Ask The Trainer

Follow these common-sense tips in the new year

January 17, 2015

Every January, thousands of people flock to local gyms with the hope of getting in shape and losing weight, but failure to understand what to expect and how to get started could be the difference between getting results and banging their heads against the wall. Don’t be one of those people and be sure to consider the following tips, and small gains will add up to big results.

Start slow

The average person associates how hard they work out with results because more is always better, right? Wrong. The body responds to cycling the difficulty of your workouts. Starting off too fast could be a death punch to your progress. If you wind up so sore you can’t sit on the toilet, you have effectively taken five steps backward.

Instead, hit the ground running by starting light the first two weeks and then progress to more difficult workouts over time. I use the following chart to explain to my clients how hard they should be working the first four weeks.

Week 1 - 60 to 65 percent. Workouts should be light enough to feel the tension.

Week 2 - 65 to 75 percent. Add weight to exercises that are ridiculously light.

Week 3 - 75 to 85 percent. Add weight to the rest of the exercises unless they are still challenging.

Week 4 - 85 to 95 percent. Add weight to remaining exercises and switch some to more difficult movements.

Expect to lose 2-3 pounds a week

I often hear false claims and misinformed people talk about losing large amounts of weight in short periods of time, and my response is always the same: if the average person loses more than 2 to 3 pounds a week, they are losing valuable muscle and will slow their metabolism, causing them to gain all the weight back and then some just as quickly as they lost it. Remember, it’s about body composition, not pounds.

Chart results

One of the most important things you can do to motivate yourself is track your own progress. Once you see tangible proof that what you’re doing is working, you will be instantly hooked and much more likely to work harder to achieve your goals.

For most people, getting in shape starts with accomplishing a few small goals like losing an inch off their waist, or dropping a couple pounds, but consistently reaching small goals adds up to big results over time. Before you know it, things that were once thought to be impossible become attainable. A few suggestions on tracking results are taking measurements, getting body fat tested, recording strength gains and recording best times in competitive events such as 5Ks and other races.

Change your eating habits

A fitness plan without a proper diet is like shoveling snow in the middle of a blizzard. You may have good intentions, but you’re not going to make much progress. Diet is usually the missing piece of the puzzle, and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish when you combine cardio, weight training and a sound nutritional plan. Remember basic rules like eating smaller, more frequent meals; eliminating sugars and starchy carbohydrates; consuming more lean proteins like fish and chicken; and being sure to add good fats. Remember, if it comes in a package it's usually loaded with sodium, sugar and preservatives, so eat more natural foods.

Don’t fall for quick fixes, fad diets

Working out and getting in shape will take hard work and dedication, and there are no quick fixes that will get you there without a lifestyle change. Stay away from gimmicky shortcuts that promise quick results, and expect to commit to working out four to five times a week to achieve your goals. Change your diet and include weight training and cardio for best results.

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