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Getting started with a strength training program is most likely going to feel overwhelming to most beginners. And if you are working out at home, you will likely feel even more overwhelm as you try to figure out how to get started on your own.

After all, you need to figure out what equipment you want to use, how you will structure your routines, and how to set up a space in your home for the sole purpose of working out. On the other hand, joining a gym can also be overwhelming for anyone new to working out, after all gyms tend to be filled with extremely fit people who are effortlessly moving through their workouts. You’ll probably feel more than a little self conscious just walking in and heading to the weights.

What’s the best way for a newbie to get started?

The most important thing is to set reasonable, realistic goals that are appropriate for your age and fitness level. Set both short and long term goals. If you need some help with this, consider hiring a personal trainer at least for a consult. Never walk into a gym without some sort of plan. After all, you don’t want to get roped into a membership if the gym is not a good fit for you. Likewise you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on home workout equipment only to discover that you do the best workouts in a gym environment.

As for your workout, start small and don’t overdo it. Three 45 minute sessions a week will be enough for most people to see a big improvement though you can certainly stretch them out to five days a week.

Prioritize your lifts. Compound lifts are a great way to get more done in less time. And when you do the most important exercises first, you won’t be hampered by fatigue later on.

Keep changing things up. If you’re working out at home, you can focus on one area of the body at a time (core, chest/back, legs, arms.) You can also rotate each day between upper body and lower body workouts (for example, on Monday, do lower body work, on Tuesday, upper body, etc.) This will help to prevent boredom. Keeping your body guessing is a good way to keep your metabolism burning optimally.

Your focus should always be on form, even if you don’t squat as deeply or do as many pushups as you would like, maintaining good form is a great foundation for you as your workouts increase in intensity. And over time, you will find that the more you focus on your form the more reps you are able to accomplish.

Keep track of your workouts. Find an app that will help you to keep track of sets, reps and exercises so that you can note your progress. Don’t rely on your memory for this. As you see improvement, it will be a big motivator. Taking measurements and pictures is another great way to keep track of your progress.

Make time for performance enhancing exercises, these include things like yoga, foam rolling, trigger point work and stretching. Just taking a few minutes to focus on these things after a workout or between workouts can keep your muscles from getting too tight, reduce muscle soreness, and help your muscles to recover faster from a workout.

Don’t forget to schedule rest days. Your muscles need the time to recover and repair before the next workout. Skipping rest and recovery will likely lead to strains and injuries.

Remember, while all of these things are important, a good quality sleep and proper nutrition are foundation to your fitness program. Don’t get so lost on the physical aspect of working out that you lose focus of the nutritional and recovery aspects.