One of the top questions I get as a personal trainer is “What’s the best workout for ______?” My answer is always the same. The best workout is the one you will do consistently.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t specific exercises and training routines for certain goals. For a flatter stomach I make sure I do my abdominal routine every day.
However, no matter how fantastic the program, if you’re not consistent, the odds of success are pretty slim.
There are legitimate reasons people give up on exercise routines!
1) Boring! Let’s face it, walking like a hamster on a wheel after a long day at the office does not sound that appealing. Most of us want to do something a bit more stimulating.
2) Painful! We’ve all found ourselves up late watching the guy with the chiseled stomach on the infomercial promising that if you bought the whole series you would look just like him. Eagerly you purchased the product! Now your knees and back hurt. Many of these intense workouts require foundational training that takes months or even years to establish. Heck, there is a very popular series out now that I have to modify to keep my knees safe! Signing up for exercise you are not ready for is a recipe for injury, guilt, and possibly depression!
3) Takes too much time! Now more than ever, people are struggling to find time to exercise. The days of driving to the gym and doing an hour and a half workout seem like a fantasy to most people (except maybe retired empty-nesters).
The reality of being busy with legitimate priorities such as your spouse, children, work, home, and any other personal commitments — have eaten away at the 24 hours in the average person’s day. This leaves very little time to commit to exercise.
4) Don’t like the surroundings! Surroundings matter! If you are someone that likes a lot of light, working out in a dark basement gym is not going to entice you. Many women feel uncomfortable in a gym setting. Or, if you are like me you prefer exercising outdoors. If you don’t like the environment that you have scheduled your workouts in, you will probably quit or it will be spotty participation at best.
5) Lack of consistency! Whenever you start something new, you need consistency to create a strong habit. Major problem? Some of the reasons listed above can interfere with your ability to remain consistent long enough. This is a dead end — no new habit or skill needed for a long term commitment.
Oh my gosh Jennifer! That’s Me! – How can I ever overcome these obstacles?
If you identify with any of these reasons but still have the desire to exercise, lose weight, and lead a healthy lifestyle — I have solutions for you!
1) Combat Boredom! You may find this hard to believe but after years of teaching aerobics classes and working in a gym, that’s the last place you will find me exercising! It is so boring for me! To combat this, I walk outside every day with my dogs.
Try attaching a task to your exercise. Walking is a great way to do this. Having a destination gives you a purpose and makes the exercise less boring. Being outdoors is always more stimulating for your brain as well.
Save the indoor exercise for days when the weather is less inviting. When exercising indoors, you can make “cardio” machines more interesting with interval workouts. If the gym is your thing, try a class or a workout video for variety.
2) Painful! Go see your doctor and get checked out before starting an exercise routine. She may suggest physical therapy or some strong foundational work before you start your new workout. Consider massage therapy for tight muscles. Exercise at your level — and run from any routine if the trainer says that feeling like throwing up “is normal at first”.
3) Time! Be realistic in setting your goals when time is an issue. If all you have is 20 minutes a day to exercise, then you don’t need a gym membership. You’ll take 20 minutes driving there! Besides my daily walk, I do10 minutes of core work daily and a 20 minute strength training routine 2-3 times per week. This is all done in my home. You can accomplish quite a bit of effective strength training in 20 minutes!
For more detailed instructions on the time issue read I Agree You Have No Time to Workout!
4) Take a look around! Ask yourself if you like where you exercise — and be honest! Most of my clients prefer exercising outdoors and in their home because they prefer that environment over the gym. Quite frankly, most people have nicer rooms in their homes for exercise.
Get creative. On nice days I take my mat, weights, and exercise ball out on the deck and do my workout. If it’s later into the evening I might even have a glass of wine while I do the exercise. That would ruffle some trainers’ feathers! For me, healthy living is all about balance. It should make you feel better, not stressed out!
5) Get Consistent! Ever wonder why exercise for some people is as natural as brushing their teeth? They have built “muscle” in that one particular area! Consistency is key when we are developing a new habit or skill. The more you do it the better you get. The problem is we often “bite off more than we can chew” — and that makes it hard to stay consistent. I recommend picking one thing at a time. Walking 5-10 minutes per day is a great way to start. You may even start by taking the stairs at work every day. Once that is a habit, add a short walk at lunch 2-3 times per week.
The answer to “what’s the best workout?” is simple. The best exercise for you personally is whatever you can do consistently. Whether it’s your daily walk, a 20 minute strength routine, 15 minutes on the stationary bike, or gardening every day. You will benefit much more from consistent physical activity than sporadic sophisticated workouts.
Have a question for me or want to share your best workout! Please leave a comment below. I want to hear your thoughts!