A Women’s Beginner Guide to Working Out

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You want to start working out to get in shape, but you have no idea where to begin. You don’t know what your goal is, or what the best workout would be to reach it. You have no idea what those machines do at the gym. You’re scared of going to a class and not keeping up. You lack the motivation to start home workouts. When you’ve tried in the past, you hated it and couldn’t stick with it. When you’ve tried before, you didn’t see results, and now you don’t know what to do.

Do any of those statements sound like you?

You’re not alone!

Here’s the truth: Fitness is marketed to women for only two purposes. To sell an unneeded product, and to sell an unrealistic “look.” Many fitness tips for women are not rooted in truth. They try to sell you on “Do this one move every day for abs” or “These 3 moves will get you fit in 3 days.” They tell you that you need this detox tea to lose more weight, or how you need a bubble butt.

Then look at men’s fitness. It’s about tips to bulk up, gain muscle, have better form. It’s rooted in scientific facts. It focuses on health and strength before anything else.

So it’s no wonder that many women get intimidated in the gym.

But that doesn’t have to be you. Not anymore. Because I’m going to tell you how to get a real workout, and how to start exercising to meet your goals. This is real fitness, for real results focused on health and your best you.

How to start working out for beginners! Don't know where to get started at the gym, or what to do for exercise at home? Here's your guide to beginner workouts for women. #fitness #beginnerworkout #womensfitness
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How to Start Working Out (When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing)

Figure Out Your “Why” and Your Goal

Your “why” is going to be the crucial first step for long term success.

You need to establish your goal, in a measurable way. You need to know why you want it, to push you through the days you don’t feel like working out.

So what is your “why”? What is your goal? It has to be something that benefits you, and no one else.

So if you want to lose weight to appeal more to others? Nuh-huh. That’s not going to work. If you want to lose weight so your blood pressure improves and you feel better every day? Yeah, that’s an excellent reason.

It can still be about looks, but it should be for you. “I want to get fit so I feel more confident in my body, my strength, and what my body is capable of doing.”

Then establish your goal to get there. Make sure your goal is realistic.

  • If you want to lose weight, figure out how much.
  • If you want to shed body fat, set a goal percent.
  • You’re getting fit so your blood pressure goes down? Figure out your goal blood pressure and ask your doctor about what weight you’d need to hit.
  • Want to become more flexible? Pick a posture or yoga asana that you want to be able to do.
  • Do you want to become stronger? Decide on how much weight you want to lift, press, or squat.

Take some selfies if you want to see your before and after progress later. But remember to focus on love. You’re doing this because you love your body, and want to be your best self. Don’t focus on “fixing” the things you don’t like.

Find Your Workout Style

The best workout for beginners? One that fits your style and your goal. It will always be different for each person based on your body, goal, current fitness level, and what you enjoy doing.

Yes, you can enjoy working out! You just have to find your workout style.

Pick a Time of Day

Are you a morning person or a night owl? If you have the most energy at night, don’t force yourself to get up at 5am and hit the gym. That’s not your style, and you’re not setting yourself up for success. And vice-versa.

Or maybe you’re a mom, or work an inconsistent schedule, and can’t go at the same time every day. That’s okay. In that case, pick a rough time that would generally work, like before your kids wake up. Get creative on other days. Can you include your kids in your workout so they burn energy, too? (A bonus!) Can you fit in a workout after work some days, and before work on others?

Your body will do best if you have some kind of habit and schedule. If your brain becomes trained to expect exercise every day at 8pm, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. But if that’s not possible, don’t get discouraged.

What Kind of Workout Will Help You Reach Your Goal, and What Will You Like Doing?

There are types of workout routines which are better suited for certain goals. Any exercise is good exercise, but if you’re serious about meeting your goal then you need to work out accordingly. And the biggest key is liking your routine because you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when they start working out.

People think, “I have to lose weight!” So they run, even though they hate running. They think, “I don’t want to lift weights, because I’ll get bulky.” So they never try. They stick to what they know, and not even what they like.

  • If your goal is to get flexible, focus on yoga or pilates.
  • For a good sweat and balanced workout, try HIIT.
  • For straight cardio and endurance, you could run. Or you could do the elliptical, rowing machine, swimming, or Zumba.
  • To build strength and shed fat, you could weight lift. But you could also do a bodyweight workout, martial arts, HIIT, swim, climb, or even strengthening yoga.

You have options. You’ll just want to focus a bit more in the area that will help you reach your goal. But any exercise is good exercise as long as you enjoy it. So if you hate running, try swimming. If you hate lifting weights, try strengthening yoga or HIIT.Get the FREE 30-day Fitness + Yoga Challenge

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Mix it Up

Yes, you need to do what you like. But you can’t do the same thing forever, or your body will get used to it.

It’s my personal opinion that you should try a bit of everything and that your routine should include at least some strength training.

Strength training, contrary to popular belief, won’t get you bulky on its own. But, it will rev your metabolism and help you shed fat long after your workout. It will help your body feel and look strong. It can help with many health issues, from blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and even incontinence. There is nothing wrong with becoming stronger. It won’t hinder you from losing weight or looking thinner if that’s your goal.

I also think including yoga, pilates, or stretching several times a week is key. It keeps your body and mind in balance, limber, and your joints in good shape. If you’re pounding it on the treadmill every day or lifting heavy, your muscles get tight and your joints get worn. Stretching in some form helps prevent injury.

And changing it up to have a balance will always help keep you in good health.

Understand Your Routine

Take control of your fitness, and learn what makes a good workout. That way, you can start customizing your routine to fit your exact needs and what you enjoy.

I wrote an in-depth article explaining your muscle groups, working on complementary muscles, and all the factors to keep in mind.

Related: Understand Your Fitness Routine: An In-Depth Guide How to Create The Best Workout For You

Nobody is Looking At You

Get over the fear of the gym and looking stupid. Those machines at the gym have labels showing how to use them, and what body parts they work. Take the time to look them over. Come with a workout plan on your phone or printed out so you know what you’re looking for. Ask someone who works at the gym for a tour, or to show you how to do something properly.

No one is judging you. No one is looking at you.

Everyone is there to workout and get healthy. And most people are focused on their own form, workout, or music. If they do notice you, they’ll respect your effort.

In the event of the rare jerk who makes you feel bad? Well, they’re obviously not working out that hard then, and you are. They’re probably insecure themselves. Move on.

But that is so few and far between, it’s not worth worrying about. Start at your comfort level and work your way around.

Don’t Overdo It

Starting out, if your motivation is high but experience is low, you might overdo it. You don’t know your tolerance level yet. You might push yourself too far, especially if you’ve set an unrealistic goal, like “lose 20 lbs in a week.”

If you overdo it, you’ll get injured, burnt out, so sore it takes days to recover, and you’ll lose motivation.

To keep that from happening, start slow and build up to it. Work out 2 – 3 days a week for the first couple weeks. Lift less than your max at first, and see how your muscles recover after. Run in intervals. Whatever you’re doing, start slow. It’s not a competition or a speed game. You want to be in it for the long haul, so figure out your tolerance the first couple weeks.

Take Proper Care of Your Body

Even going slow, be prepared to be sore. Your muscles will get tight from working out. When you work out, you cause micro-tears in your muscles. To repair them so they get stronger, you need to fuel up after every workout with protein, water, and sleep. Try to get at least 20g of protein within 45 minutes of your workout. I use a protein shake to get refuelled fast.

Eating a well-balanced diet is more of the battle than anything else. Take it one change at a time, but keep in mind you’ll perform and recover better if you eat better. I follow the Trim Healthy Mama plan so that I don’t feel deprived of yummy foods while still eating clean.

Related: WHy I Follow The Trim Healthy Mama Plan + A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started

Always Keep Learning

Fitness and health isn’t a quick-learn. It’s something you’ll need to continue to learn and improve on. There are tons of websites and YouTube videos dedicated to teaching you proper form, new workouts, and new ways of thinking about health and fitness.

And don’t be turned off by those who are uber fit or male fitness tips. Yes, it can be intimidating, and we tend to gravitate to those most like us or at our own level. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it too. They’re that fit because they’re doing something right, so learn from it. Learn from real experts who are backing their knowledge with training and science – like BodyBuilding.comLivestrongPOPSUGAR FitnessBlogilates, and Yoga with Adriene.

Beginner Workouts for Women

When you’re learning how to start exercising, it’s helpful to have some beginner workout plans to follow along with. So I’ve rounded up some of my favorite resources to help you find one you like.

You can also try my free 30-day fitness + yoga challenge. It’s designed to push you to try new things, figure out what you enjoy doing, and see results. Most of the days are only 20 minutes or so long. You’ll be able to try several different workout styles, while also learning how to segment your routine and what to do. Yes, it’s every day, but you can change it as you need. You can follow along at the gym or home, with only a pair of dumbbells. And after the challenge, you’ll have a good, strong base to start working out!

Gym Workouts for Beginners

My Gym Strength Training and Yoga Calendar

Beginner’s Guide to Machine Workouts for Women by BodyBuilding.com

Beginner Gym Workout Routines for Women by Livestrong.com

Beginner Workouts at Home

My At-Home Workout Routine

Beginner’s Body Weight Home Workout by NerdFitness.com

Effective At Home Workouts by BodyBuilding.com

Yoga Workouts for Beginners

My Favorite 21 Yoga Videos for an At-Home Workout

Yoga Fitness Class by Five Parks Yoga

Yoga for Weight Loss Playlist by Yoga with Adriene

Yoga for Strength Playlist by Yoga with Kassandra

Cardio, HIIT, and More for Beginners

PIIT28 Superhero Home Workouts by Blogilates

Home Cardio Training by Fitness Blender

Cardio and Strength Conditioning Workout by POPSUGAR Fitness

Interval Cardio Workout by Body Project

Beginner HIIT by Moms into Fitness

Beginner-Friendly Fat Burning HIIT Workout by Stephi Nguyen

What I Use for Home Workouts:

Gaiam 6mm Printed Yoga Mat

Amazon Basics 38-lb Adjustable Weight Set

Muscle Feast Hormone-Free, Grass Fed Chocolate Whey Protein Isolate

Remember: It Only Gets Easier. Start Today, So You Won’t Wish You Had Tomorrow

It only gets easier with time, experience, and practice. I know you got this! Getting started working out is the hardest part, but once you get going, you learn and improve. You start to feel happier and more confident. You learn how to use your body and your strength in ways you didn’t know you could. And your health will only continue to improve.

Don’t let fear of getting started stop you. Do what you can today so you won’t regret putting it off tomorrow. Any exercise is good exercise, and once you find your workout style, it becomes so much more enjoyable.

Still have questions? Feel free to hit me up, I’d be happy to answer. You can leave a comment below, send me a tweet @RebelHeartBty.

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