Diet & Exercise: How to get started on a lifting program

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 8, 2018

Last week, we discovered some of the benefits derived from gaining muscle and strength.

We learned that physical activity like weight training can reduce your risk of chronic disease, and improve your strength, balance and coordination, improve sleep and even self-esteem.

This week, I’d like to share how to begin your fitness journey. Remember, no matter your age, you absolutely, can make significant progress with proper strategy. Here are a few steps to get you started.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Assess your fitness level

Ways to do this could include: Recording your pulse rate before and immediately after walking 1 mile. How long it takes to walk 1 mile, or can you walk a mile (don’t worry if you can’t)?

Could you stand from a chair without pushing on the chair arms?

Can you do half situps, pushups or modified (from your knees) pushups? If so, how many can you do?

Now, don’t worry if you can’t do any of these; you still can make great progress if you start slowly and exercise properly and consistently.

Check with your physician

Always let your doctor know you are about to begin a fitness regimen. Make sure there are no health problems to interfere with your fitness routine.

Fashion your program

Set goals and be specific. Know why you want to get in shape. The reasons can be different. Some may just want to look better; others desire to be better at a sport, while still others just want to stay out of the hospital.

I recommend before folks start an exercise program, they take two sheets of paper. On one (and this is the only time I want them to feel bad), write an entire page of what it will cost them in the near and distant future in terms of health, money, self-esteem, relationships, etc, if they don’t get in shape and get stronger. Then on the next sheet of paper, write an entire page on what they will gain in all those same areas if they do get in shape.

This is often referred to as “the carrot and the stick.” This helps individuals understand why they want to get in shape. Remember, the “why” is even more important than the “how.��

Get instruction

Don’t ever begin an exercise routine without correct guidance. So many individuals get hurt or at the very least, don’t make progress, because they exercise improperly.

Find a trainer who is educated and experienced. Check their credentials and ask for referrals. Make sure they have a motivating personality and a sound training philosophy.

Start slowly

I compare starting an exercise routine with getting a haircut. If you do too much, too soon, it takes too long to get over it. Much like a haircut, better to do some, sit back and see how you are before you progress.

As you gradually and systematically increase your range of motion, strength and endurance, you’ll be amazed, at any age, how strong you can become.

Monitor your progress

Keep a workout log and food journal to assess how you’re doing. Write everything in there; how you’re feeling before during and after workouts, days you feel stronger or weaker than others, and believe me, you’ll notice that no matter your fitness level.

By carefully planning, exercise can be a healthy addition that lasts a lifetime.

Next week I’ll share exercise dos and don’ts.

David Crocker, of Landrum, has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 31 years. Diet or exercise question? Email him at or text to 864-494-6215.