Most of the time, the reason is not knowing how to start. I often see new members wandering around lost, desperate for something to do to get closer to their goal, but unfortunately, most fail within 90 days. I'm going to share three ways you can get your 2012 fitness strategy off to a great start.
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1. Don't take on too much too soon. In the beginning, your fitness plan should not be overly aggressive. One of the biggest problems most people encounter when starting a fitness program is rapidly depleted motivation after only a few weeks because of an overly ambitious fitness plan.
Two days a week of minute low-intensity cardiovascular exercise (walking, jogging, biking, swimming); and two days per week of 30-minute light resistance training (using weights or resistance machines) is adequate in the beginning.
As you become acclimated to the lifestyle "shift" you can add more days and get improved results. But beware: if you try to do too much too fast, you may end up quitting altogether. If you've tried and failed doing it alone, then I suggest you get a training partner or personal trainer who will help you sustain your motivation.
2. Think about your heart. If your goal is fat-loss, then your cardiovascular exercise should be low intensity. Your heart rate during cardio exercise should not exceed 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
The simple formula for calculating your 100-percent maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.
If the intensity of your exercise increases your heart rate beyond 70 percent (which can occur very easily if you are in poor shape), you start shifting from using body fat as your energy source to relying on glucose metabolism.
Your personal trainer can supply you with a simple heart rate monitor you can wear during exercise so you always stay in your peak fat-burning range.
3. Be smart when choosing the exercise. Don't waste your time working small muscles with isolated movements.
If you don't enjoy doing resistance training or are pressed for time, concentrate on working the largest muscle groups with compound resistance movements.
When I see overweight people doing wrist curls or lateral raises, I wonder why. It's generally just a lack of understanding of how their bodies work. Most people want to lose fat and tone and firm their bodies.
The way to do that is to use resistance (weights or machines) to train the large muscle groups. Focus on upper body pressing, horizontal pulling, squat variations, hip extensions, and rotational core movements
Take these three simple tips and make 2012 your leanest, and meanest. Start right, train smart, and you'll finish strong in the New Year.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer. Find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hometeamfitness.