Tips For Starting A New Exercise Program
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” — George Harrison
January is the time when many people make a resolution to start a new exercise program. It is a time the gym regulars hate – because for the next two or three months their gym will be overcrowded with the resolutioners. However too many figure that if they are only going to work out for a couple months why bother at all. I am here to put a stop to that and give you some tips on how to start an exercise program you will stick with.
The first thing to look at when starting an exercise program is to be realistic with yourself. You know yourself better than anyone, so ask yourself: What will I realistically do? It doesn’t matter what the trainer says, what the recommendations are from the latest Internet program, or what guru you are following says.
Why? Because a program is only good if you do it.
If someone says you have to work out 60 minutes three days a week and you know you can only motivate yourself for 15 minutes three days a week, then you aren’t going to stick with your program very long. But the key is this: it isn’t the amount of time spent exercising, it is the quality of time spent along with being consistent with whatever program you decide to follow. Fifteen minutes of quality work two or three days a week will take you further than a sixty minute program that you do hit and miss and eventually not at all. In addition, too many people skip a workout because they mistakenly think that if they don’t have an hour to spend, it won’t do them any good. If you have the right guidance you can get a good workout in five minutes. Remember, a little goes a long way when it is done on a consistent basis.
The second thing is to take into consideration your current fitness level. If you scored four touchdowns in the game during high school, ala Al Bundy, and haven’t done anything since, you don’t want to start with the most difficult form of an exercise. What I often see happen is that a person decides they want to get back in shape, however a cup of coffee is the most they have lifted in twenty years. Aside from getting out of the chair, they have been nonstop sitting at their desk for the last eight hours a day at work, and don’t do much more when they get home. They get with a well meaning trainer, or a friend who has been working out, or they read about a program online and they jump in with both feet only to find that the chosen exercises are way to hard for a beginner. A valiant effort is made, but is not successful. The exercise or exercises feel like they are way out of their reach and discouragement follows. To add insult to injury, during the next day or two they feel like a truck ran over them so their attempt to get in shape comes to a screeching halt.
So what is the solution?
Know there are many regressions to exercises. You don’t start with the hardest version, start with the easiest version. Be successful and slowly progress from there. Example: a regular push-up on the floor is too hard for most, but standing with hands against a wall and doing a push-up is very doable.
Lastly be realistic with your goals. An exercise program isn’t a one size fits all. Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing. I would rather see someone with less genetic potential make the most of what they have than the person who has all the right stuff but doesn’t maximize their potential. Know yourself and be realistic with what you will do in order to be consistent with a program that fits you and your current fitness level. There are many variations of standard exercises. Find the variation that allows you to be successful and still be able to move the next day. Start a program now in this manner and you shouldn’t have to make a resolution again next year because you remained consistent all year. Bottom line: “Move well, move often.” — Gray Cook