What to Know About Starting a New Fitness Program
We know the feeling…
It’s a new year and you’re starting a new fitness program because you’ve made a fitness resolution to get back into shape. You’re pumped to start all over on a clean slate. You probably just bought some sweet new kicks, snagged your gym membership at a hot price, and have that new exercise wardrobe all laid out. The new year never looked so good and you’re determined to take back your health!
You go to the gym and start your workout.
It’s HARD. Harder than what you expected. You’re sweating like a sinner in church.
After completing your first session you realize, “Oh wow! This is kicking my butt! My legs are burning. My arms are shaking. Is this normal?”
“Am I really supposed to do this a few times a week? Why did I pick such a hard New Year’s resolution?”
You begin questioning yourself. Random thoughts begin circling through your head:
“Will I ever get better?”
“I couldn’t even do one push up.”
“It was so hard I had to take a break.”
“That was so tough, I couldn’t even finish.”
“There’s no way I can do this again tomorrow.”
You’re ready to throw in the towel.
BUT WAIT! Failing at the beginning of a new workout routine is normal.
For some, the self-doubt that comes with having a hard time with fitness at the outset is just added motivation to kick some butt. With too many, however, fire and enthusiasm is quickly snuffed out. as they succumb to those voices in their heads.
Funny thing is- do we do that with car trouble? “Oh, the tire’s flat. I don’t know how to fix it. I guess I’ll just leave it here on the side of the road and go eat a big bowl of worms.”
Nobody does that! So why take a big, pout-tastic flying leap off the bridge to success before you’ve even tried to see what you can fix? And really, isn’t that the POINT of the program- to FIX your years of inactivity?
Heck yes, it is! That’s how many workout programs go: THEY MAKE YOU SAD AT FIRST.
You Will Fail Before You Get Better (And That’s The Point)
When you start moving your body in ways it hasn’t moved in ages (or… ever), you’re putting it under stress. You struggle. You cuss. You fail.
That’s the POINT. You’re SUPPOSED TO FAIL.
Your body doesn’t like to be “second best.” Causing it to fail in an exercise, or putting it under stress to “feel the burn,” makes your body feel like it’s not good enough.
And that’s good.
Putting your body under stress is how your body changes because it will now compensate for that failure. It will build muscle. It will increase your cardio capacity. It will compensate. And when your body compensates, your body will put systems into action that will do the job better, even if just a little, the next time.
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A good program, one that’s worth its weight in anything to get you results, will be based off a concept called “periodization.” There are many programs out there that are based on this principle (which was popularized by a guy named Hans in relation to studies he did based around responses to stress– you knew you wanted to know that).
In your program language, this periodization is what you’ll call “Phases” or “Months.” Periodization basically follows this schedule:
1. Butt Whoopin’
Not the technical term, but this is your first day with the program. Your first workout. It’s here you will usually feel like you suck. But now that you know you’re supposed to feel that way- that it’s all part of the master plan and that you won’t kill it right out of the box…Doesn’t that make you feel better?
It’s similar to the concept the military uses in Boot Camp Training– Break you down, get you to understand the system, and then build you back up as a lean, mean, fighting machine.
2. Struggle For Equilibrium
This is you working through the following weeks. Your workouts will still be tough, and you may get worse in the beginning (all part of the plan), but your body will begin to adapt to the stresses and learn to manage them better. This leads to:
Adaptation has improved, and now you’re making progress. You can do what you couldn’t do a few weeks ago. This is where you’ll notice more reps, being less-winded, and a general ability to finish out a workout that, while tough, is much less tough (or better performed) than that first day.
See? It’s all part of the plan. And now that you know how it works… are you willing to stick to it and allow it to work?
We’re going to say YES.