One of the most common things about deciding to get in shape is to be really excited about it and to want results FAST!
One might think then, logically, that hitting the gym as hard as possible is the way to go. Marathon the treadmill and pick up the 100 pound weights to get that very lovely shape. Start out with an hour of cardio and move until you can barely catch your breath.
In reality, this is about the worst thing you can do. There is a reason marathon runners are marathon runners and you, heading back to the gym to get in shape again, are not.
Marathon runners have usually trained for years to get in the shape they are in and you…have not.
If you are out of shape, by definition, your body cannot handle high levels of physical activity. Ok, that’s not quite true, if you push it you probably can. But you won’t be doing yourself, or your body, any favours.
Every person has a range of physical activity in which they burn the most calories and maximise the strengthening of their heart. For someone just starting out this will mean 20-25 minutes of moderate physical activity.
Moderate physical activity should have you around 110-130 heartbeats per minute. If you are above this your heart will be too stressed to burn calories or to strengthen.
The same goes for lifting weights. If you don’t have the muscle yet to be lifting 20 pounds…you shouldn’t be. When you start out lifting, say, 3 sets of 8 lifts, you should feel it burn on the last 2 lifts. Also, you should be able to perform all lifts correctly.
So, overdoing it is never a good idea and it’s not the way to achieve your fitness goals. You also are at a much higher risk of injury and when you get injured, you have to stop working out altogether.
Amity Weiss is a professional personal trainer from America living in Kigali.