When it comes to motivation, your brain is a mysterious creature. One minute you’re pumped, full of enthusiasm. A few weeks later the excuses start to creep in, and before you know it you haven’t been to the gym all week. SMART START is a beginners plan for fitness that is based on scientific research. Follow this simple approach to guarantee that your first steps to fitness are not your last.
THREE SECRETS TO SUCCESS
- Start slow. don't push your body too soon.
- It’s okay to stop working out when you’ve had enough build gradually. aim towards completing full workouts as your fitness builds mix it up.
- Mix strength, cardio and flexibility training options and learn what workouts consistently motivate you to get moving
When you're starting out, a good goal to aim for is 150 minutes of exercise a week. Research shows that with 150 minutes of exercise a week you will start enjoying the health benefits of exercise.
There are lots of ways you can begin to get active. You can start with group fitness workouts, walking, bike riding or even just choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Even if you can only manage 10 minutes at a time, remember, it all adds up in the end.
When you have reached, and acclimatised to 150 minutes of exercise a week the next goal is 250 – 300 minutes. This is the suggested amount of weekly exercise needed to begin seeing some of the physical changes that accompany exercise without making any changes to your diet.
If you’re up for this challenge you can begin following our scientifically-proven six-week introduction. This workout plan lets you know how to mix up your workouts to maximize effectiveness and keep it interesting.
Another smart move is to set some goals. Setting goals can be a huge help at any stage of your exercise journey. We suggest setting two goals; one based on the results you’re after and one on the behavior you’re trying to change. For example, I want to drop one dress size and I want to get to the gym twice next week. Stick these goals somewhere you will see them often, like the fridge or in your wallet.
Whatever you do, make sure your goals are realistic and don’t be too hard on yourself – remember, you’re just starting out. As you reach each of your goals you can reevaluate how much time you are exercising and what you are trying to achieve.
People who work out in a group are far more likely to stick at exercise than those who go it alone.
Get Fit Together, a study conducted by Dr. Jinger Gottschall from the Pennsylvania State University, followed 25 sedentary adults through a 30-week program of group fitness classes.
The 30 weeks started with an initial six week period encouraging the exercisers to “dip their toes” into fitness before building up to a six-day-a-week exercise schedule. The gradual introduction meant that instead of feeling sore from overworking unfit muscles and giving up, the group actually enjoyed their path into exercise.
The results were awesome – so good that participants delayed the onset of cardio vascular disease by an average of 3.6 years. Over the 30 week study, 20 out of 25 study participants never missed a workout – a compliance rate of 98.8 per cent – almost unheard of in exercise studies. This commitment is proof that, when it comes to exercise, you shouldn’t go it alone – combining a steady start with the support of others works wonders.
SETTING A SCHEDULE
If you are really serious about taking your fitness to the next level, try to follow this recommended guide for the first six weeks.
SIX-WEEK GUIDE TO STARTING OUT
Follow this scientifically-proven set of recommended activity levels for your first six weeks of exercise.
- WEEK ONE - 1x 20 min cardio workout, 1x 20 min strength workout and 1x 10 min core/flexibility workout.
- WEEK TWO - 2x 20 min cardio workouts, 1x 30 min strength workout and 1x 20 min core/flexibility workout
- WEEK THREE - 2x 30 min cardio workouts, 1x 30 min and 1x 20 min strength workout and 1x 30 min core/flexibility workout
- WEEK FOUR - 2x 30 min and 1x 20 min cardio workouts, 1x 60 min strength workout and 1x 30 min core/flexibility workout
- WEEK FIVE - 2x 50 min and 1x 20 min cardio workouts, 1x 60 min and 1x 20 min strength workout and 1x 60 min core/flexibility workout
- WEEK SIX - 2x 60 min and 1x 30 min cardio workouts, 1x 60 min and 1x 30 min strength workout and 1x 60 min core/flexibility workout
- Download the PDF here.
AFTER SIX WEEKS
Well done for making through your first weeks. To really lock in your healthy new habit, the next 12 weeks is just as critical to success. Each week from now should include 3 x 60 minute cardio workouts, 2 x 60 minute strength workouts and 1 x 60 minute session of core/flexibility work.