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  • Emily Dellwo BS nep

New to Exercise? START HERE!

Exercise is KING.

Exercising 150+ minutes a week (30+ minutes 5 days/week) is one habit that is capable of producing the most beneficial effects for your health, weight, and bone density. But, getting started can be incredibly overwhelming. Not only do you have to sort through a sea of machines and figure out which one works best, but you also will be wondering how much is needed for results. #strongAF #training #workout #healthy

Cardio vs Strength training?

If you only have the time to incorporate one I recommend starting with strength training, and training to get STRONG. Meaning working with a challenging enough load to INCREASE strength and muscle mass.

In addition to these three super awesome benefits a well balanced strength training routine will decrease joint pain and improve your posture. When you push yourself enough you can also count it as some of your cardio as well.

Cardio definitely has it's place in a good training regime, and I highly recommend balancing the two by strength training 3 days per week (M/W/F for example), and doing 30 minutes of cardio on the two days in between.

Where do you start?

It is sooo important that you START SLOW to avoid getting a stress fracture due to pushing your body harder than it physically tolerate at the start. You are working hard to build this amazing habit, and injuring yourself will just throw you out of the game for MONTHS while also greatly discouraging you.

Our bones are constantly rebuilding themselves to match the stresses of our daily lives. Since you have not been stressing your bones consistently with strength training and cardio, your body will need time to adjust. GIVE IT TIME!!!

So please stay away from high impact activities for the first few months. Trust me, the wait will be worth it. ;)


Beginners should start with 2-3 sets of 15, starting with body-weight exercises until your form is flawless.

The first five repetitions should feel relatively easy, the second 5 should feel challenging, and the last 5 should feel nearly impossible. You are performing a high amount of reps to develop muscle memory for proper form. As the last 5 reps begin to feel more like the second five, you should increase the weight.

The reason you should do so many repetitions starting out is so you can build the connection between your brain and muscles. The first month of exercise we see incredible gains in strength. This is actually due to increasing your brains ability to tell your muscles to contract harder using the muscle mass you already have.

After approximately a month of this (3 days/week, full body), you can start lifting heavier weights with less reps.

For best increases in bone mineral density you want to be lifting weight for 10 reps or less. It is extremely important to select a weight where you are not capable of performing an additional rep, (so if 8 reps are the goal you should not feel like you could do 10 or 15 reps at that weight). According to the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association you should be lifting 3-6 sets of your 1- to 10-rep max., (which is maxing out at your last rep), to achieve optimal bone gains.

For increasing muscle size (AND METABOLISM): 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps are recommended. Remember, you should NOT feel like you can do another rep while maintaining perfect form.

For best increases in strength and power: 5-6 sets of 2-5 reps is recommended. (5x5 is a very common set/rep range used).

Group exercise is another great option to get started: join body pump, Pilates, TRX, or a body conditioning class to get started! Another option is joining a HIIT class; but be sure to perform the low impact version of all jumping moves when getting started!!!!


We suggest having at least 2- 30 minute sessions of cardio in your week. Although, this can be broken up into ten minute chunks and distributed in your warm-ups :)

Cardio helps burn extra calories, increase your cardiorespiratory endurance, and will help your body better utilize oxygen.

Beginner cardio for those who dream of running:

Future runners will need some extra cardio (4 days of 30+ minutes). While an elliptical is a great way to get an intense cardio session, it does not place stress on your bones and will not porperly prepare your body for real runs. (Read here about how your bones need time to adapt to the stress you are putting on it.)

For this reason, I suggest having at two of your four cardio sessions/week dedicated to walking on the treadmill or walking outside for 20-45 minutes.

The stair climber is a great low impact way to get a killer cardio session and build the bone strength necessary for running one day. The problem with stair climbers is that they are much more challenging, so your sessions are shorter. To help alleviate this problem I suggest starting your non-treadmill days on the stair climber, and climbing for 5-20 minutes, then switching to the elliptical to extend the cardio session when you poop out.

Cardio for those who HATE running: I still suggest trying out the cardio equipment (see chart below for different effects and benefits) or try out weight bearing forms of cardio that you find fun such as hiking, or low impact high intensity interval training.

Remember, the best kind of exercise is the one you enjoy. If you enjoy what you are doing exercise won’t feel like a chore.

If you find gym cardio equipment tortuous: try a Zumba or spin class, go for a hike or bike ride, or try something new like kickboxing! :)

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