Beginner Fitness Tips

Read these 16 Beginner Fitness Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Womens Fitness tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How often should I work out?

How Often Should I Work Out?

For beginners, most women's fitness experts recommend four to five workouts 30-minute workouts per week for. Allow 48 hours between each weight or resistance training session in order to give your muscles time to heal. As your fitness level progresses you can start to add more time to each work out. Make sure your progression is gradual and you do not overload your body.

Exercise has been proven to make you look younger. It offsets your declining rate metabolism that happens as you age, and increases bone density. Regular exercise will also help minimize muscle loss if you are following a weight loss program; giving you a more toned body and making you appear younger. If you do regular cardiovascular exercise such as swimming, cycling or running you will strengthen your heart muscle and keeping it young.

   
Why should I join a gym?

Join a Gym

Exercise is essential to women's health and fitness. There are many womens fitness centers all over the country that offer members more than what you would find in a women's health and fitness magazine. Most gyms offer personal trainers to help you get going in the right direction and equipment for exercise routines that include weight or resistance training as well as group exercise classes.

Sign up for a yoga or Pilates class to strengthen your core muscle groups and improve your flexibility. If you are trying to whittle your middle and improve your endurance, sign up for a kickboxing or step aerobics class, or anything that gets your heart pounding. Many gyms also offer core-conditioning classes that isolate “problem” areas such as your butt, thighs or abs and work on getting those areas in shape.

When you are in an environment that is devoted to health and fitness, you are more likely to enjoy your workout and keep your motivation up!

   
What mistakes do begining exercisers usually make?

Common Exercise Mistakes

Lack of results is one of the main reasons that people will discontinue their exercise program. However, there are some common mistakes that people tend to make with their programs that might lead to less than impressive results. Here are some of them.

Lack of Planning: Start with a clearly defined goal, and make sure that your exercise routine supports that goal. If possible, enlist the help of a personal trainer.

Unrealistic Goals: If you are trying to lose weight, one to two pounds a week is considered realistic. If you try for more than that, you will be disappointed. Fast weight loss is associated with fast re-gain. Who needs that?

Envy: The Green Monster: Every woman is unique. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses. As such, our progress in our fitness programs may vary. Work to the best of your abilities, and resist the temptation to compare yourself to others.

Boring Routines: If you do the same routine for months on end, you body will eventually adapt to it. This is the straight path to exercise burnout. From time to time, be sure to add a bit of variety to your workout.

Feed Me! I'm Hungry! Extreme caloric restriction will deplete you energy. Choose a healthy diet, and avoid fads.

Too Much, Too Soon: Over exercising may lead to injury and burnout.

Weight Training the Same Muscles on a Daily Basis: When you body adapts to weight training, you can train two days in a row, but only of you train different muscle groups. However, training the same muscle groups two days in a row will obliterate all of your positive results.

   
What are the benefits of a beginner swim workout?

Beginner Swim Workout

There are many reasons that a beginner swim workout can be beneficial to anyone who is starting a fitness program. Since the buoyancy of water lightens your weight by about 90 percent, any type of exercise that is performed in the pool will be easier on the joints than exercises performed on land. This is especially helpful if you are significantly overweight, or if you suffer from any muscular/skeletal injuries.

A beginner swim workout is especially helpful to anyone who lives in a hot and humid climate, where finding motivation to exercise might be a justifiable challenge. Additionally, once you improve your stroke, you will burn more calories during your swimming session. So the next time you go on vacation, you will have an enjoyable fitness plan to prevent excessive weight gain. In addition to learning to swim, you might also enjoy other pool workouts such as aqua aerobics and aqua sculpting. There are even cutting edge pool workouts such as Poolates, which is a Pilates water workout, and Aqua Yoga.

Getting Started: Here are some things you will need to begin a swim fitness program:

Bathing Suits: A snug-fitting Lycra bathing suit is a durable investment

Goggles: Goggles are needed to protect your eyes from the chlorine. Correctly fitting goggles will maintain leak-proof protection without being too tight. They need to be small enough to fit under your eyebrows. Before buying, try the suction test: Remove the head strap and push the goggles to your eyes to create a slight suction. If they stay on your face for a moment, they fit.

Ear Plugs: If you are prone to ear infections, a set of silicone ear plugs is a good investment.

Bathing Caps: Some public pools require them. If you color your hair, you will want one, in order to keep the chlorine from turning your hair green!

Fins: These are great for building leg strength.

Paddles: Hand paddles are excellent for upper body strength.

Kick Board: Kick boards train you to rely on your legs for propulsion. Since increasing your leg exertion will burn more calories, a kick board is a welcome addition to your swim workout.

   
What are the benefits of weight training?

Benefits of a Beginner Weight Training Program for Women

There are many reasons why women should become involved in a weight training program. Here are just a few:

  • Weight training will improve your muscle tone.
  • Weight training will correct muscular imbalances, which will in turn improve your posture and prevent injuries.
  • Weight training can prevent muscle loss. Women who do not strength train will lose between five to seven pounds of muscle every decade.
  • Weight training can increase your metabolic rate. Adding three pounds of muscle will increase your resting metabolic rate by seven percent. The average woman experiences a two to five percent reduction in metabolic rate every decade. Weight training can compensate for that loss.
  • Weight training will increase your bone mineral density. Research shows that four months of strength training can result in significant increases in bone mineral density. Since women lose bone density as we go through menopause, this is an important benefit. Because of the increase of bone mineral density, weight training helps protect against fractures, “shrinking” and osteoporosis.
  • Weight training will improve your glucose metabolism. Poor glucose metabolism has been associated with adult onset diabetes. Researchers have discovered a 23 percent increase in glucose uptake after four-month program of strength training.
When embarking on a beginner weight training program, you will want to engage the services of a certified fitness professional. If you can't afford to go to a gym, there are a number of beginner exercises DVDs that focus on weight training. A set of light weights can be found at relatively low prices at places such as Wal-Mart's, Target, or Marshall's.

   
What's the best way to get started in a beginner fitness program?

Getting Excited:Getting Started

These days, if you open any women's fitness magazine, you can't help but get excited about the idea of getting into shape. In the past, the idea of starting even a basic exercise program would be met with a series of moans and groans. However, in recent years, fitness programs have become a whole lot of fun. If you plan to start a beginner fitness program, there are a few things you should do in preparation.

First of all, if you are over the age of 45 and have been inactive, prior to beginning an exercise program, you should confer with your doctor. Your next step is to determine your goals. However, you want to make sure that they are realistic. Additionally, your goals will determine the type of program to begin.

For example, if weight loss is your primary goal for beginning an exercise program, you might be interested in a beginner running program or a beginner treadmill program. If you are significantly overweight, or if you have several injuries, you might prefer to start with a walking program or a beginner swim workout.

In general, aerobic workouts are best for weight control. You will want to begin by devoting three 20-minute sessions a week to your cardiovascular routine. Eventually, you should build up to 30 minutes for six days a week.

When you are first staring out in an aerobic exercise program, you will want to be aware of your heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate subtract your age from the number 220. Your target heart rate is anywhere between 60 to 80 percent of this number. There are two ways in which you can check your heart rate during exercise.

Some women's fitness magazines advertise a heart-rate monitor that you can strap around your chest. It gives you feedback that is displayed on a digital watch, which will tell you exactly what your heart rate is at any specific moment in your aerobic exercise session.

The second way to find your heart rate is by feeling either your carotid artery or your radial artery. The carotid artery can be found by gently placing your index finger on your neck, between the middle of your collar bone and jaw line. The radial artery pulse check is performed by placing your index and middle finger on the underside and thumb-side of your wrist.

The easiest way to take your heart rate is to take your pulse for six seconds and multiply that number by 10. There is one caveat. Many people find it difficult to find the right place to take their pulse. Also, in recent years, researchers have discovered that the 220 minus your age formula is not always accurate. As such, many women prefer to use a perceived exertion scale, which is rated 1 to 10. Ten is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest while carrying your groceries. One is the equivalent of lying on your coach watching the Lifetime Movie Network. Your perceived exertion should be between a level six and a level eight. Researchers have found that when testing people's perceived exertion, a level six to eight corresponded with a 60 to 80 percent target heart rate.

   
What are the basic components of fitness?

The Well-Balanced Fitness Program

When you create a beginner fitness program, you will want to make sure to include exercises that satisfy the basic components of fitness. These include:

  • Strength: Strength is defined as the degree of force a muscle can exert in response to a specific amount of resistance. Weight training exercise, as well as resistance bands and tubes will help you build strength. Additionally, body weight exercises such as push-ups and crunches will also strengthen your body.
  • Power: In contrast to strength, power involves full out muscular contraction in movements that require explosive bursts of energy, such as jumping and sprinting.
  • Agility: Agility is defined as the ability to quickly react to outside stimuli without losing balance, stability or postural alignment. Jumping rope, playing catch, playing tag with a child or chasing your dog are excellent activities for developing agility.
  • Balance: People who have god balance are able to walk on icy sidewalks without falling down. You can improve your balance by working out on a stability ball or bosu, or by taking yoga or a Pilates class.
  • Flexibility: Flexibility is related to the range of motion at each of your joints. Yoga and Pilates help enhance flexibility.
  • Muscular Endurance: Muscular endurance is gained by performing higher repetitions in your strength training program.
  • Aerobic Endurance: Aerobic endurance is related to the heart's ability to deliver blood to the working muscles for an extended period of time.
  • Coordination: Coordination involves the ability of the muscles to work together to create fluid, harmonious movement. Step classes, aerobic classes, and cardio boxing classes improve coordination.

   
Is there anything I should worry about before I start my work out routine?

Safety First

Many women's fitness magazines offer advice on workouts that are appropriate for beginners. When starting these workouts, keep some basic safety precautions in mind.

  • Stay hydrated and keep track of your heart rate.
  • Make sure you have a pair of sneakers that is appropriate for your fitness activity.
  • Do not over-exercise and wear your muscles out.
  • It is normal to feel a certain amount of discomfort when beginning a new health and fitness program, but consult a doctor if you experience any severe pain or are injured.
  • If you are playing a sport that needs a mouth guard, eye protection or padding make sure you have it.
If you smoke, or are more than 20 pounds overweight, talk to a doctor before beginning your fitness program. It can be harder to exercise if you carry more weight on your body; overweight women should make sure they are not starting with a fitness program that is too challenging. If you are intimidated or feel uncomfortable at the gym, there are other activities you can do outside of the gym. Buy a pedometer and make it a point to walk at least 5 extra miles a week. Swimming and water aerobics are also excellent exercise if you are overweight as the water supports your body weight and takes some pressure off of your joints.

   
Should I change my diet if I start to work out?

Rethink Your Diet

A healthy diet is essential to women's fitness and losing weight. As you start a new health and fitness program, rethink your diet so it includes food that will give you energy and keep you moving. We all know the basics to dieting -- cut the fat, sugar, carbohydrates and so on -- but here are a few tips that will get you moving towards a healthier diet:

  • When shopping for food, buy items that have at least two grams of protein per 100 calories. Foods that are higher in protein make you feel fuller longer.
  • It is best to avoid sugary desserts altogether, but if you have an insatiable sweet tooth, substitute apple sauce for butter or oil when baking sweets.
  • Take the time to think about what it is you really want before you give in to your cravings. Do you crave something salty? Grab some carrots and low-fat dressing instead of a bag of potato chips. Are you craving that left over birthday cake at home? Go for a sweet alternative like frozen grapes or strawberries mixed with non-fat whipped cream.
  • Do not drastically cut calories to speed up weight loss, as this deprives your body of essential vitamins and nutrients that it needs to keep moving and energize your workouts. The average woman needs 1,800 calories per day. If your calorie intake dips below 1,200 calories per day, your body could end up going into survival mode and store fat instead of use it.
Find extra information on diets that are designed to help keep you in shape in a women's fitness magazine or pick up a cookbook to find healthy recipes.

   
How do I stick to my exercise routine?

Stick to Your New Beginner Fitness Program

Now that you have made the commitment to start a new fitness program, you will want to make sure that you can stick with it. Since statistics show that close to 50% of people who start an exercise program are likely to drop out after six months, countless studies have been performed about exercise adherence. Here are some of the findings:

Have Fun!

At the risk of stating the obvious, choosing an enjoyable activity has a strong influence on exercise adherence. Many people embark on a particular type of fitness program because they have heard that “it's the best.” However, the best exercise routine is the one that you personally will enjoy doing.

Love the Location

Choose a fitness center that is near your favorite bookstore, clothing store or healthy restaurant. Avoid locations in neighborhoods that you think are either unsafe or depressing. Some studies show that a facilities proximity to your home or workplace has a strong influence on exercise adherence.

It's all in the Timing

While experts may argue about the best time of the day to exercise, everyone's biorhythms tend to differ. Choose the time of the day when you have the most energy, and choose the time that you will least likely feel that you need to rush through your routine.

Buddy Up

Some people find that exercising with a friend helps them stick to their routine. However, it works best if you and your friend are at similar levels of fitness.

Read Up

You can get excited about exercise by reading women's fitness magazines as well as beginner fitness books such as Fitness for Dummies.

Set Your Goals Beyond Weight Loss and Appearance

Not that these aren't admirable goals. However, they are subjective. Why not take up a new sport, and plan a training program that will improve your athletic skill?

   
What are some guidelines for starting a weight training prgram

Getting Started in a Beginner Weight Training Program

If you have been inactive for a long period of time, be sure to check with your doctor before starting a weight training program. Once you have made the commitment to get started, you should try to follow the weight training guidelines that are suggested by the American College of Sports Medicine:

  • Perform a minimum of 8 to 10 exercises that train the major muscle groups.
  • Perform one to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions to the point of fatigue.
  • Perform exercises at least two days per week
  • Perform exercises through a full range of motion
  • Perform exercises in a controlled manner.
  • Use good form on both concentric and eccentric muscle actions. The concentric phase involves shortening of the muscle fibers, whereas the eccentric phase involves muscle lengthening. Many people tend to drop the weight on the eccentric phase.

Exercise sequence should involve large muscles prior to small muscles, multi-joint exercises before single joint and higher intensity exercises before lower intensity. For example, if you were performing exercises for your chest and triceps, you would work your chest first. The triceps, which are smaller and weaker than the pectorals, are used as assisting muscle groups in chest exercises such as the bench press. If you were to fatigue them prior to performing the bench press, you would not be able to perform this exercise in good form.

Allow 24-48 hours of rest between strength training days. Rest days will give the muscles adequate time to repair themselves from the small tears that occur during strength training.

   
What can I do if I don't have time to work out?

Sneak It In

It can be difficult for busy moms to find time for the recommended four to five 30-minute workouts per week. Nevertheless, women's fitness is vital to a healthy lifestyle and there are ways to sneak in a few moves throughout the day that will get your heart pumping even on those days that you can't get to the gym.

  • Play with your kids! Have races, play tag, organize a game of kickball or soccer, go swimming at your local pool. As you know, kids are constantly moving and full of energy, so take a hint from them and let yourself go.
  • Keep you posture in check. While sitting at your computer, suck in your abs and hold your shoulders back. Keeping your posture in check strengthens your core muscles.
  • Get a pair of hand weights or a weighted exercise ball and use it during commercial breaks while watching TV.
  • If you have small children, push them in a stroller while you walk. The added resistance will give you even more of a work out.
  • Ask a trainer at womens fitness centers to help you compile a 10-minute workout that you can use when you don't have time to hit the gym.
  • Get your heart pumping while doing chores outside. Chores such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves and shoveling are excellent ways to burn calories and get things done.

   
Why should I work out with a friend?

Find a Workout Buddy

You have to do more than skim through a fitness magazine to stay in shape, but unfortunately health and fitness is not at the top of most women's to-do lists. Exercise can be a tedious task, but if you enlist the help of a friend, you both will benefit.

Make exercise dates a few times a week when both of you can commit to a 30-minute workout. Go for a walk, hit the treadmill together, join a fun fitness class or share a personal training session. A workout buddy will motivate you and help you stick to a routine.

If you have trouble finding a friend who has similar fitness goals and a compatible schedule, turn to the Internet to find a workout buddy. There are many websites that are devoted to pairing up exercisers such as exercisefriends.com or sportsvite.com, as well as niche exercise websites that focus on pairing up individuals with less-popular fitness activities such as rock climbing or scuba diving.

   
How do I get started in a running program?

Beginning a Running Program

Running is perhaps one of the best, albeit most challenging ways, to burn calories and condition your heart. There are a few secrets to starting and developing a safe and effective running program.

Equip Yourself

Your running shoes are the most important piece of athletic equipment you can buy. In fact, choosing the right ones can make or break you as a runner. For example, if you have flat feet, you should look for a shoe with motion control, pronation control and stability. In contrast, if you have high arches, look for a shoe that is described as “flexible.” If you have normal feet, your choices will be greater. However, the old adage, “don't fix what ain't broken” applies. Resist the temptation to add stability controls that are unnecessary. Make sure that you find a shoe that is appropriate for the width of your foot. Choose a store that has a reputation for knowledgeable sales help. Runners World has an excellent shoe finder.

Progress with Caution

Most people start with a walking program, and gradually build up to a run. For example, you might start with 15 minutes of brisk walking and five minutes of running. Your other option is to alternate five minute intervals of running and walking. If you decide to begin your running program in inclement weather, you might want to consider an indoor treadmill training program.

   
What information can I find in a women's fitness magazine?

New To Fitness? Read All About It

Are you starting (or restarting) a fitness program? Or are you embarking on a new and more structured exercise plan rather than the sporadic workouts that you have done in the past? Start by reviewing the basic exercise principles and checking out the trends in women's fitness by picking up a current issue of a women's fitness magazine.

Women's fitness magazines include the latest information about nutrition and exercise, and they will also bring you up-to-date on the latest gear and accessories, including sports bras, sports watches, music players and the right shoes and sports apparel for your body type and activity.

Some women's fitness magazines even offer customized personal training programs that let you sign up to receive workout advice and inspiration by email.

   
What should I do before I work out?

Stretch

Stretching is essential to women's fitness. It is vital to stretch before and after you work out in order to prevent injury. Stretching will increase your flexibility and warm up your muscles. Stretch after your workouts to prevent sore muscles. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Many womens fitness centers offer yoga or Pilates classes if you want to improve your flexibility. Here are some basic stretches you should always do before you work out that target your major muscle groups:

  • Your quadriceps or “quads” are the biggest muscle in your body, so they are very important to stretch. Kick your right foot behind you, and grab your ankle with your right hand. Pull your heel toward your buttocks until you can feel a stretch in the front of your leg. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
  • Stretch your hamstrings by sitting on the floor with one leg in front of you. Bend your other leg in so the sole of your foot is resting against your thigh. Reach towards your outstretched leg and try to touch your toes. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
  • To stretch your calves, stand about a foot away from the wall. Slide one of your feet back about 18 inches, keeping your heel flat on the floor and your knee straight out behind you. Bend your front knee forward until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
  • Stretch your triceps by raising your arm above your head and bending your elbow behind your head. Pull slightly on your bent elbow with your other arm. Hold for 30 seconds and switch arms.

   
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