getting started with strength training

Looking to start a fitness routine? Start here.
1. Get your mind in the right place.
2. Learn the moves.
3. Create a plan that works for you.

1. Get your mind in the right place.
Fitness is all in the head for me. You are in control of your own mind! 

Getting to the gym...
- This is all about will power and planned ahead.
- Carve out the time you need in your schedule. I usually have a monthly workout plan, and at the start of each week I plan which workouts fit which days.
- If you know you're traveling, or have a party or work event, plan ahead to fit in your workouts.
- It's important to find a gym where you feel comfortable, that's easy to get to from where you work or live, and one that offers classes and equipment you'll need. 
- When I join a new gym, I find it's very helpful to meet with a personal trainer simply to learn the lay of the land at the new gym, and to introduce me to new equipment I may not be familiar with. 
- Sometimes I find this to be the hardest thing. You have to find what motivates you and makes this easy. Bring your gym clothes to work and don't stop at home, giving yourself a chance to decide not to make it today. If you're really tried, tell yourself that you'll just go for 20 minutes, and you'll find when you arrive you have more energy than you thought. Try going in the morning or in the evening, or on your lunch hour. You'll find a way to make this work for you.

When you get to the gym...
- Warm-up for 5 minutes, getting your muscles warm. Walk on the treadmill or elliptical, or do 5 minutes on the stair-master. Listen to your favorite pump-yourself-up song while you warm-up.
- Be prepared with your workout ahead of time. I usually write the list in a note on my phone and use it to glance at if I forget what comes next.
- Concentrate on your breathing. Breathe out when you're exerting the most effort.
- Be present. Don't think about what you're doing next the entire time. Focus on the task at hand, and force yourself to do more, go faster, lift more weight, try something different.
- You'll see results when you change things up. You can't expect to do the same exercises at the same weight or pace, and see new results.
- Stretch your muscles after your workout. Use foam roller, go to a yoga class, or just quickly stretch between sets. You will be sore the next 1-3 days.

When you leave the gym...
- Think about how good you feel.
- Remember that feeling.

2. Learn the moves.
- Start with a basic routine, especially if you're new to strength training. Don't attempt to do too much too soon.
- To get started, I began by using machines rather than free weights, which helped me learn the movements and muscles being targeted by each exercise. Once you feel comfortable doing these, you can move to dumbbells and cables and barbells.
- I started with full body workouts. A couple of examples are here: full-body workout 1 & full-body workout 2. These will help your body get into the swing of things. 
- You might want to meet with a personal trainer for a few sessions to get your form right - this helped me with deadlifts, squats, trx bands, and some other moves I needed to tweak. The PT will also push you harder than you'd push yourself so it's a good move. If you can't make that happen, just make sure to do your research and learn how not to hurt yourself.
- If you feel ready to start splitting your workouts into different muscle groups, start with these: chest/tricep, back/bicep, shoulders/abs, and legs.This requires you to go to the gym 4 separate days each week, targeting one of these 4 muscle groups on each day. 
- It's a good idea to incorporate cardio as a warm-up and after your strength workout. Do 5 minutes of medium-intensity cardio prior to your workout as a good warm-up.If you're just getting into cardio, try 15-20 minutes on the treadmill, elliptical, bicycle, or stair-master after your strength routine, rotating between a high-intensity and low-intensity pace/level.

3. Create a plan that works for you.
- Once you've got the basics down, you'll start to get bored. Don't worry! There's plenty more to do than this stuff. I'm still learning new workouts - I do research on and other workout blogs to find new ideas and switch things up. You can always check back here for new workout ideas.
- You might want to meet with a personal trainer to assist with developing a training plan, especially if you are working toward an event or particular muscle group.
- I schedule my workouts out for the next month, making sure to switch something up each month, and I schedule the days I'll complete those workouts on my calendar for the upcoming week to make sure I stick to my plan. Find what works for you.
- If you hate something, try it more than once. Then decide if you hate it. There are plenty of exercises I hated doing (PLANKS, for one) but I've grown to tolerate because I'm BETTER at them. Once you feel yourself becoming stronger and improving, it works wonders in motivation. But you have to keep trying in order to make this happen.