Making a plan and sticking to it is the key to healthy success
Exercise adherence. There's that word again - 'exercise' followed by 'adherence'. In other words, keeping up with exercise and not the Kardashians! So most of us have joined a commercial gym at one point or another only to fall away within a couple of months - WHY?
There are many factors that must combine for exercise adherence to take place. Why do the majority of people who take out a gym membership quit within less than six months? In this article I want to address the five most common reasons:
1. Understand your Body Type
I have met many men and women over the years struggling and burning themselves out (physically and mentally) trying to achieve unrealistic goals.
Know that as part of your initial physical assessment, your trainer or coach should categorise your body type and explain the realistic goals that you can achieve. This is what is known as Somatotyping. This assessment allows us understand what we can expect to realistically achieve with the genetics that we have inherited.
In brief, there are three specific body types: Endomorphs, Mesomorphs and Ectomorphs.
Endomorphs are generally pear or round shaped. Ectomorphs tend to be tall and thin and Mesomorphs are more muscular and athletic. However, not all people can be classified into just one body type.
For many years now Olympic coaches have been assessing young aspiring athletes and encouraging them to pursue certain sports and/or position within a team. A typical example I have witnessed over the years is young men over-training, over eating and consuming potentially harmful amounts of supplements trying to achieve unrealistic goals.
This does not mean we can not make very impressive and beneficial changes to our physiques. But an eight stone jockey can not become an 18 stone prop forward.
I received an email from a guy who asked me what it takes to build a physique like Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (the famous wrestler and movie star, pictured below right). Why can't I do it, he asked? I train hard; I eat lots of food and protein. The simple answer is that he was not a 6' 4" man with Somoan genetics'.
You must have a detailed and progressive exercise and meal plan that will emphasise and enhance your best features. Know your body type capabilities, limitations and always set (realistic) goals.
2. Choose an Activity You Like to Do
It is so important that you enjoy your training. When you are prescribed an exercise programme, be sure you fully understand what you need to do to progress. If there is any part of the programme that you dislike, discuss it with your trainer and adapt it.
I must also mention at this point that the majority of my clients dislike the exercises that are most physically taxing! That doesn't mean that I will omit that exercise, but I may shorten or adapt it to keep them motivated and progressing.
Of course some sessions will (and should) be tougher than others, but not every time.
A recent new client who came to me to lose weight and tone up told me she doesn't like working out in the gym, that she was initially reluctant to call because she'd assumed I would prescribe more of the same weights, treadmill, TRX, and kettlebells that she had attempted in the past.
We went through a list of sports and activities that could help her achieve her goals. None inspired her. I also run a self-defence school and suggested to her to try some grappling: she was hooked after her first lesson. She now trains with me three times a week and is well on her way to achieving her physical goals as well as learning a skill to defend herself.
So choose an activity or programme that you will look forward to doing on a regular basis.
3. Don't Rely on Others
It's always nice to have a friend or partner to train with, but what if they feel under the weather or lose interest? Don't allow this interfere with your training or goals.
When you decide to join a gym I highly recommend you concentrate on your goals only. If a friend likes the idea and asks to join with you this can add to and enhance your training experience; however I suggest you both discuss your goals before you begin - these may be the same but your body types (explained above) may be different. Therefore your training programmes may be very different also.
4. Avoid Extreme Diet's
When an eating plan is designed for you, ask yourself one question: will I enjoy eating these foods? If you are not looking forward to the meals you have been asked to eat, you will not adhere to them long-term.
Be cautious of any diet that looks extreme or promises rapid results. There is no substitute for healthy sensible balanced nutrition.
There is no need to eliminate certain food groups. The fact is NO food is bad for us; it's the amounts we consume that can cause the problems.
5. Be Patient
Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. Setting weekly goals is very important, no matter how insignificant you think they may be.
You should always set a target; otherwise you will be a ship in the sea without a destination. This could be one extra press up a week, within six months that amounts to a lot of progression.
Within a few months your progression will be inspirational. 20-30 minutes of exercise 2-3 times per week will produce great results. If you are one step closer to your goal on a weekly basis, this enhances the passions NOT to quit. And if you ever feel like quitting, remember why you started. Be consistent and be patient.
Aidan Carroll is the proprietor of Focus Fitness Personal Training and Hard Target School of Self Defence. For more information on exercise and nutrition, email:email@example.com or visit www.focusfitness.ie or www.hardtargetselfdefence.com