So, you’ve started a workout regimen! That’s awesome, and you are probably experiencing all sorts of benefits from doing this like better sleep and increased energy. There is only one problem. It’s hard at first. Really hard.
Why Is Working Out So Hard at First?
- There is a learning curve
- Your body isn’t conditioned
- Your mind isn’t conditioned
- Starting new habits is hard
While these reasons mean that working out can be hard when you’re first starting out, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. In this article, we will discuss what makes working out so hard and what you can do help you get through the hardest part of starting a new healthy lifestyle: the beginning.
You’ve Got to Learn How to Workout
It is often overlooked, but one of the reasons that working out is so hard is that you have a lot of learning to do. No matter what type of workout you’re doing, you’ll need to learn the basics before the routine becomes easy.
For example, if you’re doing Zumba exercises, you need to learn the movements and patterns involved before you even begin to think of keeping up with the video. If you’re doing weight lifting, you need to learn proper form and technique so that you’re working the right muscles. Even if you’ve done these exercises in the past, it will take some time to relearn some of the things you may have forgotten.
This takes time, and you’re probably not going to have a few fail moments along the way. This is completely normal and should be expected. If knowing how to workout is the biggest challenge for you, then you should consider following some of these tips.
- Use a trainer. Many gyms offer low cost or free personal training sessions so that people understand how to use the equipment in the gym under an experienced and helpful eye. Take advantage of this perk of belonging to a gym!
- Watch videos. When you’re lifting weights or doing workout videos, watch some videos of professional, experienced people doing the movements. This will give you an idea of what to expect and will mentally prepare you for doing the movements.
- Go slow. If you’re just starting to workout, you should take your time to get each movement down. This is your foundation for future workouts, so it is important. If it takes longer or you don’t get as many reps in, it isn’t really a big deal.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. You aren’t going to be perfect right off the bat. Take your time to learn how to do your workout, and don’t beat yourself up if you make some mistakes or aren’t able to keep up right away.
You Need to Condition Your Body
There’s no getting around it. When you first start working out, you’re just not as strong or have as much endurance as you need. Building strength and endurance is probably one of the reasons why you’re working out in the first place.
When you first start exercises, your heart rate increases quickly, your body heats up, and your muscles fatigue rapidly. But once your body gets used to the new movement and activity level, you’ll find that you’re heart rate doesn’t jump as quickly, you don’t get as hot, and your muscles can work harder and for longer.
If you’re struggling with your body during your workouts, then we’ve got some tips for you:
- Don’t overdo it. If you overtax your body, you’ll end up hurting yourself, and you won’t be able to continue working out. You’re also going to be sore after your first few workouts as well, and the harder you push, the more it will hurt. You don’t want to push yourself so hard that you’re too sore to move the next day.
- Use lighter weights. It might sound simple, but using lighter weights instead of what you think you should be using will help you get your body used to an increased activity level and make your workout a little less daunting.
- Warm-up and cool down. Don’t forget the essential warm-up and cool-down periods before and after a workout. They are critical. Warming up helps prepare your heart and muscles, which makes it easier to work out. Cool-down eases your body back into a less active state and helps prevent injury, which will make your next workout easier.
You Need to Build Mental Strength
It’s not talked about often enough, but exercise doesn’t just increase physical strength and endurance, it also increases your mental strength, endurance, and resilience.
Showing up to a workout every day and pushing through that hardness and discomfort takes an immense amount of mental strength and resilience. You’ll hear many workout enthusiasts saying things like, “Your mind gives up before your muscles!” And it is true. Well, before your body is ready to throw in the towel, your mind will have you throw in the towel.
If you think about it, it makes sense. It isn’t exactly the best idea to tap yourself out completely, but if you haven’t built up your endurance and resilience, then your mind might be telling you its too hard and time to quit well before you’re body has hit that moment.
The good news is that you don’t have to do any special mental exercises to increase your ability to persevere. All you need to do is keep showing up for yourself at that workout and pushing through it.
Before you know it, it won’t be so hard to get through your workout. If this is an area you’re especially struggling with, there are some things you can do to help you get through your workout:
- Use positive self-talk. Affirmation, mantras, or just encouraging words will help you get through your work out (and honestly, the day if you make a practice of it!). Instead of listening to that negative Nancy in your mind telling you that you can’t make it through the workout, tell yourself that you can do it, you are strong, and you have nothing to gain by giving up.
- Know your why. Whatever your reason for working out (and there are many good reasons to workout), know what it is. What do you want to gain by working out? More energy so that you can keep up with your kids at the playground? Curb symptoms of depression or anxiety? Just want to look good in a tank top? We don’t judge. Whatever the reason, know what it is and keep it in your mind during your workout.
You Need to Make Working Out a Habit
Humans are creatures of habit, and developing good ones after years of poor ones is really hard for us.
Although it has somehow gotten out there that it takes about 60 days to make a new habit, this isn’t exactly true. It can take a shorter amount of time, but it can also take a much longer amount of time, according to James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones.
Until working out becomes a habit, it is going to be hard to get yourself to do it. Over time, it will slowly develop into a habit, and you won’t have to think about it or draw on your reserves of willpower to make it happen.
To help make working out a habit, try some of these tips.
- Workout at the same time every day and tie it to something that is already a habit. For example, you could work out after breakfast, or after checking your email in the morning. By doing this, you draw on the power of something that is already a habit to form your new habit.
- Find an accountability partner. Having someone to hold you accountable other than yourself can help you stay on track even on the hard days.
- Reward yourself. Set milestones and reward yourself for your new habit. Although we see working out as a reward in itself, giving yourself a little incentive to do something hard will help you get it done and will also create a positive association with the activity.
Is Working Out Hard at First?
Working out is hard, but here’s the thing. Working out is supposed to be hard. If it was easy, you wouldn’t be getting all the benefits exercising can offer like mood-boosting endorphins and great physical strength.
To some extent, working out will always be hard. It doesn’t really get that much easier, but you get stronger and more capable of facing the challenge head-on, and that is the secret to keep in mind.