Welcome to my new feature!
Yes, it’s the first Health & Fitness Friday so I’m starting this series off with the question I asked myself hundreds of times in the last week or so, “Where do I start!?”
I’ve always been interested in fitness in some way, shape or form. Martial arts, school rugby team, running clubs, rowing, boxing, gym, and stayed up-to-date with all the latest fitness trends reading Men’s Health Magazine every month. Fitness is an important part of soldiering too for obvious reasons. And once I’d left the military I even retrained to be a Fitness Instructor!
As I said in my Update though, I have a yo-yo-like approach to my fitness so far. No matter what it is I’ve done, or for how long, at some point I seem to stop doing it for a slightly longer than acceptable amount of time and then it’s back to the beginning. With some reflection I’ve come to realise a big part of that is the lack of accountability; because it’s only for me I do it and usually I exercise alone so if I’m lacking the motivation one day to train, I can skip it. There’s no consequence (except my own health or muscle atrophy perhaps). The other big factor is that I don’t push myself as hard as I could. When something is easy to achieve, there’s not usually much motivation involved. We need to be challenged to grow, develop and thrive.
This is where you come in, my lovely readers. As I try to “educate you” about health and fitness and because I’ve now told you this is my plan I am accountable for following through on my word. By not performing the exercises, or even posting about my exercise there will be consequences besides ‘I’ve let myself down’.
So how exactly do we go from the idea we want to be healthier and fitter to actually getting started on our health and fitness goals?
Glad you asked!
I think the first, probably most important step is to define your goal. Because if you don’t know why you want to do something, then why are you doing it? The why specifically can be used to motivate yourself later on too. Also, if you don’t know what you want to achieve how would you know when you’ve achieved it? It could be anything at this stage no matter how vague: drop a couple clothes sizes, get stronger, have more energy, be more toned and defined or improve flexibility. You can always get more specific as you go.
Defining your goal will also help you decide what actions to take to achieve it. There’s no point running 5 miles everyday if you’re goal is to pack on muscle like a bodybuilder would.
Using myself as the example, my general goal is to have a more athletic looking body-type. I want this because by looking better I know I’ll feel better about myself (not in a superficial way… mostly) and by virtue of feeling better about myself this will have a positive impact on basically every area of my life; more energy, better mood, better interactions, etc. There are always factors to take into consideration before beginning any fitness routine such as if your medically fit enough to begin (for this I’d always recommend going to see your GP for a check-up first), your own levels of activity, your diet, location and even money.
I don’t have the money right now to be spending on a gym membership so that means I’m already very limited to what I can actually do: no machines or even free-weights indoors means I’m basically left with bodyweight exercises. The good thing about this is they can be done almost anytime and anywhere, now there’s no excuse.
So we’ve set a goal and taken a look at a few impact factors, maybe you’ve already seen your GP for a health check. By now you should know what you want to achieve and why, and if there’s going to be anything that could limit your potential. Now you’re going to decide your course of action: it could be joining a gym or getting a trainer, working out at home or outdoors, alone or with a friend. While I was researching bodyweight exercises and routines I came across Calisthenics…
Now calisthenics (in a nutshell) is basically another way to say bodyweight exercises but there’s a little more to it than that. Calisthenics has become a somewhat popular form of exercise now with many big names in the “industry” bringing it to the mainstream like BarBrothers (YouTube channel here), BarStarzz (YouTube channel here), and Frank Medrano.
That’s intense isn’t it!
Now I’m nowhere near a level to do anything you just saw in the video above but that’s the point. No matter how long I try and do this there will always be a new progression, a new move to try. Always something new to aim for and challenge me. And this is going to take A LOT OF TIME.
Whatever you’ve decided for your health & fitness goal, you need a starting point (gotta know where you’re at to know where you’re going, right?). If you’re goal was to run for example, a steady state jog over a set distance or time would be a good assessment. Since I’m going to be doing bodyweight exercises then knowing how many reps of each exercise I can do already will help me determine a foundation level I can improve upon.
Basic bodyweight exercises like the push-up, pull-up, dips, plank and squat are going to be the starting point here. Once the basics have been mastered and I can manage the prescribed number of reps in perfect form then it’s time to progress to more challenging variations of the exercises.
My original plan to reintroduce myself to regular exercise was going to be as simple as performing 100 push ups and 100 squats (over 3 or more sets) every other day. Although I believe I could complete this, it felt a little boring already so I’m starting with a beginners workout I read in Ashley Kalym’s book Complete Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Exercise (Please note this is not an affiliate link, nor have I been asked to write this in return for money, goods or anything else. It’s just a link to the book should you want to know more).
Essentially, in Kalym’s book, the beginner workout is 2 different workouts performed twice each during the week. Once you’ve completed both workouts you have a rest day and then repeat. For example, if we started the program on a Monday:
- Monday- Day 1 Workout
- Tuesday- Day 2 Workout
- Wednesday- Rest
- Thursday- Day 1 Workout
- Friday- Day 2 Workout
- Saturday- Rest
- Sunday- Rest
This is ideal for beginners as there is adequate time for recovery and also it’s not overcomplicated only having 2 workouts to perform for the week, meaning more time learning the fundamentals and progressing and less time worrying or overthinking about what’s going on.
I’m going to be following the routine for the next four weeks and at the end of the month I’ll post a progress report and explain what’s next for me.
Are you looking to get back into exercising now the winters over? Have you ever tried or even heard of Calisthenics before? Did you find anything in today’s post helpful? I want to hear from you and know all about it in the comments below.
Be sure to come back next week for my next Health & Fitness Friday 😉