Planning an exercise program is not as easy as you might think.
Very often when people decide to go on a weight loss quest, they sign up for a gym membership and start pounding on the treadmills for hours hoping to miraculously drop 20 pounds in a week.
They hate to run; they hate the exercise and they force themselves to go through the motions just to achieve weight loss.
After a week or so, when they see that they really have not lost as much weight as they expected, they curse and swear and believe that what they’re doing is not working and they’re destined to be fat.
They mumble incoherently about “being big boned” and then throw in the towel and never step foot in the gym again… until the next New Year’s Day resolution where this scenario plays out again.
To plan an exercise program that works for you, you must first understand who you are and where you are physically. This is crucial!
Then you’ll be able to work with yourself instead of against yourself… because almost always, you’ll lose to yourself. If all this sounds crazy, it’s understandable. Read on and you’ll get what we mean.
1. How Overweight are You?
If you’re 10 or 20 pounds overweight, that’s still manageable. You’ll be able to engage in most activities and in a month or so, you’d have lost enough weight to start high intensity interval training (HIIT) and so on.
However, if you’re obese and movement is difficult for you, there’s no doubt that you’ll need to go slow. What does that mean?
It means that initially, you’ll need to find a form of exercise that’s not torturous. Walking, water exercise, slowly cycling on a stationary bike, etc. are all excellent forms of exercise.
If your diet is on point and you’re at a daily caloric deficit, you will lose weight. The goal here should be treating your weight loss journey as a marathon and not a sprint. It WILL take you time to lose the weight. So, don’t torture yourself for fast results. They won’t come as fast as you think.
2. What’s Your Current Level of Activity?
If you’ve not done any exercise for years, jumping into a kickboxing class at the gym just might have you throwing your back out and collapsing into a panting, sweaty heap of exhaustion.
Pace yourself. Start off with slow, steady cardio like walking or cycling. Do some resistance training, but use lighter weights so that your muscles and joints can get used to the movements.
When you’re first embarking on a fitness regimen, it’s best to train for 6 or 7 days a week… but train lightly. The goal here is to get your body moving without overly taxing it.
After 2 weeks, you’ll be more limber and can scale up your intensity gradually. Many people make the mistake of going too hard in the beginning when the cardio feels like pure suffering because their cardiovascular system is not ready.
If it feels like torture, you’ll avoid it. You’ll end up skipping workouts and finally stop training altogether. Always pace yourself.
3. Do You Have Any Health Problems?
People with knee problems should not force themselves to run just because everyone is doing it. If you have a sore back, CrossFit-styled training may not be suitable for you.
It’s best to consult a doctor before engaging in any activity. Here’s a pointer you should know – exercise is a tool to assist in weight loss, BUT it’s your diet that gets the job done.
So, as long as you focus 80 percent of your efforts on cleaning up your diet and eating at a caloric deficit, you’ll see weight loss. The exercise is just to boost your metabolism and accelerate the process.
That means you do not need to force yourself to run just to lose more weight. You don’t need to do heavy deadlifts because everyone else is doing them. You only need to do exercises that you can safely handle, and those should still be good enough to help with your weight loss plan.
4. What are the Activities You Enjoy?
Picking an activity that you enjoy will help you stick to your training program for a much longer time. People often engage in activities they dislike because they don’t know better.
If you love swimming, then hit the pool and do laps. Don’t force yourself to run on the treadmill. If you prefer calisthenics, then skip the weight training and engage in bodyweight training instead.
If you prefer working out with others, go ahead and join the group classes. There’s no rule saying that you have to train alone. Choose activities you enjoy doing. As long as you’re moving and breaking a sweat, you’re doing great. You must know what you love.
5. How Much Time Do You Have for Exercise?
The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen. If you don’t have an hour a day, 30 minutes will do. If you don’t have 30 minutes, 10 minutes will do.
You’ll be amazed at how effective even 10 minutes is. If you don’t have 10 minutes a day to exercise, you REALLY need to analyze your life and make some changes.
The more time you have to exercise, the more flexibility your training will have. If all you have is 10 to 20 minutes a day, your cardio will need to be high intensity to get the benefits of fat burning for a longer period.
You’ll need to engage in HIIT sessions 2 or 3 times a week, and resistance training about 3 times a week. Since the sessions are short, intensity will matter. More speed, more weights, more effort.
Of course, you’ll need to do what you can handle (remember points #1 and #2).
6. What are Your Personal Preferences?
Some people prefer training at a gym while others prefer training in the privacy of their own home. Neither is right or wrong. What matters is that you do what feels right for you.
If you wish to train at home, you could get a treadmill and your own weights. Don’t want those? No problem. You can purchase commercially sold DVDs like Insanity Max or P90X and follow along to the videos.
Ask yourself what you want. For some people, the idea of getting ready to drive 20 minutes to go to the gym may seem like too much effort. In that case, working out at home may be ideal and they’ll be much more likely to get started.
7. Do You Need a Trainer?
The truth is that trainers cost money. The question here is, “Do you really need one?”
The answer – it depends.
If you need someone to motivate you, a trainer will help. If you’re clueless at the gym, a trainer will help you to get familiarized with all the equipment in the gym.
They’ll structure a training plan that involves cardio, resistance training, core training, and so on. Generally, they’ll try to get you to achieve all-round fitness.
However, if you don’t wish to spend the money on a trainer, you can always look up videos on YouTube. There are literally thousands of exercises with or without equipment that you can learn.
To sum things up, this is your checklist.
• Consult a doctor before embarking on any exercise regimen.
• Choose an activity that you love.
• Your training should have 2 to 3 cardio sessions a week and 2 to 3 resistance training sessions a week.
• Aim to exercise 5 to 6 times a week.
• Know how much time you have to exercise daily and plan your workouts according to the time you have.
• Start slow and add intensity and resistance as you progress.
• Work out at home if you want, or train in a gym if that’s what you like.
• Hire a trainer if that’s what you need to get motivated. You only need a few sessions to have a training plan and good understanding of the different forms of training.
• MOST IMPORTANTLY – Watch your diet and always consume less calories than you expend. Your weight loss success rests on your compliance to your diet.
And that concludes this article. Adhere to the pointers here and you’ll see weight loss and your dream body in about 90 days. Don’t gasp at the time taken. The time will pass anyway.
Just stick with it for 90 days and you’ll get there.
Cheers – John – your Active Ageing Mentor and Coach.
P.S. Encourage a friend towards better health – like and share. Thanks.