Welcome to the beginners guide to exercising! So you’re ready to start exercising but have no idea where to start. I’m here to tell you that you’ve landed in the right place!
Some notes before we begin:
- First, please be safe. It is recommended that you consult a physician before beginning a new exercise regime, particularly if you have any underlying health conditions that may require special considerations. (I understand not everyone will do that, so here’s the disclaimer that you are engaging in this at your own risk, and I have no liability, I’m just sharing ideas). Regardless, if something hurts, really hurts, STOP. There is a difference between discomfort because your body is doing something new and real pain – by all means, be uncomfortable it’s a great place to experience growth, but don’t ignore true pain.
- Warming up is essential, seriously. The goal of a warmup is to do just that – warm up your body and prepare it for the workout. We want to get in tune with our body and get the blood flowing to promote good circulation. Additionally, this is a good time to just check in and see how we’re moving that particular day. It’s important to remember every day is different and every workout is going to feel a little different.
- Every exercise can be modified/scaled. A modification does NOT mean you are not doing an exercise correctly, it means you’re doing a version that is right for your body. I would much prefer to see someone do a modification well than push through an advanced form of an exercise with crappy form. Poor form will only come back to bite you in the rear.
- Think about moving with control in both directions when you are doing an exercise. For example, we don’t want to do a sit up and then just flop back to the floor – focusing on control in both directions, or during both concentric and eccentric contraction of the muscles provides a much more balanced workout.
- If you really hate a particular movement, don’t force yourself to do it. There are so many things out there to choose from, so there is no reason to make yourself totally miserable. And, maybe later you will learn to like it, who knows? Plus, we’re way more likely to stick to something if we don’t dread every moment of it.
WARMUP 2-3 rounds:
- March or jog in place x 30 seconds
- Arm circles forward and backward x 10
- Alternating overhead reaches x 10 (https://www.workoutaholic.net/exercises/overhead_reach)
- Alternating knee lifts/high knees x 10
MAIN WORKOUT 3-5 rounds:
- Squats x 10
- If you are unsure about balance or have any reservations, start by squatting to a chair and standing back up. Keep your chest lifted, feet firmly planted with heels down about shoulder width apart, knees pushing slightly outward (avoid knees collapsing inward); the motion should be like sitting back onto a chair, hips move back and down and your spine stays long; your torso and shins are ideally in parallel planes. (https://www.runtastic.com/blog/en/squat-4-common-squat-mistakes-avoid/)
- Jumping jacks x 10
- Old school jumping jacks are great, but if you need a lower impact version, do side taps instead of jumping. You can also modify the arms by raising them to shoulder height instead of overhead if you have limited mobility or injury to the shoulder. Regardless of the version you choose, be sure to keep toes forward and knees in line with them. Try to land softly and with control. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpH7rm0cYbM)
- Pushups x 10
- Many modification exists for pushups. The most important thing is to maintain a strong core and keep your body aligned properly. Full pushups start on hands and toes, hands directly under shoulders, lowering the chest all the way to the ground and pressing straight up, without letting the hips raise. Probably the most common modification is to start on knees instead of toes – this shortens the lever length making the exercise a bit easier – simply drop your knees to the ground from a full plank position, then lower the chest to the ground. If doing pushups on knees, pay extra attention to keeping a long line from the crown of your head to your knees (it is often the tendency to stick your butt out when on your knees, but you actually want to tilt the pelvis slightly like “tucking your tail between your legs”). Wall pushups are another great variation, and they don’t require you to get on the floor. For these, place hands on the wall about shoulder width apart, at chest height, step back away from the wall, then bend elbows, brining your chest to the wall and press away. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrmG3Kq7fPE)
- Sit ups or crunches x 10
- Start lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hands can be along the side of the body, crossed over your chest, or behind your head. (NOTE: if your hands are behind your head, make sure you do not pull on your neck when you come up). Initiate the movement by gently nodding your head, engaging your abs, and peeling your upper body off the floor. Come up as high as you are able, the reverse the movement returning to the floor with control. (https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/sit-ups-vs-crunches#3-Moves-to-Strengthen-Abs)
- Glute bridge/hip raise x 10
- Start lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, arms along the side of the body on the floor. Press feet solidly into the floor and lift your butt off the ground, lift only as high as you are able without arching your back or allowing the rib cage to flare out to the sides, pause slightly at the top, then return to the floor. (https://redefiningstrength.com/basic-glute-bridge/)
COOL DOWN and STRETCH:
- Deep breaths x 3-5
- Focus on taking full, complete breaths in and out. The goal here is to help bring the heart rate back down and help you relax.
- Cat/cow x 5
- On hands and knees (often called “tabletop position”), alternate between rounding the back, engaging your abs bringing the chin toward the chest and tucking the tail, and arching or extending the back, allowing your belly to drop toward the floor and lifting your head. Try to let your breathing guide the speed of the movement – keep it slow and intentional. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD9ZDwlHmmE)
- Seated twist
- In a seated position, either in a chair or on the floor, sit tall creating length between the vertebrae. Gently twist to one side, drawing the opposite hand to the outside of the leg or thigh to help promote the twist. You can cross a leg over or not, the focus should be more on the twisting or rotating of the torso. Hold the twist for 30-45 seconds on each side. (https://yoga15.com/pose/seated-twist/)
- Sit and reach/seated hamstring stretch
- Seated on the floor with legs extended in front of you, walk your hands down your legs, keeping your back straight and begin to fold over the extended legs, hold 30-45 seconds. (https://www.verywellfit.com/sit-and-reach-flexibility-test-3120279)
- Lying figure 4
- Lying on your back, cross one ankle across the opposite thigh, interlace fingers behind thigh and draw slightly toward your chest. Hold 30-45 seconds on each side. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgK1yy_xjeM)