Hi, friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Since I did not say it yesterday, I want to take a minute to say Thank You to those who serve in the armed forces and to their families, because families serve too.
I feel like I blinked and it was over, done, gone. I had scheduled to write a weekend recap post, but it went to fast. Before I knew it, it was over, and I had zero pictures. So, not this time. Instead, today is a post that has been requested over and over by HH readers.
Exercise Tips For Beginners
If you are a local reader, the beginning of summer may seem like a weird time for this post. In Arizona, the weather is getting hot, limiting the amount of time people spend outside and exercising overall. However, in many parts of the country, the weather is just warming up and encouraging people to emerge from their winter solstice and enjoy the warmth.
Regardless of where you live or when you start, starting a new exercise routine as a beginner can be overwhelming.
My first Facebook live video dancing my way through blogfest!
Posted by Hungry Hobby on Monday, July 18, 2016
My Exercise Story
A little back history for me. In high school, I was very active in cheer and dance. I had practices both before and after school, plus games, and performances. In the summer, I stayed active as a lifeguard. My freshman year some of the older lifeguards got me a job at my college recreation center as a lifeguard there, so for exercise, I mostly swam laps on my breaks and did a ton of walking around campus.
Any other fitness in college came in the form of cardio including running, elliptical, biking, and walking uphill. I would occasionally do some old ab routines from my dance studio, but that was about it. The weight room intimidated the crap out of me, and I knew nothing about it. Nor, did I have any real interest in it.
In grad school, I subscribed to magazines and started doing at home workouts from those. Then I found blogs and started doing exercises from some of my favorite bloggers. To be honest, I hated it. I felt so weak; I could barely do pushups on my knees. So, I still stuck with running and some cardio classes at the gym most of the time.
Grad school lasted two years, but at the end, I had to do an internship in the Palm Springs. (Also the year I started Hungry Hobby!) I started taking body pump classes and finally felt like I was getting a little stronger.
After Grad school, I tried many things including cross fit, random hit classes, orange theory, yoga, training for races, and barre. When I worked at the gym, I became a Personal Trainer and taught small group training to beginners. Through all these experiences, plus all the injuries I’ve had to overcome, I’ve learned a ton about my body. However, that being said, there are some things I wish I had known when I first started exercising, so that’s what I’ll be sharing today.
What Beginners Need To Know:
Weaknesses and Imbalances
A good personal trainer will not just kick your butt, but they will also identify areas of potential weakness and imbalances you have. The earlier these are identified, the easier it will be to work on them and minimize your injury risk. Trust me. Whether you’ve been exercising regularly for years or just started, you have some imbalances. A good chiropractor or sometimes massage therapist can also help with this as well.
Cardio Is Important, But Not King
A lot of people, like myself, start with cardio. It’s easy to go for a run, or jump on a machine at the gym and burn calories. It’s good for your cardiovascular system and helps release endorphins. Just make sure to incorporate different styles of cardio such as LISS and HIIT. While cardio can help you burn calories, it won’t tone up your muscles or help you control your weight long term like weightlifting will.
The Basic Movements
Before you add any weight you need to learn to squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, and rotate properly. Yes, that means before you set foot in a body pump class or any other group fitness class that uses weights you should be skilled in those movements. Unless your bestie is a personal trainer, don’t rely on them to tell you what you could improve on. Some small group training will allow time for this, but the best case scenario is a fitness professional to teach you these moves safely and give your corrections.
I don’t recommend relying on youtube or descriptions of exercises until you are much more practiced (like I did with magazines.) I highly advise you work under supervision to get these movements correctly and practice them often. Getting them right the first time will avoid injury and make it easier to add weight safely later on. You don’t need to work with someone forever, but a few introductory sessions should be sufficient.
I often did a ton of static stretching before working out, like we had done in dance for all those years. That was wrong, turns out the best thing you can do is active warm-ups. It’s best if you target the specific areas of the body you will be working. My friend Brandon has a great IG account you can look at for this.
Time to check those hip flexors!! This is known as the modified Thomas Test, and it's a great and easy way to see where your hip flexor mobility is at. . . Sit on the very edge of a table or something tall enough that your feet won't touch the ground. Pull one knee to chest, and lay back on the table. Completely relax the leg hanging. Have someone take a picture or video, or get someone who knows the test to look at your position. . . If your knee is not hanging below the level of your hip, you may have a tight iliopsoas, which can contribute to over extension of the lumbar spine; tightness in the low back, and pain. . . If your knee(s) are not at 90º or less, you have a tight rectus femoris, which is the longest of the quad muscles. It attaches at the point of your hip (ASIS) and goes all the way down and attaches on the tibial tuberosity (the bump on your shin below your knee). This long-ass muscle extends the knee, as well as flexes the hip. A super tight rec fem can contribute to anterior pelvic tilt, weak/loose hamstrings, inhibited glutes, and a host of other problems. . . your flexors, and stretch those mothers every day if you don't pass the test. Obviously, I need to step up my hip flexor stretching game. . . #fitness #fit #correctiveexercise #rehab #mobility #squats #coach #fitnessjourney #stretch #lowbackpain #pain #prehab #form #legday #muscle #stretching #hips #trainhard #hip #painfree #bodyweight #discipline #lowback #flexibility #glutes #quads #hipmobility #hamstrings #back #spine
Also, you should be using mobility work to target any potential muscle imbalances you have. For instance, stretching your chest muscles that have become overly tight from hunching over the computer all day, especially before you think about doing a ton of push-ups.
And for god sakes, make friends with a foam roller before your first workout (see my foam roller tips). In fact, your first workout could be a date with your foam roller, and that would be fine! Yoga is also a great supervised way to add strength and flexibility, in a supervised manner as well. Personally, I love hot yoga but haven’t been in a long time and won’t’ for a while since I’m pregnant.
You do not need to be dressed head to toe in the latest designer outfit to get a good workout in. However, I do suggest that you invest in a really good pair of shoes. I always send my local Hungry Hobby RD and WTE Meal Plan clients to local run stores such as Roadrunner Sports.
They film your gait and help make recommendations for shoes that fit your needs in regards to the proper movement for the appropriate activity. Invest in a good quality pair of shoes, and they will serve you well. Everything else comes secondary. It doesn’t matter if you have the latest watch, ap, or headband as long as you get out there.
Listen To Your Body
Beginners in exercise have often not incurred enough injuries to learn the importance of listening to your body. When your form is off, or your pushing too hard, your body will let you know. But those signals are super easy to ignore. And remember this, you may ignore them and be fine for a period, but eventually, that will catch up to you. If something feels off, skip that workout in favor of something else or change your movement. Try it again when you are well rested and hydrated if it still doesn’t feel right get some help. It only takes a second to push your body too far, trust me, most of us learn the hard way try not to be that person.
Let’s Review: Exercise Tips for Beginners
Whoa, that was a lot of information! Let’s break it down fast:
- Address weaknesses and imbalances prior to started a fitness routine. This will help you avoid injury long term, and you’ll get better results from your workout.
- Cardio is not king. Make sure your workout routine is well balanced which includes cardiovascular exercise and strength training.
- Get training on the basic movements such as squats, lunges, hinges, rotation, pushes and pulls. This will set a strong foundation for exercise going forward.
- Incorporate mobility work regularly, if not daily. Great tools for this are active stretching, warm ups/cool downs, yoga, and foam rolling.
- Get the correct gear, especially shoes. Don’t spend a million dollars, but do invest in a good quality pair of shoes and replace them at least once a year.
- Listen to your body. Learn what is normal hard and what signals real pain. Notice little signals that may indicate you are too tired or do not have the form to complete that movement.
I hope this helps get you started! You may also like:
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