January is a popular month for many to head back to the gym and get back to some kind of routine related to health & wellness.  Whether you are new to exercise, or you’re just getting back to your routine now that the holidays are over, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Go Slow! It’s tempting to jump into a fitness class or exercise regime with lots of gusto and enthusiasm, but I encourage you to take it easy.  Remember, you can’t get fit in one class!  It takes time for your body to adjust and to respond to the new demands that have been placed on it.  Whether you are attending our FITMOM+Baby class or FITWOMAN classes you will be encouraged to take breaks when you’re tired and to reduce the number of repetitions.  It’s important to listen to your body and build your strength & stamina over time.  Keep your intensity low and follow a slower progression towards higher weight loads & repetitions over a period of 5-10 sessions.  Doing so will reduce the likelihood of experiencing DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and will avoid over-exertion.

Schedule your first 5 -10 workouts in your calendar. The key to success and maintaining a healthy new fitness routine is to schedule your workouts into your calendar.  This may seem like a really silly thing to do, but we only prioritize what we write down.  Scheduling in your workouts will also help to shape your routine which then leads to a habit, something you do everyday like washing your face or brushing your teeth. The more ingrained your routine becomes the more consistent you will be.  I also encourage to you to consider your back-up plan for when you have to miss a scheduled workout.  What will you do instead? Here is a short list of ideas you might consider:

It’s more important to do something- even if it’s less intense than what you normally do, to stay consistent.

Recover Smart!  The amazing human body adapts so beautifully to the demands that exercise places on muscles, tissues, joints and ligaments but it is so important to allow time to properly recover between sessions.  This recovery time allows the body to replenish energy storage and repair following the effort.  Remember to replenish your fluids, eat foods that aid in recovery and rest (never underestimate the value of sleep & rest, this is when the body is truly changing and adapting).   If you’re new to exercise I recommend you avoid back to back workout sessions as it can lead to an increase in injury   I also encourage you to walk, enjoy a dynamic stretch or yoga session and/or use a foam roller in between your workout sessions to aid in your recovery.

Follow the FITT -VP Principle for Cardio & Resistance Training.  The guidelines I share below (Table 1-1 and 1-2) are general programming guidelines that apply to most healthy adults. For postpartum people (which is all of us) we also include the following guiding principles:

  • You are encouraged to obtain clearance from your Care Provider before resuming or starting an exercise program (often this happens at your 6 week pp visit)
  • Begin slowly and gradually increase the duration of your workouts and then the intensity.  The goal is to develop consistency, not earn a badge to see how hard you can work.
  • Start with walking or light exercise several times a week
  • Avoid excessive fatigue and dehydration
  • Wear a supportive bra
  • Stop any exercise session if unusual pain is experienced
  • Drink plenty of water and eat appropriately
  • Address core function, build a strong foundation of pelvic floor and core health.  Complete a self-assessment checking for abdominal separation or have one of your FITMOM coaches teach you how to assess.
  • We recommend that you have 4-6 weeks of strength training BEFORE attempting any plyometric training (meaning keep both feet on the ground) AND that you are at least 4-6 months postpartum AND your core is functioning well and can handle the increase intensity. Keep in mind that the hormone Relaxin is still active and present up to 6 months postpartum, especially in breastfeeding people.  This hormone creates laxity in the joints which increases the risk of injury, especially in activities that require quick reactions.

Table 1-1

 Aerobic (Cardiovascular Endurance) Exercise 
Frequency  >5 Days a week of moderate intensity exercise OR >3 Days a week of vigorous exercise. A combination of  moderate to vigorous exercise 3-5 Days/week  is recommended for most adults
Intensity  Light to Moderate intensity for new exercisers

 Moderate to Intense for most adults

Time  30-60 minutes/day of light to moderate cardio exercise OR

 20-60 minutes/day of vigorous exercise

 A combination of moderate and vigorous exercise per day is recommended for most adults 

Type  All Muscle Groups
Volume  A target volume of >500-1000 MET- minutes per week is recommended (MET is the product of metabolic  equivalents and minutes of exercise)

 Increase the total number of steps/day by 2,000 until >7,000 steps/day is achieved

 It is recommended that most adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate/intense physical activity each week

Pattern  One continuous session or bouts of 10 minutes of cardio 3x’s each day
Progression  Gradual Progression of exercise volume adjusting duration, frequency and/or intensity until goal (maintenance) is  attained.

 Table 1-2

Resistance Exercise (Strength Training) 
Frequency  Each major muscle group should be trained 2-3 days/week
Intensity  60-70% 1-RM (moderate to vigorous intensity) for novice to intermediate exercisers to improve strength
Time  No specific duration of training has been identified
Type
  • Resistance exercise for each muscle group
  • Multi-joint exercises that affect more than one muscle group is recommended for most adults
  • A variety of equipment and/or body weight can be used to perform the exercises
Repetitions  8-12 repetitions are recommended to improve strength and power in most adults

 15-20 repetitions are recommended to improve muscular endurance

Sets  2-4 sets is recommended for most adults to improve strength & power
Pattern  Rest intervals of 2-3 minutes between sets are effective

 A rest of >48hours between sessions for any single muscle group is recommended

Progression  A gradual progression of resistance, repetitions, sets of frequency of sessions is recommended

 

Remember your WHY! What made you decide to become more active? Think about that goal/reason or motivation and celebrate each workout you do that brings you closer to that goal or outcome.  Instead of focusing on weight loss, pay more attention to how you feel after each workout.  Do you notice an increase in stamina? Can you complete more repetitions that you did when you first started, or have you noticed your intensity level is increasing as your body adapts to the demands and effort you place on it during each workout.  These are often the first results people observe in themselves versus weight loss and research shows that when the emphasis is on these types of outcomes individuals are more likely to be successful in maintaining an active lifestyle.

As we all embark on a more active and healthy 2019 I hope you keep these best practices in mind! Being smart about your exercise planning will help you reach whatever goals you may have and more importantly, will keep you motivated to maintain your new routine.

Happy New Year!

 

 

(Table 1-1 and Table 1-2 are adapted from the American Council on Exercise Personal 
Trainer Manual, Fifth Edition 2014 Pages 90-91)

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