You’re an eternal beginner. You get on a program and fall off just as fast. You skip the gym if it’s raining.
Sound familiar? Don’t blame yourself. Your problem probably isn’t a weakness of character (although you need some steel in your spine too)—it’s probably that you’re not following the right strategy. Pry the snooze button off your alarm clock, because with a little effort, you can adopt good exercise and diet habits, thanks to this plan from Brian Grasso, a trainer and life coach in Montreal. (Photographs by Marius Bagge)
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The Beginner’s Profile: If any of these points sound familiar, this workout’s for you.
Mantra: “I’m just not consistent.”
Longest streak of consistent gym-going: 6 weeks
Best lifts: 225-pound bench press; “What’s a squat?”
Typical dinner: Anything/everything
You tell yourself: “If Carrot Top can get ripped, so can I.”
THREE THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START
Start Slow: “The body and mind are terribly homeostatic machines,” Grasso says. “They constantly search for comfort and consistency,” so deciding to make a slew of changes at once often leads to failure.
“Making minor amendments to your daily routine will fl y under the radar of your conscious thought and become positive habits.” In other words, if you start so gradually that you barely notice the change, you’ll be more apt to continue it and make more changes without them ever seeming daunting.
Train two days per week:This isn’t asking a lot, so try to go at the same times every week. Get used to making appointments with yourself and keeping them. But if you don’t feel like working out, don’t. Just go to the gym, walk in, and leave if you want. The important thing is that you establish the habit of going. At the very least, change into your workout clothes when you get there—you can change back out of them and leave right away. In no time, you’ll be going to the gym and staying to train, and regular exercise will be a part of your life.
Stand up straight: Want an easy way to tell if you’re performing your exercises correctly? Check your posture. The correct starting position for most exercises is shoulders back, chest out, standing (or sitting) tall, with your abs tight. Good posture, good form.
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THE BEGINNER’S MEAL PLAN
Your goal should be to eat at least one healthy meal per week. “I believe in making modest changes to the diet that don’t leave people feeling trapped and anxious to return to their old habits,” Grasso says. Choose just one meal to eat that you’re sure is healthy. Don’t psyche yourself out here—use common sense. Lean meat and fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and raw nuts and seeds are all fine. Eat what you like the rest of the day. Do this for two weeks and then up it to two healthy meals per day. Continue in that fashion and you’ll find you’re eating healthy most of the time. Get the full beginner’s meal plan >>
HOW TO DO THIS WORKOUT ROUTINE
Frequency: Perform the two workouts (Day 1 and 2) once per week, resting at least a day between each.
Time Needed: 35 min
How to Do It: Perform the exercises marked with letters as a group. Do one set of A, rest, then one set of B, then rest (note that some groups have an exercise “C”), and repeat until all sets are complete. Then go on to the next group. Perform three sets of 8–10 reps for each exercise.
After 1 Month: By this point, working out has become part of your routine, and you look forward to it. If not, continue to at least show up at the gym (even if you don’t have the desire to go through with the workouts) until the habit sticks. Remember to continue adding healthy meals to your diet—you should be at two per day by now.
READ ON for the first day of your workout
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The Beginner’s Workout
Get in the habit of success with this practical fitness routine.
Get in the habit of success with this workout for beginners.