how to get started with 12 Minute Athlete

If you’ve been a couch potato for most of your adult life, or if your definition of a vigorous workout is half an hour on an elliptical machine or recumbent bike while reading a book, these workouts must seem a bit… hard.

Impossible even.

And I’m not judging. A few years ago, I would have felt the same way.

Back then, if you’d showed me these workouts, I would have laughed in your face and told you there was no way in hell I could do one.

But here’s what you have to realize: it’s all mental.

You can do these workouts.

No matter what kind of shape you’re in, you can start doing these HIIT workouts today.

Because it doesn’t matter how many breaks you have to take, how many reps you can do or how much you have to modify an exercise just to be able to do one single rep.

All that matters is that you try—and that you really, truly give it your all.

But if you’re new to the site, or you just haven’t found the willpower to do one of the HIIT workouts quite yet even though you’ve been here for a while, here are some tips to stop you from procrastinating and start getting in the best shape of your life:

Getting started is the hardest part

If you’ve never done a workout like these ones before, that moment that you decide damn it, I’m finally going to actually try one of these workouts—that’s always the hardest part.

But you just have to take it one step at a time. Throw on your exercise clothes, lace up your training shoes, and actually key in the interval times into your timer—there’s no backing out now.

You’re going to do this.

That first one is always the hardest.

It gets easier, I promise.

Aim for to 2-3 times a week to begin with

If you haven’t exercised vigorously for a while, don’t try to do too much at first. Doing these HIIT workouts just a few times a week is plenty for beginners, and much more than that will leave you feeling to sore to accomplish much else.

Aim for two or three times a week at first, and make sure to do something active on the other days as well, such as go for a walk, a swim, kick a soccer ball around or go play ultimate frisbee in the park with friends.

Then, when you feel up to it, try adding another day or two.

Learn to listen to your body

When you engage in vigorous exercise after not having worked out for a while, it’s inevitable that you’re going to be sore from it.

And while these soreness remedies will certainly help, they’re not going to erase all your aches and pains.

So you just have to deal with it.

Soreness is not a bad thing. Sure, it hurts, and it may make it hard to walk up the stairs at times. But if you continue to work out, and make sure and stay active on your non-workout days, the soreness will get better.

However, there’s a difference between being sore and something really being wrong. If you feel like something is “off,” if you’re extra fatigued, or just have a gut feeling you shouldn’t be working out today, don’t.

Learn to listen to your body and what it needs, and you’ll lessen the chance of injury and overtraining.

Make sure you’re eating right

You can’t expect your body to become strong, fit and healthy if you’re not giving it the right fuel.

This means if you’re trying to lose weight by starving yourself, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Not only will your metabolism actually slow down, your body will try as hard as it can to keep the fat you have (and I’m guessing that’s not your goal).

Plus, if you’re not eating right, you won’t have any energy to actually work out.

So what exactly does it mean to eat right? Here’s a few simple rules to follow:

  • Include protein with every meal 
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every single day
  • Eat a blend of protein and carbs after every workout
  • Eat whole foods (a.k.a. not processed foods) whenever possible
  • Eat small meals throughout the day

Curious to learn more about my take on nutrition? Read the 12 Minute Athlete food philosophy.

You can do it

It’s time to stop making excuses.

Because it doesn’t matter if you’re fat or thin. Young or old. A seasoned athlete or a complete newbie.

You can do these workouts. You just have to try.

Now go crush your workout. I know you can.