If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to stick to a new workout routine, you’re not alone. In fact, out of the 38.5% of adults that make New Year’s resolutions, 48% want to exercise more. Exercising regularly is the most popular New Year’s resolution and one of the most difficult resolutions to keep. If you have never kept a regular workout routine or your life has changed a lot since you last exercised on a regular basis, you might be struggling.
Learning to exercise productively requires understanding your body and setting goals for yourself, which takes time. You will have to start small and work your way up, and before you know it, you will be exercising just like a top athlete.
Identify Your Starting Point
Do you remember when you had to take endurance tests and flexibility tests in school? It may not be fun initially, but creating a productive workout routine includes evaluating your current level. Assess your current flexibility level by performing a few standard stretches. (Pro Tip: Always stretch before participating in intensive exercise!) Next, evaluate your upper body strength by doing a few push-ups and sit-ups. Finally, test your endurance and ability to pace yourself by walking or running a mile. During this first evaluation, don’t try to push yourself too much. You want to sweat but you don’t want to injure yourself.
Set Goals for Yourself
No two workout routines look the same. A pro baseball player should have very different fitness goals from a mom who works in an office full-time, for example. You will adjust the intensity of your workout routine based on your goals. Ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Do I want a new hobby that is also productive? Do I want to lose weight? Do I want to build muscle? Different goals will require different types of stretches and exercises. For example, walking, jogging, or swimming are great ways to lose weight while exercises like push-ups, squats, and lunges will help you build muscle.
You might also want to create a workout routine that’s suited to your particular lifestyle. If you are busy during the week but enjoy spending time outdoors, consider activities such as hiking or rock climbing on the weekends. If you work from home or spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, try to go for a 20-minute walk each day and do stretches that will improve your posture.
Choose An Activity That You Love
Do you ever feel like it was easier to stay active when you were younger? That’s totally understandable. When we’re younger, we have time to exercise after school and get involved in extracurricular sports. It’s definitely harder to find time for sports in our adult life, but the truth is, you only need to exercise for twenty minutes per day. Children require about an hour of exercise each day while you only require twenty. That means you don’t have to spend all of your time after work exercising. If you go for a twenty-minute walk each day, that will leave more time for physical activities that you do enjoy.
Next, spend some time thinking about how you like to move! What types of physical activity did you enjoy when you were younger? Did you enjoy dancing, tennis, or swimming? Choose one day out of your week to pursue that activity, and stick to quick twenty-minute exercises every other day of the week. Starting small and exercising a little bit is better than not exercising at all, and you will be more likely to exercise if you’re doing something you enjoy.
As every athlete will tell you, exercising can be fun, but it’s certainly never easy. You will want to keep yourself motivated and reward yourself for a good workout session. If you enjoy socializing, plan time to work out with a friend. “Losing weight” or “gaining muscle” are great long-term goals, but they might not motivate you in the short term. If you learn to enjoy the act of exercising itself—for instance, by treating it as a fun hobby or a way to reduce stress—you will be more likely to stay motivated on a daily basis. You can even pay yourself to work out by treating yourself to a small gift or a special coffee for a job well done. It’s important to challenge yourself when working out, but you never want to use exercise as a punishment. Focus on rewards instead.
Become a Fitness Coach
This may seem like a surprising suggestion, but some of us learn best by teaching other people. There is a whole community of fitness lovers out there, so why not get involved? Trainer Academy offers a CSCS study guide to help you become an NSCA CSCS Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach. If you become certified as a coach, you will not only develop your own workout routine but you will also learn from fitness experts and continue to learn as you teach those around you.