It’s almost fitness season. People will be flocking back to their gym memberships for the post-New Year’s rush with hopes of being more committed than ever. While getting back into a routine can be tough mentally and create some uncomfortable but expected soreness, it is always important to remember these four rules to stay safe during your 2016 fitness adventures.
Rule #1 - Do No Harm
There should never be a situation, especially where professionals are present, where someone would be prone to injuries. When someone yells, “No Pain, No Gain!” to their workout partner who is buns-to-grass deep in a poorly executed squat with 500lbs on their back . . . run. Just run. The truth is that you have to start where your body is ready to start. Following the OPT model outlined by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, you should first master balance, stability, and core strength before moving onto exercises that incorporate strength and power into the mix. If you don’t feel safe in any particular movement, do no harm. There are options and variations to almost every exercise to meet you at your level.
Rule #2 - Work Smarter, Not Harder
There is no need to spend hours at the gym, and realistically, if you are spending over an hour at the gym you are probably either overworking or taking too much rest. So how can you work smarter instead of harder? Schedule no more than 1 hour (plus travel) time for your workouts. When you are working out, follow a program customized for your body and your goals. If you do a dynamic warming up, work out with a strategic plan, and cool down effectively, you can finish within an hour. And effective fat-burning interval cardio can be completed in under 20 minutes.
Rule #3 - Prepare, Refuel, and Rehydrate
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they workout is they forget how important the timing surrounding a workout is. It is beneficial to prepare for your workout by being properly hydrated and nourished. One to two hours before you plan on working out, drink a large glass of water with your pre-workout meal. It can even be as simple as a piece of Ezekiel toast with almond butter. Even more crucial is how you refuel and rehydrate post-workout. Be sure to have some healthy plant-based protein available (I use and recommend 1–2 scoops of Sunwarrior protein you can mix with water) and consume it within an hour of heavy exercise.
Rule #4 - Rest and Repair for Self Care
Even God rested—and for good reason! After physical, mental, and emotional exertion, rest is imperative to allow your body the time to rebuild after being broken down. Self-myofascial release and massage are excellent ways to show your muscles some love. Mineral baths, saunas, alternating heat and cold, and proper nutrition are other options for continual self-care. Be sure to get at least 8 hours of restful sleep each night!
Take your newfound energy and run with it. If you want this year to be different, the only thing standing in your way is you. Take that step forward, and if it happens to land you in the gym, then follow these four rules to keep you safe while you sweat your way through 2016.