New Year, New Start, New You?: Four Tips for starting an exercise plan and how to keep to it!
Make a Goal
Before you start an exercises plan it is important to set yourself a goal. You need to consider what your short term and long term goals will be. We all know the typical goals e.g. lose weight, get fitter or signing up to a big event like a marathon! These are all brilliant long term goals but it is imperative to set more realistic shorter term goals to start with e.g. “I want to aim to do a little bit of exercise everyday – even just walking to the station” or “I want to exercises 3-4x week” or “I want to be able to run 30 minutes non-stop” or “I want to try a new class at the gym.” These short term goals are initially more achievable. They also help keep you focused as you can tick off smaller targets more frequently. This will keep you motivated to continue as you will feel you are making progress. So have a bigger overall goal and a few smaller short term goals to keep you focused.
Ask yourself is this goal possible? Most people with all good intentions throw themselves into a plan without asking themselves this question. It is important to take some base line measurements before you start to assess what it will take to get you to your goal. It also gives a good idea of your starting point (this gives a reference point to determine your progress from). What’s your flexibility and mobility like? e.g. can you touch your toes? What’s your strength like? e.g. can you do ten bodyweight squats with no compensation? What’s you CV fitness like? e.g. How far can you run/swim/cycle before you need to stop? Do you have any stiffness or pain? These are questions that you need to ask yourself honestly. If you embark on a plan when you are suffering with pain or discomfort you are setting yourself up for potential injury. Getting stronger by exercising will help improve pain and dysfunction however, you need to make sure you are in the appropriate position to start with if you want to prevent yourself getting injured. For example if you suddenly go from 10Km running to running 10km four days in a row, logically is it surprising that the body may not be able to cope. Although we all like to think we are invincible with an inner superman or woman inside us, unfortunately the reality is very different. It is always best to get yourself checked out by a professional first and gain some advice on the best ways to exercise. Sometimes this may require completing a pre-hab program to work on strengthening any weak area’s as an introduction to starting your plan. If this is something you would like to discuss , please call email or call Em Manaton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Design your plan
Planning your diary is really important for managing your time. There is no point telling yourself you want to exercise 5-6 days a week when you only physically have time to do 4 sessions.You will set yourself up for failure and your training will fizzle out before you know it. Book your training sessions in like appointments to ensure you don’t skip them. You wouldn’t miss your chiropractic, doctors or dentist appointment would you? Also having consistency helps, knowing what days and times you usually exercise will also help you manage your work/social life balance. Also be realistic again, don’t plan all your exercise sessions for the first half of the week. You will overload your body and not give it the proper rest days that it needs. Always try and have rest days in between sessions or at least try and avoid doing more than 2 days in a row initially until your body is used to the volume. When making your plan try and chose different activities e.g classes, gym, working out at home. Most people end up ditching the exercise because it becomes boring. Going to the gym 4 times a week doing the same thing every time = BORING. So try and mix up for sessions to stop the monotony. Find activities and forms of exercise you actually enjoy. Don’t fall into the trap of signing up to a gym membership when you secretly hate the gym. There are so many different opportunities and ways to exercises you must find something you enjoy. If you’re not doing something you at least half enjoy, you will also fail. Life is too short to spend time doing things you don’t enjoy.
Executing the plan
Build things slowly, like trying to build more activity into your daily life so you are getting more active overall. Your sessions will seem easier and more achievable the fitter you get generally. Build the intensity of your sessions slowly to help with compliance. It’s great if you’re pumped up and motivated to put 110% into your first session, but not so great that you can’t walk for a week after and have to miss your next few planned sessions. Push yourself but be realistic taking things slowly will keep you committed to your goals. Also listen to your body. If you start your plan but you soon find you may have bitten off more than you can chew e.g you are finding you are too sore or you’re not getting enough rest in between your sessions then tweak it so it’s more achievable. Don’t just keep pushing yourself to the point of fatigue as this is when you’re likely to pick up an injury. Listen to your body if you need an extra rest day in a week because you’re still sore, give it to yourself. As long as you’re still motivated you will keep on track. Lastly learn to be flexible. Things in life will always pop up and therefore you may not be able to do your session when planned. Don’t just bin it, think about when else in the week you could possibly fit it in but remember be cautious to not double up on days.
At Bodymotion we offer a biomechanical movement analysis screen. In this screen we pick up on any potential movement dysfunctions or muscle imbalances or weaknesses which could predispose you to injury. We then devise a unique pre-hab strengthening program to help plan for prevention. If you’re planning on kick starting your new year but want to do it the right way, please get in touch with our Specialist Sports Rehabilitator to learn more.