As discussed, when beginning an exercise routine for the first time or after a long gap, it is necessary to take it slow and work along with your body in getting accustomed to the activity.
This is essential, not only to maintain the motivation and long-term adherence but also to avoid any physical injuries. For those who are getting back to exercise after a long gap, it is essential to understand that our body begins to lose the conditioning within a month of stopping of the activity and must be conditioned all over again!
After preparing for the new exercise routine before hand in small ways as discussed earlier, the next step is to focus on increasing the frequency before increasing the duration and intensity.
In other words, if you begin with 45 minutes three days a week, then the next progression would be 45 minutes 5 times a week, i.e. the frequency is increased without increasing the duration or intensity. However, most of the routines prescribed at health clubs are for 6 days a week, right from the beginning and hence some helpful points to note should be –
o Make sure that the weight training routines are restricted to 2-3 times a week, and with a gap of one day in between. Also 1-2 sets of around 10-15 reps, depending on the muscle groups targeted are sufficient for the first couple of weeks.
o It is also ok to exercise only 5 days out of the 6-day schedules, in the first couple of weeks depending on the signals of fatigue or pain from the body.
o Once the routine feels comfortable, the next step would be to increase intensity in case of weight training exercises and duration in case of cardio exercises. This means, in case of weight training, progress by increasing repetitions to the point of fatigue or increase weight and in case of a cardio activity like walking on a treadmill, increase the time instead of opting for jogging or running in the same time. The reverse way may not be very helpful.
o Get a good 8 hours of sleep and adequate rest every day for optimum results. Needless to say, a good nutritious diet will help boost the energy levels and progress faster.