Fitness Resolution

The What, How, and Why to Get Started With Your Fitness Resolution

It’s January. You did it. You joined. You’ve gained access to Zumba, a suite of yoga classes, a spinning room and know you need to do some weight training. It’s wonderful and overwhelming at the same time.

If you joined the gym there is no lack of choices. There’s the machine weights, the dumbbells, not to mention the cables and more.

The question that remains unanswered by any of these choices is, “Where do you begin?”

Fit Resolution

There are of course pros and cons to any option. Whether you meet face-to-face with a bootcamp instructor, go to class, or wander into the weight room alone, you want your exercise to meet three criteria:

  1. It fits your current status.
  2. It will help you reach your goals.
  3. It will help you avoid injury as you reach your goals.

Missing Links

Music, movement and inspiration from others right there in the throws of busting a move with you can be seductive. Yet, big live group opportunities are a bit impersonal. The missing link in bootcamp is an instructor can’t watch 20 people at once and correct an error in movement that could cause injury. This time of year crowded classes mean yes, you get to remain anonymous in the back, but yes, there’s less chance an instructor can pay attention to you when you need it.

What about on your own? Attempting it on your own the downside is no feedback to warn you if your form could cause an injury, or simply not give you the benefit you want. One common error you might make as a new exerciser is doing what a friend is doing or observing someone else in the gym and jumping on the same machine right after, confident now at least that you’ll use it correctly.

If you’re in start-up mode, do consider getting some one-on-one advice that takes into account your full health history and current fitness status before you go it alone or in a group.

If you compare the way scientific studies with untrained subjects are set up in contrast to the menu of classes and bootcamps in fitness centers, you’ll realize there is a big gap. There are few options that start out for beginners and progress safely over a period of 3-6 months. Many programs promise weight loss in four weeks or less. A feverish rate of progression attempts to promise on that delivery.

You don’t want to be one of the fatalities saying, “I was in the best shape of my life, right before I got hurt.” Follow a few tips here to stay on at the “active” list.

When you’ve assessed your current need for help or readiness to go it alone, use the following exercise plan modified from a study published this month in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. As well as providing step by steps the study found you’ll get the same results no matter which order you do cardio or strength training as long as you have adequate recovery.

Beginning strength training:

  • 2 sets of 15-20 repetitions
  • Don’t rest between exercises. Perform them in a circuit, rotating through all exercises before repeating.
  • Perform this program twice a week for four weeks.
  • Increase to three sets after week two.

Progress to:

  • 2 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • Rest 1-2 minutes between exercises.
  • Perform this program twice a week for four weeks.
  • Increase to three sets after week two.

Further progress:

  • 2 sets of 3-5 repetitions
  • Rest 3-4 minutes between exercises.
  • Perform this program twice a week for four weeks.
  • Increase to three sets after week two.

Hint: Use the number of repetitions indicated to choose your weight. As the number of repetitions indicated decreases, the weight should increase. Your goal is to be temporarily fatigued at the indicated range. Perform twice a week with 48-72 hours between.

Repeat this series of progression for another twelve weeks. Include the following exercises in your circuit: leg press, chest press, standing or seated row, lat pull down, tricep push down, bicep curls, leg extension, hamstring curl and core exercises. Include body weight or cable exercises and avoid machines for core. Plank, rotation, back extension and lateral flexion using side planks provide a good variety.

Perform cardiovascular exercise either before or after your weight training according to the plan below. Add at least one additional cardio exercise in the form of a long walk.

Beginning cardiovascular training:

  • Do 30 minutes of your choice of exercise (cycling, walking, running, elliptical, etc).
  • Feel like a 6-7 on a 1-10 scale. (10 is hard)
  • Add five minutes each week for six weeks.

Progress to:

  • Begin with a 10-15 minute warm up and end with a 10 minute cool down.
  • Feel like a 6 on a 1-10 scale once warmed up and as you cool down.
  • Insert interval training in the middle for five minutes out of your comfort zone (7-8), alternating with five minutes very comfortable (3-4) recovery.
  • Start with a single hard: easy interval and increase by adding one a week for six weeks.

Repeat this cardio program from the beginning for a total of 24 weeks. In this example of periodization, you alternately increase intensity or duration and allow plenty of recovery time when the most adaptations occur.

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