Newsletter Signup | Subscribe to Magazine

10 Workout Tips for Beginners

Want to get in shape in 2018?

Story by Myranda McAfee & Sammi Burns

Myranda McAfee is director of fitness and Sammi Burns is director of training at LAVA 24 Fitness on Hilton Head Island

Getting off the couch and into the gym can be an intimidating process, especially when you are unsure where or how to start. Many beginners put themselves at a disadvantage by developing bad habits. Here are 10 pieces of advice that can help any beginner build more muscle and burn more fat.

1  Find your why
Why do you want to do this? Why is this important to you? What is causing you to want to make a change? Are you tired of your everyday habits? Does someone around you have a health issue you want to avoid? This will help motivate you to make it a habit. Exercise must become a priority if you want to live a long and healthy lifestyle.

2  Set realistic goals
Goals should be attainable, measurable and specific for each individual. Keep in mind that everyone is different and we are all on our own phases in our fitness journey. Document the progress you are making with a reasonable amount of time in between each check in.

3  Find motivation
Stay accountable and stick to your goals. Find a workout partner to help you stay motivated and on track along your fitness journey. Write a plan. Who is supporting you on your journey? What are your first steps to make a change? When are you making time to exercise? Where are you going to do your workout? Why are you here in the first place?

4  Keep it fun
Listen to music. Choose whatever keeps you going! Switch up your routine. Don’t let yourself get bored and burned out with the same exercises. This will also help you not plateau.

5  Remember your proper nutrition
Exercise and nutrition play hand and hand. You are not going to see results without changing your diet as well. Check the ingredients on every label. If you do not know what an ingredient is, don’t put it in your body. Avoid processed foods and eat more greens. Stay consistent and start with small changes. Don’t restrict yourself too much because that’s when you end up binging or overindulging. Remember that drinks have calories too, so try to drink zero calorie drinks. Water is the best choice.

6  Know when to take a break
Recovery is necessary for growth. It’s not uncommon to start seeing results and then want to stay in the habit of training every day because you don’t want that progress to stop. Exercise is addictive! It makes you happy, energized, enabled, empowered and attractive. But remember, you’re doing this to help your body function at its best, not to hurt  it. Your body needs time to repair itself so that your workouts will continue to be effective; you might actually notice a stall in progress if you overtrain.

7  Stretch
Stretching as well as warming up the body and cooling it down is extremely important to a workout. We need flexibility in the muscle and range of motion in the joints to keep our bodies healthy. Tight muscles can make you more prone to injury and limit you during your exercises.

8  Use proper form
If you are not watching your form, you are more likely to injure yourself. Using a mirror helps you focus on your movement throughout each exercise. Here are some proper form tips for these 4 exercises:

Squat  Never let your knees to go past your toes as you squat down. Put more weight on your heels rather than your toes. Always keep your core tight and engaged, doing so will also help maintain your posture, keeping your chest high and your back straight.

Lunge  Do not let your knee go over your toe as you lunge with each leg. Chest stays high and core is engaged.

Push-up  Hands are shoulder width apart, feet are planted on the floor and body is in straight line from head to toe starting in plank position. Inhale as you lower to the floor and exhale as you push up.

Plank  Can be done on hands or elbows. Draw the belly button up and don’t let your hips sink to avoid any pressure on the low back. Shoulders are directly over elbows; hands and neck stays neutral.

9  Don’t be afraid to modify
No matter what fitness level you are at, start small and work your way up. Exercises are meant to be challenging, not impossible. Be focused on what you can do and don’t compare yourself to others.

10  Start slow
Working out three times a week with a mix of cardio and strength training is a great start. Once you build up your stamina and gain some muscle, add in some more sessions each week. Adding HIIT (high intensity interval training) in your routine is the most efficient way to get the fastest results. With this type of training, you burn more calories in a shorter period of time by spiking the heart rate up and down. Our bodies turn into fat-burning machines when we train with optimal work/rest intervals. Depending on what your goals are, this type of training can be beneficial for gaining strength and fat loss.

Understand that we all have to start somewhere and taking this first step is the hardest part. Surround yourself with people that will not only support you, but challenge you as well. Be confident in the gym and don’t be afraid to ask questions. This journey you are on is a learning experience and a way to prove to yourself that you are capable of anything.