Beginners Guide to Setting up an Exercise Routine

It’s getting to be that time of year again when people start focusing on their weight and getting rid of some of those excess pounds.

setting-up-an-exercise-routineWhat better way to do that than by creating a good exercise program that works with your own routine and schedule? You don’t need a special degree or knowledge to create a terrific exercise plan.

Some may feel a little overwhelmed when it comes to what type of exercise routine to set up but don’t worry. It’s not as hard as you think.  There are so many different types of exercises, pieces of equipment and opportunities that you are assured to be able to create something that you will not only love but have an easy time sticking to as well.

Consider These Things While Creating Your Plan

There are a few things that you will want to take into consideration while you are setting up your exercise plan.  These factors will play a large part in whether you will stick to the routine you have set.  It’s very easy to be overenthusiastic and give yourself too much to do or too strenuous of a workout.  We’ll help you avoid this common pitfall.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much time do you have for exercise each day? – This is going to be different for everyone due to work schedules, school schedules and family life. Don’t be concerned or think you can’t exercise if you don’t feel you have even 30 minutes of time.  You can split exercise up into 10 minute blocks two to three times per day and still have an effective workout.  Some fitness enthusiasts and trainers say that breaking the exercise up into 10 minute segments throughout the day can actually be better.  What is most important is finding the time to do something, no matter how short it may seem, every day if you can. If you can’t work out every day, shoot for at least 3-5 days per week.
  • Do you want to work out at home? – Fitness centers aren’t what they used to be and many people just can’t reconcile themselves to going to the gym every day or even several times a week due to time constraints, shyness and budget issues. You can outfit a home gym very easily and it really doesn’t have to cost that much either.  There are many different pieces of equipment that you can choose for your home gym.  You also have the flexibility to workout whenever you want to and have the time to rather than worrying about fitness center hours, gas and sitters if you have young children
  • consider-these-things-whileWhat types of exercise do you like? – If you don’t like what you’re doing for exercise, the chances are very great that you will not stick with it. With all of the variety available, there is no reason why you have to do something you don’t enjoy. If you’re not sure what you will like, trying different types of exercise can expose you to what’s available and what you will enjoy doing long term.

Different Levels of Workouts

  • Beginner A good beginner’s workout is what is called the total body workout. This allows you to work the whole body every other day for 3 days a week. It is important that you have a rest day in between each workout day.  This is a good way to introduce your muscles to something new, especially if you have been mostly sedentary.  Total body workouts for a beginner will not have tons of exercises or heavy weights. You should choose 4-5 exercises total, one for each major muscle group.  Add in some cardio in the form of walking, swimming, cycling, aerobic dance, tennis, racquetball or any number of other activities and you’ve taken care of your workout for the week.
  • Intermediate – Even at the intermediate level you can keep the total body workout three days a week. The difference is going to be in how intense the workouts are. Once you reach the intermediate level you can add circuit training, drop sets and pyramids to your workouts. You’re muscles have been conditioned through the beginning level workouts to handle the addition of more strenuous workouts.   For the intermediate level, you can increase the weight you are using and even add a couple of exercises.  Make sure that you change up the exercises you do during your workouts about every 6-8 weeks to avoid muscle memory that can reduce results.
  • Advanced – If you can dedicate 5 to 6 days of exercise per week and your eating is on track, you are ready for the advanced workout levels. This level of exercise will gain the fastest results in a shorter amount of time.  There are exercise and weight increases at this level that are designed for muscles that are ready for this kind of intense and regular workout.

Types of Exercise You Can Choose From

types-of-exercise1There are many different types of activities you can do that will fulfill your exercise requirements each week. Below we have listed many of the common exercises and equipment that you can use to lose weight and get in shape, along with some information about each.

  1. Exercise BallExercise balls are an excellent way to get a good total body workout. They can be used for working your core muscles as well as many other muscle groups. Exercise balls come in various sizes and thicknesses. The one that is right for you is usually determined by your height and weight.  Most exercise balls come in a variety of colors, but in many cases the different colors indicate the different sizes.  They also come with a manual pump to inflate the ball.  Most exercise balls can also be easily deflated if necessary although it should not be inflated and deflated every time it is used.
  2. Ab Roller – Abs are one of the most problematic areas for most people who are trying to lost weight and get in shape. An Ab roller is a great way to target this problem area and get it into the shape you want.  They are not hard to use but they can provide a very good workout for your abs and will help you lose that belly.
  3. Resistance Bands – These simple pieces of equipment can provide people with an excellent workout with a lot of variety. Users can purchase exercise resistance bands singly or in sets that have bands with different resistances. You can perform a total body workout using resistance bands and they are very easy to travel with as they don’t take up a lot space at all. If you purchase an exercise resistance band set, it will usually have a carry bag, several different bands of different resistances and an instructional guide or DVD to help you get started.
  4. types-of-exercise2Treadmill – A larger piece of equipment that is popular among fitness enthusiasts is the treadmill. Treadmills come in many different sizes and styles to fit all preferences. Make sure that you know the weight limit of the treadmill you purchase so you can be assured that it is the right style and size for your needs. The displays on treadmills vary greatly and can include many different components. Many of the newer models can be paired with an MP3 player and have pre-set workouts, data trackers and heart rate monitors.
  5. Exercise Videos or DVDs – If you prefer more instruction when it comes to working out, check out the large selection of exercise videos that are available. They can range anywhere from high intensity, power workouts for advanced users to easier beginning programs.  You can even try yoga with an instructional DVD or video.  With all of the choices on the market for exercise videos and DVDs, it can be a real challenge deciding on the right one.  Many people have multiple videos/DVDs to accommodate different workout levels and interests.  You can get a good exercise video/DVD library that will go a long way toward avoiding boredom or burnout.  Don’t forget good exercise clothing so you can move freely and comfortably.  Yoga pants are an excellent purchase because they are comfortable, easy to move it and come in a huge variety of colors and styles.
  6. Dumbbells – One of the best pieces of equipment you can have to work out with at home is a good set of dumbbells. If you want a lot of variety without having to purchase and store many different sets of dumbbells, consider a set of adjustable dumbbells.  These unique pieces of equipment can be adjusted to hold light weight or heavy weight depending on your strength and skill level.  They are perfect for resistance training and can target the upper body muscles such as the biceps, triceps, shoulders, back and chest.
  7. types-of-exercise3Elliptical – Another large piece of equipment with a lot of benefits is the elliptical machine. Elliptical machines are excellent for lower body workouts and since most have arm posts as well, you can easily get a total body workout that can burn off a lot of fat. Elliptical machines come in several different varieties and styles. Some are powered simply by moving the pedals and others are electric and require a power plug to use.
  8. Recumbent Exercise BikeRecumbent exercise bikes are great for working the lower body. They are very good for those with back problems due to the support the seat provides and the angle in which you pedal. They are not designed to work the upper body and make good cardio equipment.  A Recumbent exercise bike is more of a specialty piece of equipment, although if you work out in a gym, there will almost always be a few there for those who like this style of bike riding.
  9. Upright Exercise Bike – Another style in the exercise bike lineup is the upright exercise bike. This style involves a more natural, bike riding position.  Some upright exercise bikes have arm posts so you can work the upper body as well but the majority of them do not.  Upright exercise bikes can come in a variety of sizes as well and can range from a flimsier design to a solid, heavy duty design that is perfect for the user that loves to ride stationary bikes regularly.
  10. Weight Bench – If you have some extra money it would be a good idea to get a good quality weight bench for lifting free weights. Lifting weights is an excellent way to build lean muscle mass and reshape your body. They come in many different styles and types and can have features like an adjustable bench that can accommodate incline and decline exercises.  Get a sturdy bench that you are comfortable sitting on and working out on.
  11. types-of-exercise4Other Forms of Exercise – Don’t forget heavy bags and speed bags. Also be sure to get a good pair of boxing gloves. They don’t need to be high quality, professional gloves, but a substandard pair will not provide you with the stability and support you need. Many people are turning to these items as a means of exercise.  A heavy bag is great for kickboxing programs. You should hang them in a place where they can be attached to a stud or they could simply rip out the sheetrock where they are attached.

Tips for Exercise Success

We have compiled some helpful tips that will make it much easier to create and stick to an exercise program.

  • Get a planner and create a workout diary. In this diary plan the workout you will do, the frequency you will do it, when you will do it and for how long. Plan the workout and treat it with as much importance as you do a business meeting.  Keep track of how your workouts go as well.  Journal the amount of weight you used and the number of reps you perform as well.
  • tips-for-exerciseDo some form of cardio every day – You ideally want to do some form of exercise 5-7 days a week. These can include walking, jogging, swimming, aerobic dance, tennis, inline skating, racquetball, volleyball, or any other sport you love. The treadmill and elliptical can be used indoors in any kind of weather and temperature.
  • Accommodate your schedule – Make the necessary changes in your weekly routine as you need to but be sure not to fall into the trap of being lazy or looking for excuses not to workout. Keep track of all you do in your journal and change up the exercise types so your body doesn’t become accustomed to the routine you have.
  • Have the right clothing and equipment – What you wear when you work out is not important because of fashion it is important because of performance. Swim goggles and ear plugs for swimming, yoga pants for yoga,  yoga mats, the right shoes, even headbands to keep your hair out of the way…all of these things are important to providing you with the right tools to get a great workout in.