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4 Tips for Success When Starting a New Workout Program

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Karla Tafra / LifeSavvy

Starting a new workout program is never easy, whether it’s your first time doing it, or if you routinely switch it up every few months. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prepare your body (and mind) for the switch to a new workout program.

It’s exciting to start working on new fitness goals, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be overwhelming. With a few simple prep steps, you can avoid feeling too anxious or getting frustrated with yourself. Keep these four tips in mind whenever you’re starting a new workout program.

Set Realistic Goals

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Whenever you start a new workout program, it’s easy to set some unrealistic goals. This only leads to excess pressure and frustration if you don’t manage to meet your goals. This causes many people to give up way too soon.

This is why it’s so important to give yourself more time than you think you might need, initially. No matter what someone else has accomplished in a certain amount of time, they’re them and you’re you.

There’s nothing wrong with setting the bar a bit lower. This way, not only will you be able to track your progress more easily, you’ll be far more relaxed if you get sidetracked. Additionally, if you exceed your expectations, you’ll be even more motivated to push forward.

For example, if your goal is to squat 90 lbs. and you’re starting with the bar, which is 45 lbs., plan on working up to your goal for at least three to six months. This way, you’re giving yourself plenty of time to gradually increase the weight you can lift without risking strain or injury.

The same principle applies to weight loss. Don’t expect to lose 20 lbs. in two months—it simply won’t work. Give yourself at least six months and take a gradual approach. Slowly cutting your calories makes your diet far more sustainable, and will prevent you from being miserable.

Another important aspect of realistic workout program goals is volume. If you can only really carve out an hour for exercise three days each week, don’t choose a workout program with a five-day split because you won’t be able to reach your targets.

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Take It One Day at a Time

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There will be days when your motivation is low and the mere idea of getting up and grabbing a set of dumbbells will make you sigh. When that happens, take a step back. Allow yourself to either take a rest day, or do something else for exercise, like taking a long walk.

Some days, you might be able to give yourself a pep talk, put on your gym clothes, and head out the door, but every day is different. You can’t expect yourself to be super motivated and ready to crush it every single day, even if you absolutely love your program.

Sometimes, we all need an extra push or a day to recharge our batteries. Whatever you choose to do, stick with it and honor your decision. Tomorrow is a new opportunity to get back to it and/or tackle whatever is next on your list.

Expect to Hit a Plateau

A woman looking frustrated at her weight on scales.
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There comes a point in almost every workout routine where your scale just doesn’t seem to be moving anymore, or you can no longer increase your resistance, and that’s okay. Newbie gains, as well as initial fat loss, usually happen pretty fast. However, you can’t expect that to continue at the same pace throughout your entire program.

Hitting a plateau is really common. Unfortunately, it causes many people to get frustrated, think they’re doing something wrong, or believe they’ve taken a step backward. There are many reasons people hit workout plateaus, but the main cause is usually simple body adjustment.

As you eat fewer calories, your body adjusts to that lower deficit and expends less energy, which, in turn, slows down your weight loss. The same thing happens with muscle mass. Your muscles can only grow at a certain pace, and the heavier the weight, the more muscle growth has to occur.

Again, at first, it might seem like your muscle weight increases quickly, and you’re able to hit personal records all the time. Then, as the weight becomes more challenging, it takes more time for your body to adjust and take it to the next level.

Do your best to be patient with yourself and trust your body’s process. If it works well in the beginning, it’s highly likely that it will continue to do so, just at a slower rate.

On the other hand, if a month goes by and you really don’t notice any more difference, it might be time to reevaluate your workout program. You can tweak it by adding more challenging moves to your existing routine or switch it up entirely.

Again, just be careful not to go too hard too fast, as your body will need to adjust to any new moves, as well.

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Only Work Out When You Can Focus

woman doing dancer's pose in yoga on a pier overlooking the lake.
Karla Tafra / LifeSavvy

When you’re actually doing your exercises and working on your program, focus on each and every repetition, every in- and exhale, and every rest period. Making everything count is the only way to achieve the necessary mind-to-muscle connection that makes workouts successful and efficient.

There will always be days when you’re so busy, stressed out, or tired, that it’s difficult to focus. On those occasions, try to make those 45-60 minutes of sweating your escape from everything else.

If you’re unable to concentrate, it’s usually best to skip your workout. Otherwise, you could be risking injury or strain, or just making your workout less efficient. Postpone it to another day when you’ll be able to your workout the necessary attention.

When it comes to new workout routines and programs, you don’t want to push yourself too hard, too fast, as that only leads to eventual frustration. However, if you keep these four prep tips in mind, you can set yourself up for success and meet all of your fitness goals.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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