You’ve likely heard this story before…it’s one that plays out day after day at gym after gym, or in home after home, across America. And it goes like this:
Person X feels out of shape. Person X vows to start a workout program. On day one of said workout program, Person X is fired up, full of fitness zeal. Person X picks up where he or she left off three years ago (the last time he/she worked out), pumping out 20 push-ups, 50 squats and 100 crunches—or perhaps diving into session one of P90X. Afterward, Person X is exhausted. The next day, Person X walks like an octogenarian. Person X cries when he/she has to take the stairs. On day two of said workout program, Person X is suddenly very busy. Said workout program dies a premature death.
Such a sad story…especially because it can be easily prevented with one simple word: progression. Follow these steps to implement a progressive workout program that you can stick to not just for a week or even a year but a lifetime.
- Swallow your pride. I learned this lesson after having children. I’d been a competitive runner my whole life, and suddenly I had 30 extra pounds on me. I learned the hard way that I couldn’t just get out and run like I used to. It wasn’t until I set my pride aside and took a walk/jog approach that I was able to build back up to my previous stamina (and down to my former size). No matter what you did in your glory days, you should ease your way into any workout program. Do push-ups on your knees, or try leaning against a wall. Walk instead of run. Use lighter weights. Do body-weight squats. If you’re consistent, you’ll quickly work your way back up to stud status.
- Make a plan. If you map out your progression, you’re less likely to do too much too soon or get discouraged with a lack of progress. You may even want to book a personal training session for some expert help in designing your plan.
- Don’t be lazy. There’s a danger to starting slowly: Some people find they rather enjoy easy workouts. But to get results, it’s vital not to get stuck in first gear. The good news: If you progress steadily and gradually, the hard stuff won’t be nearly as hard once you get to it.
And that’s it. With just those three steps, you can write a new story: the story of Person Y, as in, “Y, yes I am in great shape, thank you very much.” You’re welcome.
Kellee Katagi is one of those strange souls who actually enjoys working out for the sake of working out. She’s spent most of her 20-plus-year writing and editing career covering fitness, nutrition and travel, as well as outdoor sports ranging from skiing to spelunking to street luge (yes, that’s a thing).