Have you decided that you are ready to begin a fitness program for the very first time or get back into exercising after a short reprieve? Follow the steps below to avoid injuries and burnout.
Step 1: Set a goal. The #1 reason people fail when beginning a fitness program is the lack of setting goals. If you are interested in starting a program, don’t underestimate the need to set a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). Take time to evaluate exactly what you want to achieve by beginning a program. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve will help you with step two.
Step 2: Create a game plan to reach your SMART goal. Keep in mind that your plan doesn’t need to be perfect, but if you are stuck, this is a great time to reach out to a professional to help make sure you are on the right track. Your plan should be simple and realistic to your lifestyle. Saying you are going to add 60 minutes of exercise into an already overfilled life is a recipe for disaster. Finally, make sure the plan is yours. You’ve watched your sister lose weight, you’ve seen your neighbor achieve a marathon, and suddenly you are trying to do exactly what they did. Stop!!! You each have a unique body structure, you have different responsibilities and schedules, and even different ideas of success which create a need for a very specific plan. Each person is unique and in order to get the results you want, you may have to go about it in a different way.
Step 3: Break it down. After you’ve created a strategy take time to break it down into weekly tasks. For instance, if you want to run a half marathon, you should complete about 23 miles a week two weeks before the race. Take the time to break those weekly goals into a daily goal in order to ensure that you know exactly what you need to do to reach your goal.
Step 4: Ease into a routine. While the first steps are essential to get started, this step will keep you going. Exercise doesn’t mean spending hours in the gym so forget the quick fixes and start slow. Take your time easing into a routine to avoid injuries. Make sure your warmup is adequate for your exercise. Oftentimes we want to maximize our time by jumping right into a program or step out the door and take off into a run, but that could end up sidelining you! A proper warm-up should include 5-10 minutes of moderate activity followed by light stretching.
Sample dynamic warm-up:
• 10 Yoga Sunsalutations
• 20 Squats (slow and controlled)
• 30 Jumping Jacks
• Repeat for 5-10 minutes
• Stretch for 5 minutes
Step 5: Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you are consistently feeling pain, this may be an indicator that something is wrong and you may need to take a step back. This is the point where you may need to seek professional attention if you continue to feel pain, extreme fatigue, or other negative symptoms that are unusual for your everyday life.
Step 6: Make rest and recovery days a part of your regimen. Most people enter a program thinking they need to beat themselves up day after day. Ultimately, that is going to lead to nothing but injury and burnout. Take a minimum of 2 days per week to recover. There are active recovery techniques that can help keep you in the game and even help you achieve your goals more effectively and efficiently. Also, don’t underestimate the power of proper rest. Simply sleeping for 7-8 hours per night will allow your body tissue to heal from the tears it received from exercising. This rebuilding process is actually what allows your body to gain muscle, improve cardiovascular endurance, and ultimately get you one step closer to your goals.
• Active recovery such as foam rolling and trigger point therapy
• Stretching routines (This is another great time to consult a professional to make sure you are utilizing the proper stretches for your body)
• Deep tissue massage
• Getting adequate sleep/rest
Step 7: Don’t skip the nutrition. It’s so easy to think that your entire training is all about the physical training, but ultimately your success is 100% dependent on what you fuel your body with. Nutrition will either be the quickest form of recovery for your damaged tissue or the slowest form of damage to your body. There is only one way to make sure that you are achieving the best results and that is to give your body the proper nutrients to maximize your physical efforts. Spend 30 minutes each week to write out a rough draft of your projected menu. This doesn’t need to be pretty or detailed (or gourmet). Again, make sure it is realistic to your lifestyle, and plan ahead to make sure that you can stick to it as close as possible.
Step 8: Keep motivation a daily thing. What inspired you to keep going? Is it your family, the thought of wearing a swimsuit this summer, or accomplishing something you’ve dreamed about for years? Make sure to set reminders on your phone of why you are doing this. Post inspirational quotes on social media that encourage you, and write it on your mirror. Repeat it to yourself every single morning.
Bonus Step: Malcom X said, “When I is replaced with WE, even Illness becomes WEllness. A team will not only give you accountability but will help you achieve much more amazing results than you ever thought possible.
Beginners Fitness Program