Quick answers to 5 first-time workout questions

Just starting to workout for the first time? Good for you! You've already jumped one of the biggest hurdles to a better you
4 min
Now that you’re raring to go, you probably have a few questions. What’s the best way to get started? What should you do? Should you join a gym?

We’ve pulled together some of the key answers to the most frequently-asked questions about working out for the first time.

How often should I work out or go to the gym?
This is usually the first question people have, and it’s an important one. Working out too much or not enough can hamper your efforts during the early days when you should focus on building a routine.

According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, it's recommend that adults aged 18-64 exercise engage in moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical exercise for 150 minutes every week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Weight training is also recommended at least two days a week.

So what does that amount to? Visiting the gym for one hour, three times a week. Which is only 1.8% of the week!

What should I focus on: cardio or weight training?
Both cardiovascular exercise and strength training are vital components of a well-rounded workout, and there are many conflicting schools of thought out there in terms of which to focus on. Ultimately, it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

You will likely have more energy earlier in your workout. So, if you’re trying to build muscle and improve your metabolism, then start with strength training. If you’re trying to burn calories and improve your cardiovascular health, then start with cardio.

However, be sure to mix in a bit of both, as both cardio and strength training will have a positive impact on your body, regardless of your goals.

What is the best way to burn fat?
There is no one way to answer to answer this question. Know that diet has the biggest impact on how your body stores and burns fat.

Eating sugar, drinking calories, and not getting enough fiber or protein will ensure that no matter how much effort you put in at the gym, you won’t see the progress you’re looking for.

Instead, focus on eating healthy proteins like egg whites and chicken, good fats like those in unsalted nuts and avocado and ample amounts of vegetables like spinach and kale.

With your diet addressed, you can focus on the right exercises. Weight training will help you build muscle, and the more muscle you have the more fat you’ll burn both when active and when resting.

Cardio will help you burn calories and improve your cardiovascular health. A calorie deficit (using up more calories than you consume) will cause your body to use up fat in the absence of other readily-available energy sources, while better cardiovascular health will ensure you have more stamina for your workouts.

Do I need to take supplements?
We strongly recommend focusing on a balanced diet to get all the vitamins, nutrients and minerals your body needs. Unless your doctor or nutritionist prescribes you a very specific vitamin relating to a specific deficiency you have or a supplement relating to a specific gap in your diet, supplements aren’t necessary to see results. Healthy clean eating will have a far greater impact on your body, and provide you with more additional benefits than any optional supplements you may be taking.

If you decide on taking popular supplements such as probiotics for digestive health, protein to build muscles, omega-3 for heart and brain health, or vitamin and mineral additives, ensure they come from high-quality sources.

How many sets and reps should I do for a given exercise?
Like many aspects of physical training, there are a lot of different schools of thought on what the right number of reps is for a given exercise and a given purpose. There isn’t a magic number.

That said, 3x10 and 5x5 are common formats, with the number of sets and number of reps per set. Just as you change the weight you use, consider mixing up this count as your strength improves. A higher number of reps will burn more calories, but using heavier weight for fewer reps will build more muscle. You have to see how your body reacts to know what works best for you.

Most importantly when starting out is choosing a comfortable weight that allows you to perfect your form. Once you’ve mastered that, you can change up other factors.

Ready to get started?
These are just a few of the top questions beginners have, but you’ll find much more information on the GoodLife Blog.

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