It’s the weekend, and the infomercials are on. You are flipping through the channels and notice once again how do these people actually look that good in those before and after pictures. There are also exercise programs that seem to be for individuals that have an idea about fitness. If you are one of those individuals who would like to begin an exercise program, and cannot figure out all the information that is either published or viewed, this is your first step in getting a new lifestyle.
Before you start putting forward the big bucks that it may take you to workout in a fitness center, make a visit to check in with your health care practitioner and get the necessary tests completed. Wait for your results to come in. This is important for you, because of the fitness program that you choose, you don’t want adverse reactions while actually doing physical activity.
Once everything seems to be in order, you may choose to get in touch with a fitness professional. Call around and check with your friends and family, if they know someone who can assist you in a fitness program, and make sure that person is also in a professional organization (i.e., NSCA, ACSM, or ACE).
Your fitness professional needs to discuss with you any criteria from your doctor, so you will be aware of any limitations on your fitness activity. Next, you should complete a pre-fitness orientation which will include these fitness tests:
Walk, jog, swim or bike for one mile and record the time
Heart rate for the walk, jog, swim, or bike at the end of activity ( two fingers on inside of wrist for 1 minute)
Your total number of push ups (bodyweight exercise for strength and/or endurance of upper body)
How far you can reach in a forward-sitting position with legs extended (for flexibility)
Your Body Mass Index (look on chart with fitness professional)
Your Waist-to-Hip Ratio (measured by fitness professional)
The fitness professional will discuss your results with you. At the fitness center, you should be given a tour of the facility and what you are able to use. This could be a great start to your program, knowing what fitness equipment is available for you. Once you begin your program, you can then choose whether you would like to stay in a fitness center, go outside with your new activities, or begin developing you own home gym. The possibilities are endless to what activities you can pursue.
Now that you may have an idea of what you can do, take some time and consider your Goals to your new program. Write them down and review them to see how they will get you into shape. Are you trying to lose weight or run in a 5K race? When you have chosen a goal, the next step to consider is how do I set up a fitness program. Your fitness professional will ask you questions on what your goals are and can assist you in setting up a program based on these major fitness components: aerobic, weight training, and flexibility.
Let’s begin with the first of these components: i.e., bicycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, and a walking to a jogging program. From the results that you received from your fitness test, you could begin with a 10 minute walk at a specific distance. As your endurance increases, you can increase your time to 15 to 20 minutes. A goal can be to increase your time to 30 minutes up to 60 minutes. Please consider the computation to figure out what your heart rate range is:To find what your heart rate range : Take 220 – Age =
Then take your answer and multiply by 60% and 85%. This will give you a range to work within.
I.E., 220-20 = 200 Then take 200 X .6 and 200 X .85 = range of these numbers 120 bpm* to 170 bpm*
Working within your range can get your fitness level to where you like to be.
* bpm = beats per minute
The second component; weight training, is to first form a foundation that will give you the strength to complete this activity with no injury. Before you lift any weights, repetitions and sets need to be set up in your program.
A rep as it is referred to, is the number of times you move a weight, i.e., one complete movement, such as up and down in a shoulder press.
A set is the total of repetitions you have completed.
To begin your program, find 8 to 10 different exercises to do. You can begin with your bodyweight and also work out on machines. Complete 8 to 12 repetitions for 1 set. As you progress through your program, you can increase to 2 to 3 or 4 sets. Once you have completed activities with bodyweight, test for how much weight you can lift, by taking a weight you can get feedback from on a machine. You should be able to complete at least 12 repetitions while feeling a burn sensation. Remember that when you feel pain, decrease your weight and/or repetitions. Once you begin not feeling that burn, or the muscle isn’t getting tired, it is a good idea to move up the weight by 5%. Do this only when you are ready and remember to breathe out as you exert the weight and breathe in as you recover.
Usually the component that may be absent in a fitness program, is Flexibility. A warm muscle will respond at a better level of movement then a cold muscle. Doing an active-warm up for the first 5 to 7 minutes will prepare the body for an awesome workout. You can choose from a variety of movements. When preparing to walk, jog, or even weight train; you can begin with leg circles for the hip joint. You can then move to doing arm circles for the shoulders. You can go for a fast walk before you jog or lift light weights for weight training and awaken the muscles to prepare them as you go to jog or lift,respectively.
When does the actual stretching occur? This will occur during the cool-down phase of your program. This is where you slow down your activity from a fast pace to a slow pace. This is when you will static stretch your muscles. By getting into proper positions to feel a stretch; hold each stretch for 30 to 45 seconds, and it is a gradual feeling of the muscle being moved. Be careful of feeling a stretch and come back from this, if you are experiencing any pain. Breathe in before you begin your stretch and breath out slowly has you complete the stretch.
Now that you have begun, you are on your way. Here are methods to assist you in continuing with your fitness program:
Begin each activity slowly and listen to your body when it comes to being sore
Find a buddy who can assist you during those hard times in the workout
Put you equipment (i.e., shoes, clothes) at the door to grab as you leave
At about 5-6 weeks, begin to cross-train, doing different activities that you find enjoyable
Ask your fitness professional to review your fitness program and ask questions
Take time to REFLECT on where you were and how far you have come
Assess your program by writing it down and review it for any changes
Use your full range of motion to get the best feedback while doing your program
Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout
Forget the weight scale, it is about your new LIFESTYLE
Take time to recover; find a balance between movement and rest
Have FUN with your new program, and do activities you enjoy!