Ever made a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape? You’re not alone. There’s a reason that workout facilities and fitness classes are usually so packed at the beginning of the year. Millions of people across the country decide to “get in shape” or “put their fitness first.” But, often by the end of the month, the gyms are just as sparse as they were in December.
So why is that? Why is it that so many people give up on their resolution to get in shape within a few weeks? The answer is often simple: it’s difficult to know where to begin. Sometimes people start off with too much and suffer from injuries. Other times, people go in to the gym and try a few exercises, but nothing really sticks.
So, keep reading this blog post to learn more about:
- Why You’re Not in Shape and How to Get There
- How Should I be Scheduling and Prioritizing My Workouts?
- Working Out in Pain - Is It Worth It?
- Following Through on Your Goals: 4 Ways to Get Mentally Tougher
Why You’re Not in Shape and How to Get There
There are a variety of mistakes that can be made when trying to get in shape. Focusing on building these good habits can be essential to achieving your goals.
Make Sure You Are Warming Up
One of the most common mistakes that people make when starting to exercise is skipping their warm up. Warming up is essential to get your body ready to exercise, as well as to prevent injuries. Warming up also allows your body to begin to sweat and get the blood flowing to your muscles. Increasing that heart rate during your warmup is essential to a successful and safe workout. Stretching is also vital, especially before any form of high intensity exercise.
Focus on the Quality of Your Workout, Not the Length
If you’re trying to lose weight, or build muscle, you’ve probably been told that your workout needs to be a certain length to be effective. However, the length of the workout is not nearly as important as the quality of the workout.
For example: walking on the treadmill and reading a book for an hour is not going to be as effective as a focused High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for 30 minutes. If you are distracted or socializing during the whole workout, you may not really get anything out of the workout. Stopping too often actually decreases your heart rate and will reduce the overall effectiveness of your exercise.
Make Sure to Use Proper Form
Using improper form while exercising will not only decrease the effectiveness of the workout, but can also lead to injuries. Make sure to get an expert or trainer to show you how to do each exercise. Avoid just watching other people in the gym, as they may not be using proper form either.
Vary Your Workouts and Take Proper Rest & Recovery Days
Varying your type of workouts is extremely important. Repetition of any exercise will make things easier over time. If you are only doing the same type of exercise each time, your body will adapt and you will eventually stop seeing results. Because of this, modifying your workout every few weeks is important. You can change the type of activity, the length, the number of reps, the weights used, etc. However, be sure to not make too drastic of changes, as this can cause injury. For example: if you have been doing arm workouts with 15 pounds for several weeks, don’t sub in 50 pounds all of the sudden.
Your body works in unison. Even if you are doing an arm workout, your core will still be engaged. Because of this, you are only as strong as your weakest muscle group. This means that if you are only ever focused on one muscle group, you will have a difficult time seeing results. For example, six pack abs are a great goal, but if you ignore all of your other muscle groups, you will not see the results that you want.
It may seem counter intuitive that if you are trying to get in shape, that you must take rest days. However, rest days are as important to your fitness journey as the days you work out. Without rest days, your body will not have time to recover and ultimately build muscle. Your workouts will be less effective over time as well because your muscles will constantly be tired or sore. Try to take at least 1-2 rest days per week. These days can be active recovery, with a walk or light stretch. However, one full rest day is recommended.
Set Realistic Goals & Celebrate Non-Scale Victories
One of the most important aspects to being successful with fitness is setting realistic goals. While it would be nice to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks, it is not realistic, and not maintainable. Be sure to set realistic goals. When setting goals, think SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. One example of a SMART goal would be to be able to jog a mile within 3 weeks. Write your goal down somewhere that you will see it, then set your action plan for steps to take to achieve the goal. For our example, our action steps could be walking a mile every day for the first week, then alternating running and walking every 2 minutes for a mile the second week, then jogging the mile the third week. Setting realistic goals is helpful in giving you an outline for how you want to set up your fitness plan.
It’s also important to remember that not every goal is going to be about weight loss. Celebrate your non-scale victories too! Maybe you were able to walk your dog further than usual. Or maybe you feel more confident in your favorite pair of jeans. Whatever your victories may be, celebrate them! Be proud of the progress you make. Celebrating these victories will help you enjoy the journey. Find joy in the process!
How Should I Be Scheduling and Prioritizing My Workouts?
When trying to lose weight, or get in shape, many people assume that they should concentrate on cardio-focused exercise. However, strength training is also extremely important to reaching your fitness goals. Strength training helps to keep fat from forming. Additionally, as you build muscle, it helps to increase your metabolism, allowing you to better burn calories. Both types of exercise can be done on the same day, but it is not necessary to do so.
So, we know we should be doing cardiovascular exercise and strength training, but how much of each? The answer to this is less straight forward, and depends on your fitness goals.
If you are trying to lose weight and tone up, and you prefer to do both cardio and strength training on the same day, it is recommended to do your cardio training before your strength training. This allows you to get your heart rate up before strength training, which will lead to more calories burned during your exercise.
If you are more focused on building muscle, it is recommended to do your strength training prior to your cardiovascular exercise. According to a report in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research written in 2015, doing cardio after strength may allow for better muscle build. This is due in part to the fact that lifting fresh allows for more reps, or higher weight. There are several studies that reveal the same basic finding: when aerobic exercise is performed prior to strength training, it makes the latter effort less effective.
Ideally, if you are trying to lose weight or build muscle, you will do 3-4 days of strength training per week, and 3-4 days of cardio per week. These can be on the same day or separate days, but be sure to take rest days. If you are just starting out, start with 1-2 days per week and work up from there, in order to avoid injury.
Working Out in Pain - Is It Worth It?
Overuse and overexertion leads to nearly half a million exercise-related injuries every year. The threat of overexertion is a very real issue that athletes and people just beginning their exercise journeys face. It is extremely common for people to overextend themselves when becoming more active or beginning a new exercise routine.
In fact, overexertion accounts for 25% of workplace injuries, according to Roy Maurer from the Society for Human Resource Management. Failure to recognize ones own limits presents a very real risk for anyone beginning an exercise routine. However, light pain is a signal that you are making progress and challenging yourself. It is important to understand the distinction between this slight pain or soreness, and the signs and risks of overexertion. If you feel too sore to workout, it can make sense to take a break or rest day instead of exercising while in pain.
What Causes Workout Soreness?
The burning feeling that can occur often during exercise is caused by the natural buildup of lactic acid in the body. This buildup of lactic acid dissipates out of muscles quickly, which is why the burning should disappear within an hour after working out.
If you feel soreness within 12 to 24 hours after heavy exercise, this is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. DOMS should disappear within three days of the initial workout, and is especially common when people are trying new routines, or doing strenuous reps with limited reps. Working out with serious DOMS makes workouts much less effective, as it significantly limits range of motion.
Taking it Easy
If you are experiencing DOMS, leave the tender muscles alone for 3 to 5 days. Foam rolling, stretching before and after workouts, and anti-inflammatory diets will relieve some pain. However, the muscles still have to get stronger at the cellular level to prevent future and further DOMS.
However, taking too much rest between workouts is also not helpful, as some exercise will help maintain strong circulation and enhance recovery. For instance, if you are suffering from DOMS in your legs from a strenuous leg workout, try taking a walk or swim on your rest days to maintain your circulation and enhance your recovery. Do not do a strength workout in the same muscle group while experiencing DOMS, as pushing through real pain is not beneficial and can lead to injury.
There are several key ways of avoiding DOMS. First, diversifying your exercise routine so that you strengthen certain muscle groups on different days of the week will help. This will allow you to strengthen fresh muscle groups while the sore groups get some time to rest. It is important to not exceed 2-3 workouts for each muscle group per week. Remember, exercise is essential for building muscle, but so is taking adequate rest and recovery days.
Additionally, making sure to properly warm up and cool down with each workout is also helpful in avoiding DOMS. Proper stretching is also essential both before and after workouts. Lastly, on days when you are feeling especially sore, foam rolling can be very helpful.
Following Through on Your Goals: 4 Ways To Get Mentally Tougher
One of the main reasons that the gyms are so empty by the end of January is because people start out too strong, can’t maintain their strenuous schedule long-term, then they burnout and give up. So, besides giving yourself adequate rest days and scheduling your workouts to avoid DOMS, what else can you do? These four tips can help you keep your resolve and stay committed to your goals.
- Focus on Process Goals. Setting clear goals can aid motivation, but it is important to focus on the process, not just the end result. While it is great to set long-term goals, setting smaller goals that you can reach along the way is a great way to stay motivated. Some examples of process goals would be workout times, distances, certain weights, or repetitions. If your main goal is to run a half marathon in a year, setting a mileage goal for each month along the way is a great way to keep your progress in check and celebrate small victories along the way! And make sure to actually write your goals down and place them somewhere you will see them.
- Put the Spotlight on Others. Celebrating your success is a very important part of staying committed to your goals. However, celebrating the success of your training partners or teammates not only helps keep them motivated, but is an important part of the process. Accomplishing anything alone is great, but we can be much more successful with the support and accountability of a team. Find an accountability buddy and share encouragement and your successes with one another! This is important not just in physical conditioning, but in all aspects of life. Looking only inward constantly can cause doubt.
- Visualize Perfection. Research backs up the idea that preliminary visualization leads to more reliable physical output. Visualize the results you want to see in the end, and let that be part of your motivation.
- Reimagine Success. Think of your success in terms of external results, but also think about it in terms of effort. N2 Publishing COO Marty Fukuda recommends the trick – specifically suggesting that you start to hold yourself accountable for 100% effort on all truly important tasks. Fukuda believes this strategy creates higher standards for yourself and more consistent self-monitoring, in turn leading to higher mental toughness.
Set Yourself Up For Success, and Recover with Flexogenix®
Rest and recovery are important, but what if you’re still experiencing joint pain? Flexogenix® is here to help with Progeni-Flex™. Whether you are 25 or 65, the pounding of athletic activity can lead to injury or chronic and debilitating pain. Whether it is the pain and inflammation of a joint that is worn down, or a torn ligament, meniscus or rotator cuff – Progeni-Flex™ can provide tremendous results.
Regenerative cells and platelet rich plasma (PRP) exist naturally inside the various tissues in our bodies. When tissue damage occurs, these regenerative cells and PRP have the ability to localize to the damaged area in the body and initiate a natural healing process that can both repair injured tissue and regenerate new healthy tissue.
As we age and incur more serious injuries, however, our bodies often cannot harness enough regenerative capacity naturally to fully heal or correct the problem. That’s where Progeni-Flex™ comes in.
Progeni-Flex™ allows us to determine which type of regenerative technique is best for you and to prepare highly potent advanced orthobiologics. We then inject these materials into the damaged tissue where they can promote an accelerated natural healing process.
What makes Progeni-Flex™ so successful is our ability to harness the most potent and highly concentrated regenerative cells and then deliver them with pinpoint accuracy to the injured area for maximum effectiveness. Many other therapies use highly processed donor stem cells or a less precise method of delivery. This is one of the key differentiators that sets Progeni-Flex™ apart and improves outcomes for our patients.
So, if you’re suffering from an injury, or you’re looking to prevent future injury, contact Flexogenix® today for a no-cost consultation and let us show you how Progeni-Flex™ can get you the results you need! Don’t let an injury keep you from doing what you love.