Rule number 1! Always have a plan to follow. It really doesn't matter about the content of a program to begin with. The name of the game is consistency. I've written blogs before on how to program for rugby players or different training styles (Like training during lockdown) but I don't think we ever really think about programming purely for keeping someone exercising. One of the best quotes I've heard about programming is...
'An average program adhered to for a year always beats a brilliant program that only lasted 2 weeks.'
So with that said, here's how I'd advise someone who's just started exercising or who's joining a gym to go about putting together a plan that they will actually stick to.
- Prioritise the exercises/sports/intensity you enjoy the most.
This is pretty simple and as far as strict strength and conditioning goes... is terrible advice. But you're not going to stick at something you hate so you might as well find out the things you like the most and spend most of your time doing those in the beginning. Then once you've got into a groove you can start looking at prioritising things you need as well as those you enjoy.
- Spread out the fun stuff.
If you go and do all the things you love at once then you might be inclined to skip the sessions which will inevitably be full of the the things you like less. At least if every session includes some things you like you're likely to always get past the first most difficult hurdle... Starting.
- Get a family member or close friend involved.
What people often fail to realise is that the amount of time we spend in the gym, on the field or partaking in our various activities is a very small portion of our day. The things we do outside of this time (our NEAT) will be what drives the biggest change. Having a family member or close friend on board means that there is a certain level of accountability and company that will only help in keeping each other motivated to continue training.
- Understand that your body will get sore.
When going from little to no exercise to a regular fitness regime, your body is going to change. The first stage in this change is your body trying to understand what's going on. Muscle soreness and general aches and pains are completely normal in the beginning and will fade, this is just your body way of adapting to the new stimulus you're giving it. It's a completely natural response. Don't worry. Although you may want to relax, the best thing to do is to try and keep moving to promote circulation. This will aid recovery and provide some relief to the little aches and pains.
- Track multiple progress metrics.
I know a lot of us nowadays are afraid of the scales but to be honest, for the general population your weight is a pretty good indicator of your health, this doesn't mean we should overemphasis it. Equally it means we shouldn't just ignore it. My Advise would be to check your metrics once a month. Put most of the emphasis not on worrying about measurements but on enjoying the process. Aside from weight, here are some other metrics to track. The more the merrier :
- Body Measurements
- Set distance walking/running times (5k time)
- Strength Endurance testing (Number of squats in a two minute period)
- Flexibility (How close to touching your toes you are)
- Levels of energy throughout the day
- Overall happiness levels
- Lung capacity test (Time you can hold your breath for)
- Lastly... ASK FOR HELP!
Far too often we are afraid or embarrassed to ask for advice or help. There are so many people out there who have some degree of education in the health and fitness sector who are dying to show off their knowledge (I'm writing a blog for god's sake). Most Personal Trainers in gyms will be willing to help as they see you as a potential client and coaches for sports teams are the same (My local rugby team (Canterbury RFC) and Crossfit Box (Stone Towers) are great for this and offer a really supportive environment). If you have any questions after reading this blog then I would be more than happy to help. So help is there, all you need to do is ask.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope it's helped.
Happy New Year.