This one is for the adults who have not worked out in a long time and want to get back into it, but it’s just been so long they do not know where to begin. At Driven we pride ourselves on being able to take a complete beginner and systematically get them fit, strong, lean, and feeling great. Because of that we have noticed that there are a few key principles and some overlooked concepts that we feel are so important for adults to understand before they start a workout routine.

1. Redundancy is Key

A common trend in fitness is the idea that we need to always keep things fresh in order to keep people motivated and engaged in their workouts. The common phrase among newbies working out is that, “I never know what to expect when I go into a workout.” While I get the idea that you don’t want to do the same workout day in and day out it is important to understand that in the beginning there needs to be some redundancy.

Sign Up for E-News

Redundancy, or better known as PRACTICE, is essential for folks who haven’t worked out in months or years to get comfortable with the exercise movement and technique. It also allows the client to get used to WHERE they should be feeling a certain movement, if they have any pain or discomfort from it the next day, and it allows them to build CONFIDENCE in the training environment.

Imagine being a complete newbie to working out and every time you go to the gym you have to learn a completely new set of exercises. The process would get frustrating very quickly! You would also not make the progress that you want because instead of enhancing your strength or conditioning by getting better at certain exercises you are always scattered never really progressing your level of ability.

Here’s what you need to do instead. Start your exercise “pool” with anywhere from 8-12 exercises and do that workout a few times per week. When you start to feel comfortable make it a little more challenging by adding range of motion, weight, or how you are positioning yourself during the exercise.

Every week or two begin to add in new exercises to expand your exercise “pool.” Within a couple of months you will then have MASTERED over 20 great exercises instead of only being decent at 50.

2. Quality Over Quantity

I call this “gung-ho syndrome.” It means that when folks start working out with us they are super eager to get going and have the hardest workouts of their lives. They are all “gung-ho” about getting fit once they are in the environment we have created. While we love the enthusiasm we often remind them to take a step back and think quality of quantity.

Yes, back squatting is a tougher exercise than goblet squats. But if you can’t goblet squat well you certainly aren’t going to back squat. Yes, the group here may be doing a pretty hard metabolic conditioning session but this is only your third session so instead you are still working through some basic sets and reps. Yes, corrective exercises may be boring but you need to work on getting your arms completely overhead so work on your t-spine extension drills.

Each one of these scenarios depicts folks who want to go pedal to the metal from the beginning but it isn’t in their BEST interest to do so.

Remember, if you have been inactive for months or years you need to earn the right to train at a hard level. That takes time. The process is worth it but it doesn’t happen over night.

So, put down that barbell and start working on those goblet squats!

3. Strength Matters

There is a big trend in the fitness industry about metabolic conditioning these days. I don’t know if you have heard of it but it is essentially interval training; an example being 40 seconds of work with 20 seconds of rest and then you repeat. While effective, fun, and challenging, it isn’t best to start a newbie in these types of training sessions.

Strength training is where we begin! We do this for a number of reasons:

If you haven’t worked out in a long time strength training at your own pace consistently becomes the foundation for conditioning training later on.

Strength training develops joint health. Many times conditioning is more impactful on your joints than strength training is. Build your strength up first and you will be better able to withstand the ground reaction forces on your joints when it is time for conditioning.

Strength training also builds confidence and movement competency. It drives me bonkers when I see out of shape people who are just starting out go through a grueling conditioning session with very poor form. It only leads to injury or burn out which leaves the individual right back at the beginning again.

The problem is that strength training gets a bad rap! People who think of strength training normally think of two things: football players going crazy in the weight room or Arnold Schwarzenegger going hard back in the day!

There is a middle ground and it is where you should start. I will have more information on the value of strength training in a future article.

4. Exercise Selection is a Ladder

We do not start folks on the hardest core exercise we have because they are not ready for it. At Driven we have taken multiple people through our core progressions and it has alleviated chronic back pain and aches throughout their bodies. It is because we look at exercises as a ladder; you start at the bottom and work your way up.

Exercises shouldn’t be thought of as a method to breaking you down or showing you how sore you can get. Instead they are just the vehicle to looking, feeling, and living to your fullest potential.

For some people that may mean there core progression is something basic like a Bird Dog, for others it may be more advanced like a TRX Fall Out. Either way both individuals are working on their core strength at their own level.

This is another area where “gung-ho” syndrome kicks in. Instead of earning the next progression folks just want to start at what they see the other person doing. Remember, exercising (even if you are in a group) is a very personal experience and you should never do something that you are not ready for.  

In Conclusion:

If you stop and think about it these are four critical points that should be understood and applied while starting a fitness routine. Random, misguided, or reckless exercise selection, progressions, movement quality, and programming will only lead to injuries, frustration, and quitting. Instead, master movement patterns, develop a quality matters mindset, become stronger, and then work your way up the ladder. It is a much more pleasant journey this way!