One excuse I hear on a regular basis is "I can't find the time to workout".
This time of year is the busiest for gyms. New Year's resolutions are on course but (sadly) many will throw in the towel before spring arrives. I believe one of the main reasons for this is because many newcomers go to extremes - they become obsessed with food and exercise.
Over the years I have witnessed many who fail to maintain a lifelong adherence to exercise. When any task is taken to extremes the results will also be extreme. We have all met those people; all they seem to talk about is exercise, calories, carbs and posting photos on Facebook of their latest accomplishments in the gym. Exercise should be done on a regular basis in a moderate fashion.
And if you think you don't have the time then think about it this way, many soap operas air two to three times per week for a duration of 30 minutes and (in my opinion) are a conduit for negativity. They offer little or no sustenance for mind or body.
How about substituting this time with 15 minutes of exercise two to three per week?
It'll be a time for you to switch off, enhance your physical fitness, rejuvenate the cells, cleanse the liver, strengthen the muscles, lower cholesterol and improve your wellbeing.
Many believe they need to be in the gym 4-5 times a week for hours at a time, the thought of this alone would be enough to put a stop to the most resolute of newcomer.
Excluding endurance training, all it takes to make extensive changes to mind and body is 15-20 minutes of exercise 2-3 times per week. The most important factor is quality - not quantity. The training level intensity must be determined by your current fitness level.
Let me give you an example: A few months back a lady contacted my gym to book a personal training consultation. Once I had completed all of the tests and understood my client's goals, I designed a (very simple) six-week exercise and nutrition plan.
Before coming to me she had been training five days a week for 60-90 minutes per session. She felt she wasn't getting the results she wanted. Now she trains three times per week for 15 minutes per session.
Over the six-week period she gained 2lbs of muscle, lost eight pounds of weight and dropped 6pc body fat. I simply took her back to basics.
Simple nutritious meal plans, basic compound exercises, lots of rest between sessions. She enjoyed a pizza and a beer once a week. Something she (wrongly) assumed was off limits for months.
It's no secret and it's not rocket science. To lose weight (as my client did) your primary goal must be to increase your muscle tone (LBM) lean body mass.
Fads will come and go. I have lost count of the amount of fads witnessed over the years. All of them trying to reinvent the wheel (or in this case the dumbbell)!
Strategically placed late night TV adverts promising (all who will listen) the quickest way to get ripped fast!
When I tell my female clients that they must build their muscles to loose weight I'm normally met with a face of confusion. When the majority hear me mention muscle building they visualise a female bodybuilder with muscles resembling an anatomy chart.
This is muscle building to the extreme of course and like I mentioned earlier any task taken to the extreme yields extreme results.
The equation is simple: Extremely heavy weights are lifted for extreme results. Look at the evidence. A power lifter's routine will be very different from the swimsuit model, yet both are striving to increase (or maintain) muscle.
They can both train for 15-20 minutes per session, yet their rep range and sets (how many times they lift the weight) and how much they lift will be very different.
If your New Year's resolution is to change your physique, get healthy and more importantly stick with it, then I strongly suggest the following:
my top tips:
l Don't over train - rest is just as important as the workout.
l Be consistent.
l Go to sleep before midnight and wake up without an alarm clock.
l Don't break your routine (exercise and nutrition) when on holidays.
l 3 days a week of quality training is enough - 15-20 minutes is all that is needed.
l Treat yourself once a week.
l Listen to your body. It will absolutely tell you when to rest, when to keep pushing forward and when you are out of balance for any reason so don't ignore the signs.
l Never miss a workout - remember it only takes 15-20 minutes!
l Once you plateau, change the programme.
l Once a week, set a goal. This could be one more press up than you done the previous week. It could be 1/2 kilo on your bench press. Small consistent goals are massively important.
l Don't become obsessed with it.
l Eat small and often.
l Keep a training diary.
l Keep it simple. Fads will come and go, stick to the basics.
l No food is off limits, it's the amount we consume that causes the problems.
l Be very mindful of your sugar consumption.
l Crunches won't give you a six pack, the six pack is built in the kitchen!
l First and foremost - train to stay healthy and strong. The aesthetics will follow.
l Having a training partner can be nice, but don't rely or wait for anyone when it's training day. This is your journey.
l Enjoy it... if it starts to become something you don't look forward to, re-address all of the above.
Aidan Carroll is the proprietor of Focus Fitness Personal Training and Hard Target School of Self Defence. For more information on exercise and nutrition, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.focusfitness.ie or www.hardtargetselfdefence.com