This post is for people who at any point have had no confidence in their body’s ability to change.
I was there once – 65 days ago.
I was fine with the way I looked but I hated the way I felt.
Since starting my 90-Day Fitness Challenge at Steve Nash Fitness World, I have come to crave my bi-weekly workouts. Which is why I to share some of the specific exercises I have done with my two personal trainers (Craig and Brendan), and how they have directly impacted my life – mentally and physically – outside of the gym.
For the past two years, exercise has been on the back burner. My priorities included work, sleep, socializing, and not working out.
That’s not to say I didn’t think about making a change, but I could never find a reason to stick to a routine. This city is littered with my half-completed memberships.
Then the opportunity to take the 90-Day Challenge came up and I took it as a way to essentially force myself to follow-through with something.
When you commit to three months of personal training, it can feel a bit like jumping off the deep end. These tips and exercises have often been my lifeline when I thought might drown.
But I’m still here. I’m still breathing.
Craig’s three tips for beginners at the gym:
- Get a trainer or coach
A trainer will assess the individual so that they are put on the right program and teach proper technique and get the best results, while decreasing the risk of injury.
- Slow and steady
Don’t try to jump into some sort of crazy training program like Crossfit if you aren’t ready. Many people see these fun and creative workouts and want to hop right in without building the requisite base of mobility and strength necessary to do them without getting injured. Focus on the basics and progress slowly.
- Don’t overdo the “mirror muscles”
Many people have a tendency to over-train the muscles they see in the mirror. It might be sweet to have jacked pecs or popping biceps, but most of the muscles that move us are on the backside of the body.
How did these tips help me at the beginning?
Getting in shape, at least for me, couldn’t be purely about aesthetics. As soon as I switched my mentality from simply “looking good” to actually feeling good, I began craving the confidence that brought into other areas of my life. I started to feel happier, more creative, and more engaged. On those dark days, it’s much easier to remind yourself of a feeling, than relying on the mirror as motivation.
Taking it “slow and steady” helped me avoid getting discouraged when I wasn’t ripped by Day 14 and my thighs still looked like the scene of a cock fight. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. The point is I still have stretch marks but now I feel like a warrior.
Exercises with Craig:
- Requires: Barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell, or body weight
- Reps: Can be done from 1-20+
- Muscles worked: Quads, glutes, adductors, glutes, and spinal erectors
- Reps: Usually 10-20 reps
- Muscles worked: This works the upper back, lats, rhomboids, lower traps, posterior delts and biceps. It’s a great postural exercise to help promote good posture and work muscles that don’t ever get used in a typical day in front of a computer.
- Reps: 10-20
- Muscles: This dynamically trains the posterior chain to contract quickly and explosively. It’s also highly metabolically demanding, so can be great for calorie burn/fat loss workouts.
Brendan’s three tips:
Six times per week for one or two months will result in burning out, which is not going to get you results. Schedule two to three times per week to start, and as you gain confidence and strength, you can add more days if your schedule allows.
- Behaviours not outcomes
You won’t change a number on a scale or your 10 km time by fixating on it. Address the behaviours that will help you reach your goal, like making it to the gym two times per week, cutting out alcohol during the week, and no desserts except on weekends. Small, maintainable changes will ultimately get you to the place you want to be.
- Don’t lift with your ego
Understand that gaining strength properly (and injury free) requires diligence and dedication. A set of wireless headphones and new gym gear can help you look great, but they won’t help you squat, press, or lift more.
The highs and lows of a fitness quest are real, and over the past 65 days, I’ve experienced a range of frustration and joy.
At one point I hit such an emotional wall of exhaustion that I wanted to host a ceremonial burn of my stretchy pants and then sleep for 100 days. We live in world where barely keeping your head above water is seen as a virtue. I have bought into this way of thinking by believing I need to be going full throttle at all times or else I’ll fall behind. The major behavior I’ve had to adjust since starting the 90-Day Fitness Challenge with Steve Nash is that in order to succeed, I need to take care of myself not only physically, but also mentally.
The biggest takeaway over the past 65 days is not to see my speed bumps as a reason to quit, but as an opportunity to learn, adjust, and do better.
Find a reason to fall in love with yourself and show up for that person every week; the rest will soon follow.
Just keep swimming.
Exercises with Brendan:
Band-resisted Stationary Lunge
- Requires: Resistance Band
- Reps: Two sets of 12-15 reps per leg.
- How: Place the band on leg at top of the hip, just below the butt cheek.
Focus on squeezing glute on band-resisted leg while performing a stationary lunge. The goal is to engage the glutes while loosening up the muscles on the front side of the leg.
- Requires: Resistance Band
- Reps: Three sets of 12-15 reps
- How: If using a resistance band, place it around thighs just above the knee. The purpose of the band (if you’re using one) is to maintain hip abduction (knees out, in-line with toes) while extending the hips. Drive the heels into the ground, squeeze the butt and exhale forcefully on the way up. Make sure the tension at the top of the movement is in the glutes and not in the lower back.
Swiss Ball Dead Bug
- Requires: Swiss/Exercise Ball
- Reps: Three sets of ten second holds or ten heel drops.
- How: Lying on back with knees directly above the hips and arms straight up in the air above the shoulders, squeeze the Swiss ball between the front of the thighs and arms. If engaging the core properly, the arch of the lower back should flatten against the ground. For beginners, focus on maintaining the tension in the core with the back flat for bouts of ten seconds.