Launching into a new exercise regime can be exciting – and whilst motivation is a critical contributor to sticking steadfastly to working out, it can also be a serious pitfall when it comes to fresh routines. Most of us, regardless of the exercise type, our age or physical condition, need to employ carefully selected tactics if we’re to benefit from our new commitment, rather than it resulting in an injury.
1. Plan ahead properly and pace yourself
Your training plan needs to be practical in terms of the time it will take – not considering whether or not it can fit alongside your busy work and life schedules is a sure fire route to overcommitting, burning yourself out and suffering an injury. You also shouldn’t forget to factor in the critical stages of warming up and cooling down – each of which should account for ten to fifteen minutes either side of your core workout session.
Plan which days and times you’re going to exercise and stick to it! A cold and wet morning can sometimes derail even the most committed, so make sure you’re ready to overcome any potential obstacles that could stop you from getting your workout.
As you progress, and your results improve (be this the mileage you cover, the reps of weights you can handle or the steps you take) you should avoid upping the ante too drastically – an increase of between 10% and 20% per week is recommended.
2. Mix up your routine
Many injuries come about as a direct result of overtraining, these are known as repetitive injuries. The chances of you suffering from such an injury can be drastically cut if you mix your routine up with various forms of training. For example, if you cycle and run during one week, switch up your exercise with swimming and walking the next week.
3. Waking up tired, stiff and sore?
Adapting to a new exercise regime demands a good level of energy – so it’s essential that you fit in eight hours of sleep each night. However beyond this if you’re awake and feel stiff and sore, you should focus on ensuring that you’ve stretched thoroughly (and don’t forget to factor in your rest day – at least one day a week that is entirely exercise free).
4. Water, protein and iron – they’re critical
Training, of whatever form, ultimately aims to do one thing: break down muscles for them to be built back up, stronger than they were previously. Protein and iron are core nutrients that aid this process, and should be upped in your daily diet.
You should also consume water as you train to ensure you stay hydrated.
5. Invest in the right equipment
Professional sports shops are a great place to start if you’re unsure as to whether you have the right running shoes, road bike or other form of fitness wear or equipment. All too often injuries come about as a direct result of these clothes or equipment being poorly fitted and unsuited to the user.
6. Look out for the yellow flags
If you’re in pain, or some of your joints are swelling, then your body is telling you to stop. Take these signs seriously and seek out medical attention before they progress onto something more serious.
You also need to adapt your expectations if it’s been a considerable amount of time since you last exercised, as well as your age – after all, a 30 year old body is not as adept at taking to new exercise regimes as that of a teenager. Slow, steady and realistic is the best approach to reaping results and avoiding injury.
7. Consider investing in a couple of sessions with a personal trainer
Personal trainers are professionals at understanding your body, your goals and crafting an exercise strategy that will get you where you need to go free from injury. Even a couple of sessions can pay literal dividends in the downtime suffered through injury that you may otherwise experience.