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Saturday, March 17, 2012

What do you need to know before starting a fitness program?

When you think about becoming healthier and achieving your fitness goals, the most important thing to realize is there is not just one way to go about it.  There are thousands of possible programs and diets to choose from that all could work.  Your job is to find out which exercise program and diet plan will work best for YOU.  You need to choose programs that fit your lifestyle so it will be easy for you to stick with them, instead of it being a constant nuisance.

Do you have time to cook and eat 3, 4,5,6,7, or even 8 meals a day?  Could you cook all your meals in the morning and easily store them for the rest of the day? How many days a week can you workout? These are just a few examples of questions you need to be asking yourself when you are trying to start a program.  When going into the program you need to be fully prepared for the best chance of success.


Nevertheless, once you do choose a solid routine you can stick with, you also need to have reasonable expectations for your progress. The maximum weight you should expect to lose while on a proper diet and workout program is 2-5 pounds per week.   Losing 5 pounds being a very rare occurrence; usually happening in your first week of dieting, when you first lose water weight.  This brings me to my first point…

It is a well-documented fact that when you first start a workout program and dieting, your results will come very fast (see also: how to lose weight fast) the first 6 months to a year of training.  During this “beginner period”, it is easy to get your body to build muscle and burn fat, you will also notice constant strength, and endurance gains in your workouts.  However once you move into the “Intermediate” stage of training, your body will have already adapted very well to exercise and it will begin to be harder to get results.   For most people this is when it is important to bring in harder workout programs and stricter diets, especially for people looking to build muscle and improve strength.

Although when you first start a fitness program, it is going to be relatively easy to force your body to improve and you can expect great progress on simple programs. However, to achieve this progress through training you will have to first experience…

Muscle soreness can worry many people, they have not done a lot of cardio or lifted weights in the past, and now they are sore in muscles they did not even know they had!   But I am telling you now, there are over 600 different muscles in the human body and after starting working out, you will feel every one.  When you exercise, whether it is by running or performing a bench press you are causing micro tears in your muscle. After this damage is when your muscles begin to adapt and rebuild themselves bigger and stronger for when you repeat that exercise.  You will mostly feel the soreness within 24-72 hours of training and that is perfectly normal in the first few weeks of training. However if the soreness lasts 4 or 5 days you may have a reason to be concerned and should stop working that muscle temporarily to make sure it fully recovers.

The term “overtraining” is thrown around a lot these days, but is it really a factor?  Many experts including myself believe the word is far too misleading. “Overtraining” in reality is just “overstressing,”, and that is why different people can all workout at different intensity levels without “overtraining”. You see, there are many things we do in day-to-day life that puts excess stress on our body. This can include anything from not getting enough sleep at night to having a troublesome neighbor, or anything else that places stress on you, whether it is physically or emotionally and working out is just another form of this stress.  Therefore, a person who gets enough sleep every night and does not have to constantly worry about emotional stress will be able to workout a lot more often without encountering “overtraining”.

But what are the signs of overtraining, and how does it affect you?  The first signs of overtraining unbelievably will not occur in the gym. At first, you may notice yourself getting sick more often from a weakened immune system find yourself constantly lacking energy or even develop random aches and pains.

Overtraining can affect you in many ways before it starts to make you lose results in the gym and in your cardio. This is why it is very important especially when following a fitness program (added stress) to avoid unnecessary stresses in your life.

Keep a journal to log your workouts and daily nutrition, keeping a journal not only will help you stay on track but it will also let you look back at exactly what worked for you.

Be sure to weigh yourself only once or twice a week and at the same time in the morning. Many peoples’ weight changes drastically during the day as you eat and drink. My weight shifts by as much as 5 pounds every night.

Be sure to stay consistent with the program you choose, consistency is what I consider the most important thing when you are trying to reach your fitness goals.  Constantly cheating on your diet and missing workouts will severely hinder your results. (See also Weight loss mistakes)

Get others involved with your new goals, if you tell your family you are supposed to lose 10 pounds by March 20th, you will feel more pressure to actually achieve the goal and they can be there to congratulate you when you succeed.

Most importantly, keep the program fun, dynamic and easy for you to follow.  And with that I wish you good luck with whichever program you decide to employ to reach your goals; the most important thing is you are making changes for the better in your life. 

Tags: fitness for beginners,fitness goals,fitness tips,get started with fitness,


Brad Kelly is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Performance Enhancement Specialist, Certified Correctional Exercise Specialist. He is currently designing truly unique and comprehensive programs to help individuals or teams lose weight.

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