As a personal trainer, people ask me all the time where to start when they’re getting into a new exercise program and the most important thing is to start with the basics. I’m stripping away the frills and taking you back to the basics. I’ve compiled THE workout checklist to get you started and get you sweating today! Whether you’ve been out of the game for a few years or are new to the game altogether, starting an exercise regimen can be intimidating.
1. Know Your Fitness Lingo Dictionary
First up in our workout checklist is a refresher in fitness jargon. What’s the difference between a set and a rep again? Listed are the basic terms that’ll help you decode your next workout:
REP: Short for “repetition.” The number of times you perform an exercise.
SET: The number of rounds of repetitions.
SUPER SET: Rotating between two exercises usually with the intention of working for different muscle groups.
CARDIO: Heart-pumping exercise that gets you breathing through your mouth, not your nose. The difference between “window shopping” and “mall walking.”
STRENGTH TRAINING: Working your muscles. You could be lifting weights, using a resistance band, or doing bodyweight exercises.
FLEXIBILITY: Stretching your muscles and mind-body exercises like yoga.
HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training is a workout where you give max effort through quick intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods.
TABATA: 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 8 rounds. One Tabata is 4 minutes long.
PLYOMETRICS: Explosive and quick movements that involve jumping. This advanced training method helps to develop your muscular power, speed, and endurance while conditioning the heart and building bone mass.
CIRCUIT TRAINING: A workout that involves rotating between multiple exercises within a given time frame for one set or multiple sets.
2. Fitness Attire
Here’s the deal about workout clothes. There is no right or wrong answer. You can wear whatever your heart desires. Yoga pants that cost $100 or yoga pants that cost $15. A t-shirt or a tank top. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable and works for your body. I would suggest, however, that whatever style you choose, look for moisture-wicking fabric in order to prevent chafing and keep the sweat off!
Now, here’s the deal about workout shoes. There IS a right and wrong answer. If you cut corners on shoes, your entire body could suffer. The American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society states that proper-fitting sports shoes can enhance performance and prevent injuries. While the cost may increase, they suggest purchasing athletic shoes from a specialty store. The staff will have the knowledge to put you in a shoe that best fits your workout of choice. The wrong shoes can lead to blisters, plantar fasciitis, and other workout-stopping ailments. If you’re going to spend money on fitness gear, athletic shoes really should be the biggest investment. Your feet, along with the rest of your body, will thank you!
Related: 7 Workout Mistakes That Can Leave You In Pain
3. Basic At-Home Gear
No workout checklist is complete without the gear. If you’re sweating the price of a gym membership, here’s the awesome truth—you can get just as fit right in your own home! I would suggest you start with four pieces of equipment to get you started. That’s it. No need to buy any expensive machines you’ll only use for a month and then get bored.
Yoga mat: Yoga mats are great for, well, yoga, but they also add extra padding during floor exercises like sit-ups, planks, and push-ups and for plyometric workouts that involve a lot of jumping. You’ll definitely want one in your home exercise area!
Dumbbells: If you don’t have a set of dumbbells in your house, you’re missing out! Dumbbells are so easy to break out while you’re watching TV or waiting for the dryer to buzz. Plus, almost every fitness DVD requires a set of your own. For true beginners, I’d recommend 5-lb and 8-lb weights. Down the road, get yourself an 8-lb and a 10-lb set.
Medicine Ball: A medicine ball can be tossed, rolled, and even slammed into the ground. And since it can cover both cardio and strength, this is a must-have home gym piece of equipment! Start with this 20-Minute Total Body Medicine Ball Workout or this Med Ball Mania Workout.
A Step: Yep, we’re talking about the ‘80s classic. But no need to put on head-to-toe spandex, turn on Olivia Newton-John, and bust out an aerobics routine. A step acts as a weight bench and a “box” for jumping, and it also adds elevation for exercises like lunges, push-ups, and tricep dips. Check out the plethora of exercises you can do on a step here.
4. Healthy Apps
For guidance in your fitness endeavors, turn to your phone! Apps are an incredibly useful resource for workouts, form tips, and overall motivation. These are five apps all beginners should download stat:
Tabata Pro Timer: This comes in handy when you need timed intervals for a workout like this 10-Minute Beginner Tabata Challenge. You can stop looking at the clock and let the app count you down with buzzes and beeps!
MapMyFitness: No matter what your workout of choice is, this app tracks it. Going for a run? Rock climbing? Tennis anyone? MapMyFitness will record duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned, and route traveled on an interactive map.
Get Healthy U TV App: If you want to work out at home without paying for a gym membership or spending a lot of time commuting to fitness classes, Get Healthy U TV is a perfect fit. You can stream dozens of workouts—from cardio kickboxing to HIIT training and yoga—from the comfort of your home.
Related: The Beginner’s Guide To HIIT
5. Recovery Tools
How you take care of your body after a workout is just as important as the workout itself. When your muscles are sore, they need a little loving to help recover faster and stay on track for the next workout.
Owning and knowing how to use a foam roller is a crucial tool for this process, especially for beginners whose muscles are probably screaming after the first few strength sessions. To soothe sore muscles, try an Epsom salt bath or stretching out with a massage ball or stretch straps!
To help your muscles recover, getting some protein into your system after a workout is KEY! Try the BiPro Protein Water or Protein Powder!
If You Like Our Workout Checklist, You Might Also Like These Beginners Guides
The Beginner’s Guide To Strength Training
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Full-Body Kettlebell Workout: Complete Guide For Beginners
Beginners Guide To Trampoline Exercise
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The Beginner’s Guide To Spin Class