Start in 3 Steps

Below is a simple program designed to help beginners build a sustainable and realistic fitness foundation.

This introduction to exercise and nutrition is intentionally easy because the end goal is habit formation. Consistency and progression take priority over intensity here. Stick to these simple steps for at least one month before moving on to more complicated programs.

1

Track Your Food

Download a calorie counting app (Lose It, Cronometer, MyFitnessPal) and track everything you put in your body for at least two weeks. All food and drinks.

Don’t worry about changing your diet during this time. Instead, pay attention to your daily caloric totals and the macronutrient contents of your meals. Use this strategy to train your eyes to identify what’s on your plate along with how much water you’re drinking per day. It will be easier to implement good dietary habits after reflecting on bad ones because you’ll understand why certain changes are being made.

2

Do Easy Cardio

Find a 1-2 mile loop in your neighborhood and travel it 3-4 times per week by walking and/or jogging it. 

Aim to slowly decrease your total time each week by jogging more and more of the distance. The walk vs jog structure is irrelevant. Cap your time for each session at ~40 minutes and keep your intensity level in the moderate range. Consistency is the most important thing here. I strongly recommend you do this outside but a treadmill is acceptable. 

3

Add Resistance Training

Incorporate resistance training into your routine 1-2 times per week. Keep cardio days and resistance days separate. If steps one and two are a bit overwhelming initially, feel free to add this step when you’re ready. Don’t leave it out. For more information, read the Strength and Hypertrophy chapter.

Below is a simple yet effective full body workout to get you started. Complete 3-4 rounds of this circuit in sequence, resting as needed. Each exercise should be performed for 30-60 seconds before moving on. The entire workout should take less than 30 minutes. The only piece of equipment you’ll need is a suspension trainer or a pair of gymnastic rings. One is required.

Warm Up
Full Body Circuit
Cool Down
Easy Cardio - 5 minutes
Squat (Bodyweight or Goblet)
Foam Rolling (Optional)
Dynamic Stretching
Row (Ring Row or Suspension)
Static Stretching
Push Up (Standard or Modified)
Plank (High or Low)
Superman Hold

Next Steps?

Before moving on to more complicated programs, make sure the routine you’ve been following looks somewhat similar to the one below.

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Cardio
Resistance Training
Cardio
Resistance Training
Cardio
Rest
Rest

Regarding nutrition, build your meals around specific macronutrient portions and stick to a consistent eating schedule within a restricted window of your day. I recommended the 4X4 strategy outlined in the nutrition chapter but a variety of tactics can work. Dialing this in for your specific needs will take some trial and error. Be willing to experiment.

Cardiovascular conditioning can also be progressed in a number of different ways. If you’re focused on weight loss and the initial two mile strategy has been working for you, keep at it until your progress plateaus. An uninterrupted two mile jog is a great long-term goal here. If you’re looking for general cardiovascular fitness, all Fitstra resistance training programs include a variety of interval work as well as steady state times. Use them as they are or modify them to fit your needs. However you choose to implement cardio, be sure to keep it realistic and sustainable.

For resistance training, start the Fitstra Beginner program. Practice the included movement patterns with barbells, dumbbells, and your own bodyweight. Start with two days per week and maintain that frequency for at least a month, then advance to three. Keep running this program until you stop making strength gains.

Experiment by manipulating different variables. Find out what works best for you. Share what you discover. Have fun.