It’s a common misconception you need to work out every day and get sweaty and sore, otherwise it won’t do anything so why bother? Well, that is FALSE! Honestly, I’m not sure where this notion comes from. It could be all the fitness influencers posting content daily, or it could be long-standing ideas people have about exercise. But, whatever it is, today is the day we remove this lie from your brain forever!
When Too Much is a Bad Thing
If you exercise too much you actually can cause more harm than good. Our bodies can only take so much and if you go over that line, you reach a point of diminishing returns. You’ll know it when you see it. Your gains will plateau, you’ll be tired, achy, and sore, and you may even have difficulty sleeping. You want to do the least amount of exercise to illicit the greatest benefit. For most people, that’s three days a week of full body strength training and at least 8 to 10K steps per day. That’s it! You can add some cardio but if you do, keep it on days you are not resistance training and don’t over do it!
The Goldilocks Way is Best
The key is to figure out what works best for you, and knowing that you don’t need to kill it every day in the gym has to give you help that you CAN do this! So, how do you get started?
Start with 30 to 45 minutes of strength training three times a week. Choose two to three exercises for your lower body and two to three for your upper body. You only need two sets of 8 to 12 reps. I recommend choosing compound exercises, which means they work more than one muscle. For example a bicep curl only works your biceps whereas a row or pull-up works your biceps AND your back. You want to make the time count so choose exercises that will achieve more in a shorter time.
As for equipment, you can start with bodyweight exercises, if you’re a beginner. Bands are also a great option as is a suspension trainer. If you are a member of a gym, start with machines. You don’t have to jump into the free weights to get a solid workout. Begin where you are.
When you lift, make sure you choose weight that is heavy as you get to your top reps. If you are going for 10, it should start to get hard by 8 or 9. If not, you need to go heavier.
Do this for two to three weeks and pay close attention to how you feel. Are you sore? Achy? Not making enough progress? Tired? What you want to feel is energetic, a little hungrier, and able to sleep well. You know yourself so if it feels “wrong,” it probably is!
Remember to warm up and stretch after. As far as your steps go, three, 15 to 20-minute walks equals about 8K steps. Or two 30-minute walks. You can also use cardio equipment. It’s best to change it up. Sometimes choose the interval program, sometimes HIIT, sometimes steady speed. The key is to prioritize strength training first so either do the cardio at the end, only include steps, or save cardio for your off training days.
If three days still sounds like a lot start with one. I mean that. One day a week is more than you are doing now and it is enough. Once you get that down, add a day. It’s OK not to start at the ideal. Any movement toward that Goldilocks place is a move in the right direction. If you need to, hire a trainer or download a trusted fitness app to give you a roadmap. If you aren’t able to afford a trainer, I recommend MindPump’s programs, which have a road map of where to start and where to go next. The programming is sound and there are videos to follow, if you need support.
Speaking of support, if you need accountability, find a partner. And you don’t have to work out with them… even a texting buddy to make sure you’re doing what you committed to will work. There are lots of online groups you can join to help keep you inspired and motivated to stick with your program. And, if you want to learn more about how I can help, click the button below. I would love to meet you!
The Time is Now
Finally, don’t wait until a special occasion to add fitness to your life. Start today, tomorrow, the beginning of the week or month. The point is to just start. You will feel better and you don’t need to go crazy to get fit! Happy lifting!