A Beginner's Guide to Working Out
Happy 2017! It’s a new year and one of the most popular new year’s resolutions is to start working out and get in shape. If ‘New Year-New You’ is one of your resolutions for 2017, make sure you start slow and listen to your body so you don’t hurt yourself! If you want to start the year of right and continue your work out resolution well past the month of January, follow these simple starter tips:
- Warm up- Always do a quick warm up before starting your workout. A brisk walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes will jump start your muscles and prepare your body for your workout.
- Stretch- Once your muscles are warmed up, make sure to stretch each area of your body thoroughly. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds (without bouncing into the stretch!) to avoid potentially tearing a muscle. Make sure to stretch once you complete your workout as well!
- Hydrate- Drink plenty of water throughout your workout but pace your hydration so you do not cause cramping or a ‘full belly’ feeling that could hinder your workout
- Take your time- Don’t rush your exercises! This could strain and pull muscles or even cause potentially worse injuries. Slowly and fully complete each motion, focusing on the target area for each movement, to get the full benefits of each exercise
- Don’t Sacrifice Form- Even while slowly and carefully completing each movement, keep your focus on your form. Make sure your body positioning for each exercise is correct to maximize each exercise and avoid injury
- Make it part of your schedule- The hardest part about working out is keeping with it! If you make it a part of your schedule, it will be much easier to integrate it as part of your daily routine. If you’re a morning person, schedule it in the morning before work. If you work an early morning shift, plan to go right after work so you can still make it to bed early enough. Planning your workout at the same time each day will help it become a habit and something that you will look forward to each day.
- Rest- This is just as important as working out. You need to give your body and muscles a break so they can recover. You also don’t want to wear your muscles out to the point of no longer wanting (or being able) to work out! Out of a typical 7-day week, it is recommended to work out 4-5 days and rest for the remaining days. These can be scheduled however is best for you- whether it is on the weekends, every few days, however will help you recover the best. The best way to figure this out… listen to your body so that you sit instead of quit!
Know your basics- Knowing some basic exercises will be the easiest way for you to start your workout regimen. You can mix these movements up to create a great custom workout that is perfect for you. Then as you begin to gain strength and gym confidence, you can begin to slowly add some weight and/or new exercises into the mix!
- Squats: Stand straight with your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. Begin lowering your body as if you were going to sit down, keeping your knees above your ankles and your spine straight. Lower yourself as far as you can and then slowly come back up until your knees are straight but not locked.
- Pushups: Position your hands on the floor below your shoulders. Begin with your arms extended and your body straight, with your weight on your hands and toes. Slowly lower your body by bending your arms and bringing your body closer to the floor. Once your arms are fully bent, reverse the motion by slowly straightening your arms until you are back at your starting position.
- Lunges: Begin with your feet together and your spine straight and tall. Keep your hips tucked beneath you and extend your right leg to step forward and place your foot in front of you. Bend your front and back knees until your back knee is almost touching the floor. From this position, stand back up and place your feet together again underneath you. Repeat this motion by placing your left leg in front.
- Planks and side planks: Begin in the same starting position as a push up. Lower yourself to put your weight on both of your forearms and toes. Keeping your spine and knees straight and your core tight, hold this positon for as long as you can. The more often you do this exercise, the longer you will be able to hold it. To do a side plank, hold the same position but with your side facing the floor while balancing on the side of your foot and one forearm.
- Jumping Jacks: Begin with your feet together and arms by your side. In one motion, jump so your feet are shoulder width apart and your arms come up wide by your sides and meet above your head. In the same motion, reverse the movement bringing your arms back to your side and your feet together.
- Hip Raises: Lay on the floor with your spine straight so your shoulders and lower back all rest flat on the floor. Bring your knees up so that the bottom of your feet are also flat on floor, as close to your hips as is comfortable. Keeping your arms and upper body on the floor, raise your hips towards the ceiling. Hold this position for a second before reversing the motion and lowering your hips back to the floor.
- Sit-ups, Crunches: Begin in the same position as the hip raises with your back flat on floor and your feet flat on the floor. Position your hands behind your head with your fingers just barely interlocked. To do a full sit up, slowly lift your shoulders and upper body up to meet your knees. Keeping your spine straight, lower your upper body back to the floor. Do not use your hands to pull your head or neck up during this motion. This could cause injury to your neck. To perform a crunch as opposed to a full sit up, do the same motion, stopping once your shoulders are off the floor and then lower yourself back down.
- Russian Twists: Sit on the floor with your knees up and feet flat on the ground. Lean slightly back so you are balancing with your hips and knees at a 45-degree angle. You will know you are at the correct angle when you feel how much you need to tighten your core to stay balanced in this position. To do the twist, keep your feet together and twist your upper body from side to side, doing a full quarter turn from the front to each alternating side.