My Best Tips For Starting A New Fitness Routine

Today is the start of a new year, and with that, comes the plans and resolutions for a healthy and fit year for many of us.

I’ve been in the fitness industry for close to 15 years now, and I’ve seen first hand how daunting it can be to get started. Here are some of my best tips that I’ve used with clients along the way that have led to amazing fitness and health transformations.

1. Make A Plan

Without a plan, you’re at a higher potential to get lost along the way. Your plan should consist of 3 different types of goals.

Short Term Goals: Week to week. These goals are what you aim to accomplish in the next 4 weeks. A good starting point if you’re just beginning your fitness journey is to start with 3 workouts per week. This equals 12 workouts total in a 4 week period (1 month).

Mid Term Goals: 3-6 months. Where you want to be within 3-6 months. Choose an up coming event within the next 3-6 months (vacation, wedding, birthday, work anniversary..etc) and give yourself a goal to hit within that time. Examples can be lose 15lbs, gain 30lbs on your bench press, run 3km without taking a break, squat your bodyweight, or to simply do 12 workouts per month for the next 6 months.

Long Term Goals: 1 year and beyond. These are goals that will be difficult to achieve, but within reach if you attain your short term, and mid term goals. Examples can be to bench press 2 plates on each side, or do a 10km organized run, or to fit into the dress you wore when you were 21, or to get your waist back to a 34, but have bigger and stronger chest, arms, and back. These goals should be difficult.

Remember: goal setting is a list of actionable items that if you knock off each item every day, you will eventually achieve your end result.

2. Keep It Simple

When it comes to fitness and nutrition, and starting a new routine, my advice is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Keep your workouts simple so that you can do them consistently.

Example: 1 upper body day, 1 lower body day, 1 full body day (legs, and upper body together).

Keep your weights to between 30-40 minutes, which leaves you 20-30 minutes for cardio.

Weights: do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps on each exercise, and try to increase your weight periodically. Rest 1 minute between sets. Combine two exercises back to back for a “superset”.

Cardio: do 20-30 minutes at the END of your workout to maximize fatloss. Keep your heart rate around 120-130 beats per minute, and do it on either the treadmill, bike, or stairmaster. On the treadmill your speed will be around 3.2 to 3.6, with an incline of 0 to 2. Bike and stairmaster will vary. Check your heart rate every 5 minutes.

Nutrition: have 1 protein source at each meal, 1 carbohydrate source, and lots of green vegetables.

Protein sources: eggs / egg whites, chicken, beef, fish

Carb sources: oats, bananas, white rice, potatos (white or sweet).

Vegetables: anything with dark greens (spinach, green beans, broccoli, cucumber)

Protein target: 0.8g per pound of bodyweight for women, 1g per pound of bodyweight for men.

Carb target: This will be determined by your goals and activity level, but a general guideline that has worked for many of my clients is 2 days of low carbs (less than 50g) and one day of higher carbs (150-200g). This is a simple form of carb cycling.

Fats: don’t add fats and oils to meals. We have enough fat on our bodies and should get enough fat from the foods we eat to sustain us.

Carb cycling will allow you to enjoy nights out and good dinners with friends and family if you plan properly. If you’re going for a dinner on friday night, but your high carb day is thursday – extend your low carb days to thursday, and make your high carb day friday (so you can enjoy your dinner), then return to low carb on saturday and sunday.

Ensure you workout or do cardio the day after a high carb day!

3. Set Yourself Up For Success.

If you know you’re going to have a hard time getting to the gym some days, go on Kijiji and find yourself a used exercise bike. First thing upon waking, get onto the bike and hit 20 minutes. This is called fasted cardio and is a great way to start your day.

Choose foods and recipes that you enjoy and you don’t mind eating repeatedly. Remember keep it simple.

4. Drink Lots Of Water.

3L for women, 4L for men.

5. Write Down Your Goals

Putting your goals on paper and keeping them somewhere that you’ll see it every day will put you at a higher likelihood of reaching them.

6. Don’t Be Influenced

Remember that when you’re at events, or out for lunch with co-workers, or at parties, or even sitting at home in the evening, that your goals are yours specifically and not everyone has the same ideas.

I read a quote a while back that stuck with me:

The more disciplined you are, the more fulfilled you’ll be.

This means that if you don’t indulge at a party or snack on chips in the evening, the next day you will feel more fulfilled and be proud of your discipline. Don’t believe me? Try it.

Don’t skip parties or social gatherings, but stay committed to your plan.

I am a believer of self discipline being a skill. A skill that we can improve on if we practice it daily. If you want to become self disciplined with food, leave your favorite food on the counter so you see it every day, but because you’re dedicated to your goals, you’re not going to indulge. Every day you go without eating that snack or treat, is another day you’re improving your self discipline.

I have more to write about, but I think I’ll stop here for today. I hope these tips will give you some direction in your fitness journey this year, and if I can be of assistance, please email me or message me on Instagram ( or

Today is January 1st, 2020, and no matter what happened last year – look ahead to this year. If you made mistakes last year (we all did), take it as a learning experience and make improvements going forward. If you had a great year in 2019, well keep doing what you’re doing and aim to make it even better in 2020.

Happy New Year!

Dan Petkovsek