It never ceases to intrigue me when some clients come to me and tell me their stories about going straight from being a couch potato to joining an intensive boot camp.
Amazed, I listen to their stories and wonder what has happened to common sense.
If you have never done a proper push-up or a squat, how do you think you can manage boot camp? Has it occurred to some of us that boot camp is to push already in-shape individuals to the next level?
With this in mind, the proper question for people just starting an exercise program is: What makes sense to do when you are just starting out, and what can you do on your own to structure a personalized workout that is safe?
This is easier asked than answered, as there are so many factors that play a role. Here are factors that you should think about:
Goal: What is your goal? Now don't be too broad; tell me your goal exactly, in numbers, and in what time frame.
For example: "I want to improve my overall muscle tone by losing 2 percent body fat by Nov. 2, 2007."
Leave it too broad, and you won't be able to measure your progress in the future. An example to avoid would be: "I would like to lose weight." Yes, this is great, but tell me exactly how much and in what time frame.
Also keep in mind that weight loss in and of itself does not always have to be the goal. For many it is to finish a triathlon, hike Mount Everest, complete a marathon, improve their running style or learn about proper lifting techniques. Whatever it might be, each of those goals will have a different time frame -- and therefore, a different training schedule.
Solutions: Now you have your goal. But how are you going to get there? Come up with solutions that you can execute. No, not just five or 10. Come up with at least 20 possible solutions. Most of the time, solutions 17 through 20 are the most valuable solutions for you to implement.
Capabilities: If you have been inactive and your goal is to run a marathon in two months, you might be facing an uphill battle. I am not saying you can't do it, but be smart and build your body up to the challenge.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you might have injuries that need to be taken care off first before you start proper training. Muscular imbalances can be another issue. You can do anything you want if you but your mind to it. But be smart about how you approach it.
Time: How much time do you have available to train, and how much time can you really commit to? Those are important questions, and both have a different meaning. Commitment means that you are actually doing what you set out to do. So think about it first: How much time can you reasonably commit to?
Structure: How do you build your workout program? This is one of the questions that I have received many times from individuals that I have met who could not afford personal training sessions, and it is not that easy to answer. But let me give it a try.
Understand that all of our bodies are different. We all have different activities we have experienced in the past, and therefore different central nervous conditioning.