It’s that time of year again. Gym goers everywhere are bemoaning all the resolution makers. The newbies who take too long, take their turn out of order and generally take up space in the gym. The regulars will work around this obstacle, as they do many others, since they know in a few weeks they will have their gym back.
Most people who start working out will quit before it has a chance to work. Make 2011 the year you get results by avoiding the most common mistakes. You could be a regular by Spring instead of a statistic.
#1 Great expectations:
No matter what the advertisement promised, it is impossible to get real fitness results in days or weeks. You can begin to change you life in a single step, but your body needs weeks and months of those steps. For fat loss, you can expect to lose about 5lb a month with the right calorie budget. Strength and endurance changes may come quickly in the first few weeks as you learn your true baseline. By February you will start to increase that baseline by small increments. If you chart your progress, it will be measurable by the time March goes out like a lamb.
#2 Too much too soon:
Your exercise program should match your current fitness level, not the results you want to end up with. If you’re just starting out, or returning to exercise after a long break, beginner exercises are best. Maximize your motivation, attention, technique and adherence instead of trying to max out your exercise volume, intensity and time. I cringe when I see the newcomer over-training because the most likely results are injury or quitting. Slow and steady is the way to go.
#3 Insufficient rest and recovery:
Adequate rest between workouts is crucial. The process by which fitness improvements occur is called ‘stress adaptation’. Stress is applied to your body during the workout and adaptations occur after the workout. If you don’t recover fully between workouts, your subsequent performance will suffer and fitness will actually decline. Keep healthy habits between workouts so you don’t sabotage your good work in the gym.
#4 Failure to fuel:
Low calorie diets are very popular after the holidays, but they are not a good way to fuel exercise. If you’re motivated to be super strict focus on avoiding the empty calories. However, cutting back on healthy calories will interfere with your fitness results. If you’re not sure how many calories you need, find a qualified nutrition expert or use a do-it-yourself calculator. Just remember to spend your calories wisely.
#5 Seeing the obstacle instead of the goal:
Barriers to exercise are predictable, but the solutions require both creativity and planning. Commitments to family and work are bound to interfere at some point and you need a plan to deal with excuses and setbacks. Start thinking about a game plan now so you’re ready when things go awry.
It might even help to speak to some of the seasoned regulars at your local gym. If they have a minute between sets, I bet they’d be happy to share their success story. They were new to fitness once too.