How do I get fit? is a common question, but the answer isn’t the same for everyone. That’s because what one person’s idea to fitness will be different to another’s. A marathon runner would probably deem themselves unfit if they couldn’t complete their chosen race, yet to someone else, getting just a quarter of the distance would be an impressive level fitness.
Where To Start?
- The first thing to get right is your mental attitude. You need to understand that improving your fitness is not something you should try and rush. Think of it more as a marathon rather than a sprint. By doing this you won’t be too disappointed if/when you miss the mark on some of your goals.
- Point two follows on from the first point. SET YOUR GOALS! Make sure you set yourself some goals and keep them realistic. Setting a goal of running a marathon within a week having never run in your life is setting your self up for failure. Set goals that you should be able to achieve and write them down somewhere you’ll see them like the fridge. It will give you a boost every time you can cross one of them off, and will help to keep you aware of your fitness and it’s progression.
- Start small and progress. Start a fitness regime that will benefit your goals, but again, start small. You can’t go from a low activity level to all out running and expect to be able to keep it up. Start off with fast paced walks or light gym session, even if you think you don’t need to. This will allow your body to adapt and mean that you can gradually increase the intensity of your workout. If you go for a fast paced walk and think you can go faster, then on your next walk, break out into a light jog. Keep your progression controlled and steady otherwise you risk injury and try and have a day off with in between each training session to allow your body to recover, as your fitness improves you can start to incorporate different training style
- Improve your diet. Have a look at what you eat and make sure your getting the right nutritional requirements. Take a look at my article for calculating your daily calorie needs or for a simpler method check out my other article on Setting Up A Generic Fat Loss Diet. Even minor improvements to your diet can improve the rate at which your fitness improves.
- Track your progression. Use a diary to track how you progress. This will help you to make small adjustments to your training and help you to keep on track. If you notice that something you are doing is becoming easier then you can make alterations to the intensity or even swap out that activity all together. If you don’t track your progress, how will you know if you’re improving!
- Get plenty of rest. This is probably one of the most overlooked yet important things. Contrary to popular belief, your body doesn’t grow and get stronger in the gym or while out running. What physical activity does is actually damage your muscle fibres which then, during rest and sleep, repair themselves. If you don’t get sufficient rest and sleep then you’ll start wearing your body down. Aim for 7 – 8 hours sleep a night.
- Don’t over-train. It’s important to not do too much. You don’t need to train for 2 hours a day to increase your fitness. Training methods such as the Tabata Protocol take little time to perform but provide great results in terms of increasing fitness levels.If you don’t know what this is then read: The Tabata Training Protocol
- Don’t be afraid to mix things up a little. Don’t think you need to stick to the same exercises day in and day out. While it is wise, if you have a specific goal, to stick to workouts that will bring you closer to this goal, it’s not always the best route to take. Our bodies are amazing things and can quickly adapt to repetition, learning to do things more efficiently. This is bad for someone who want’s improve their fitness as it means you will plateau. Fitness programmes such as CrossFit are very popular for this very reason. They constantly switch things up and it is a very effective way of training. To find out more about CrossFit read: CrossFit
- Treat yourself. Don’t be afraid to let your diet slip once a week. Studies have shown that people who let themselves go every now and then are capable of sustaining a strict diet for longer than those who try and stay strict right the way through. It helps to keep you sane and gives you something to look forward to each week. It can also help to boost your metabolism.
- Stay Consistent. Consistency is the key. Things won’t happen overnight, despite what the latest fitness fad tells you. You have to remain consistent to make improvements with fitness. Keep your training sessions regular and give each session your all. Keeping in mind the rule to keep a day’s rest between training sessions you could train on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday then do some light activity like a nice walk on the weekend. Just keep it up and you WILL reach your goals.