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By Matt Weik
This is an important question and it needs to be asked first. Why do you want to exercise? Is someone urging you to do so? Do you want to do it for yourself? Make sure you are working out because you want to and not because someone else wants you to. If you aren’t one hundred percent committed to working out, you will be a portion of the fifty percent of people who stop exercising within the first six months of beginning a program.
Read up on fitness and exercise. Grab some magazines and soak up as much knowledge as you can. You will find tons of articles on different workouts, diets, motivational tips, staying focused, and much more. Take that information and utilize it when you are making up your workout and diet plan. When you find yourself in a rut or are lacking motivation, you can pull from the things you read and get yourself back on track. It’s also important to learn a little about the human body and how it works. After all, wouldn’t you want to know what’s going on with your body when you exercise? Learn how the body burns fat and what exercises work what muscles. Educating yourself about fitness will give you a greater appreciation of all the hard work you put in at the gym.
Now that you have your plan in motion, it’s time to figure out if you want to pay for a gym membership or build a home gym. Building a home gym makes fitting in a workout very convenient, but at the same time a lot of people blow it off because they are at home and are thinking about a million other things they need to be doing. If you decide to go with this option, start off with just the essentials such as some dumbbells, a bench, and a piece of cardio equipment. With a gym membership people see the money coming out of their account each month and feel obligated to go since they are paying for it. On the flip side, if you join a gym that is out of your way, then you might feel that you don’t have enough time to drive over and still fit in everything you needed to get done during the day. If you decide to go with the gym membership, be sure and find a location that is convenient to you and has all the amenities that you would want it to have. Read all the fine print before signing any paperwork to understand the terms and conditions of the contract. As you can see both options have their pros and cons. Figure out what you feel you would most likely stick with and go for it.
Figure out what you want to accomplish both short-term and long-term. Make sure each type of goal is obtainable and measurable. Your short-term goals will lead you up to your long-term goal. For instance, you could set a long-term goal of losing thirty pounds in six months. Your short-term goal could be to lose five pounds each month to obtain that. By writing everything down you will have no excuse to get lazy. You have a document that you wrote stating your intentions and goals to achieve. If you give up, that’s on you and you are only letting yourself down. When you succeed (and you will) then you simply come up with new goals and once again write them down and track your progress.
Come up with a schedule and make sure you follow it. Schedule time to work out before or after work or even during lunch. Whatever you choose, make sure it fits into your schedule without being a huge inconvenience. If you can wake up an hour early to fit a workout in, then by all means do that. If you don’t mind giving up a lunch break to get in a quick cardio session or weights then go for it. Simply work it into your schedule and write down the days you want to do your weight training and/or cardio and stick with it. After no time you will get into the routine of doing it and you won’t even need to write it down anymore.
There are many different types of training styles and the great thing about it is that it gives you variety. If you don’t like one training method, you always have another to try. And changing things up isn’t always bad. It stimulates the muscles in ways that a previous workout didn’t and can also help you break through a plateau. If the treadmill isn’t your thing then go for a jog in the park or in the woods if the outdoors is your thing. Into sports? Grab your friends and play a pickup game of basketball or football. The key is to utilize things that you enjoy that you can use to your advantage to help you get in your workouts.
Set up a workout program (or have a trainer do it for you) that fits your goals and what you want to achieve. Make sure you are hitting all muscle groups one to three times a week based on your goals. Just as important, make sure you have rest days in your routine to allow proper recovery from workouts. Your workouts should take no more than sixty minutes and should flow. Have fun with your workout; if you are getting tired of the same routine or program then switch it up. Talk to a trainer and let him/her know what you enjoy doing and what you are looking for and allow them to use their expertise to create a customized program just for you.
Set up a nutrition plan. Notice how I said nutrition plan and not “diet.” People despise the word “diet” so let’s not use it here. You don’t need to go all out and clean up everything about what you eat on a daily basis. If you simply change out a couple things at a time you will realize that it isn’t so bad and that you can substitute things you eat with healthier options without craving those bad foods. If you need some help finding healthy substitutions to things you are eating, consult with a certified nutritionist to learn how to eat healthy and make good food choices.
This is one of the best things you can do when exercising. Not only is it a good way to remember what you did the workout before, but it is also motivation to look back weeks or even months earlier and see how much strength you have gained in that time frame. Let’s face it, with so much going on in our lives we can’t remember everything. The log is a sure bet that everything is down on paper for you to review and analyze at any point. A workout log pushes you to beat weights you were using before. Not only that, but it prevents you from falling behind in your weights and using a lighter weight than you were using a previous workout. So write it down and keep on track!
The part everyone has been waiting for (ladies, you will love this). Reward yourself! If you reach a goal, go out and but a new workout outfit, or go out and buy something to add to your home gym – anything you could use to keep you motivated and on track. You worked hard and stuck with your routine and now it’s time to enjoy the moment and do something for yourself (besides changing your body and health). And most of all show off the new you! You worked too hard to keep it covered up. Show the world your accomplishments and be proud of what you have achieved.
Fitness expert and author Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN has been in the fitness industry since 2002. He is currently the Manager of the MET-Rx Team Sports division. He works with colleges and professional sports teams all across the U.S. to supply them with recovery and nutritional products for their athletes. Matt is an established writer, with hundreds of articles and interviews in magazines and on websites. He has research published on exercise dependence and has been featured on many websites and radio shows. Matt is also a certified personal trainer, certified strength and conditioning specialist, as well as being a certified sports nutritionist. He has worked with everyone from middle school athletes all the way up to pro athletes and celebrities. More information can be found on Matt’s website: www.MattWeik.com.