My top exercise tips for beginners

Lisa Raleigh running and rebounding as exercise for beginners

I’ve wanted to write down my top exercise tips for beginners in a blog for a while now, because it’s something close to my heart. I’ve seen how many new clients, who haven’t exercised for years, feel completely intimidated by the idea of starting their exercise journey.

And this is especially the case when you feel like you’re surrounded by “the pros”. However, it’s important to remember that all the pros started off as beginners too!

Nowadays, it’s very easy to avoid moving our bodies. Thanks to technological advancements, everything is so easy and convenient, we can literally have anything at the tap of a button. The truth is, you need to make a conscious effort every day to move. You’re never too old and it’s never too late to pick up a new healthy habit and regular exercise is a powerful lifestyle adjustment that can change your life!

Exercise tips for beginners

Making the decision to start exercising is one of the best favours you can do for your body and your health. Starting something is often the hardest part, so be proud of yourself for making that decision.

Follow my tips to help you kick off and maintain your fitness journey!

Consult a health professional first 

Lisa Raleigh consulting with client

Before you dive into a new exercise regime, it’s a good idea to consult a health professional such as myself, and/or get a physical medical examination by your GP. 

In fact, this is a must if you’re older, have certain health conditions or are not used to strenuous physical activity.

You should sit down and determine the optimal regime for you, considering what types of exercise you enjoy, as well as how long and how often you should exercise for. Doing a DNA test is ideal to help you understand what will work best for your body.  

Consulting with a professional will also help you:

  • Determine where you’re at
  • Work out a tailor-made programme to optimise your results
  • Avoid the harmful effects of overtraining
  • Prevent burnout and optimise your ability to reach your fitness goals.

Set realistic goals

The best way to stay motivated, is to set simple short and long-term goals. You need to determine your long-term goal first, which is also why consulting with a fitness professional is so highly recommended. Your goal could be to improve fitness, gain strength, lose weight, tone up or all of the above. This will also help you to determine what type of workout programme you should do.

If you’re overweight or unfit, you may need to start slowly with something low impact like walking, swimming or rebounding just to get rid of excess fat and burn more calories.

The key is to set small goals to achieve on the way to your end goal. Small goals can include increasing your workout’s duration by a few extra minutes or lifting an extra kilogram – any small progressions that’ll form part of the steps to your end goal.

Smaller goals can also give you a sense of accomplishment, especially if you reward yourself for them along the way. A post-workout smoothie or a massage after you’ve made some progress will keep you motivated every step of the way!

 Lisa raleigh meal prep and setting smart goals

ALSO SEE: how to make smart goals you can achieve

Keep it simple

Whether you haven’t exercised in a few months, a year or forever, it’s a good idea to start simply from where you’re at, with just your body weight or basic pieces of exercise equipment such as ankle weights, resistance bands or dumbbells. You don’t need to lift heavy weights to see results, you just need to move… consistently!

I have a few great downloadable PDF workouts on my e-store, which you can alternate and use to help you tone up and lose weight.

Stick to your routine

The key to success with anything, is consistency – and the same applies to achieving your fitness goals. Even if you’re feeling tired or unmotivated, a simpler or easier workout is better than no workout.

If you’re someone who tends to procrastinate or make excuses, a good way to stick to your programme is to make sure you’re accountable to someone, whether it’s a workout buddy, trainer or simply the fact that you’re paying for a class.

Prioritise your workouts as though they are a meeting. Pop that time in your diary, and be sure to show up. Plan ahead, get set up and dedicate a space to do it. Planning properly prevents procrastination and excuses 

If you’re using any technology in your workout – like a laptop or Bluetooth headphones or a speaker – make sure it’s charged and ready, so all you have to do is plug and play. Get organised with your exercise regime – it makes showing up and doing it a whole lot easier. One hour of exercise is only about 4% of your whole day, so no excuses!

Top tip:

Scheduling rest days can also help to avoid overtraining and make it easier to take a break when you need to, while still making sure you’re sticking to a consistent exercise schedule.

Eat for fuel

Lisa Raleigh eating a meal

Doing exercise properly requires energy, so it’s important to eat a balanced diet to support your fitness programme. Overtraining and undereating can be a major setback not only to your fitness goals, but your overall health.

All the food groups are necessary to keep your energy levels up. Yes, even carbs and fats! The key is moderation, portion control and eating healthy variations of each food group. Carbs are particularly important in fuelling your muscles before a workout. The perfect pre-workout snack is a banana, as it’s a quick-digesting, healthy source of energy.

Eating after a workout is just as important. Carbs, protein and healthy fats in particular help to:

  • Replenish glycogen stores
  • Burn body fat
  • Aid in muscle building and recovery
  • Maintain energy levels for longer

Hydration is also a critical factor of your workout regime, as you lose a lot of fluid through sweating during exercise. Drinking water during your workout can optimise your performance, and hydrating afterwards assists with recovery. Water is critical when you exercise in hot temperatures – the effects of dehydration can be dangerous.

lisa raleigh holding muffins and smoothies post workout meals and snacks

ALSO SEE: my favourite post-workout meals and snacks 

Never skip warm-ups and cool-downs

Warm-ups prevent injuries and improve your overall athletic performance. They also help with flexibility and can reduce post-workout soreness. A dynamic warm-up is a simpler variation of the exercise you’re planning to do, or can involve simple aerobic exercises to get your heart rate up.

Cooling down is essential because it helps your body return to its normal resting state. Include a cool-down in every workout session to restore your normal blood circulation and breathing patterns. Cooling down also reduces the muscle soreness. Include some light aerobic exercise and/or some stretching in your cool-down routine.

Focus on your technique

Lisa Raleigh lunging proper technique

Save the fancy moves for when you’re ready for them. If you’re new to training, it’s essential to master the fundamentals before getting too complex. Once you master your technique, you can add variations or weights to make your workouts more intense, but for now, keep it simple!

Check out my Technique Queen series on my YouTube Channel, where I teach you how to master simple, fundamental moves such as squats, push-ups, tricep dips and lunges. Getting the fundamentals and technique right is key to optimising your workout and preventing injuries.

There are also a variety of exercise programmes and workouts on my e-store which include bodyweight workouts as well as workouts with dumbbells and resistance bands, so that you can master your technique before going harder or heavier.

Prioritise progress over perfection

It’s easy to remember phrases like “no pain, no gain”, but they’re simply not true. While a level of muscle soreness is a reflection of a good workout, you shouldn’t be experiencing any deep-set pain in your body. Pushing through that will only cause injuries. However, progress is important! To ensure your body doesn’t hit a plateau, and you’re always advancing and challenging yourself, switch up your FITT, which stands for

  • frequency
  • Intensity
  • Type
  • Time

These factors will add variety to your workouts and optimise results.

However, listen to your body, and remember your limits. If you experience pain or discomfort during your workout, stop and recover before continuing. This is especially important if you’re a beginner.

If you’re following a good programme, you will work up a sweat, be out of breath, experience stiffness and feel your muscles burn. This is all normal, however it’s important to know when to draw the line. If you’re feeling faint or experiencing unusual pain, stop immediately.  

Build your fitness level gradually and allow your body to rest occasionally. Even the world’s best athletes know the importance of rest. Results aren’t going to appear overnight, so be kind to yourself! You will have setbacks, but be patient with yourself. Not every day will be perfect, but the key is to persevere and keep going.

Try rebounding

Lisa Raleigh on rebounder

The benefits of rebounding for beginners are endless. It’s one exercise modality that’s not only fun, it’s also has both cardiovascular and strength building benefits and it’s easy to do. Here are some more benefits of rebounding:   

It’s time efficient

Rebounding will get you fitter faster. Everything on a rebounder is 3 times the force of gravity. This means that10 minutes of rebounding is equivalent to 30 minutes of running, and 1kg weights are equivalent to 3kgs. Every bounce is extremely physiologically taxing on the body, which means you get a great workout every time.

You can train in private or in a class

Many beginners find the intense atmosphere of a gym a bit daunting and intimidating. With rebounding you can gradually work your way up the fitness ladder and master technique completely in private.

If you like the idea of working out in a class setting, you can join my online classes or new group classes in Parktown North, Johannesburg.

It’s low impact

If you’re out of shape and haven’t exercised for a while, or you’re over 50, chances are you’ll experience joint pain and stiffness with traditional forms of exercise. Rebounding solves this problem because it’s so low impact it absorbs 70% of your body weight, and won’t put additional  hurt your joints, ligaments or tendons.

Rebounding sessions also include a little bit of every type of exercise, so you don’t have to plan which day you do what. You can just rebound and know that it ticks all the boxes! It’s all-encompassing with sessions including cardio, strength-training, flexibility, balance, warm-ups and cool downs. It’s all the elements of a good fitness programme in one session – so if you don’t feel like choosing, start bouncing!

Check out my 8-week Bounti Beginners Programme 

If you’re new to rebounding, and really want to get into it, my 8-week Bounti Beginner’s Programme is just for you. We start with 10 minutes of rebounding a day and get you used to the basics including how to stand and bounce, how to breathe, plus how to move on and off the rebounder before gradually increasing the duration of your sessions every week until you’re able to complete one of my full 60-minute classes. We also take you through the fitness accessories you’ll need to enhance your workout and increase the burn!  

WATCH this Bounti Beginner's Programme video to find out more: