We all know that the hardest thing about trying something new is getting started. This is especially true for starting an exercise regime or kick starting a healthier lifestyle. If you read any gym training for beginners guide, you will find plenty of useful tips for how to start training. However, the reason why so many people fail in their attempts to get fit and stay fit, are because they aren’t sure if what they are doing is correct, and they have no way of telling if what they are doing is working. For this reason, they tend to push harder at every session they do and they end up getting sore, tired or injured and then loose all motivation.
Performance Coach Steve Davis has been successfully guiding people through beginner fitness programs for over a decade now. He has taken hundreds of sedentary people and weekend warriors and built them into athletes.He now shares his top 10 tips for getting your personal training routine off the ground, and making sure that it is successful at getting you both fit AND motivated to keep it going!
1. What’s your goal?
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, how much support you have or how fit or unfit you are. You must start your training journey with a goal. Ask yourself “why am I doing this?” Write the answer down and stick it to your bathroom mirror, or tape it to the ceiling so it’s the first thing you see when you open your eyes when your alarm goes off for training!
2. Where’s your playground?
Plan exactly where you are going to train. Decide on some simple activities, then pick out locations, clubs, coaches or fitness studios that are convenient and easy to get to. Even if you are going to start with an easy 30min walk, you need to plan ahead and know where you are going. This removes any chance that you can give yourself an excuse to stop because you have a set course and a set start and finish time or line.
3. Who’s involved?
If you have a partner, kids, work, friends or family that will be affected by your change of schedule, get them involved. Make sure they know exactly where you will be and when you will be there and for how long. Get them to join you if they want to. If they have no interest or can’t join in, then get them involved by helping you plan your locations, mapping out routes, picking out fun runs or races, making dinner choices. Anything that gives those around you buy-in to what you are doing and why you are doing it will only spur you on and help you feel supported.
4. Start with nothing
You don’t have to go out and buy all the latest and greatest equipment. Our lives are full of marketing and advertising telling you what you need. I’ll tell you now, you don’t need anything. If you are starting from scratch, go for a walk in comfortable shoes. If you want to ride, borrow a bike. If you want to swim, buy some cheap equipment. Learn how to use your body first, then start buying things once you know how it works and what you like and dislike. If you are looking to build muscle, go to a park and find a playground. There is a load of equipment there that will give you all the strength you need early on by just using your own bodyweight. Push, pull, twist, turn, up, down and sideways and get mobile.
5. Start easy
Don’t be in a rush. There is no ‘get fit quick’ secret, otherwise everyone would be fit!
Set simple, measurable, achievable, repeatable goals for each session that have a time value rather than a distance or reps value. Use any fitness app that suits you, or get a pen and write down you session goal. When you finish, record what you completed and add a comment about how it felt or what you did well or would improve on next time.
6. Build slowly
Start with just 2 days per week of easy sessions, then slowly add either increased load to each session, or increased days of easy sessions to your week. Once you start to get a bit fitter, the temptation is to ramp things up in big jumps. This is sure to lead to over-training, burn-out and injury. Follow the 10% rule as a safety net. Add just 10% of volume or duration to your sessions at any time to keep you improving and uninjured.
7. Stick to a routine
Once you have found what works for you and you have had buy-in from those around you, stick to your routine. There’s a lot of food prep, washing, packing, commuting and planning to do, so if you have a set routine, you, and your support team around you, are all on the same page and you know exactly what is on for that day. Being well prepared to get up and get out the door easily and efficiently means there is one less hurdle of failure that can stand in your way.
8. Record your data
Recording your data either via any fitness or sports app, or in a simple diary, is useful and motivational. It allows you to safely build on the 10% increase rule, and it also means you can track your progress and see how well you are improving. There are hundreds of free apps out there so look around. Some suggested apps include Strava, My Fitness Pal, Nike+Run Club, Training Peaks
9. Repeat your workouts
Recording your data allows you to SEE how you are improving. Repeating the same workout for a set period of time, or once every 3-4 weeks allows you to FEEL how you are improving. YOu can pick a workout that you love, or a workout that you hate. But as long as you repeat it under similar conditions each time, you will be able to get a feel for how much easier that workout is becoming. Over time you can add weight or distance goals for that same workout and plot your progress as you improve. Remember, knowledge is power. If you have set your goal, you need to know how to get there, but you also need to know if you are in fact on your way there!
10. Reset your goals
Once you have reached one goal, you need to sit down and set a new goal. Set short term goals that you will tick off along the way to get you to your long term goal. Make sure your goals are always simple, measurable, achievable, repeatable and constrained by a time or end point.
The main thing with any fitness routine is to make sure you are having fun. If you can follow these 10 easy steps, then you are well on the way to reaching your goals and having a great time getting there.