Start and Stick: Clues to a Meaningful Workout Program

Article by Dr. Paul Kennedy
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In survey after survey, the reasons most given for starting or failing to maintain a workout program are’drum roll please– time and lack of information or instruction. Each factor, whether alone or in combination with the other, accounts for the high percentage of well-intentioned workout “programs” that either never get off the ground or fail miserably. These failures of program initiation or program adherence—or both—can easily be corrected with a little information and simple techniques.

First, let’s take a look at strength training. Let me state as I have before that much (most?) of the time spent in fitness centers or home gyms, especially with respect to strength training or weight training, is WASTED time. I have written before in this space concerning “workouts” that involve an hour of time but consist of only minutes of actual productive exercise. In the case of cardiovascular exercise, gradation (gradually increasing exercise workload to an effective yet sustainable level) is the key culprit. Let’s take a look at them separately. First, strength training.

Many years ago, it was found that it was, indeed, possible to train all of the major muscle groups of the body in about thirty minutes. That’s right! The chest, upper back, hips, legs and arms could receive a challenging amount of productive exercise in a relatively brief period of time. The big secret? Uninterrupted contraction time and a resistance level that approached—or even surpassed—momentary fatigue. It was a methodology that was safe, self-limiting and eliminated unnecessary waiting time. The basic premise was that time and intensity is inversely proportional and that an increase in the intensity of a particular set of exercise could SIGNIFICANTLY reduce the amount of time necessary to train a specific muscle or muscle group. In addition, by training those muscle groups in a specific order, an even more efficient and effective workout could be produced. In other words, less time and increased or improved results.

At the time, it became known as high intensity training (or HIT) and was found to be useful with any modality casino online or type of equipment such as barbells, dumbbells, selectorized machines or any type of equipment or device that could provide resistance. It really should have been named “appropriate resistance training” since it provided the necessary level of resistance to the “trainee” regardless of their current level of strength. I refer to the technique in my book (‘Be Fit, Stay Fit—Why Your Workout Doesn’t Work…And How To Fix It!” pp. 47-51) as “The Quick Set System”. I chose the name not because the resistance is moved quickly—quite the opposite—but because the workout is completed in considerably less time (about 30 minutes or less) and allows the major muscle groups to be trained more frequently, thereby improving results more quickly over time and providing more positive and motivational feedback for each set and workout. The technique is also described and demonstrated on our website via our video archive.

As for cardiovascular training, the options are at least as varied as they are for strength training—perhaps even greater in terms of variety of options. However, the real mistake made by many well-intentioned individuals that are starting or even RE-starting their program is that they attempt to do too much too soon. This means that they—especially beginners– attempt an exercise (such as running) that is, at the outset anyway, a bit too difficult or attempt to participate in the exercise a bit too long at each session. The key, of course, is to begin with a level of exercise intensity that is sustainable for at least 10 to 15 minutes (even less for those that have been sedentary or inactive for an extended period of time) such as walking, brisk walking or biking.

Tips for measuring cardiovascular levels and recording them are also described in “Be Fit, Stay Fit” (pp. 35 –41) or, again, check out our video archive for a more active look at doing your “cardio”. The idea is to start with a level of training that is enjoyable and sustainable and GRADULLY increase the

intensity of the activity by increasing time, distance or speed (you can even download a cardiovascular training card from our website). Indeed, another way to keep the your workout fresh is to participate in a VARIETY of activities that will increase your heart rate to proper and safe levels.

In essence, train smarter and you’ll see greater benefits in a shorter time frame and you’ll also find it easier to “stick with it” as you observe improvements—no mater how large or small–with each passing workout.

I’m Dr. Paul Kennedy and that’s the “Be Fit, Stay Fit” Topic of the Month. Good luck with YOUR program. I KNOW you can do it!

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