How to Start Working Out: A Beginner’s Workout Guide

Coach Rachael, MS, BS, ACSM, NASM

Rachael Meyer is a military spouse and mom of two boys. She earned her bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and her master’s degree in health promotion and exercise science. She is certified by both the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer. Rachael thrives on pursuing her passion for helping women reach their wellness goals.
How to start working out

Alright, so you’ve decided it’s time to start working out and you are now finding yourself scouring the interwebs for workout routines for beginners. You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with getting started. I hear you, girl!

I want to take you back for a moment…

Do you remember the first time you learned how to ride a bike?

Did you just hop up on two wheels and ride gracefully away into the sunset? 

I am fairly certain this is not how it went at all. I’d be willing to bet you eased into this venture with training wheels and someone alongside helping you. With persistence, practice, and a positive mindset, you conquered the fear of falling by gaining the skills of balance and coordination. Oh, and don’t forget that confidence!

Like learning to ride a bike, the thought of beginning to exercise may feel uncomfortable or overwhelming at first, but with that same persistence, practice, positive mindset (and a few extra tips), you will be peddling into progress city before you know it. 

Go for the Goals

Something prompted you to get started working out, right?

Identifying your motivation and what you want to accomplish is so important. Write this down or make a vision board to place where you will see it every day. A clear vision is clutch!

I truly believe that our LadyBoss® Personal Results Coaching clients are so successful because, as coaches, we focus on helping them fine-tune their goals. Breaking down big goals into realistic, short-term milestones is key to building momentum. This momentum is what yields progressive, long-term success.

As you begin your workout plan, some examples of short-term goals could be things like:

  • Signing up at the gym
  • Asking the front desk to schedule an equipment orientation with a staff member
  • Finding an at-home workout program, like LadyBoss® AfterBurn At Home
  • Scheduling the day and time for your first workout in your calendar, and then following through

As you accomplish your first short-term goal, set new ones that build upon your accomplishments weekly or as needed. For example:

  • Week 1 – Signed up at the gym, did 2 days of cardio on the treadmill for 15 minutes.
  • Week 2 Goal: Go to the gym 3x, increase cardio to 20 minutes.
  • Week 3 Goal: Go to the gym 3x, 20 minutes cardio, add 15 minutes weight training
  • Week 4 Goal: Go to the gym 3x, 20 minutes cardio, increase to 30 minutes of weight training.

As you can see, taking small steps adds up over time. Through goal-setting and taking action on those goals, one step at a time, you will begin building consistency. This consistency will turn into your routine, which will continue to pave the way to your long-term goals!

Check out our Goal Setting Action Sheet to help you break down monthly goals into bite-sized weekly actions and accomplishments. And if you’re nervous about sticking to your guns this time, check out this article about how to start and keep healthy habits. 

Get Your Hands on Some Resources

Fitness is such a personal thing! There are so many types of exercise and methods to pick from. You have to find a plan that’s the right fit for you and your goals.

While I was pregnant with my kiddos, I found I needed to change my workouts up a bit. Checking out the class offerings at my local gym, I tried a few, and fell in love with Barre! It was so much fun to be in a group setting with other women, an enthusiastic instructor while enjoying a lower-impact, muscle toning workout and jamming out to some great tunes. If you’re interested in learning more about working out while pregnant, check out this post. 

Group exercise classes are awesome for beginners for multiple reasons. There is a set time and schedule for the class, so it’s easy to decide when you will be going to the gym. Plus, you simply show up and put in the work – not too much thought needed on your end. The group dynamic can be great for accountability, you can learn many different types of exercises, and you may even make a fitness friend or two!

Fitness apps can also help you start out. There are a lot of great apps for fitness, look for one that aligns with your goals. If you want to participate in the next Turkey Trot or 5K in your local area, you can find awesome running programs via a quick google search! If you’re looking for a great at-home workout program or gym training routine, there are apps for those, too! 

If it’s the accountability piece you really need, I love to mention our online LadyBoss® Community which has women in all steps of their journey sharing information, encouraging each other and spreading sparkle! It really is an experience like no other to be part of a super-charged community of like-minded women.

How to Talk the Talk

Being new to the workout world, it’s super helpful to get familiar with a few terms that you’ll likely become acquainted with as you continue this journey. Here’s a list to help get you started!

How to start working out terminologyHow to start working out terminologyHow to start working out terminology

Oh, and some common abbreviations you’re likely to run into while exploring exercise!

BMI – Body Mass Index

BB – Barbell

DB – Dumbbell

KB – Kettlebell

SM – Smith Machine

BW – Body Weight

HR – Heart Rate

Workout Routines for Beginners

How to start working out

Cardio Workouts

23 Minute Interval Walk or Run – This is a great way to start, especially if you have aspirations of completing a 5K or mileage-related goals. You will need a timer, phone, or watch for this one. Begin with a 5-minute walking warm-up, then pick up the pace to a jog for 1 minute, then return to walking at a brisk pace for 5 minutes. You can adjust the intervals to longer jog intervals as your fitness level improves. See the full workout below.

How to start working out - cardio

Quickstart – Many people begin with cardio equipment at the gym. Hop on a cardio machine, push the “quick start” button and get moving. For starters, aim for a timeframe in which you feel is achievable. For some it may be 10 minutes, for others, it may be 30 minutes. We want to avoid injury by starting small, you will have plenty of time to increase your intensity as your fitness level improves.

Outdoors – If you’re privy to nice weather and have a safe area to walk, strap up your shoes and go for a stroll outside. This is by far one of my favorite things to do! Not only is it a great jumpstart to your fitness goals, but it also does amazing things for stress relief! Pop on a podcast, tune into your favorite jams, or simply enjoy what nature has to offer. The idea is to move your body and get your heart rate up.

You can tell your heart rate is elevated when you begin to breathe a little heavier. Increase your speed to increase your heart rate! Take note of how long it took you to complete your first walk, and next time, try to decrease the amount of time it took you to complete the same distance, or simply increase your distance by going a little bit farther next time.

A Beginners Gym Workout

You signed up for the gym, now what? I always recommend scheduling an equipment orientation. This is an opportunity to learn how to safely and properly use gym machines. Most fitness facilities will include one of these sessions as part of sign-up – if your gym doesn’t, ask a staff member! Equipment orientations will help you feel much more confident and comfortable when you venture into the weight training area. This also allows you to work with a staff member, which will be a familiar face to ask questions as they arise.

Having a plan is key! If you’re unsure where to start with your workout plan, apps like the LadyBoss® Lifestyle Trainer provide full weight training programs along with tutorial videos to help teach you how to utilize gym equipment.

In the meantime, here is a lower body workout to get you moving using cardio equipment, dumbbells, and weight machines!

How to start working out at the gym

A Beginner’s Home Workout

If you prefer to get started in the comfort of your home, there are endless exercises you can do without equipment. This is a great option if you are short on time, a stay-at-home mom, you work from home, or if you just prefer getting your sweat on at your pad. There are many options out there for at-home workouts; I recommend starting with a few exercises and increasing your repertoire as your fitness level improves. Here is an equipment-free, beginner workout you can do anywhere!

How to start working out at home

Making the decision to improve your fitness and overall health is one of the best commitments you can make to yourself. Getting started doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating. Through good goal-setting, researching resources, and having a solid plan, you will be up on two wheels in no time, and this ‘how to start working out’ question will be in your rearview mirror. 


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