Now that all the important mental stuff is out of the way, let's talk workout. Often perceived as this mystical activity accompanied by charismatic speeches and music rich in bass, it can be a scary thing to try and break into.
If you're a beginner, the only thing you need to learn is how to exercise regularly.
You don't need to pick a specific workout. You don't need to buy a home gym worth hundreds of dollars. All you need is commitment. However, commitment can take time to build. After all, we have lazy days, so what's one skipped workout day?
This is the attitude you need to overcome. By giving yourself leeway and excuses, you give yourself permission to fail. In the beginning, this is almost all everyone does. They start out strong and then start making concessions here and there until, eventually, they're back at square one.
Instead of starting all or nothing, why not reverse the process and start with something that you can realistically achieve? You don't need to run yourself into the ground to get fit. What you need is to build a solid base to grow yourself on. How strong your foundation is will ultimately determine how grand your home can be.
So where do you even begin? What do you even choose?
The first step is to choose something you enjoy doing. If you like walking, make walking your baseline. If you like sprinting, do sprinting. The same goes with anything that challenges your body to be better. Swimming, aerobics, karate, boxing, weightlifting, Pilates, yoga, et cetera. Whatever makes you happy and feel accomplished is the best foundation.
The next step is picking a schedule you can realistically stick to. Sure, the big athletes we all look up to train 6 days a week, every week, every year. However, the problem with this is that you aren't a big athlete. You are a beginner. It takes conditioning to be able to do that much while still maintaining a job, a family and a social life.
Instead, opt for 3 alternating days per week. This means Monday, Wednesday, Friday or any variation thereof.
Shoot for 15 to 30 minutes. Remember, the goal is not how much you can do but making sure you do it consistently.
A Note on Consistency
Consistency does not mean repetitiveness. If you're getting sickeningly bored of the routine you picked, change it out for something else. This might mean you alternate exercises every two weeks. This is perfectly fine so long as you stick to your schedule.
If you do it right, getting in shape doesn't have to cost you a thing. While it certainly is nice to have expendable income to afford a nice gym or even a YMCA, too many of us get hung up on the idea that we need things to get fit. This is not the case. If you want to get fit, you will get fit no matter your lot in life.
Beginner Weight Programs
If you have absolutely no heavy things that can be dropped in satchels and lifted, you'll want to turn to the bodyweight routine a little further down.
This is the routine I started with. It takes maybe 15 minutes and follows the 3 days a week rule. The best part is that it has you learn the three lifts that make up the foundation of lifting: squat, bench and deadlift.
The Liam Rosen site posted in resources also lists two other beginner routines:
The most important thing you can take away from these great beginner programs is that they are only three days out of the week. Apart from that fact that you need a realistic way to build consistency, your body also needs to rest. If you never give your muscles time to sleep, they never get a chance to repair themselves. This time to repair is what results in growth.
All of these will kick your ass. All in all, this one goes for about 30-45 minutes, depending on how fast your reps are.
Beginner Cardio Programs
Like weights, you don't need a fancy elliptical to do cardio. Even if your knees or joints are bad, there are a vast number of low impact cardio videos for free on YouTube.
Of all the cardio resources I've gone through, she is the only one to have such a wide variety. Long, short, intense, relaxed, stretching, high-impact or low-impact, she has something for everyone. For running, look to any of the Couch-to-XK routines. They're fantastic for building stamina. So long as the activity really gets your heart going, you're doing cardio.
A Note on Cardio Length
If you are set on getting ripped like a bodybuilder, never do more than 30 minutes of cardio per day. While necessary for keeping the body lean, the joke that cardio kills gains does have some truth to it. Don't fear cardio entirely but be sure to limit your intake so that you can keep growing your muscles effectively. If, however, your goal is not a ripped bod, go as long as you find fun.
Co-host of HeroesForge, founder of Battle to Be Better, gamer, singer and all around happy person.