The biggest mistakes people make when they return to training after a prolonged absence is a complete lack of planning. I have lots of empathy for those of you that haven’t trained in a while, simply don’t know where to start and haven’t considered hiring a personal trainer. There is so much information online on exercise and the best ways to get fit I don’t blame anyone for feeling overwhelmed. The aim of this post is to clear up some of the mis-information currently out there and provide you with a blueprint that I use so you can become successful very quickly in your attempts at resuming your training and getting fit.
What you need to ‘explore’ – 3 things:
1.The training environment:
If you plan on doing this by yourself and you’re not jumping in on a local bootcamp or something similar you have to consider your training environment Some people are motivated by the gym while others would rather train outdoors in the form of jogging, cycling or similar. Gyms have upped their game over the last few years but there are still lots of stale gyms out there that simply are not motivating and do not provide in my opinion the right equipment to bring a bit of fun, variety and challenge to your workouts.
My recommendation after a long gap in training is to begin with improving your aerobic endurance. That is true fitness! This can be done in the gym or outdoors. What you must invest in is a heart rate monitor however. A heart rate monitor allows you to work within the correct heart rate zones for beginners or returning to fitness. In this instance the training method is known as ‘Cardiac Output’ and the aim is to stay within 120-150bpm for 30-40 mins until you start to become fitter. Every week add 10-20% to the time. So if you trained for 30 mins train for 35 the following week and so on. There’s no limit
You must schedule your training in your diary if you have any hope in succeeding. If you’re a busy parent you also have to have both of you onboard. This obviously is a conversation with your better half and figuring out the logistics between you. I train many dads and some get to me at 5.30 in the morning and ‘relieve’ their spouse when they return and take it from there in getting the rest of the morning under control. I’m not going to pretend to know what’s best but you must have an honest conversation and this should include how important your long term health and fitness is to you and your family. Don’t just assume that you’ll find the time, schedule the time. I’ve no doubt you’ve made this mistake on previous, don’t let it happen again. Don’t forget your lunch hours either – training at this time will re-invigorate you for the remainder of the day.
3. Choosing the exercise
There is such a broad spectrum to training and choosing what’s right for you at a particular time has its challenges. So many mistakes are made early in the decision-making process with a complete lack of planning and understanding of fitness. There are basic components of fitness including:
- Cardiovascular Endurance
- Strength Endurance
- Flexibility which from now on we’ll call mobility
From the list above the easiest for any dad or individual to implement is cardiovascular endurance. Why? Because it does not require much learning, it can be done anywhere, it’s an easy opportunity to form a small group of like-minded individuals leading to accountability and increased motivation by helping each other. Do not underestimate the importance of having a training partner. With the right person it’s the difference of going to reach your goals or falling into another training relapse
Here’s what I perceive as a typical scenario when an individual, such as dad attempts a return to exercise.
John is a 38 year old guy that used to play sports throughout his 20s and would have been considered fit. All he knew was team sports, training with a group of players by one coach and a match at the weekend. A common scenario for many ‘recreational’ and competitive athletes. With increasing years, work promotions, greater responsibilities, marriage and kids John like many guys finishes playing competitive sports and settles into family life. Earlier starts in the day due to work and family commitments make it difficult for him to find the time and energy to exercise.
It’s a new year and John renews the gym membership he barely used last year. He turns up to the gym at 6.30pm during the peak period when it’s full. To John, it appears full of people who know what they are doing and the equipment he feels ‘safest’ with – your typical strength machines where little to no thought is necessary and the ‘cardio’ section is full. Poor John doesn’t know what to do, becomes more self-aware and intimidated and seeks sanctuary at a quiet corner to ‘stretch’ until a machine becomes free.
I don’t need to go any further, we know where this going. The point I am trying to make is John has built it up in his head probably most the day and night before about getting to the gym to exercise with absolutely no planning. All that time ‘stressing’ about the gym, getting there, spending 45-60 minutes with absolutely no outcome. In my eyes that is just a complete waste of time with no results for his effort which will eventually lead to disillusionment, fear, lack of hope and yet another ‘training relapse’. I’m convinced this is why I simply don’t see many older aged guys training in gyms – they are frightened to death and drain their willpower capacity in a matter of weeks if not days.
So what do I recommend?
- Start with improving your aerobic endurance. How?
- Purchase a heart rate monitor
- Train with the heart rate zone of 120-150 for 30-40 mins
- Increase this by 10-20% every week for up 4 weeks
- Attempt 3-4x per week
- Find a training partner