Exercise: Getting Started
Like many of us, when I first decided to lose weight I didn’t know what to do. Many of us lead busy lives and simply lack the time to exercise or the money for a gym membership and the assistance that comes from that. As a personal testament, weight loss and building muscle can be successfully achieved within your own home. I believe that focusing on the basics will help you later when decide to focus on more complicated workouts (which is where I myself am just starting to touch base with). You might not be the next underwear model for Hanes, I’m definitely not, but there is nothing stopping you – be it finances or time – from cutting that weight off yourself or packing on an extra layer of muscle.
Pick three days and set thirty minutes aside. Try aiming for morning workouts – they work better to help the metabolic process that way – and get crackin’. Starting out, keep it simple (do not mistake that word for “easy”) – stuff that will tone your body’s primary muscles and build strength, endurance, and encourages fat loss.
Only in the last six months have I myself gotten a weight bench, so I write this assuming that you lack one. Even now my primary focus is on basic resistance training: I do different styles of pushups, crunches, and other equipment-less calisthenics as I’m most accustomed to them and have had the best results. Below are my rules that I developed for myself. I am probably one of the laziest people on the planet, so I cannot emphasize enough that before you start looking up exercise routines that you need to have the right mindset going in.
Stick to Your Routine
I repeat, stick to your routine. I can’t stress this enough. Once you’ve decided your times, your days, and your exercises, do not deviate from them. You are more likely to slack off and eventually stop altogether if you are not strict about your times. By setting aside a specific time in your mind you are far more likely to follow through than if you promise yourself that you’ll get it done today at some point. If you decide that from seven in the morning until eight on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays you are going to get a workout then always do it at those specific times. This rule should only be violated in lieu of my second rule:
Expand Your Routine
In the beginning, you started off for a half hour three days a week with a defined number of sets. This should not – I repeat should not – remain finite. Always be considering how you can expand your activity. This may be extending the length of the workouts. It may be adding an additional day. I myself constantly increased the length of my sets, usually by five every other week. Eventually I was only taking a break on weekends. As your body strengthens, you want to be pushing yourself more and more. Whereas having access to a bench can be augmented by increasing the weight and reps, with equipment-less exercise you often need to make increases in time and workout productivity.
Focus on Form Mastery
A pushup is completely wasted if done improperly. Your first month should be dedicated to making certain you are using appropriate form. There are many guides online that will show you the exact stances and forms to use (and how to adjust them to focus on a different muscle group). Do them right from the beginning rather than wasting your energy on improper exercise technique.
I debated whether to include this as I feel like it falls under common sense, but I know a handful of people that injured themselves because they did not perform a proper warmup. Many beginners may simply not know how. Properly stretch prior to your workout.
You aren’t going to look like a powerlifter tomorrow. It may take months to lose as little as ten pounds. Prepare yourself for the long-haul, because nothing happens instantly. My major issue before I finally figured out what I was doing wrong was motivation. I expected to get on the scale every day and have a noticeable drop in weight. I would quickly burn out with that mentality. Once I lowered my expectations I felt far more motivated to continue moving forward.
Probably my most abstract rule, but by committing yourself to losing weight, building muscle, or just improving your overall health you need to accept responsibility for yourself. Missing just one workout won’t cut it. Any amount of slacking off, wimping out, whining, crying, or complaining needs to go out the window. Take passion in what you are doing and be proud. You only managed to increased your sets by one this week compared to when you normally did it by two? That’s still something. Be willing to recognize your weaknesses as well as your strengths and how you can improve and augment them.
One problem I also had entering the world of exercise was how ego-driven it can be on the more hardcore end. There are definitely some good guys out there as well that are willing to help, but don’t beat yourself up because you aren’t Mr. Universe. Measure against yourself – not the people around you. It’s easy to feel weak, fat, muscle-less, or slow compared to what you see around you. You are getting started. Maybe a year or two from now you can start looking at everyone around you, but for now they don’t exist.