit to the doctor no matter what age you are. You want to make sure you don’t have some pre-existing condition that would possibly be bothered more by an average workout. Trust me, you don’t want to skip the doctor and find out something is wrong with you while you’re bench pressing with a loaded bar or running on the treadmill (Doesn’t feel good to fall down on those things).
Once you get the “good to go” from your doctor it’s time to decide what exactly your goal is. Do you just want to do cardio like running? Or do you want to lift weights as well? Maybe you want to do both (which is extremely beneficial). If you decide to just go with the cardio then answer one thing. Is this the first time you’ve ever done any kind of cardio in your life? Did you just come off of a lay-off of a few months? Or have you already been doing some exercise?
If you’ve already been regularly exercising then you can keep doing what your doing, add some intensity (running faster or doing sprint intervals), or increase the frequency (more workouts or longer workouts). Since this article is more for the beginner I’m only going to discuss that. If this is your first time you’re going to want to start out walking the first couple weeks at a comfortable pace that allows you to break a sweat for around 30 minutes about 3 days a week. If you’re in better shape you could start out jogging 2 miles a day for 3 days a week. That doesn’t seem like much but if you’re just starting it is very easy to over-train. I’ve been exercising for 6 years now and I sometimes push the limit and over-train as well. No one is immune to it. Over-training will increase your stress as well as de-motivate you. Trust me, once it kicks in you’ll know because you’ll constantly be tired and the sight of the gym will make you cringe. Take it easy and only increase once every 2 weeks or so. Don’t overdo it. I would suggest only adding around 2 miles to your total WEEKLY mileage every 2 weeks. This will ensure that you don’t over-train as well as giving your knees, joints, and shins the chance to adapt and strengthen.
If you want to add weight training as well, you need to take some extra precautions. Weight training can lead to over-training faster than cardio alone and if you don’t do it right could lead to serious injury. Bodybuilding.com has pictures and videos of every exercise so you can see exactly how to do it the right way to prevent injury. Before every workout, warm up on the bike or treadmill for around 10 minutes. This will prepare the heart and muscles for the work to come as well as get the blood flowing. Plus muscles are weaker when not properly warmed up. After this warm-up, ensure that you stretch every muscle thoroughly while focusing on the muscles that will be used. Trust me on this one, I’ve torn a few muscles by neglecting the warm-up portion even though I was using perfect form on the exercise. I’m only 22, so it can happen to anyone, not just the older crowd. Now that we have the warm-up out of the way lets move into the workout. When first beginning weight lifting DO NOT follow workouts you see the pros listing in magazines. These are for an advanced weight lifter usually that has been lifting for 3 years or more. Start out with a full body workout 3 days a week. Use only one exercise per body part. The complete motion of the exercise is one rep. Do 12-15 reps with a weight you can comfortably handle with good form to complete one set. Do 2-3 sets of each exercise, 3 sets for the larger muscle groups like legs and chest, and 2 sets for arms and calves. You can do machines or free weights, I prefer free weights to hit the stabilizer muscles as well. If you use free weights make sure to have a spotter for safety reasons of course. Workouts like the bench press, the squat, barbell curl, and pull-ups are the kings of weight lifting exercises. Stick to basic, compound movements to ensure a complete workout that works all the muscles evenly. After your workout ensure you thoroughly stretch all of your muscles again. This leads to enhanced recovery by increasing blood flow to the muscles which will ensure you are getting more nutrients to the muscle. Follow this program for 3-6 months and gradually increase the weight when you feel you could do more than 15 reps for a given exercise.
If you do cardio and weight lifting the only thing I have to say is take it easy and only increase gradually. Listen to your body. If you are extra sore one day then skip your workout. Working out while the muscle has not properly recovered yet will only cause more damage, so no more IS NOT better. It rarely is with anything. The only other thing I would say, from personal opinion, is do cardio AFTER weights if you’re going to do them both while you’re at the gym. If you do it before you’re just going to have less energy for the weights and it’s easier to do cardio after weight lifting in my opinion. And now for the news you don’t want to hear. This workout is not guaranteed for EVERYONE. I don’t mean that it will not work, as it is a very good starting point. What I mean is eventually as you progress, you’re going to have to do some more work on your part. You can try every workout in the magazines, but when it comes down to it you have to listen to your body and find what works for you. I’ve been through 6 training partners and what works for me is never exactly the same for them. Some people respond better to more sets and less reps while others use more reps and less sets. You have to figure this one out yourself. For now focus on this workout until you move on to the intermediate level in following months.
- If you can do everything on different days. Use Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for weights and Tuesday and Thursday for cardio. Or do cardio on Saturday too if you want. If you can’t give everything its own day then just do the cardio after your weight workout.
- To promote faster recovery, ensure you are eating a good, clean diet that’s high in protein and fibrous carbohydrates. If you eat like crap you’re going to feel like crap in the gym and it’s going to take you longer to recover from your workouts.
- If money permits, hire a personal trainer at the gym if you use the gym. If you feel like he/she is feeding you a bunch of BS just to get your money then don’t use them. It’s completely possible to do on your own.
- Get a bodyspace account on bodybuilding.com for extra motivation. It’s just like myspace almost except for fitness. Check out other peoples workouts and nutrition plans, offer words of encouragement and motivation to others, or just use it to track your overall progress and show everyone what a good job your doing.
- Make sure to see your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
- Use common sense. We know what kind of pain is normal and what isn’t normal. The burn from lifting weights is lactic acid. That’s normal. Pain in a joint or ligament is NOT normal. If you experience any abnormal pain STOP immediately and see your doctor. If it’s just something like shin splints then take a few weeks off of running and gradually move back into it. It takes time to adapt but eventually, you’ll be able to graduate to the intermediate level and should already be reaping the benefits with increased health and a great body.
- Use slow, controlled movements in your weight workouts. Those guys you see just bouncing the weight around may be able to lift alot at the time but they will eventually have an injury that will put them out of the game for awhile. I learned my lesson the hard way, so spare yourself the pain and disappointment and use good form on all exercises.