Beginner’s Guide to Exercise & Nutrition


No matter where you decide to start your workout for the first time, it can be intimidating.

You walk into a gym and it looks like everyone there knows exactly what they are doing.

There are guys bench pressing the weight of an African elephant while someone is running 100 MPH on a treadmill.

Maybe you’re going out running in your neighborhood and you just feel silly wearing your jogging gear for the first time. You haven’t been jogging in years and you’re not even sure if you can make it to the end of the street.

Perhaps you invested some money into a home gym. Everything arrives, but you realize you’re not sure what to do with it.

No matter how professional someone seems in the gym or running in their neighborhood, everyone started where you did.

? That’s why we’ve got this basic guide here to help you get started!

Here are some basic workout tips, things to do in the gym, and health habits you should start implementing in your daily routine…

Exercise Tips for Beginners

Choosing a Plan

Often, many people will come out with a broad statement of “I want to get in shape.” Getting in shape looks quite different for everyone.

Do you want to lose 10 pounds? Are you training for a holiday 5K? Do you want to build up some muscle definition? Do you want to play with your kids without losing your breathe?

Before you start looking for gyms, scoping out running trails around home, or looking up home gym equipment, you need to think about what you want to do.

If every day you do something different, you’ll never make any progress and you’re not going to see any real results. Make sure you have a goal in mind before you start your workout plan.

Looking for Help

No matter what gym you walk into, there is always going to be gym staff or a personal trainer. Their job, besides checking people in or picking up weights, is to help everyone stay safe.

The best thing you can do on your first day is to walk up to them and ask for help. Ask them for a quick tour of the machines or where everything is. This part won’t cost you a dime (unless they’re incredibly greedy) as it’s not a personal training workshop.

Many times, they have workout guides printed out and can hand you one based on what you want to do.

If you’re not going to the gym and are at home, the internet has thousands of resources. Check out this website for workout guides and tips or head to YouTube if you’re not sure about exercises.

It’s easier to continue working out if you have a workout plan.

Basic Gym Etiquette

It’s necessary to put this section in because even gym veterans forget the basics.

For starters, bring a towel and remember to wipe off your equipment. No one wants to sit down on a bench covered in someone else’s sweat.

You might hear some people grunting or straining. Perfectly normal for people exerting lots of force and energy. What’s not normal is the loud screaming. Please don’t scream.

People will often ask to work in with you. If the gym is crowded and they want to use the same machine, let them use the same machine. You guys will just switch off sets and rest while the other is working out. If you both are using a different weight, make sure to set the machine back to their weight when you switch.

Try to limit the time you’re checking your phone in between sets. People are often waiting for what you’re using, and it’s rude to spend one minute checking your phone while others are waiting.

Overcoming Fears

Many first-time exercisers often have the same thought, “I’m embarrassed, I think people are going to stare at me the whole time.”

Here’s a spoiler: they’re not.

People in the gym or running outside are there for one thing: to improve themselves. They simply don’t care what other people are doing in the gym. Unless you’re dressed in some bizarre outfit, doing an exercise wrong, and screaming the whole time, you’re likely to get some stares. Other than that, don’t worry about it.

Post Workout Tips

Chances are you’ve probably worked up a good sweat while exercising. No one is running in line to give you a big old bear hug or anything of the sort any time soon.

It’s best for you to clean off as soon as possible. Leaving your workout clothes on for extended periods of time can lead to rashes, skin irritations, bumps, or yeast infections for women. It’s best to head right to the shower after you’re finished.

If you have to run errands or something else, make sure you’re wearing synthetic workout gear that will whisk the sweat away and keep if off your body. If you don’t have any workout clothes now, consider this a reminder to make sure you go shopping some time this week.

Rest Days

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that they have to work out every day to see progress. Your body needs rest more than anything. Many people go with a MWF plan for their workout, sprinkling in something different on T-TH.

This doesn’t mean that your rest days should be you sitting on the couch doing nothing. Your body still needs activity, but scale it back.

For example, if you’re lifting weights on MWF, make T-TH your cardio days. Therefore, you’re getting rest for different parts of the body on different days.

Nutrition Tips for Beginners

healthy diet plan and nutritionLet’s Talk About Food

Ask any dietician, nutritionist, or personal trainer and they’ll all give you the same (more or less) statement on food, “Losing weight/gaining muscle/etc. is 80-90% kitchen and 10-20% gym.” Exercise doesn’t help you lose as many calories as you think you may lose.

You can go hit the gym every day, working out for hours but if you’re not eating right, you’re not going to get the results you want.

In this section, we’re going to talk about the importance of food and what you should be doing before and after a workout along with some other tips to help you stay healthy and fit.

Meal Planning

One of the easiest ways to make sure you stay on track with your eating is to meal plan everything out. It’s going to make shopping at the grocery store much easier if you know what you’re buying and cooking for that week.

Plus, it will give you a chance to avoid temptations by purchasing healthy snacks and other food items. It’s a lot more difficult to snack on potato chips if you don’t have any at home.

Pre-Workout Tips

During your workout, your body is going to be burning calories (duh). Working out on an empty stomach is a basic no-no and your body needs fuel before you start. It doesn’t matter if you’re running or lifting, you need something to burn.

The most basic recommendation is protein, healthy fats, or some carbs. It’s worth nothing that you may not want to scarf down a whole meal before your workout, but something like that will sustain you for the next few hours.

For protein, eat some chicken or lunch meat. You can even make a quick protein smoothie if that’s more up your alley.

Healthy fats are eggs, veggies or even the most popular food in the last year, avocados. For carbs, grab a piece of whole-grain toast.

Post-Workout Tips

Now that you’ve completed your workout, it’s time to refuel your body. You’ve just spent plenty of energy out there and your body is in desperate need of fuel.

The best thing is to eat something packed with protein. No, this isn’t going to make you super bulky and looking like everyone’s favorite green-skinned superhero. That takes months if not years of dedicated eating and training.

You can rely on basic meats or a protein shake, but if you’re looking to spice up your post-workout meals, check out some dishes from the Meditteranean cuisine. There are plenty of food choices within this cuisine and plenty are packed with necessary veggies and protein for your body.

The “I Earned It” Conundrum

Often times, people will make the mistake in thinking, “I just exercised today, I deserve X”. While you should definitely reward yourself from time to time, by no means should you be eating whatever you want after a workout.

As discussed earlier, exercise does not burn as many calories as you think it does. There’s often been a saying that running a mile burns as many calories as one chocolate chip cookie does.

Think about the time it takes you to run a mile. Eight minutes? Ten minutes? More? Now think about the time it takes you to eat a chocolate chip cookie. Less than 10 seconds, right?

In 10 seconds, you’ve just outdone all that work in running a mile. If you eat four or five, then you’ve set yourself back even further.


Working out and eating right doesn’t have to be as daunting as it often is (let’s not sugar coat things!).

However, with the right approach, confidence, and consistency when it comes to your goals, success is right around the corner.

Hopefully the tips in this guide will get you started on the path to success! ?

About Theresa Duncan

Originally from Detroit, MI, Theresa has been offering health and fitness advice for the last 30 years while working as an engineer. She decided to turn her passion into a profession, and finds nothing more satisfying than helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

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