The first time you step into the gym, it can look intimidating.

With so many different machines, equipment, sections, and free weights, it can be hard to figure out where to start. A google search isn’t much help either. Looking for a guide to fitness for beginners yields millions of results, each promising to tell you everything you’ll ever need to know – only you’ll have to pay for it. With all that in mind, here’s a very basic, general guide to fitness and some resources to help.


  • Free Weight: These are the weights you see stacked near a wall, usually in front of a mirror. Free Weights can be an alternative to exercise machines or used to increase the difficulty of certain bodyweight exercises.
  • Reps: The number of times you repeat an exercise without taking a break (e.g. completing ten squats in a row).
  • Sets: The number of times you repeat your reps (e.g. repeating that group of ten squats three times with thirty-second breaks in between).
  • HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training refers to short bursts of intense training that temporarily speed up your metabolism. This is great if you want to burn fat but don’t have a lot of time.

Identify your Goals

  • Losing Weight: This usually means you focus more on cardio and less on strength training. Strength training should still be a part of your workout to prevent the loss of muscle mass.
  • Building Muscle: This requires exercise machines, free weights or bodyweight

exercises. You also need to make sure you’re getting enough protein to build muscle.

  • Toning Up (Combination): This is a combination of cardio and strength training and can be less intense since your goals are less rigid.
  • Feeling Better: If your goal is just to feel better than you don’t have to be too picky

about what you go with. Preferably stick with exercises you enjoy doing, or at least don’t hate doing.

  • Medical Reasons: If you’re exercising to deal with a medical condition, you probably have an idea of what sorts of exercises you need to do but need to establish a routine.

Types of Exercises

  • Push: These train the chest, shoulders, and triceps. They include exercises such as push-ups, dips, and handstands.
  • Pull: These train the back and biceps. They include pull-ups, bicep curls, and chin-ups.
  • Legs: These target the lower body or legs. They include squats, lunges, and deadlifts.
  • Core: These target your abdominal muscles. They include planks and crunches.

Creating a Workout Routine

When doing this, you want to be realistic about how much time you have. There’s no point in planning on working out an hour everyday if you know you have a ton of homework and responsibilities.

You also don’t want to overdo it. If you know you aren’t eating enough (fixing that should be your first step), then don’t schedule intense exercise every day of the week.

Once you decide how often you can work out, schedule in the exercises you plan on doing. While there are a ton of ways to do this, try to keep it simple by completing each of the four types of exercises every week for a full-body workout.

For example, if you decide to do three thirty-minute sessions every week, you can

complete three push exercises in your first session, three pull exercises in your second session, and two of legs and core in your last session.


  • NerdFitness: Contains all the information you need, with clear step-by-step articles that answer all sorts of questions
  • Fitness Blender: Contains various types of workout videos for all levels
  • Popsugar Fitness: Similar to Fitness Blender, but also with dance and group workouts

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