Excited about the new exercise program you are about to start? Thinking of starting something new? There are a few things to consider before starting. Jumping right into a program without this information could leave you injured, discouraged, and ready to throw in the towel after just one session. Starting off with the right information and tools can keep you on a path to success for a lifetime.
When starting a new program, understand that you may not be perfect at it yet. The perfectionist mentality on the first day is enough to discourage anyone. You can master the exercise with time. If you happen to get everything right the first time, great. But exercise programs that are effective teach your muscles to perform more difficult tasks than they are accustomed. This means your muscles are learning. That is how you get great results. Pushing yourself too hard to be “perfect” may result in injury.
Know what you are doing. Make sure that you know how to perform each exercise correctly. It will help prevent injury and improve the effectiveness of the exercise. The more accurately you perform an exercise, the better your results will be. Ask a trainer or exercise instructor for help. If you are doing the exercises at home, go slow until you figure out what is comfortable for you. Check that your posture is good. Thinking about your core as a powerhouse will help you perform exercises with better posture. You can always check out the library or credible sources like ACE or ACSM for tips on proper movement. You might also want to use the mirrors.
Think about your breathing. Make sure when you do strength training exercises, you are breathing. Usually exhalation occurs while the muscle you are targeting contracts. Inhale as you release. When performing endurance or cardio exercises, use the talk test as a relative indication for intensity. If you cannot say 3 words without gasping, you are probably performing at too high of an intensity. Slowly bring your intensity down until you can perform the talk test correctly. Be sure to keep breathing rhythmic and even.
Hydration is important. You can be too hydrated or dehydrated. What is the correct amount? Your goal is to replace the water you expend while sweating during exercise. Before you exercise, be sure to not be thirsty. Once you start, drink about an ounce for every 15-20 minutes of exercise. If you are thirsty, drink something. Do not drink soda pop or sugary drinks immediately before or during exercise. They can act as diuretics. If you take diuretic medicines, consult your doctor on the amount they recommend you replenish with. Sports drinks are mostly for athletes/ exercisers exercising for longer than an hour or hour and a half.
Warming up and Cooling down may not seem important, but it is. Be sure to take the 5-10 minutes to do this. Your heart will thank you. Your body needs a chance to return to a normal heart rate and to slowly increase. It actually helps with soreness and increases efficiency. Stretching as a part of cool down is an excellent idea, because your muscles are nice and warm. It feels so awesome, so that may keep you coming back for more.
Starting the new program be sure to get the okay. If you start something new, you may want to check with your doctor for clearance. There may be medical reasons the doctor doesn’t want you to work at certain intensities. You may also have an injury that needs to heal a little better. Research may be available to doctors or specialists that prove some exercises are unsafe for certain populations. It never hurts to check.
Now lace up and go!