Prior to starting any type of fitness program it’s very important to go see your doctor and get a complete physical to make sure you’re fully cleared to start working out. It’s also important to get some blood work done by requesting a “metabolic panel” from your doctor so they can review your hormone levels which includes testosterone, estrogen and many other items. If you have issues with excessive weight gain, sub-optimal hormone levels could be one of the main culprits. Knowing your baseline hormone levels before you get started on a fitness program is very important. The failure to test for hormonal issues is one of the biggest mistakes when trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Your goals are your own personal objectives so don’t follow anyone else’s. Decide whether you want to lose a certain amount of weight or just work on specific body parts like your thighs, stomach or arms. The most important part in achieving your goals will be tracking your progress month-to-month. I personally like to weigh myself and take pictures each month and then compare them to previous months. Being able to see your progress is extremely important for your own personal motivation. People who fail to track their fitness progress do not achieve the same results as people who closely track and document their progress. Remember to try to make improvements on a monthly basis, not daily. Perfection takes time so be patient.
After establishing your goals, the next step is to come up with a fitness plan to help you achieve those goals. A successful fitness plan will involve three main areas: weight training, cardio and core workouts. This is what is considered a balanced fitness plan.
The 3 Main Areas Include:
- Weight Training – I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for women to build lean muscle through resistance training with weights. The more muscle you can develop, the faster your metabolism will become and the more body fat you will burn. Weight training will also improve your bone density which will help you greatly as you get older. Lean muscle also looks attractive and it will be your best friend when it comes to weight loss and overall health.
- Cardio – Cardiovascular exercise burns extra calories and cranks up your metabolism. Performing regular cardio is fantastic for losing unwanted pounds and inches. For beginners, I’d recommend 20-30 minutes of cardio 3-5 days per week.
- Core Workouts – Training your core is crucial for stabilizing and supporting the entire body. Having strong and firm core muscles not only looks great, but can also prevent back injuries. Most beginners who are just starting out on a new workout regimen often forget to include core training into their workout routine.
For workouts, I’d recommend training 3-5 days a week for about an hour per session. Your workouts should be broken down by specific muscle groups on different days. This is called a training “split”. You can review a sample 3-day, 4-day and 5-day split workout routine below. The specific “split” training routine you choose will mostly depend on your schedule and the amount of time you can devote to working out. If you have limited time during the week, then choose the 3-day split. If you have ample time, then use the 5-day split. You should only train each muscle group once per week for the best results. It’s very important to allow your muscles to fully recover after each workout:
|3-Day Split||4-Day Split||5-Day Split|
|Monday: Chest and Back||Monday: Chest and Triceps||Monday: Chest|
|Wednesday: Legs||Tuesday: Back and Biceps||Tuesday: Back|
|Friday: Shoulders and Arms||Thursday: Legs||Wednesday: Legs|
|Friday: Shoulders||Thursday: Shoulders|
|Friday: Biceps and Triceps|
Your Mental Mindset as a Beginner
The key is to stay focused on your goals and hold yourself accountable. I personally believe that if I look and feel better at the end of the month than I did at the beginning of the month, then I had a successful month. Execute your workout routine and diet plan and results will come.
It’s important to avoid being fooled by a significant amount of weight loss at the beginning. If you are currently overweight, then losing a significant amount of weight early on is fairly easy. After you get past that initial phase, it will get harder to drop pounds. The quality of your workouts and your ability to stick with your diet plan are the main keys that will help propel you to the next level.
Do You Need a Trainer?
For most beginners, it’s highly recommended to invest some money into a qualified personal trainer to get you on the right track when you’re first starting off. Find a certified trainer who can design a unique workout plan to help you meet your own specific goals. Hiring a personal trainer can really jump-start your health and fitness education by learning how to properly execute all of the different exercises. I believe 80-90% of the people who workout at the gym are either doing the wrong exercises or executing the right exercises with very poor form and incorrect technique. This comes down to simply not having the knowledge about how to perform each movement correctly and this is where a quality trainer really helps out.
When most women start a fitness program for the first time, they want instant results in the way they look and feel. I’m sure most of you know what happens to people who workout and don’t see results. They end up getting very discouraged and eventually quit. This is why it’s so critical to get the help from a personal trainer so they can show you the basics of how to train properly. I personally used a trainer and it was one of the best choices I made. After about 6 months of working with a trainer, I no longer needed them and I was clearly motivated by the progress I had made. My personal trainer helped design my workout routine and provided me with feedback about my exercise form as well as providing me with lots of motivation. Eight years later, I ended up becoming a master trainer myself along with achieving numerous other certifications and I have also placed in 16 national bodybuilding competitions. If I had not received that early guidance and assistance by my trainer, I clearly would not be where I am today.
Your diet will play a major role in your health and fitness program and the results you see from it. There are thousands of different “diets” on the market and most don’t work over the long-term. My recommendation for beginners is to simply try to eat clean. Cut out processed sugars, processed carbohydrates, fast food and limit your alcohol intake. Focus on lots of lean protein like fish, chicken breast and turkey breast along with green vegetables, fresh fruit, brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes. The key to long-term health and fitness success is not starving yourself. You need to eat a clean diet with lots of nutrient dense, whole foods.
I am including a sample weekly meal plan below. This is just a reference so make sure you know how many calories you need to eat each day. You can use the calories per day calculator to find your specific number. There will be trial and error period when it comes to your diet. Each person has a different metabolism and everyone reacts differently to carbohydrates, so make sure to adjust your macronutrients accordingly.
|5 egg whites, 1 cup of oatmeal.||Handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts).||6 ounces of chicken breast, 1 cup of brown rice, broccoli.||1/2 cup of cottage cheese with 1 scoop of protein powder and strawberries.||6 ounces of salmon, asparagus, small side salad.|
To recap, the three most important things for getting great results out of your fitness program are:
- Get a complete physical and have your hormone levels tested by a medical doctor before starting a fitness program. It’s important to make sure you are fit and healthy enough to start working out.
- Start off with a beginner workout plan based on the best “split” that works for you schedule. Hire a certified personal trainer to help you train correctly so you can succeed.
- Follow a clean diet that includes lots of nutrient dense foods with the right amount of calories for your specific metabolism and body.