Don’t be Afraid to be a Beginner! – Part II

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Anyone can exercise, but your goal is to train! It doesn’t matter how new you are to fitness. Your program needs to be goal oriented and have direction. That is the difference between exercise and training. I’ve heard it said that exercise is getting hot, sweaty and tired, and training is purposeful and has outcomes and goals in mind. Sure, anyone can become more fit by exercising, but eventually gains will diminish and your body will stop changing for the better. It amazes me how many people walk into a gym or fitness club and just do what’s on their mind that day. Most people that I have met have very little direction in their fitness program. I even have staff at our gyms and clinics that when their exercising I’ll ask them, “how’s your program going?” They look at me like, what program. To achieve specific results you need specific goals and expectations!

Training addresses the changes in your program and what you want out of it! By employing the elements above, you will be light years ahead of those who just go to the gym and do “exercise.” Don’t you want the best return on your investment of time, effort and money?

First, decide what you want from your fitness program. Set goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time bound (SMART). Your goal to start with may be very simple – lose weight. But this goal lacks specifics and needs to be further clarified without making it too complicated.

How much weight do you want to lose? Do you want to lose fat or muscle? Is losing weight really the key or is changing the composition of the weight more important? These are the types of questions you ask to set those goals! Check out this video for more goal setting guidance.  SMART Goal Setting!


Next, focus on STRENGTH first in any new fitness program. For most master’s athletes, STRENGTH should be worked 3 days a week allowing for rest in between training days of 48 hours. For the un-trained or beginner, STRENGTH can be developed using body weight and barbell movements such as the squat, press, deadlift, bench press, push-ups, pull-ups and dips. These movements should be learned from a coach, and performed with form as the priority and load secondarily.

In a very short amount of time, the beginner (novice) can make incredible strength gains and exceed most expectations, and do it in less time than an intermediate or advanced athlete. Some people see being a beginner as a weakness, but being a beginner has its advantages. Learning these movements as the foundation of your program will accelerate your fitness faster than any other method I’ve observed! Think about it, mastering these movements with STRENGTH allows you to do just about anything in life you want to.

Using a basic barbell program like Starting Strength is an excellent start! This program uses barbell movements performed three times per week with lower reps and sets and gradual load increases every workout. It may seem simple, but behind the simple is a complex model of proper movement combined with proper training variables to produce the fastest and safest path to strength! If you think you’re going to fit without getting strong, you’re wrong! STRENGTH is the foundation of all other physical skills and without it your fitness is incomplete.

If you’re a person who is scared of the barbell, weights or lifting in a gym, don’t be. Everyone starts as a novice and has to learn. Find a good coach and get some training advice. Preferably, find a Starting Strength Coach at who can teach you the movements and give you feedback as you progress. If you cannot find a Starting Strength Coach, go to a local barbell club or watch videos on youtube for starting strength barbell movements. Most people when starting a fitness program use improper technique or just don’t have any direction. Invest in the front end of your program through time and money and it will pay huge dividends!

Stay tuned for Part III of beginner fitness training!

Coach D


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