What would you think if I told you I had an amazing workout plan that was going to get you super-fit in no time at all? What if I told you that it worked for celebrities around the world and anyone could do it? What if I told you that you would never need another workout program again because this one would keep you fit forever? Hopefully after reading all those promises you would realise that there was no way I, or anyone else, could build one workout plan that would do all those things and move on. Social media and tabloid magazines have a lot to answer for when it comes to people’s perspective on what healthy is and how you can achieve it, and every day there seems to be someone new coming out with the “one workout to rule them all”. After spending a lot of time searching through these workouts, and even giving a few of them a go, I’ve come to realise that there is no magic bullet. There are however, a few simple rules we can follow which can get us a positive start towards fitness and give us a solid foundation towards staying active.
- Get help to get started: If you’re not used to exercising regularly or you’re not sure what to do, the best place to start is to talk to someone who can guide you in getting going. And I don’t mean the latest and greatest online trainer, I mean going and meeting with a reputable personal trainer who can talk to you about your goals, your worries and what you are willing to commit to. Some gyms will give you a tailored program as a starting point when you join, which is how I got started on my journey. Don’t feel you have to tackle it on your own, or that anyone is going to judge you for asking for help. Pretty much every PT I know are super friendly and only want to help people get fitter and healthier.
- Find your fit: Contrary to what some fitness programs will say (yes you, CrossFit), there is no single style of training which appeals to or works for everyone. I have done gym work with a fairly general program, daily jogs, CrossFit and heavy strength-based gym work at different times throughout my fitness journey. Some people, like my wife, prefer class based programs like Pump and BodyAttack that keep them motivated and direct their sessions because they struggle to stay on track when training on their own or they just find it more fun in a group. Personally that style of training doesn’t appeal at all and I prefer just getting in and working through my program as a way of challenging myself and having some time to myself. Different things work for different people and you need to find what works for you.
- Don’t give up: It can be easy to get frustrated when things don’t work. You may lose consistency and go a bit backwards, you may not enjoy the first type of exercise you try, or you may just find it harder than you thought. The big thing is to not give up. As I said, I’ve tried lots of different things, and what I have found is that training in a gym with a strength building program is what works for me. It doesn’t go my way every day, some days (or weeks) it feels like I’m going backwards, but when you give up you lose all your progress and it’s even harder to start again.
- Consistency is key: I’m often asked how I’ve made the progress I have, and generally my answer is consistency. As I’ve said before, I currently train 5 days per week, and I have trained this often (or more) for years. This consistency is what keeps me going, it’s what keeps me getting better and keeps me learning. I’m not saying you have to train this often, you might find that 3 or 4 days a week can work, but however often you do it (and my suggestion would be more days than not), you need to be consistent. We talked last week about making things a habit, and consistency is one of the best ways to build this habit into your life. It might only be a little bit each day, but you will be amazed what that little bit adds up to over time when you are consistent.
- Embrace the suck: I build my own workout programs and have done for a while. Whenever I’m putting one together it is so tempting to leave out things like pull-ups and deadlifts that I suck at. But the thing is, if I leave these things out I’ll never improve at them, so I have made a conscious effort to include them in every program I build. By doing this I have gone from barely being able to do a pull-up unassisted to being able to do weighted pull-ups. I still feel like I suck at pull-ups, I can’t say I enjoy them or they are easy, but by continuing to do them I have built up my ability and there is a level of satisfaction in that. One of the best things I see is people doing things they have not been able to do before, and the only way to do this is to tackle the things they can’t do until they can!
So there you have it, a few tips to help you get active and on the path to better fitness. No magic plans, no silver bullet, just guidelines that help give you a solid foundation to build from. Because at the end of the day, that is what this journey is all about, building on a solid foundation. Too often we look for short-cuts and quick fixes that leave us high and dry or falling back into old habits and losing our progress. But by making the effort to build a solid foundation of good habits we can see consistent progress and give ourselves the ability to push through when things get tough.
So where will you start today?