How to Get Fit For Beginners
As a beginner, getting fit may seem like a lofty goal with a lot of new information to get your head around. If you’ve never set foot in a gym, unrolled a yoga mat or tried on a pair of running shoes, then getting started on your healthy journey could seem intimidating. But we’re here to show you that by taking small, gentle steps, you’ll easily be able to work towards your fitness goals.
So, how do you start getting fit as a beginner? Don’t let age, size or starting fitness levels stop you from taking those first steps - instead, use this guide to help you on your journey.
- Know your big 'why' objectives
- Set fitness goals
- Make small, achievable changes
- Create a fitness plan
- Form consistent habits
- Do what you enjoy
1. KNOW YOUR ‘BIG WHY’ OBJECTIVES
One of the most important steps for beginners is to understand what your fitness objectives are and ultimately, why it is you want to build your fitness. Do you want to get stronger? Lose weight? Tone up? Is your new fitness journey part of a larger self-care lifestyle change? Or are you simply wanting to take better care of your body?
Whatever your reasons, knowing and understanding your motive for building up your fitness levels is a fantastic way to stay focused, so even if a workout feels tough or you’re not in the mood for exercising, you can remind yourself of just why it is you’re making these changes.
Your ‘big why’ is your key motivator and your purpose for exercising, keeping you inspired as you get stronger, fitter and as you build your confidence.
Once you know this, then you can move onto the next step...
2. SET FITNESS GOALS
So now you know why it is you want to work on your fitness, next you need to think about how you’re going to achieve this. If you want to get stronger, then you could consider resistance or weight training. If you want to be able to move further and faster, then you can work on your speed, cardio endurance and power. If your muscles feel tight, then mobility and flexibility movements and taking adequate rest can help you. You can then set your fitness goals. We always recommend setting small, simple goals to start with. If you’re a total beginner then you could find one of the following helpful:
- 15 minutes of yoga every day: this is a great place to start as you’ll begin to loosen up any tightness in your body and start building mobility and strength.
- Learn to plank for 60 seconds: there are many different plank variations you can try, and by practising every day, you’ll be able to increase your time and build up your core and upper body strength. Perhaps see if you can get to a 60 second plank over the course of a month.
- Couch to 5K: gently improve your running ability week-by-week with a 5K plan. Our 5K training plan is a great place to start, with lots of tips for getting started over the course of 6 weeks.
- Commit to three gym sessions a week: head to the gym for at least 30 minutes, three times a week and you’ll start to feel a difference in no time. We have plenty of options for shorter exercises (like these 10 minute mini workouts) that you can combine, or perhaps consider signing up to fitness classes for extra motivation.
Another great approach to staying focused on your fitness is to plan a sporting event, or chosen date to have achieved a fitness goal. So, sign up to a 5k run, commit to being able to complete 10 push ups by your next birthday, or to have completed 12 workouts over the next month. Check out our How to Set Fitness Goals guide for more tips and advice.
3. MAKE SMALL, ACHIEVABLE CHANGES
Getting healthy starts at home, and even if the thought of stepping foot in a gym still feels intimidating, then there are plenty of changes you can make to your daily routine that can positively impact your fitness. Identify small opportunities to improve your health - individually they might not seem like a big deal, but when they’re grouped together, they can have a massive impact. Make a list of small changes you can do right now, for example:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift Walk or cycle to work, to the shops or simply for fun
- Park further away from the door
- Do squats while you brush your teeth
- Dance while you’re cooking dinner
All these small changes will help to increase your physical activity and get you moving. Read our guide to learn more about how even the smallest of movements can increase your NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) and keep you fit and healthy.
4. CREATE A FITNESS PLAN
So you know what you want to achieve, and how you’re going to achieve it - but before you start your first workout, we’d recommend setting your goals and intentions down in a plan. Whether this is an online plan, spreadsheet, notes on your phone, scribbles on a calendar or a printed out sheet, having something you can refer to each week is one of the best ways to keep challenging yourself and ensure you’re hitting those goals. Check out some of these guides for more tips and fitness plans for beginners that could be helpful:
- How to plan a weight training programme
- 6 week gym weight loss workout plan
- How to create a realistic plan to meet any fitness goal
- A guide to successful meal planning
- Gym workouts for beginners
- Workout ideas for first-time gym goers
If you don't plan, you're less likely to meet your goals, as it’s easier to stray from your good intentions. It's also a good idea to track your progress so you can see where you've come from and, while you might not see immediate changes, logging your activity is positive reinforcement that will show you just how far you’ve come.
5. Form Consistent Habits
Consistency is key if you're serious about getting fit. Intermittent exercise or unorganised workout routines will make it difficult to track progress. And if you can't track your progress, you’ll be less likely to see genuine improvements and long lasting change.
Staying consistent will also help turn your weekly exercise routines into habits, which in turn makes fitness a positive lifestyle change for good.
Make it easier to be consistent with these hacks:
- Be honest about your ability (everyone was a beginner once)
- Pack your gym bag the night before
- Prep healthy meals in advance
- Set small daily and weekly goals
- Buy a calendar or diary specifically for your fitness goals
- Invest in a good pair of trainers and gym kit
We have plenty of information about how to stay consistent in our How to Build Healthy Habits and Gym Motivation: How to Get Into the Habit of Working Out guides. Check them out for tips and advice.
6. DO WHAT YOU ENJOY
Feeling a bit "meh" about your workout? Switch it up with exercises you enjoy. If you’re not enjoying your exercise sessions then you’re less likely to be consistent, so try new things until you find something you enjoy. Hate running? Maybe try a cycle class instead. Find weight lifting boring? Bodyweight exercises can be a great strength-building alternative. Struggle with motivation? Book a personal trainer session to stay driven.
There are so many different ways you can stay fit, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. Mixing it up with a variety of different approaches throughout the week has a wide range of health benefits (as you’ll be challenging your body in different ways), but it also helps to keep your workouts fresh and exciting.
And it's always fun to work out with a friend. Try these buddy workouts or bring your friend to a fitness class.
If you’re ready to start your beginner’s fitness journey, then find a gym near you and get going today. Not ready for the gym yet? Then download the free PureGym app (even if you’re not a member!) - it has lots more workouts tailored for beginners.