The Ultimate Guide for Starting a Fitness Program
You're probably here because you've made a wonderful decision. You've decided that you'd like to try to exercise (or exercise more) and we think that's awesome.
Starting a fitness program is one of the best things you can do for your health. First and foremost, physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for certain chronic diseases like diabetes. It also improves your balance and coordination, your quality of sleep, your feeling of well being and your resistance to depression and anxiety.
Also, nothing compares to the sense of freedom, the feeling of accomplishment and the peace of mind that you can achieve through sport and exercise. It's a highway to living a happier and healthier life and we're so excited that you're going on this journey.
We will touch on all of those subjects a little further down the line. For now let`s get you prepared for sport!
Welcome to SPARK's Ultimate Guide to Starting a Fitness Program
In this article we'll be covering everything you need to know to make sure your journey is as safe, enjoyable and effective as possible.
Before we get started, there are just a couple of things we want to say:Be Smart
- Always make sure you exercise in a safe environment and make sure you take precautions to protect your health and body.
- It's always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a fitness routine.
- There are countless resources available to help guide you, including this one.
- We will continuously extend and update this blog with fitness tips and new routines to try. So make sure to subscribe and you'll get great advice right in your inbox.
- We also created a Women's Only Facebook Group where you can share your challenges and advice with other women on the journey - check it out.
- We'll also have "Ask Us Anything" posts on Instagram, so you can also send us your questions there or in a direct message.
- Consistency is what makes the difference in your health and quality of life.
- Unless you're training for a competition, there's absolutely no good reason to push to your absolute max.
OK, now that we've covered that - let's get Started! 💕
The First Step
Developing a new habit is almost always about setting off with the right mindset.
We all have a little voice inside our head that just wants to be a couch potato. It wants to watch a series or go for a coffee instead of working out - and that's mainly because it's a change from our normal lifestyle - and humans don't like change.
So the first thing you have to do is prepare your mind for this resistance and know that it's making things seem worse than they really are. From personal experience, I can tell you that I've never regretted doing a work-out, and I always regret skipping one.
Once you get up and just get into it, you'll quickly find that you're actually enjoying the process and the feeling of accomplishment (and the buzz of endorphins) that comes after it is unbeatable.
So what can you do to beat the voice that says:
- I don't have time
- I'm feeling really tired today
- The weather's not so great
- I don't have the right clothes
- My partner hates when I don't spend time with them
Or any of a million other excuses that we invent for ourselves.
Well it's simple, you need to have a strategy in place. One of the best strategies is to make sure you prepare yourself for including exercise into your life.
- Have a plan, and schedule your workouts to fit your lifestyle and stick to the schedule.
- Choose activities that you enjoy doing and have a backup plan in case conditions aren't perfect.
- Be moderate, your workouts don't need to be huge, even 10 - 20 minutes a day is perfect.
- See exercise as time for yourself, as your little break from everything else.
- Remember that your body and your mind will love you for it, and that's why you're doing this.
OK - so we're over the mental blocks, now what? What should you do?
Choose your routine
The best advice I can give you is that the best fitness routine is the one that you'll actually do.
So when you choose your routine - keep in mind that it needs to make sense for you and your goals.
What are your fitness goals?
Do you want to run a marathon, or do you want to be able to carry heavy things up the stairs without getting tired?
Maybe you want to be more balanced and more coordinated, or maybe you want to improve your health or lose/gain some weight.
Your purpose for exercising is yours and your routine should take you closer to your goals in a safe, healthy and enjoyable way.
Having clear goals will help you gauge your progress and stay motivated. Writing your goal down somewhere you'll see it often will help remind you of why you're doing this along the way 💕
Exercising To Improve Your Health
If your goal is to live a healthy and balanced life, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
Moderate activity is something that is similar in difficulty to walking at a fast pace. Vigorous activity can be running at a jogging pace or doing some weight training.
If you can do this, or a little more than this you're in a good place.
The WHO also recommends spreading your exercise sessions evenly across the week (for example 22 minutes per day, or 35-40 minutes every other day.)
Even small amounts of physical activity (Mini-workouts) are helpful. Being active for short periods of time throughout the day can add up to provide health benefits.
Other small changes can also add up, so walking to work, taking the stairs instead of elevators/escalators, taking a small walking break with your coffee instead of sitting in a cafe/your living room will positively impact your health.
For example: going for a brisk 40-minute walk three times a week and two quick 15-minute workouts (like the one at the end of this article) per week is a fantastic place to start.
Exercising To Improve Performance
This is a whole other ball game (pardon the pun.)
When we talk about improving performance then we also need to talk about managing intensities and volumes over time so that you walk onto the track, field, or court and you're ready to be at your best.
This is an area best explored on its own and in specific to each sport, but for now we'd recommend structuring your workouts based on how far away you are from your target performance.
Typically, over a 12 week period, you should aim to spend about 2 or 3 weeks training at moderate intensities (around 65-70-80% of your maximum) and only 1 week where you approach 90% of your maximum a couple of times, and then shift back to moderate intensities to repeat the cycle.
The last few weeks before a performance, you'll want to spend most of your time around the 70% mark, with scattered workouts at a high intensity to get your body used to the high load.
Exercising To Adapt Your Body
Now, if for some reason you feel you want to lose or gain weight, your approach has to focus on something called Energy Balance.
This means balancing how much you eat (measured in Kilo-Calories per day for example) against how much energy you use per day including exercise.
If you want to gain weight, you need to maintain a Positive Energy Balance - which means you need to eat more calories than you burn. If you want to lose weight it's the opposite, you need a Negative Energy Balance. In other words you need to eat less more than you burn (there are lots of online calculators that you can use to find out how much you burn depending on your lifestyle.)
There is no way around this fact - don't believe in the fad diets, the fancy pills, or the weird devices people try to sell you.
When going for any diet, our recommendation is to focus on whole foods with a lot of vegetables and fruit, a moderate amount of protein, and some healthy fats.
We'll get more detailed about this in future posts but for now just keep it simple:
- If you want to gain weight, aim for about 200-250 calories more than you burn on any given day.
- If you want to lose weight, aim for about 200-250 calories less than you burn on any given day.
Be Kind To Yourself
Don`t be hard on yourself if you just weren't able to fit a workout into your day today. Life sometimes just gets the best of us.
Also you don't have to do all your exercise at one time - you can weave in activity throughout your day. If you are busy or simply don’t have a solid 30-40 minutes to put into working out training by numbers is the perfect solution. The rules are simple: you just need to get the numbers in by the end of the day.
Shorter but more-frequent sessions have aerobic benefits too! As long as you have managed your target by the end of the day you're good!
Any amount of activity is better than none at all.
Check out our SPARK training by numbers guide if you're a particularly busy bee. 💕 💪🏽
Mix It Up!
Different activities (Cross-Training) will keep exercise boredom at bay. Cross-training using low-impact forms of activity, such as going for a power-walk, biking or water exercise, also reduces your chances of injuring or overusing one specific muscle or joint. Plan to alternate among activities that emphasize different parts of your body, such as walking, swimming and strength training.
Get social and involve your friends and family! Take a weekend hike with your family or spend an evening ballroom dancing. Find activities you enjoy to add to your fitness routine.
If you are in lockdown, plan to watch your favorite show while walking on the treadmill, read while riding a stationary bike, or take a break to go on a walk at work.
Check out our SPARK workout with kids ideas and our SPARK train with a partner guide and turn your workout into a fun activity for the whole family!
Listen To Your Body
This is the most important one! If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, take a break. You may be pushing yourself too hard.
If you're not feeling good, give yourself permission to take a day or two off.
Action and Consistency are More Important Than Perfection
What you decide to do is less important then getting out there and doing something.
Our mission at SPARK is to help you in the small ways that we can to incorporate more health promoting activities into your life.
So don't worry if you don't have the perfect clothes or any fancy gym equipment. It's in the beginning of this section and we'll say it again:
Action and consistency are more important than perfection, so...
Just wear whatever you put on this morning and lets dive straight into our SPARK beginner home workout 2021!
Part One: Warm-Up
We always recommend a pre-workout warm-up before you begin and then finish with a cool down to get your body back into gear. Warm-ups are a great way to wake your body up and prepare your mind for a workout.
Most warmups don’t take very long, just two-three minutes, five minutes tops.
Part Two: The SPARK beginner workout.
If you're just beginning to exercise, start cautiously and progress slowly. If you have an injury or a medical condition, consult your doctor or an exercise therapist for help designing a fitness program that gradually improves your range of motion, strength and endurance.
Below is a quick 20 minute routine that you can do two or three times a week to get used to incorporating workouts into your daily life.
Repeat the following routine 3 times per session and rest 2 minutes between each set.
Well done - now rest 2 minutes! Repeat 2 more times.
Rest for 2 minutes and repeat one last time:
Congratulations! You officially got started!!!
Stay tuned for our upcoming videos and many more surprises.