That’s all you really need to know to get moving. What follows are a list of things that (in my opinion) beginners spend far too much time worrying about. That doesn’t mean this stuff doesn’t matter at all, but they are things you can mostly ignore and still be able to get stronger, fitter, faster, and healthier.
It barely matters how many reps of an exercise you do
Should you do eight to 12 repetitions of each strength exercise? Or five sets of five?
While shorter sets are supposed to build strength and longer sets are supposed to build size, the truth is that strength and size go together. When you get stronger, your muscles get bigger, and vice versa. As a beginner you really don’t need to worry about whether you’re in the “optimal” rep range for your goals, so long as each set feels like hard work. Sets of five with heavier weight and sets of 10 with lighter weight will give similar results.
You don’t need to change your body weight right away
People often get into exercise at the same time they decide they would like to lose fat, or gain muscle. Some exercise programs come with instructions that say you should eat a ton of food and “bulk” while you’re running them; others assume that your goal will be losing weight and that you’ll want to create a calorie deficit.
If you want to change the size of your body, that’s up to you. But you don’t need to connect that to your fitness goals. You can simply start exercising now, and decide later whether you want to be bigger or smaller or if you’re fine at the size you are. (Please do make sure you get enough protein, though.)
It’s not bad to take “walk breaks” when you’re running
One of the first things you need to learn when you take up running is how to run slow enough that you don’t exhaust yourself in the first 30 seconds. You also need to understand that your body needs to build the fitness to be able to run continuously. You simply may not be ready for a continuous half-hour run yet. That’s the idea behind walk-run approaches like Couch to 5K.
But one downside of a Couch to 5K is that many think of the running parts as “real” running, and the walking parts as “breaks,” or as somehow failing at the task of running. The thing is, if you get from the start to the finish line of a race (5K or otherwise) at anything other than a fully walking pace, you’ve run it. What’s more: you’re still building cardio fitness when you walk quickly, and that cardio fitness is what will eventually enable you to run more and to run faster.