Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said that fortunes can turn with the single act of eating an apple.
Pretty simple, really. Tomorrow, instead of downing your daily doughnut, eat an apple. On Day 2, repeat the substitution. Keep going. Before you know it, you’ve broken a destructive pattern and created a healthy new habit.
Now that you’ve flexed your persistence muscles, add something a little tougher to your repertoire, like exercise.
Life is all about course correction. It would be great if smooth sailing was the norm but obstacles get in the way of progress. Those who fail to adjust become victim to bumps in the road. Before you know it, you’re out of shape, sluggish and 50 pounds overweight.
All levels of exercisers need to embrace change. Without it, frustration sets in and improvement stalls.
Understanding the dynamics of change can unlock the secret to success, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced exerciser.
Any form of exercise, regardless of ease, is change enough for beginners. Make the workout too complicated and hobbled beginners stagger to the exit.
Picking the best exercise, understanding proper form and selecting the appropriate weight are all moot points if no one is standing on the working side of the barbell. The secret to success for beginners is taking things slow. Nothing kills motivation like tackling something that leaves you feeling like a failure. The first day of kindergarten starts not with calculus but with a ride on the bus and ample play time.
If beginners want to extend the urge to run stairs past their most recent viewing of the movie Rocky, they should grab an apple, switch out the doughnut and go for a walk.
Munching apples and moving? Time to sharpen your pencil.
The habits you develop in the beginning stick with you for a long time. Good trainers spend as much time undoing a client’s bad habits as they do establishing new ones. If you want healthy joints and evolving results, it’s important to build a solid foundation.
Here are a few quick tips on learning the basics:
1. For better overall results, break the comfort of cardio and dip your toe into the weight room.
2. For good health, proper posture is a “minimum spec”. Stand tall, look forward (not at your phone), push your chest up, let your shoulders fall backward. When lifting weights, body position is equally important as it establishes a solid base from which to work.
3. Adaptation happens quickly. Change your exercise routine bimonthly.
4. Machines promote safety and intensity but they can mask weaknesses. Free weights reveal imbalance. Once you are comfortable with machines, venture into the free weight area.
As you close in on your goal, it’s tough adding muscle and losing pounds. Typically, big results happen when you are new to exercise and have much to gain (good news for beginners).
If you’ve moved past the intermediate stage and stalled, consider the following:
1. A nutrition professional can help micromanage your calories as this has become a numbers game. You can’t skip desert and expect big changes like you did in the beginning. Quality calories in, quality performance out.
2. Understand proper mechanics when weightlifting. If you aren’t initiating each movement properly, you may strain joints, defer to weaker supporting muscle groups and stall gains.
3. If you only lift with heavy weights, be prepared to park your ego, lower your load and check your form. Persistence is great but ultimately genetics determine how much you can lift. There are many variables that force change beyond big numbers including tempo (lifting speed), rest interval length, exercise selection and intensity (momentum or lack thereof).
4. Occasionally trade in the “big three” (bench press, squats and dead lifts) for unilateral substitutions. Single side exercises promote stabilization and balance which pay back when returning to bilateral movements.
5. Rest. Planned recovery is an important part of your workout plan. Without it, you may be dipping into an empty well.
6. Just because someone looks good doesn’t mean they are qualified. Do a background check before putting your faith in a fitness practitioner.
Exercise is as much about smart planning as it is about hard work. If you’re mired in sameness, take a bite out of change.