Starting a workout program doesn’t have to be difficult. But people often get overwhelmed because they don’t know how to start a workout program. What kind of exercise should I do? How often do I have to do it? Where should I go to exercise? Will I be able to keep it up after I start?

If you’re new to exercise, here are 5 steps to make it easy for you to start a successful exercise program:

How to start a workout program

1. Don’t try to do too much at first.

overwhelmed with starting a workout program

Lofty goals and intentions (especially around resolution and renewal times, like New Years or the arrival of Spring) are great, but if you’re overly-ambitious, or if you set unrealistic goals, you’re probably going to fail quickly. You most likely won’t be able to go from zero exercise to daily exercise (or even 5 days a week). And you don’t have to exercise that much in order to get in shape, by the way.

Start with putting two 30-minute times on your calendar for exercise this week. Protect it just like you would any other important appointment.

2. Get the most benefits from your workout time.

get the most from your workout program

If you’ve got minimal time for exercise, strength training will give you more results for your time and effort than cardiovascular exercise will.

Strength training is the foundation of exercise. A solid strength training regimen will

  • Tone and strengthen your muscles
  • Increase your metabolism
  • Improve your posture
  • Reduce aches and pains
  • Improve bone density
  • Increase immunity and health
  • Help regulate hormones and sleep
  • Increase energy
  • Reduce depression and anxiety
  • Improve diabetes

Doing 30 minutes of cardio is certainly better than no exercise at all, but you’ll get far more bang for your time and effort with a simple strength training circuit instead:

  1. Some variation of squats, lunges, or step-ups
  2. A push exercise like pushups or chest press
  3. A pull exercise like rows
  4. A posterior chain exercise like hamstring bridges, deadlifts, or kettlebell swings
  5. An overhead exercise like overhead press
  6. Core work for spine stability and tight abs

3. Find the right level of difficulty

Personal training in Nashville

All bodies are not created equal. What constitutes a “heavy weight” or a “difficult variation of an exercise” for one person will be very different than what’s challenging for someone else. Hiring a high-quality, experienced personal trainer (don’t settle for just “somebody” at your local gym) is the best way for you to get the right variations and the appropriate level of difficulty for your specific situation.

4. Find Your Why

why exercise

A huge part of staying motivated is keeping your end goals in sight. What is it that you’re seeking from an exercise program?

Answers like “to lose weight” or “to stay healthy” are good starters, but you’ll need to dig deeper for a more powerful and personal motivator.

Are you seeking confidence and personal power? What would it feel like to be strong and to look like you’re in great shape? That FEELING is your ‘Why’, not “weight loss” or “toning.”

5. Have a backup motivation plan for when you’re not feeling like going to your scheduled workout.

motivation to start a workout program

Even if you’re super-dedicated to your new health and fitness goals, some days the motivation just isn’t there (and that’s totally normal). That’s where your Backup Plan comes in:

If you need a little help staying on track, ask a friend who also works out to be your accountability partner. You can fill them in on your workout schedule and let them know when you follow through. When you need an extra nudge, they can be a great source of encouragement.

A personal trainer is a great way to stay dedicated to your promised schedule. If you’ve got an appointment in the book and someone’s waiting for you, you’re going to show up!

Another strategy is to keep your gym bag packed and ready to go. Keep and extra workout outfit inside. If you’re groaning at your 6 A.M. alarm before a morning workout, it’s much easier to get things rolling when you know you already have your things put together, so all you have to do is slip into your clothes and walk out the door.


Need help starting a workout program?

Contact Basics and Beyond fitness & nutrition right now to discuss what would work for you! We’ve got lots of options for training and nutrition help, both in-person and online.