The New Year’s Resolution is one of the most notorious holiday season traditions. Every January, gyms are flooded with new members motivated by the arrival of the New Year, but by March, you see the effects of attrition when the amount of people in the gym slowly drops to what it was before January.
Staying committed isn’t easy. Keeping the following points in mind will (hopefully!) help you carry out that New Year’s Resolution successfully.
1.Reaching your fitness goal takes time. Whether your goal is to build strength, achieve a certain aesthetic, or improve your cardio, it’ll take time. Noticeable results will take weeks or months to appear. Starting a workout program with this in mind will prevent you from becoming unmotivated or burning out because you haven’t noticed any changes.
2. Take progress photos! Wear the same clothes, with the same lighting, and do the same poses. The progress that you do make from working out will probably not be apparent, as your body will gradually change during the time you’re exercising. A better way to see what progress you’ve made is by taking photos in a consistent time interval.
3.Make your goals clear to yourself in order to program your workout appropriately. Do you want to build strength as your main goal? Or do you want to lower your body fat percentage? If you want to build strength, what kind of strength? Do you want to deadlift heavier? Or do you want to be more explosive when jumping for a rebound? Being very specific with your goals will allow you to be more specific with your program, and efficiently achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself.
4.Do your research when setting up your program. If you want to jump higher, or be more explosive with your actions, you should learn about programs that are centered around plyometrics. If you want to build strength in the 3 main powerlifting lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift), a common recommendation is Strong Lifts 5×5 or Starting Strength. If your goal is to lose weight, or improve cardio, try doing some research on programs with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
- Each program will have its own quirks. For example, Starting Strength is often noted as an example with an uneven split between upper-body and lower-body focus, with heavy emphasis on the lower body. It may be the case that this is not the aesthetic you’re looking for. But, Starting Strength has the benefit of being a program where you only dedicate 3 days a week to lifting, a huge benefit for, say, a student balancing a million other things to do every week. Each program has its pros and cons, so be thorough when planning!
5.Abs are made in the kitchen. Planning and executing your workouts consistently is only half the battle. Weight loss can be simplified to a simple statement: use up more (food) calories than you take in. Calories are units of energy, and the first number listed on the nutrition facts label of any food product. The premise is this: your body will use up a certain amount of calories just to keep your body running, called your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and if you consume less calories than this amount, your body will need to tap into your spare energy reserves to keep functioning. These spare energy reserves are known as adipose tissue, also known as fat. The Mayo Clinic gives us a nice starting point, stating that 3500 calories make up about 1 pound (.45 kg) of fat. Here is one way to calculate your TDEE. Count your calories!
6.Make use of all the resources available to you. There are multiple YouTube channels dedicated to fitness with videos for beginners, such as outlining a beginner program, and common beginner mistakes. Once you know the principles for designing a program to meet your fitness goals, ExRx will be your best friend (click on the muscle group you’re interested in strengthening, and exercises targeting that muscle group will appear). You can also try visiting the fitness community on Reddit – they have a beginner’s Wiki and a FAQ section that will be helpful for all gym-goers, whether a beginner or advanced.
7.Pay attention to form, especially with compound movements. If you choose to follow a program with compound movements such as the bench press, squat, deadlift, or shoulder press, pay attention to your form! Watch YouTube videos on how to correctly perform those complicated movements, and spend time in the gym practicing the movements before moving on with heavy loads.
No matter what your goal is, it’s going to take determination and grit to reach it. If there’s one singular, decisive piece of advice that a beginner should follow, it’s to just go to the gym! You don’t need to plan out every single part of your routine for the month before you can reap the benefits of exercising. Congratulations on starting 2018 off right!