When it comes to health and exercise there are plenty of people with plenty of bad plans. Here are some and some alternative, better plans...
“I need to get back into the gym after some time off - I’m going to go to the gym every day from now on”
If you’ve had some time away from the gym or you’re starting out for the first time then aiming to exercise every day isn’t a good idea. You won’t allow yourself enough rest time so you’ll inevitably feel sore all of the time and end up resenting it. Also, it’s likely to be too much of a shift from your usual schedule for you to manage every day so you’ll end up missing some of the sessions and so you’re instantly setting yourself up to fail.
Better Idea: Start out with something reasonable; twice a week is a good starting point. Then, when you’ve managed this every week for 3-4 weeks add in an additional session every 2-3 weeks until you finish with a sustainable routine that fits in with the rest of your lifestyle.
“I need to lose weight so I’m going to run and get rid of it all”
Purely cardio work may have some weight loss effect but after a while it can become slow or impossible to lose weight via just traditional cardiovascular work. Often some of the lost weight on the scales is a combination of lost body fat and lost muscle mass which in turn, slows your metabolic rate. Over time your body becomes less efficient at burning calories and in turn, weight loss will plateaux.
Better Idea: When it comes to being healthier and improving your physique it’s unwise to put all of your eggs in one basket. In general you need to be fitter, stronger, more mobile and robust so your weekly schedule should be made up of a combination of strength work, cardiovascular work and some stability, mobility and stretching work.
“I’m going to get fitter before I join the gym/group exercise / start personal training.”
You’ve become unfit. The purpose of exercising or training with a trainer is to help you get more fit. If you haven’t managed to get yourself fitter in the past few years what makes you think that you’re going to suddenly do it now?
Better Idea: Join the gym and, if you need guidance on relevant and suitable exercise for someone of your ability then get an educated trainer to steer you in the right direction.
“I’m going to go on a juice diet.”
Why are people surprised that they do nothing but drink a few small juices every day for a week or two and then they lose weight!?.. You could drink 3 McDonalds milkshakes each day and eat nothing else and lose weight!? You do NOT need to go on a juice diet! Ever!
Better Idea: Don’t start anything that isn’t sustainable. Amend your diet bit by bit to include ground rules and guidelines for eating that you can apply whether you’re eating at home or eating out and you can maintain year-round.
“I’ve got a really good plan to follow from a magazine”
There are lots of programmes and pieces of training information available. It can be hard to sift through the junk and find a) the good quality suggestions and b) the ones that are suitable to you at your stage of training. Then, if you’re not very experienced with exercise then there’s also a big risk that you may be performing the exercises incorrectly and unsafely. You may also be buying into a lie. If you want to look like a super hero then don’t believe that they did some planks, bodyweight squats and pull ups and looked like an absolute tank. Don’t believe too that there wasn’t a decent amount of growth hormone supplementing involved too.
Better Idea: Seek some guidance. There are some great free resources available but you can’t always be sure that they’re suitable for you and designed with your goals in mind. Don’t aim for a “6 week body” approach; find something with longevity that will steadily and regularly offer you