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Don’t know where to start with fitness?

Don’t know where to start with fitness?


Start here… Part 1: Exercise and training

By Daryl Harding / 7 min Read

Starting your fitness journey doesn’t have to be hard, but for some people it is. I aim to put this issue to bed for the general population in this article.

First things first, starting isn’t easy. You cannot find external motivation that lasts. You need to put the effort in, if you do not agree with this part then stop reading and head off back to YouTube and just watching people workout. However if you’re ready for a change, read on.

To begin exercising the first thing you need to do, is decide what exercise you want to do. Do you want to lift weights? Run? Both? Play sports? Maybe you do not know…If this is the case, there is an easy way to find out.

Try them.

First try just lifting weights. I am going to put a basic weight lifting regime at the bottom of this article for you to follow. Head to the gym 3 times in the first week, try the workouts I lay out consistently for a few weeks, then decide if you want to lift weights as your primary focus for fitness. If so, then following my 8 week plan for beginners and begin to see the improvements.

If weights wasn’t for you, or you want to just add more cardio then… try running.

The best way to try this out is to get the couch to 5K app, any will do (the BBC do a good one here), and follow the programme for a few weeks as cardio does tend to take a few weeks to get used to. If you like it… complete the plan, if you do not, then next step.

Pick a sport you want to try, either a team sport, golf, boxing, anything will do. But pick one to try to do this for a month. Then evaluate if you like this. If you do, then base your training around the sport, add the needed cardio and conditioning in to be better at the sport. This will ensure you are burning a sufficient amount of calories.

Now you have had a dabble or plan to do so… let’s dig a bit deeper. Follow the below equations to know your next steps:

Like weights only = Keep lifting at least 3 times a week

Like cardio only = Complete couch to 5K

Like weights and cardio = Guess what… Do both

Like sport only = Do it as often as possible (3 times a week if you can)

Like sports and weights = Do both as frequent as you can

Like sports and cardio = Do both

Like sports, cardio and weights = Damn you’re showing off. Do all 3. Find a balance that works for you.

The key to starting your fitness journey with exercise is finding the exercise you enjoy, and the above 3 ways are the easiest to get into, you don’t have to look far to do some exercise that is considered “normal” it doesn’t have to be a special class or specialist gym. You just need a gym, the streets or a club/sport centre.

Your Goals

After you have decided an exercise you prefer, then we need to select a goal.

  • Fat loss?
  • Muscle gain?
  • Gain strength?
  • General fitness?
  • All of the above?

Above are the most common goals I see from clients or other members of the gym I speak with. The key aim with any goal is make it measurable. How many pounds do you want to lose? How much muscle do you want to gain? How much do you want to deadlift? Etc…

Here are some sentences to help you.

  • I want to lose XX pounds in XX weeks
  • I want to gain XX pounds of muscle in XX weeks
  • I want to deadlift XX KG in XX weeks

Finish these, write them down and save them somewhere to refer back to.

Once you have your aim then make a plan with exercise to get there. (nutrition will be part 2 of this, and additional work, supplements next steps is part 3).

If your goal is to build muscle or get stronger, you will need to train frequently, I would say a minimum of 3 days a week, starting with a total body workout 3 days a week. If your goal is fat loss/weight gain, keep the workout the same to begin with.

If you want strength then start with following the 5×5 Stronglifts plan here.

To begin your plan lets start with an example… You want to lose 14 pounds (1 stone). Roughly speaking with everything in check you can lose 2 pounds a week. So to reach your goal you need at least 7 weeks. So you need to find out what to do to reach your goal. If you want to lose weight do this:

Burn more calories than you eat. Pretty simple, there isn’t a lot more to it then that. Grab a TDEE calculator like this one. And count the calories a bit… I’ll show how to do this more easily in part 2. Find out how much you can consume to keep going towards your goal of 2 pounds lost a week and you’re onto a winner.

So now you know your calories, let’s plan your week training to meet the requirements for your goal. You want to lose weight and let’s say you like a bit of weight training and a bit of cardio, your week could look like this:

Training plan

Monday — Full body lifting

Tuesday — Jog

Wednesday — Full body lifting and a jog

Thursday Rest —

Friday — Full body lifting

Saturday — Rest

Sunday — Rest

Pretty simple right…?

So now what to do on the full body lifting days.

Since you’re a beginner let’s follow the below:


Session A:

Machine bench press — 12 reps 4 sets

Lat pulldown — 12 reps 4 sets

Isolated row machine — 10 reps 3 sets

Press ups — 10 reps 3 sets

Leg press — 12 reps 3 sets

Shoulder press dumbbells — 10 reps 3 sets

E-z bar curls — 12 reps 3 sets

Lying triceps Press — 12 reps 3 sets


Session B:

Trap bar deadlift — 5×5

Dumbbell bench press — 10 reps 3 sets

Lat pulldown — 12 reps 4 sets

Isolated row machine — 10 reps 3 sets

Press ups — 10 reps 3 sets

Goblet squat — 12 reps 3 sets

Machine shoulder press — 10 reps 3 sets

Hammer curls — 12 reps 3 sets

Alternate between workout A and workout B each session. For example:

Week 1:

Monday — Workout A

Wednesday — Workout B

Friday — Workout A

Week 2:

Monday — Workout B

Wednesday — Workout A

Friday — Workout B

** To find your starting weight, pick a weight you can do for the needed reps, with the last 2 being challenging. Every week you complete the needed reps on a particular exercise, increasing the weight next workout.***

For Cardio follow the Couch to 5K plan.

Right so now you have a goal outlined, calorie needs calculated, and an exercise plan created and scheduled for you. So exercise wise you have everything you need right?

Probably not, if you’re like the rest of the human race, you are most likely waiting for motivation to hit.

All the motivation I can give you is this… If you don’t exercise, you will feel physical pain. Your body will slowly degrade into an uncomfortable mess, and you will suffer for it. Do you want to suffer? I guess not, so let us continue.

Not only does exercise help you physically, but mentally too. You will feel so much better, look better and be better because of it. Your body was designed to move and be tested, if you don’t test it, it will waste away. That I promise you. There is no excuse on this earth for being physically weak (unless you have a serious injury or illness) so do not let yourself be that way. All you need to do as a minimum is apply 3 hours of your week… that is 1.79% of your week. Surely you can spend less than 2% of your time on making sure your body is fit and healthy? If not then you need to seriously look at what you spend your time on and prioritise.

If we do not have our health, what do we have? Not a great deal that is worth much if you ask me.

So there you have it, a simple blueprint on how to BEGIN your fitness journey with exercise. I will be writing about how nutrition fits into this in part 2 (link part 2) and then in part 3, additional info, supplements and more.

So let us wrap this up with some bullet points. We all love a list don’t we?

  • Find your movement (weights, cardio or sports?)
  • Write down your goals
  • Work out how to meet them, weight loss start with the TDEE calculator. Weights? follow the plan
  • Follow a fitness routine and keep to your calorie needs
  • Keep going, motivate yourself

Follow this simple plan, you will not be disappointed. In fact I think you will learn to love it. Have some faith and apply yourself, it might just be the best decision you ever make.

Take care.



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