So it looks like spring is here to stay. And hopefully you have started that Spring Health Fitness Resolutions that we talked about in our last column. It included our first five tips for getting started as the season changes.
Now that you have found or restarted a fitness activity, got the right gear, set some S.M.A.R.T. goals and started changing your nutrition, let’s keep it going with five more tips that will get you to your goal by July 4…
6. GET STRONGER – In life and in sport, there are few activities that improving your strength won’t help. Think how much easier it would be to lift your child, grandchild, or favorite pet if you practiced lifting odd objects on a regular basis.
Or imagine how running or biking up a hill wouldn’t leave you as winded if your legs could produce more power. Or perhaps your shoulder or elbow would feel better on your tennis serve if the muscles in your core and the back of your shoulder were strong enough to control the force of your arm and racquet traveling at high velocity.
Plus, strong is sexy. I have yet to see someone who possesses true strength who doesn’t look good. Think athletes, dancers, martial artists, gymnasts, rock climbers, and more. Using your muscles to exert force does this funny thing to the body which involves building muscle and burning fat.
But real, functional strength isn’t just about looking good. Strength that will improve your life and allow you to do things better and without pain is about training the right muscles to produce the right force at the right time, and in the right direction.
More than likely, this will not be accomplished by sitting on the various machines and using one muscle to move a stack of weights up and down while you talk to your best friend or read a magazine article.
Getting truly stronger requires effort, focus, and guidance. First, you need to know what is weak and needs to be strengthened. This is where getting some sort of evaluation comes into play. Then you need to figure out what exercises, weights, reps and rest periods are appropriate for you to strengthen the right muscles for the task that you want to do. This is all in the realm of the personal trainer. I happen to know a couple of good ones!
7. GET HELP – Speaking of trainers, be sure to seek the help of people knowledgeable in your Spring Resolution activity or endeavor. Things are always more enjoyable when you know what you’re doing.
Not to mention, you will be less likely to hurt yourself if you have proper guidance. Find a Coach. Take a lesson. Do a weekend workshop. Get online and find a chat room, Facebook group, or message board. You’d be surprised how much people are willing to help you out if you want to get better at something.
8. R & R – With all of this new activity that you’re doing, be sure to let your body rest and recover. This is how you prevent injuries, get stronger and prevent getting burnt out. Be sure that you have 1-3 days a week that you are not doing much of anything physical.
That doesn’t mean to lay on the couch all day watching a “Game of Thrones” marathon while eating Cheetos. You can still rest “actively.” Go for a walk or hike with a friend and periodically stop to stretch those muscles that might be sore from your league kickball game. Take a yoga class (if yoga is not your primary form of exercise). Discover the benefits of self-myofascial release (those Styrofoam cylinders you see people rolling around on at the gym). Eat right. Stay hydrated. Sleep.
9. REAP THE REWARDS – So we touched on this when you developed your S.M.A.R.T. goal. When you reach your goal, celebrate it.
Maybe you signed up for a bike race at the beach. Or maybe your goal involved being able to climb or hike a mountain. Or maybe it was being able to fit into THAT DRESS for your high school or college reunion. Whatever your goal is, reward yourself when you get there.
Spend a couple of extra days at the beach after the bike ride. Bring a bottle of wine, have a picnic and camp out and enjoy the view at the top of the mountain. Dance with the guy or girl who wouldn’t give you the time of day in high school, but now can’t stop staring because he or she knows (and you know) that you look good.