Weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
INTENSITY makes for a great story but consistency is what makes progress. Running a marathon makes for a great story… but running marathons is not how you train to run a marathon. So many people start out with incredible intentions but do too much and put themselves off exercise before they ever see results. Start simple and work up to the best plan you can maintain, as opposed to starting with an incredibly ambitious plan and then feeling bad when it turns out you can’t maintain it. Moderate 30 minutes four or five times a week will give better results than intense 90 minute workouts that only happen now and then.
‘There are so many types of, and environments for, exercise there really is no reason to suffer through things you don’t enjoy’
There is no “best” type of exercise unless it’s to say the “one you enjoy”. As stated above consistency matters more than intensity and picking forms of exercise you enjoy will help you be more consistent. There are so many types of, and environments for, exercise there really is no reason to suffer through things you don’t enjoy.
Maybe not right at the beginning. But in some form. Eventually. Even if you don’t enjoy it. If you’re training to look a certain way it’s highly likely that people who look like you want to look have some muscle mass. Improving or maintaining muscle mass doesn’t mean you’re going to get massive. And if you’re training for health, muscle mass is also really important. We all lose muscle as we age so building and maintaining a reasonable amount for as long as possible is part of being healthy. 20 to 30 minutes three times a week will get a lot done initially, there’s still plenty of exercise time for the things you enjoy if strength training isn’t one of them.
For the health of your heart and lungs; do some. Most people often start out doing too much of this and not enough strength training but some people get into the mentality that cardio steals their “gains” (muscle) and while this can be true of too much cardio some is required for well rounded health. Again, 20 to 30 minutes three times a week will get a lot done initially.
Note: “cardio” requires a certain level of intensity. Walking is great for burning calories if you have weight loss goals and may help improve the heart and lungs of untrained individuals but at a certain point cardio is going to require getting sweaty and out of breath. Two to three times a week get sweaty enough to need a shower… how you do that is up to you (remember do what you enjoy).
Thinking you can out exercise your ability to eat is like thinking you can out earn your ability to spend. For a very few people it might be possible but for most of us… we need to pay attention to both. My recommendation would be to start with the basics of both exercise and nutrition. Start with a simple plan for both and once you’ve demonstrated a reasonable level of mastery with that plan add in more detail. As stated above start simple and work up to the best plan you can maintain.
Incorrect expectations lead to disappointment, which can lead to loss of motivation. It’s probably going to take longer than you’d like, it’s likely going to be harder than you think and there will be times when you want to quit. We see amazing transformation pictures online all the time but it’s important to remember these are the best of the best from thousands. Most people don’t make that kind of progress that fast. Plan to give it at least six months. Understand that progress will stall at times and even though it’ll be tempting to say the plan isn’t working and quit the one thing that definitely won’t kickstart progress again is going off the rails out of frustration (which is another reason why your plan needs to be something you can maintain, not an extreme plan to get results asap).