The Goal and Why
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of what we’ll do physically, let’s first discuss your mental outlook or mind frame. The first thing you should ask yourself is what is your goal. Do you want to bench press or deadlift 400 lbs., run marathons, get your black belt in martial arts, lose weight, gain weight, or just look good.
Whichever goal you’re trying to reach, it is very important you write it down, and just as vital, is why you want to attain this goal. The “why” is going to get you through the days you’re feeling tired or “too busy” which is really just an excuse for not wanting to do the work. More on that in a minute.
Get the Go Ahead and Start Slowly
Once you have your goal and the reason why you want to achieve it written down, schedule an appointment with your doctor to see what you can and cannot do. If you have knee problems, you wouldn’t start by running three miles tomorrow. So, know your body and see what you can safely do. Be honest with yourself. We’re not as young as we once were and our minds fool ourselves until our bodies say, “uhh…no way, dude…you can’t jump that high anymore.” Warm-up is critical and starting after a layoff by going slow is just as important. An injury can derail you and the next thing you know, there’s another setback. Once you get the okay to exercise, we can get to work.
You Don’t Have Time – It’s a Myth
I’m going on a short tangent here for a minute, so bear with me. There’s this myth when people say they don’t have enough time to exercise. I call b.s on this. You’re telling me you don’t have 5-15 minutes a day to do push-ups or squats, jumping jacks, running in place, or anything else to get your body moving and heart rate up in the privacy of your home? You change your mindset by making the time to exercise. This is why it’s so important to write down your goal in the beginning and read it every day.
It’s Not as Difficult as You Think
Starting out can be something as simple as walking a few blocks on your lunch break every day. You could even break this up and do a fifteen minute workout of push-ups and squats (or a variation or something completely different) at home Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and walk to lunch the remaining two days during the work-week. Most importantly like with anything else, is taking the first step. You will feel much better about yourself mentally and physically just by taking action.
There are many things you could do to get in shape. Examples of these would be to join a gym, buy weights and a treadmill, etc., build a nice home gym, start martial arts, boxing, or you could purchase an expensive bicycle. As you see, you could potentially spend a lot of money, lose interest, or even get injured.
This is an example of a very basic workout you could start with. Let’s say I’ve always wanted to be able to perform fifty push-ups in a row. However, I’ve been sedentary and unmotivated during a long layoff because of an illness and my confidence and self-esteem are low. Remember to write down your goal and the “why” of wanting to do fifty push-ups in a row. Place it where you will see it every day, like the bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or maybe even on your computer screen. I set reminders on my phone that pop up every 15 minutes to remind me. Seeing the goal several times a day is a reminder to keep you focused.
Here’s one example of how your goal might look.
Complete (1) set of 50 push-ups by December 11, 2019 (One month from today)
Why? Increase confidence and become mentally and physically stronger. Also, to get you really motivated, you want to look good so you can get out there and start dating.
Completed 40 Jumping Jacks rested 45 seconds and then ran in place for 20 seconds
November 11 – Completed 1 x 20 push-ups at 7:30 am (perform the exercise at the best time for you every day)
November 12 – 21 push-ups
November 13 – 22 push-ups
November 14 – 23 push-ups and so on.
You may not be able to start with 20 push-ups. The time frame to hit 50 push-ups may need to be adjusted and your secondary goal would also need to be changed.
Good Habits Do Pay Off Over Time
In the beginning of your transformation, the key is to do the exercise at the same time every day to create the habit of doing the push-ups. You’ve probably heard it takes at least 17 days to build a habit. It will be much easier to do this if it’s always at the same time. This way it becomes a ritual almost like brushing your teeth. Your days will feel “off” if you don’t do push-ups that day. You will be doing push-ups so often; you may not remember if you did them on a particular day or not. So, pick the best time for you and stick to it. You will be amazed at the progress you will be making daily. If you’re feeling strong and hungry for more, you could add some variety to this workout by doing it in the morning before work and in the evening after arriving home. I wouldn’t recommend doing any exercise less than two hours before bedtime. Your heart rate could be elevated, and it could be difficult to fall asleep.
Remember to always warm-up. You don’t want to get in the habit of skipping this important step. Otherwise, you could cause injury if you’re not careful. Even briskly walking down the street and back could be an option. The main thing is to get your heart rate up prior to your workout. In effect, it’s “turning on” your body to get it prepared for increased activity.
If You’re Feeling Strong
Another idea you could try if you want to get in shape quicker and build your endurance is adding bodyweight squats after the push-ups with or without rest. It may be too challenging at first to attempt right after the push-ups. If so, try resting 60 seconds and then do 10 bodyweight squats. Remember to keep in mind your knees and proper form. A mirror is your best guide. A stance slightly wider than shoulder width and not going any further than your thighs parallel to the floor would be ideal. A wider stance affects your glutes more and a narrower one will hit your quads harder. Your knees should stay in alignment with your feet at all times and not stray inside or outside. Also, your knees should not extend past your toes during the down (eccentric) phase. If you’re taller, your knees going past your toes is unavoidable. The squatting movement is as if you’re sitting down in a chair. Eventually, you will be able to do the push-ups and squats back to back with no problem. If you’re feeling really brave, you could do burpees instead of squats. Anytime you get prime movers like the legs moving, you will burn calories more rapidly.
Don’t Forget to Cool Down
Finally, it’s important to cool down. Ideally, you would want to stretch. Especially once you start working your legs hard. I always recommend some form of stretching. Even more so as we age. For the push-ups only workout, walking non-stop for 5-10 minutes would suffice for the time being. I’ve always been of the mindset, the longer your workout, the longer you will need to warm up and cool down.
This is just one example of a fitness goal. Generally, the idea is the same regardless if it’s running your first marathon, improving your swimming times, or earning a black belt in a martial arts discipline. Set small incremental goals, work hard to attain them, be consistent, write down your progress, and you will see improvements sooner than you think. Just keep in mind, your goal would need to be fine-tuned for that particular sport/activity you’re wanting to improve. Having a trainer will increase your gains exponentially by teaching proper form, holding you accountable, and keeping you motivated.
So, let’s review. I’ve covered a lot of ground here. Your first steps are to write down your goal and why you want to attain it. Then see the doctor to get clearance and tell him/her your goal (the why is up to you).
For example, for push-ups, you may have a shoulder problem that limits your range of motion and strength. So, your goal may need to be modified or even changed. That’s why it’s so important to pay your doctor a visit. Once you get the go-ahead, we can start the journey.
I’m looking forward to helping you reach your goals so you can look, think, and feel better. This, in turn, will breed success.
“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”