Things I Wish I Knew When I was a Newbie: How Hard should I Work Out?

In this new series, I will be providing answers to common dilemmas that plague both those who are brand new to the fitness game and those who are contemplating starting to work out. Delving into anything new and unfamiliar can be scary and difficult. This is especially true with fitness.

There is a lot of things you probably feel like you don’t know and it can be insanely overwhelming, and that’s ok. It’s normal to feel that way. I hope that in this series I can help this process go a little smoother and suck less overall. Enjoy!

In today’s post I will be answering the question:

How hard should I workout when I am just starting to go to the gym?

The answer: Not very hard. Just show up, get some work in, and go home.

In the early stages of your fitness journey, you don’t yet know your limits and you may feel like you have no idea what you’re doing. And you’re probably right, but that’s ok, we’ve all been there. You WILL know what you are doing so long as you are patient and stay in the game long enough to learn. There are some big obstacles that stop people from continuing their journey. As you can imagine, this means they don’t reach their goals.

In the beginning/newbie stage, you don’t need to be perfect(not that you ever need to be), you just need to get in the habit of going to the gym(or park, or living room, or wherever you like to workout). It behooves you to navigate around anything that makes it harder for you to be consistent and build up the habit. Basically, if you quit after a few weeks, it doesn’t matter how good your workouts are. The objective right now is to make consistency as easy as possible. When I am training a new client for the first time, the purpose of the workout isn’t to get them stronger, leaner, or more jacked, it’s to get them to come back for a second session.

As far as intensity of exercise goes, there’s a few reasons why going too hard can put a screeching halt to your progress just as it was getting started. A major hurdle is that you might not like working out yet. Anything that makes you dislike working out more, will discourage you from working out consistently.

The workout that you actually do is going to be the most effective workout. If you end up going H.A.M. on your first day at the gym you’re probably going to be sore as fuck the next day. While, soreness happens from time to time, when you’re new the potential for muscle soreness is magnified because your body hasn’t adapted to it yet. Beginner’s soreness is super painful and can be really discouraging. Supposing like the feeling of soreness, if you can’t get to your next scheduled workout because you can’t walk, you just missed an opportunity to build up your habit.

The other thing to keep in mind is that when you’re brand new, it doesn’t really matter what you do, you’ll make progress. The joke is that a newbie will get stronger just from looking at a barbell. So remember, the goal when starting to workout is to keep working out. You don’t need anything fancy or super specific, you just need something as opposed to nothing.

Furthermore, if you happen to get injured, you definitely won’t be working out. Nothing is more frustrating(except for maybe the final boss fight in Donkey Kong Returns) than getting injured when you feel like you’re starting to build momentum. However, this usually isn’t coincidence; it probably means you pushed your body too hard, and too quickly. Injuries kill motivation, avoid them.


Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t really know anything yet. And that’s fine. How would you? Experience is the best teacher, truly. Accepting how little you know can prevent a lot of bad decisions.

Think of it like driving. If you are new to driving, you’re going to test the waters a bit and slowly build up your speed until you know what you’re doing. You are damn well aware of the fact that you don’t know how to drive. You don’t know your limits yet and are afraid of crashing so you’re going to go a bit slower than the everyone else who has been driving much longer than you.

If you know that you have no idea how to drive you shouldn’t put the gas peddle to the floor as you’re pulling out of the drive way. And don’t worry, you will learn if you stay in the game long enough, just don’t crash the goddamn car. Step one is not crashing. After that you can worry about getting to your destination.

Anything that impedes your consistency will impede your progress. Once going to the gym isn’t daunting and miserable anymore, then maybe you can start worrying about making your workout strategy more effective, but for now, do whatever makes your workouts easy, accessible, and enjoyable.

I’m currently accepting online coaching clients and I would love to help you lose weight and feel better. Online coaching offers the same accountability, support, and motivation as in person coaching, except you don’t have to be in the same city as me.

Curious about how it works? Fill out a super brief application because you have no reason not to!

Is there a fitness question you’d like answered? Post your question in the comments section and it could end up as a future post!


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