FITNESS IS A LIFESTYLE!

Don’t let these four words slip by you just because it’s an oft-repeated cliché. This is an important mindset! You have to stop thinking of getting in shape for a New Year’s resolution, vacation or wedding (or a contest, you bodybuilders). You must start thinking about getting healthy and in shape FOR LIFE.

When you’re just starting out, firmly resolve that quitting is not even an option. Don’t approach this endeavor with an “I’ll try” attitude. If you accept quitting as a possibility, you might as well not even start; just grab that remote control, a bag of chips and get back on the couch where you were before.

Also, understand that results may come slowly in the beginning if you’re not the genetically-gifted type. This process requires great patience and persistence for most people.

Most beginners never allow themselves the time it takes to get any momentum going. They expect too much too soon, get discouraged and quit.

It takes a big push to get started. It’s like getting a rocket off the ground – it uses most of its fuel just launching off the pad, but once it’s in the air and the inertia has been overcome, it can keep going with very little energy expenditure. Don’t quit just because it’s difficult to “launch!”

GET A PERSONAL TRAINER, COACH, OR MENTOR

Life is too just too short to learn everything there is to know on your own. Don’t waste time climbing the ladder only to find it’s leaning against the wrong wall! Learn from the experts. Get a trainer, personal coach, or mentor to help you start right – right from the start.

Don’t know what to look for in a trainer? Read my new article about personal trainers. You’ll find it in the Fitness Renaissance website library here

JOIN A GYM IF YOU CAN, BUT A SET OF DUMBBELLS ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH TO GET YOU STARTED

I admit I’m showing my bias by saying everyone should join a gym (I’m in the health club business), but I sincerely believe nothing beats working out in a high quality health club. In a well-equipped gym, the possibilities are endless, the atmosphere is motivational and people are there to help you.

More often than not, however, beginners start at home. That being the case, I admit that you don’t need a gym to get started. You also don’t need any of that garbage advertised on late night TV. The only piece of equipment you need has existed for over 100 years – that’s right, the humble DUMBBELL!

Remember – don’t overcomplicate this – think basics, basics, basics (and dumbbells are as basic as it gets.)

Dumbbells are the single most versatile piece of equipment in existence. You can perform hundreds, even thousands of exercises with dumbbells.

Ladies, a set of 3 to 20 pounds will be more than sufficient. Guys, a set from 10 to 40 pounds should do the trick (for now). I’ve also heard wonderful things about Powerblock dumbbells for space-saving, although I don’t have first hand experience to cite.

If you also get yourself a bench and clear out a little corner in your favorite room, then you’re ready to roll!

Here it is – The beginner’s all-dumbbell routine:

  1. Dumbbell bench press (chest)
  2. Dumbbell side lateral raise (shoulders)
  3. One arm dumbbell row (upper back)
  4. Dumbbell extension behind head (triceps)
  5. Dumbbell Bicep curl (biceps)
  6. Dumbbell Lunges (thighs)
  7. Dumbbell One leg calf raise (calves)
  8. Dumbbell leg curl (hamstrings)
  9. Crunches (abs)

There you have it. Simple and effective. At home or in a gym.

If you’re just starting, do this routine for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise, except calves and abs which you can go up to 20 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets. You’ll train your whole body in each workout, 2 -3 three days per week, non-consecutive days.

After 3 – 6 months, you’ll probably need to add exercises and move up to a split routine. (So I guess I have to do another article, called 8 tips for intermediates: How to keep going).

WEIGHT TRAINING IS NOT OPTIONAL – IT’S MANDATORY!

It’s is a common misconception that you should start with aerobic workouts and lose the fat first before adding weight training.

Unfortunately, the best you can hope for from diet and aerobics alone is to become a “skinny fat person.” You may lose weight, but you’ll have a poor muscle to fat ratio and a “soft” appearance.

Obviously, weight training is the key to developing strength and muscle. What few people realize is that weight training also increases fat loss, although it occurs indirectly.

Weight training is anaerobic and burns carbohydrates (sugar).Cardio is aerobic and therefore burns fat. So it seems logical to focus on aerobic training for fat loss.

However, something interesting happens “beneath the surface” when you lift weights. Weight training increases your lean body mass – aerobic training does not.

Low calorie dieting and aerobic training without weight lifting can make you lose lean body mass. If you lose lean body mass, your metabolism slows down, and this makes it harder to lose fat.

If you increase your lean body mass, you increase your metabolic rate and this makes it easier to lose fat. With a faster metabolism, you’ll burn more fat all day long – even while you’re sleeping!

If you have limited time, and your main priority is fat loss, then do a very brief weight training program and spend the majority of your time concentrating on cardio. But never neglect the weights completely – always do both, and if possible, devote equal attention to each.

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