The other day I heard two people arguing, and given my curious nature, I decided to eavesdrop.
Shame on me!
When I realized what they were arguing about, I started to laugh. You see, the two had adopted competing fitness programs and were trying to convince each other theirs was the better program.
No one should be arguing about which exercise program is better; rather we should all focus on which one is best!
But that’s kind of a trick statement because what’s best for you might not be best for your spouse, your sister or even your best friend.
When asking which one is best, it’s not about anyone else… its all about you!
Picking YOUR Program
Yoga? Running? Weightlifting? Cycling? Pilates? Zumba? Triathlon? Group fitness classes? MMA fighting? Swimming? CrossFit? Home workout videos? Kickboxing… whew! I’m out of breath just listing the options. (And we’ve barely scratched the surface).
While your exercise varieties and opportunities are endless, your selection criteria shouldn’t be. According to ABC News, you need to consider the following five things before you start any exercise program:
Taking a deeper look at each of these criteria should help you on your path to picking YOUR perfect plan.
Before you start any exercise program you should have a goal in mind. But not just any goal, a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
If your goal is too vague, too complicated or even too unrealistic, you’re setting yourself up to fail before you even start.
If your fitness goals currently sound like this:
“I want to exercise more.”
“I want to get fit.”
“I want to look and feel better.”
You need to know that you’re headed for failure. Those are the kind of goals that are easy to set and hard to complete.
Instead of vague goals that are hard to measure or accomplish, try setting goals that sound more like this:
“I want to run a 5K in under 40 minutes by the end of summer.”
“I want get more toned by lifting weights at the gym 3 times a week.”
Did you see the difference?
The second set of goals lets you know what you’re working towards and when/how you plan to accomplish it.
Pointers for picking YOUR plan: Your goal is the first place to look when picking YOUR plan. It is what is going to point you in the right direction. It should be based on something you’re interested in or something that makes you excited to get moving. If you’re just getting started, your goal doesn’t need to be narrowed down to a single type of exercise. It can be about trying new things in order to find out what you like.
Once you’ve decided on a goal, you need to look for tangible ways to accomplish that goal–in other words you need a solution–or better yet, you need SOLUTIONS!
Solutions are those little things that are going to help your goal become a reality. Consider them the micromanagers of your goal.
But how do you come up with solutions?
- Solutions need to be able to be executed.
- Solutions should help you reach your goal.
- Solutions need to be more detailed and specific than your goal.
- Solutions should help you overcome obstacles.
- Solutions need to help provide inspiration.
- Solutions should target your mind and your body.
Solutions will help you change for the better.
Ideally, you should have 15-20 solutions that are specific to your exercise goal. The more solutions you have, the better equipped you’ll be to meet your exercise goals.
Think of your solutions as your step-by-step plan. They are the specifics that will get you through those less than motivating workouts and experiences.
Pointers for picking YOUR plan: Your solutions need to be detailed and specific. They need to take into account, your schedule, your abilities and your commitment level. From your solutions, you’ll be able to make a plan. That plan will become your road map to success.
Running a marathon, or even a half-marathon is a great fitness goal.
However, if your current running regimen consists of running to the bathroom or fridge during commercial breaks, neither one is going to be the best goal for you.
Yes, they’re both possible, but tackling a goal that big without building a foundation first is a quick and easy way to exit the exercise bandwagon.
In short, you need to start somewhere that your current capabilities allow.
Sticking with the marathon idea; keep that goal in mind..but maybe push it to the far back corner of your mind for now. Training for a marathon takes at least four months and that’s after you’ve built up a base.
Instead of starting with the granddaddy of all running races, start with one that’s more attainable… a 5K. Then work your way up to a 10K, a half-marathon and eventually a full marathon.
The same concept holds true for any new form of exercise. Start in a realistic place and give it a try for a while. A good rule of thumb is one month. After that you’ll know if it’s time to set your sights higher or if it’s just time to move on and try something new!
Pointers for picking YOUR plan: Take stock of where you are right now. What are your current fitness strengths and weaknesses? If there’s something you’re good at or something you enjoy that should give you a good starting point for picking the best exercise for you.
Maybe you’ve heard of someone who spends more time at the gym than you do at work. It might sound crazy to you, but there are people that actually have time for that… not many, but they do exist.
Most of us don’t have that option. (And most of us don’t want it either).
Time is one of our most valuable commodities and most of us wish there were a few more hours in the day.
Knowing that, means that you also need to know how much time you’re willing to give to any exercise program.
Your program/plan needs to fit into your life and schedule or it’s not going to work for you. There’s two main concerns you should be aware of:
- How much time do you have available?
- How much time are you willing to give?
They might sound like the same thing, but they’re definitely not. It’s a safe bet to say you could round up a few extra hours every day if you got rid of all your time wasters: social media, television, internet browsing, etc. But, you may not be willing to give any of all of those up.
You need to really look at how much time you’re willing to give to your workouts. If it’s only 30 minutes, your options are a lot more limited than if it’s an hour or more.
Pointers for picking YOUR plan: It’s best to make exercise part of your daily routine. If you plan to exercise at the same time every day, it’s much more likely to become a habit which means you’ll see greater results.
Toddlers thrive on schedule and structure. So do exercisers.
The best kind of exercise for you is going to be something that you don’t have to think about too much.
Have you ever gone to the gym without a plan? Whenever I do, it looks something like this: run on the treadmill for about 10 minutes. Get bored. Head to the weight machines. Fiddle with buttons, levers and knobs for a few minutes.Give the machine a try. Realize you look like a fool. Hurry over to the free weights hoping no one saw you embarrass yourself. Pick some weights. Try to copy the super buff girl. Realize you look like a fool…again. Head back to the treadmills. Decide it’s not worth it. Throw in the towel and head home disappointed.
When I go to the gym with a plan, everything changes. I know what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it. When it’s time to head home, I leave the gym in a stinky, sweaty trail of glory.
The same is true in any exercise situation. If you go into a workout with a structured plan of what you are going to accomplish, you’re going to see better results.
Structure is the best foundation for any fitness program. I’s also a major foundation for your success. Following a structured plan will help you meet your fitness and exercise goals faster than anything else.
Pointers for picking YOUR plan: You don’t have to be the one to set your structure. There’s countless books, websites, apps and social media accounts out there that have already done the work for you. And if that seems like too much to put on our plate, try going to a fitness class or hiring a personal trainer.
Ready Set Go
In all honesty, there is no “best” exercise program. But, there is a best one for you. And what’s best for you this year, might change next year, next month or even next week. What makes it the best is that it’s something that will raise your heart rate, get you moving and (hopefully) let you have a little fun.