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Have you ever been sitting on the couch, rifling a bag of jalapeno-flavored, kettle-cooked potato chips into your mouth, while binge-watching the hilarious hijinks of Michael Scott? Let’s be honest, we have all been there. And that is okay. However, once the screen goes black for a few moments, you catch a glimpse of yourself in the dark reflection and you think, “Man, I need to start working out again.” Again, it happens to the best of us. Starting (or even restarting) a training regimen is one of the hardest things you can do. Especially to someone who is inexperienced or does not have the extensive knowledge of individuals in the industry. So how does one begin?
The first thing to do is to figure out why. Why do you want to start a training regimen? What is your end goal? What is your time frame to achieving this goal? How will it fit in with your already busy life? Is your goal realistically attainable? I am not trying to interrogate you, but the more explicit you can be, the better the outcome and experience. I used to be the guy who showed up to the gym without a plan but wanted to get “jacked.” This leads me to my next point: Be specific with what you want to achieve. Try to pick something that is measurable—like adding more weight to your squat, losing 10 pounds in time for your friend’s wedding, or adding 5 pounds of muscle over the winter. Or maybe your goal is to simply improve your overall health, move better, and perform ADLs (activities of daily living) more easily. The choice is yours, padawan.
Another thing to consider for you novices, newbies, and weekend warriors: Utilize help. Find yourself someone who knows what they’re doing. Even if you don’t want to spend money, it might be worth the investment to consult a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach. These people have the knowledge on how to program, progress you through movement patterns, and coach your lifting form. You wouldn’t try and change your oil if you had no idea what you’re doing, would you? No, you would at least do some sort of research first. Take care of your body. Use the help of professionals. However, buyer beware: Not all trainers and coaches are great. That is something you will have to evaluate on your own. For instance, if you are unsure of starting a training regimen with a trainer, ask him/her for references and talk to their clients. There will always be people out their trying to sell snake oil, so proceed with caution and dig a little deeper. There are other options if you don’t feel like spending money and are the type of person who likes to do it themselves.
The internet is a vast and beautiful thing. If you are the type of human being that likes to learn things on your own and research, then there are thousands of great articles on exercises. Many coaches that write articles are typically well-known in the industry like Eric Cressey, Tony Gentilcore, Dan John, Lee Boyce, and Dean Somerset—just to name a few. Many of these esteemed coaches provide articles for sites like T Nation and Men’s Fitness. All it takes is a simple Google search and boom goes the dynamite. Don’t take one person’s word though. See what a bunch of coaches have to say and use all of that information to decide for yourself. There are articles on exercises and their cues, movement patterns, programming strategies, and progressions. Good luck on your new adventure getting stronger and moving better.
Do not forget about nutrition. Your diet is going to play a HUGE role in your fitness odyssey. Nutrition is not my area of expertise, but I do know a thing or two. The same rules apply: The internet is a beautiful thing for starting a diet plan or educating yourself on how nutrition is going to play a big part in your training. Keep in mind, this is a subject that contains a lot of the snake oil nonsense that you need to more vigilant with, but that is an article for another day.
In the future, I will be writing articles on everything fitness, health, nutrition, strength, and conditioning. Thanks for tuning in to my first article. Also, did you know I have a podcast? It’s called "Untamed with Ryan Costanza," and it’s available on Apple Podcasts and on the website Untamed Podcasts—and soon to be on Vocal. My podcast has an underlying theme of strength and conditioning, as well as everything else that happens in life. Cheers to the vigorous movement!