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The Beginner’s Guide to Working Out

Written by Arthur, Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 in Fitness

muscleSo you want to learn how to work out? Good on you! Working out is simply one of the best activities one can do to make themselves a better person. It helps one keep fit and encourages a healthy active life style while also building confidence and self esteem, the necessary foundations of a well cultured anonymous.

Before starting out:

-Professional trainers can help develop a work out plan that may personally suit you and their learning might enable them to better answer specific body related questions as well as actually being there to help you with the workout and correcting any mistakes that might occur. Having a trainer isn’t absolutely necessary though
-Set yourself two goals, the first a general goal or direction you wish to take (Ex: I wish to be skinnier, I wish to be buff)
-The second goal is something a bit more substantial with time somehow involved (Ex: I wish to lose 10 pounds by the end of the summer, I wish to workout 30 minutes every day) try setting realistic, easier goals initially and once completing them set something harder.
-Try eating smaller and more meals throughout the day (6 optimally), it helps increase your metabolism and energy. (Eating after a workout is especially important as it makes workout recovery faster)
-A proper diet is essential, cut down on fatty and sugary foods, but don’t be afraid to reward yourself every once in a while. A world without chocolate cream crepe is a world I wouldn’t want to be part of


Cardio improves the heart, tones muscles, burns calories and is extremely easy to start up and get into.

Some excellent (And by no means the only) exercises are:

It’s as simple as putting on a pair of shorts and going outside for a jog, heading to the local YMCA for a dip in the pool or maybe a ride through a park. There’s really no set amount of time that would be perfect for an exercise for everyone but generally 30 minutes a day of exercise is decent.

Once you’ve gotten your stamina improved, try doing some advanced exercises. For example: When jogging or biking, try doing 15 minutes of regular jog/bike and then do 5 minutes of sprinting or hard pedaling (or however long you can try) resume another 15 minutes of regular and then try to see how long you can sprint/hard pedal again.

Keep it up and after a couple of weeks you’ll begin to see real improvements to yourself

Weight Lifting:

Hitting the weight room at the local gym might be a little bit intimidating with all these huge ripped guys, but remember that everyone has to start somewhere. You’re not going to the gym to compete against anyone except yourself so don’t worry about that and get ready to push it to the limit.

Typically you’d want to work out 4-5 days a week for about an hour to an hour and a half (beginners will probably hover around an hour). My schedule follows as below, adjust accordingly to your life.

Monday-Legs, Abs
Thursday-Back, Abs
Friday-Shoulders, Arms, Triceps

I’ve been told that you should work out a body group no more than 3 days after a previous workout. I started with that workout, but found the top list to be better as letting your muscles heal is imperative to me as the bonus of being able to focus on specific body parts for each day. But if you wish to try it out:

M: Chest, Triceps
T: Back, Leg
W: Arm, Shoulder
T: Rest
F: Chest, Triceps
S: Back, Leg
Next M: Arm, Shoulder

As a beginner, it’d be best for now to stick to the machines. Aside from the obvious safety concern, it helps set proper body movement so once you advance to free weights or bars you’ll have a decent idea of how to perform it without machine help.

Now what kind of workouts should one be doing?
Pectoris Major Sternal (Green)
Chest Press- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/PectoralSternal/BBBenchPress.html
Chest Dips- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/PectoralSternal/CBChestDip.html
Pectoris Major Clavicular (Red)
Incline Chest Press http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/PectoralClavicular/BBInclineBenchPress.html

Anterior Deltoid (Blue)
Shoulder Press- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidAnterior/DBShoulderPress.html
Lateral Deltoid (Red)
Upright Row- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidLateral/BBUprightRow.html
Lateral Raise- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidLateral/DBLateralRaise.html
Posterior Deltoid (Purple)
Rear Delt Row-http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidPosterior/DBRearDeltRow.html

Calves (red)
Calf Raise- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Gastrocnemius/BBStandingCalfRaise.html
Quads (blue, gold, pink)
Front Squats- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/BBFullSquat.html
Leg Extensions- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/LVLegExtension.html
Leg Press- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/LVSeatedLegPress.html

Back (Green)
Bent Over Row- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/BackGeneral/BBBentOverRow.html
Chinup- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/LatissimusDorsi/AsChinup.html
Seated Row- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/BackGeneral/LVSeatedRow.html
Front Pulldown- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/LatissimusDorsi/CBFrontPulldown.html

Bicep Curl- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Brachioradialis/BBReverseCurl.html
Hammer Curl- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Brachioradialis/DBHammerCurl.html
Pushdown- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Triceps/CBPushdown.html
Dumbbell Extension- http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Triceps/DBTriExt.html

From http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html
-Great site with lots of info about muscles, workouts and techniques

Bare in mind that there are many ways of working the same muscle groups and it is advisable to switch workout techniques so that your muscles don’t become accustomed to the same thing over and over. Generally, different movements, increasing weights slightly from your previous section or switching from machine to free weight to bar is enough to keep your body from getting used to the workouts.

As for how many sets and reps one should perform, generally for each exercise there should be 3 sets of 8 reps, with no more than 2 minutes of rest in between each set. If you want more of a pump, perform more reps on lighter weights and vice versa for heavier weights and fewer reps. Avoid less than 5 reps and any more than 12, with the last rep to whatever you’re doing being the hardest you can perform.

Last words:

I know some days I’ve wondered whether working out actually mattered and if it had any effect on my body. This is a perfectly natural response, and the answer is YES it does matter and it does positively help your body. It cannot be illiterated enough how important regular physical fitness is to one’s wellbeing and that a set back is only temporary and never unsurpassable. If nothing seems to be working, evaluate what you’ve been doing lately and try to change things up. Examine your diet, try a new schedule, perform different workout techniques, bike instead of jog, do more reps with lighter weights, etc…

Working out isn’t an instant fix all solution, it takes a concentrated will on all aspects of life. Besides the time commitment, no workout plan will survive without proper nutrition, sleep and dedication to a goal that may take months or years to attain. All of this comes naturally with time and effort, and soon working out will be just as natural as sitting down and eating lunch.

Good luck with your training.

Cardio: Exercises relating to cardiovascular and endurance training
Set: A group of repetitions
Rep: Short form of repetition (as in repetition of an exercise)

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4 Responses to The Beginner’s Guide to Working Out

  1. Yum22Yum23 says:

    First part : “I wish to skinnier”, if you don’t see the typo, lucky you.

    Also, would you mind not using the common workout vocabulary like we ought to know it, I can assume what “reps” mean but half of the exercise names are as obscure as the pages of a dictionary at 3am during a storm without a light. Or if you wish to keep using them, at least give a glossary?

  2. Arthur says:

    How short sighted of me, of course I will

  3. Cameron says:

    Weblinks are ok. I would have tried to include a “home-health” version. Pushups can work the triceps fairly well. Exercises with only the weight of your body can do a lot more than one would think.

  4. Fuzzums says:

    I’m sorry, but a lot of the information you have there isn’t that great. The fastest way of shedding fat is to do high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. Alternating 1 minute jogging with 30 seconds sprinting for 20 minutes is all you need to do. Compared to steady-state cardio, HIIT burns more fat (and not as much muscle), keeps your metabolism raised throughout the rest of the day, isn’t as tiring, doesn’t take as much time, and is more fun.

    Also, the weight lifting regimen you have posted is decent if you’re looking for making your muscles bigger. If you’re just looking to be big and show off, doing body part splits like that is fine. If you’re looking to build strength, through, your lifting regimen should look substantially different. You should focus on compound lifts and movements, instead of training individual muscles. Three days a week with one day of rest in between is good, doing 5 set of 5 reps with each lift. Doing this will make the muscle denser and you’ll have greater functional strength.

    If you’re seriously looking to get into shape, go to StrongLifts.com and do it for 3 months.

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