The trick to exercise and fitness is work on the things you can do to improve the things you can’t do. Too many people jump in too deep with exercise and attempt exercises, movements or programs that aren’t yet appropriate for them. At best this is simply unnecessary; they would get the same results from less complexity. (After all, why go to step Z if the results you want would come at A,B,C?) At worst this approach will leave you injured and unable to train at all.
An example is running. Too many people begin their foray into fitness by running or jogging despite the fact that they have dismal total body strength, poor posture and alignment, limited mobility and beat-up soft tissue. If the new exerciser is carrying around many pounds to start with (and who isn’t?) the situation is even worse. So what to do?
For the overweight, simply walking might be more appropriate, combined with an improved diet to lose bodyfat. Then add in circuit type work and more and more complex movements as fitness and mobility improve. Here’s an example:
- walking outdoors or treadmill on very mild incline
- circuit work on resistance machines, untimed
- circuit work on resistance machines, done “on the clock”
- circuit work with bodyweight exercises, untimed
- circuit work with bodyweight exercises, “on the clock”
- interval work on cycle or elliptical
- intense interval work on cycle or elliptical
- circuit work with weights, untimed
- circuit work with weights, “on the clock”
- jogging intervals
- sprinting very steep grass hills (scrambling NOT striding out)
- sprinting short distance or buildups on track (less than 200 meters
I separated the last four steps because they are the most severe and it may be the case that you will never need to progress that far. They may simply never be appropriate for you or your goals, and that’s okay. I would make sure you are “qualified” and proceed cautiously when you decide to start those last four.
That’s 12 steps to get from walking to running. Think about that next time you see someone shuffling down the street in an obviously pained gait.
First a note of caution: If it hurts don’t do it. You need to have a certain amount of discretion here because discomfort, fatigue or effort is normal. Pain in the sense of injury is not. NEVER train into the realm of actual pain or injury. Better to train another day than be injured.