Fitness Newbie, You Do Not Know What You Do Not Know

Every day someone, somewhere makes a decision to begin getting their body more physically fit. They randomly decide on an exercise program they believe they might enjoy and then once the going gets tough, they burn out and quit. There are many thousands of homes where fitness equipment which is no longer being used has turned into a high dollar clothing rack, a convenient place to hang clean clothes as they come out of the washer and or dryer.

Once your treadclimber has become a fancy clothing rack, your level of fitness you may have achieved with it is going to drop off more rapidly than it took for you to achieve it.

You do not own your level of fitness. You must continue paying your dues for it, or it will leave you high and dry.

Do your research before you begin!

If running has never been your interest in the past, then it would be unreasonable to go out and spend several hundred dollars on a spiffy new treadmill will all the different programs and workout levels.

If you have never been one to consider strength training, then do not purchase the nicest weight equipment at your local sporting goods store. A squat rack can hold a lot of hanging clothes once you have tired of it.

You will find that once you have tired of your new workout regimen, the different internet market places such as Craig’s List is full of used gym equipment being sold for pennies on the dollar. If you want to buy home gym equipment, then try and find decent used stuff online that way you are not out near as much of your hard earned cash if you do not stick with it.

I hope you have done all of your homework and have decided on how you are now going to whip your body into shape.

I’m going to mainly use weight training as an example in this piece, but the principles can be applied to any type of exercise if you are an absolute newbie to physical fitness. If you want to be serious about physical fitness, you owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can about your endeavor before you spend a bunch of money on equipment.

You do not know what it is that you do not know.

If you are new to physical fitness, you have on clue how much it is that you do not know about that which you are about to pursue.

Running is not just a matter of lacing up a pair of sneakers and hitting the track. No, it is about learning to find your stride. It is about learning how to breath. It is about learning to put these two factors together in order to build upon your speed and distance.

Weight training is not just about loading weight plates on a barbell and then just picking it up and setting it down for as many times as you can with the heaviest weight you can lift.

If you have went out and bought a weight set, did you first read up and study any type of programming?

Do you understand linear progression and progressive overload?

Do you believe that by simply doing curls, tricep kick backs, along with a few sets of bench press your body is going to become fit and toned? Do you have any idea that for a muscle to grow, strength to be gained, or for any other improvements to be made, your body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced?

Are you truly ready for hard work?

When you first begin lifting weights, your strength will increase fairly quickly for up to the first year while you are in the newbie stage. This can extend out a few more months, but eventually those gains are going to slow down and stall. Are you prepared to keep after it when the going gets fucking hard? Or, are you just going to puss out and quit?

More people just quit than there are people who keep leaning forward and driving on. Are you a quitter or one who refuses to quit? Have you ever tested yourself to even know if you have what it takes to keep pushing once your gains slow to a trickle? Champions are the types who ever quit even when it would make their lives much simpler.

Will you have days where your physical fitness comes first over everything except your your job?

Physical fitness requires dedication. If you set aside days and times to exercise, then by god use those days and times for your exercise. It becomes easy to make excuses to skip workouts. And the more you do this, the easier it becomes. When you skip a day of exercise, that day can turn into a week which can turn into a month or longer. Next thing you know, your strength gains have been all but lost and you are finding the motivation to begin once again to be quite elusive. If you are not a natural self starter, that motivation might be as hard to find as Sasquatch. Physical fitness requires an all in attitude for it to have any significant relevance in your life.

No matter which endeavor you take on to improve your level of physical fitness, remember that success is less about the big wins than it is about the little things that we do every day to build upon our health and fitness. We have to make our exercise sessions into regular habits of life, as habits are what we fall back on when we are stressed or do not feel like pushing ourselves through another workout.

Three considerations for physical fitness:

  • Cardiorespiratory endurance. This element is the sustained ability of the heart and blood vessels to carry oxygen to your body’s cells. The best aerobic activities you can use for building endurance are brisk walking or running, swimming, cycling, rowing and aerobic dance. To gain the best health benefits, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity over the course of most days is sufficient. For the best of cardiovascular endurance you need to perform moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise three to five times per week, with each session lasting 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Muscular fitness. This physical element consists of strength. The force a muscle produces in one effort and endurance. Your muscular fitness hinges on your ability to perform repeated muscle contractions in quick succession. Perform moderate intensity resistance workouts at least three to four days per week for no less than 30 minutes per session.
  • Flexibility. This element refers to the ability of the joints to move without discomfort through their full range of motion. This ability varies from person to person and from joint to joint. Good flexibility is thought to protect the muscles against pulls and tears, since short tight muscles are more likely to be over stretched. Perform flexibility exercises three to four times per week.

Ten exercise guidelines:

  1. Set realistic goals for yourself. It serves no purpose to set goals that are so lofty you never have a chance of achieving them. If you set high goals, be sure to set many short term goals as a part of your plan to reach your final objective.
  2. Do not do too much, too soon. Just as sure as you attempt to do too much too soon, you are likely to either get injured or burned out too soon. Or, you can become injured and burned out at the same time. Remember, nutrition and rest days are as important to your routine as your actual exercise.
  3. No pain, no gain is a myth you should not get caught up in. Being in pain is not a sign of a good workout, as not feeling pain is not a sign of a poor workout. Pain is a warning to you that you had better check yourself to avoid injury and or to not worsen injury. Do not be a fucking hero and and try to work through injuries. Take you lumps and knock off until you are healed. Only a dumbass will continue stressing an injury.
  4. Control your movements. Rapid, jerky movements can set the stage to fuck yourself up.
  5. Watch your form and posture. This is extremely important with all lifts, but especially the squat and deadlift. Bad form can and will hurt your ass.
  6. Do not bounce when stretching. When you bounce, you increase your risk of tearing a muscle. If you are going to stretch, make sure you ease into all of your stretching.
  7. Use good and proper footwear. If you want to run, damn sure get good shoes that fit your feet snugly from heel to toe, side to side, top to bottom. Ensure you have proper arch support. If you are weight training, be sure to have shoes that do not have a sole that is compressible. You want your feet solid with the ground when lifting heavy weights on squats and deadlifts.
  8. Avoid high impact aerobics and other high impact exercises. Otherwise you stand risk of injury to your shins, calves, lower back, ankles and knees because of the constant jarring. Go low impact and enjoy yourself.
  9. Make sure that you warm up and cool down as appropriate for the activity you have chosen. This prevents an abrupt drop in blood pressure and helps alleviate muscle stiffness.
  10. Replace fluids and electrolytes lost during exercise. Do this even when you do not feel thirsty and know that you are as high a risk for dehydration in cold weather as you can be during hot.

Comments and questions are most welcome!

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