Before you hit that holiday table in a few weeks, get yourself in shape first! Need some help? These 6 tips from George Vlismas should do it.
For many people, getting back into consistent fitness training, particularly when using weights, can be challenging. All too often many people give up on their physical body conditioning due to other interests and commitments that enter their lives – particularly as they get older, or they simply find the regularity and routine becomes a bit mundane. In many cases, the time-lapse between the last time they completed a serious workout and when they decide to start up again could be years – in some cases, decades.
Unfortunately, having quit an activity such as regular weight training, especially over a number of years, can result in unwanted, but inevitable consequences. These include diminished strength, weight gain (or more specifically, fat gain,) a decrease in general activity levels and loss of motivation.
On the Comeback Trail
Those keen on making a comeback to start training again, even if only to lose weight and feel better about themselves, can find things just as frustrating. Being unused to having lost some of their former fitness and muscle mass is bad enough, but for those in particular who didn’t learn proper technique and posture when they started training when they were younger, find they cannot rely so much on their bodies suppleness and vigor to see them through the demands of strength exercises, increasing their risk of injury.
Like any exercise, if using weight training as part of a fitness routine it has to be carried out regularly and routinely for it to have any meaningful, positive impact – and the desired results of a leaner, toned body, weight loss and more confidence. That means attending a lot of gym sessions – either at the local gym at home or wherever else the workouts will take place, which translates into a great deal of time and commitment, regardless of what level anyone’s at. This repetitiveness can sometimes become tedious, and even for those with the best intentions, the sight of the ultimate reward of why they started up again in the first place can be lost.
Resurgence of a New You
Despite all these challenges however, starting up weight training again can be a successful endeavor. All that’s needed is for someone to come into it with a different perspective, a new outlook. This can help individuals realize the rewards that make their time and dedication worthwhile – and help regain their passion and belief for training, and keep them in the game until they achieve their ultimate results.
Here are a few tips when getting back into weight training again, while keeping injury-free and staying motivated for the long-term:
1. It’s All About Technique
Probably the most important aspect of returning to lifting heavy weights is technique. For most returning ‘lifters’ their body conditioning is not it was, and with the keenness and enthusiasm of getting back to doing resistance training again, a case of too much too soon can become their undoing. Taking to the time to focus and re-learn (or even learn this time) correct technique and posture will allow for more efficient, safe and enjoyable lifting. Injuries can thus be avoided – less pressure being placed on muscles, joints and tendons by using correct technique, with the added advantage of quicker results being realized, which can only result in fuelling the motivation to keep on winning in the gym.
2. Slowly Does it
As alluded to in the first point, too much too soon can cause disappointment or even harm. Whatever the level anyone begins at again, it is important to not overdo it by starting with weights that are too heavy, or doing too many repetitions of any given exercise. Admittedly, it can be frustrating to start back below where you left off, but remember you’re not back where you left off any longer – it’s been a long layoff, with age and muscle atrophy filling in the gaps, so take it slow and pace yourself the first few sessions. You will then get an idea of how your body reacts, and when you can push on for greater gains.
3. Set Yourself Goals
Setting goals in strength training is important at any level – but more so after returning to it after a long break. This is because any gains you achieve – either in gaining more muscle or weight loss or change of body shape – will typically happen within a different time frame to what you might have experienced in the past (see point 5 below.) So it’s important to gauge yourself against how your body reacts now, not how it used to. Setting goals is an entirely personal thing. They can be longer term (such as getting down to a certain body fat percentage by the end of the year) or short term, (such as increasing the weight of a particular exercise by the end of the week) but it’s always useful to remember that they need to be specific and challenging, but not unrealistic for you – at least in the time frame you’ve allowed. This will only lead to frustration and disappointment. An easy way to start making excuses not to train…
4. Keep a Progress Tracker
You can achieve consistency of training when you track your progress accurately. It is a great motivator when you see your results on paper (or electronic device) – how much heavier you’re lifting, how many more reps you’re doing, how much muscle you’ve gained, your weight loss (or fat loss) – all these facts and stats add up to a satisfying experience that keeps you hungry for more. It will also reveal where you’ve not gained and perhaps slacked off a bit, helping you regain your focus on what needs doing for next time.
5. Use Your Advantage
Did you know that as a previous lifter, your body is naturally ‘programmed’ to build muscle easier than if you were just starting off? It’s a scientific fact (published by the National Academy of Sciences) that even though your muscles regress somewhat during a long break, they more often than not retain some ‘memory’ of having at one time being larger and stronger. This means that when they are exposed to resistance training again, the body is able to employ muscle memory to trigger a much faster reaction and addition of muscle proteins.
6. Make it fun
For many people, doing anything, including exercise is more fun when doing with someone else, or in a group. If you can arrange a regular ‘gym buddy’ to workout with, this can help motivate you to get to workouts more often (and on time!) as well as adding an edge of competitiveness – which can only help to motivate and progress you further.
George Vlismas is the owner of OnlyMen’sHealth.com – the website and newsletter dedicated to the empowerment of men today. It is a resource that covers a range of health topics and issues that affects men in today’s world, where the levels of pressure and expectation from men within society and the family have never been higher.
Our mission is to supply the tools, information and advice in order that every man is able to lead a healthier, wealthier and more balanced lifestyle.
Photo credit: Flickr/ColonnadeBoston
Article originally appeared at: OnlyMensHealth.com