How to Start a Workout Routine (And Actually Stick with it)
Reset and infuse movement into your days with our guide to creating a workout routine for beginners — plus tips and tricks for staying motivated and consistent.
We all know exercise is good for us, but that knowledge doesn’t always win over our busy schedules. Sometimes the couch calls you for the evening, and that’s okay. But part of living a healthy lifestyle is remembering that staying active keeps you feeling your best. Moving your body releases those famous endorphins, and while it might feel tough during the workout, you’ll never regret it after it’s over. Better sleep, decreased stress, stronger muscles, and more limber ligaments await when you commit to movement, so let’s dive in to create a workout routine that you will like (or at least not completely hate).
HOW TO PICK A WORKOUT
There are so many types of exercise in the world, and the best part is you can try a bunch of things to figure out what you enjoy. With any workout you choose, listen to your body and play with varying levels of intensity to match your needs. If you’re looking to increase flexibility and balance, but have never done yoga before, maybe you try some light stretching or basic yoga moves before a full-on Vinyasa flow. Here are a few ideas that are great options for beginner exercise routines that you can modify to fit your mood:
- Walking or running
- Cycling (indoor or outdoor)
- Strength training (bodyweight or weights)
When setting out to pick a workout routine for beginners, think about why you’re choosing to do so in the first place. Do you have fitness goals you’d like to achieve? Whether you’re looking to build muscle, lean out, develop an athletic skill, or increase flexibility, you can cater the types of exercises and their frequency to create a routine that reflects the steps needed to reach your goals. The beauty of it all is that you can start very simply with one type of exercise, and then add from there. Don’t feel like you need to have a full workout plan all figured out just to start.
Try one of the exercises listed above, do it for a few days over the course of a couple weeks, and see how you feel. If it’s not your jam, pick something else. If you’re loving it, try amping it up a bit, or incorporating a few other types of exercises to create a balanced routine.
Before diving into a workout, it’s a good idea to assess your body’s starting point. Don’t be nervous, this isn’t like those P.E. class tests in front of everyone. This is for your knowledge only, and can be empowering if you revisit your assessment a few months into your workouts. You might surprise yourself with how strong you’ve become.
When trainers at EXOS guide people in assessments, they ask them to rate their effort on a scale of one to ten. “We’re finding the base of perceived effort,” said Juan Martinez, a fitness coach at EXOS. “I am a big fan of bodyweight [moves], whether it be something like a push-up or a pull-up, depending on people’s goals.” For example, if your goal is to get stronger, a fitness test could be to try five to ten push-ups. If it feels like a maximum effort of nine or ten, or you need to drop your knees to the floor, then start a workout routine with bodyweight moves and light weights to strengthen your upper body. Then try those push-ups again in a couple weeks and you might notice it feels more like a seven or eight in perceived effort. This kind of test can be applied to any type of goal or exercise — the basic idea is to do a quick, simple version of an exercise to see how it feels and where you need to go from there to achieve your goals.
You’ve picked a workout, now it’s time to get started. These steps will ensure your body is prepped and ready for movement:
- Your body needs fuel. “I’ve always liked the idea of making sure the gas tank isn’t empty,” said Martinez. “Obviously you don’t want to have a full meal and then step right into a session, but making sure we’re having a snack 30 to 45 minutes before working out.” Martinez also recommends drinking water when needed throughout the workout, but more importantly staying hydrated throughout the day. After the workout is over, make sure to have a complete meal with good sources of protein, carbs and fat to replenish your body.
- Don’t skip the warmup. When people are strapped for time, the first thing to go is usually the warmup. But this is such a beneficial step in your workout routine, not only for activating your muscles and reducing risk of injury, but also for getting your mind in the zone. Martinez encourages keeping your warmup quick and simple. “Keep it under 10 minutes and a good rule of thumb is to just rehearse whatever you’re going to do [for your workout].” If lower-body weight training is on the menu for the day, then rehearse some bodyweight squats and glute bridges as your warmup. If you have more time, throw in some dynamic stretches, like side lunges and windmills.
- Cooling down aids recovery. Cooling down is just as important, but people notoriously skip it to rush onto the next thing in their day. Although stretching is preferable, Martinez says if you have to jet after your workout, keep a massage ball handy to roll out your muscles while you work. Recovery moves aren’t limited to right after the workout either, so try some mobility stretches while you watch TV, or hip opening circles as you’re cooking dinner. Remember that active lifestyles are about finding ways to move in all areas of your life.
You’ve figured out how to start a workout routine, gotten a few sessions in, and now the fun part begins — staying consistent. This is the biggest challenge for people of all levels, but as a beginner, creating a sustainable routine and finding ways to encourage daily movement will be your best trick for turning your new exercise routine into a long-lasting ritual. Here are some tips to keep your workouts feeling fresh when motivation takes a dip:
- Set time aside: You wouldn’t skip a work meeting, so don’t miss one with yourself. Whether it's waking up an hour earlier than normal, dedicating your lunch break to a workout class, or taking time after work, scheduling a workout into your day will help you manage your time. This might mean a little less time for sleep or TV, but the endorphin trade-off will be worth it. Although it can sound like a sacrifice at first, once you get into the habit, you'll find you feel better after your workout, and might have a clearer mind going into work or winding down for the evening.
- Get new workout clothes: Yes, you can work out in anything. But having comfortable workout clothes designed for your activity — and that make you feel good — are invaluable. It's like when you go to work in an outfit you don't love, you likely feel uncomfortable and not your best. It's the same idea with working out, so set yourself up for success with fresh gear that you love.
- Don't think, just dress: If you’ve got a workout planned but are just not feeling motivated, put your workout gear on and lace up your shoes. Once you're in the clothes, you might feel renewed inspiration to get moving.
- Find an activity you love: If you loved dancing as a kid, or riding a bike gives you joy, channel those hobbies into your workout. Try a hip-hop dance class, a spin class, or get out in nature and go for a hike. Working out looks different for everyone, so if the gym isn’t your vibe, don’t force it. Find other ways to get your body moving that bring you joy.
- Find a workout buddy: When you’ve got someone else who’s going through the same workout, it makes it way more fun. Plus, they’ll hold you to it if you feel like bailing on your gym time.
- Reward yourself: Rest and recovery are equally as important as the workout. If you trained hard, enjoy an afternoon of movies on a Sunday. If you stuck to your program and got all your workouts in for the week, treat yourself to a shopping outing or a nice dinner with friends. There’s no shame in finding little perks to inspire you to stay consistent and set sights on your goals.
Now you have all the tools you need to start an exercise routine for yourself. We are excited and here for you as you begin this journey. Sport has changed countless lives, and we hope this introduction has a positive impact for you too. For even more workout inspiration, revisit the blog regularly for new exercises and training programs ranging across sports, and shop adidas for high-performance gear to help reach your goals.
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