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How to get in shape

If you want to know how to get in shape, exercise is the key. The tricky bits are:

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Motivation is a tricky one. We all like the idea of being able to get a great, trim body without any effort. However, we all know that life is never that simple. Sorry, but it’s going to take some effort. All of a sudden it doesn’t look so attractive. Maybe I haven’t got time to start right now... Maybe next week...

If you do really want to make a difference to you body, some things are certain:

This may sound harsh, but you may as well know the truth. The good news is that, if you are prepared to do some work, you can make huge gains, and pretty fast too.

First you need to sort out your motivation. This really is just a question of thinking about what you want to achieve and using some of the ‘tricks’ which athletes and other successful people use to make the effort worthwhile. These tricks used to be shrouded in mystery, but in recent years they have been extensively studied, which means that now EVERYBODY can use them.

Once you’ve learnt the mental tricks to become (and remain) completely motivated, it’s all pretty easy to get in shape. First, decide what to do. There are loads of different activities which you could choose, some better than others at helping you achieve your goals. But the key is to find something (or things) which you enjoy doing. And don’t just decide based on your prejudices from past experience. Try as many different things as you can, and find out what you enjoy doing.

For me it was running. I used to absolutely hate running at school. I was always slowest, and always did my best to avoid having to take part in any sports at all. But now I love the freedom of running:

The freedom is just great. You may prefer the social aspect to joining a team (e.g. basketball, football, etc), or the competitive aspect of joining a club (e.g. swimming, athletics, tennis etc). It doesn’t matter, as long as you enjoy it!

Now for another major truth for answering the question: How to get in shape? That is, that the more vigorous the exercise, the better it is for you, and the faster you’ll make improvements. So playing cards make seem attractive, but it’s just not vigorous enough to make any difference. A lot of websites will tell you that slow boring cardio is a terrible way to get fit. And they are right! These guys talk about slow cardio as if it’s everyone’s aspiration. No way. It may well be that SLOW cardio is all you can manage at first. We’ll come onto that later. But no one runs slowly or cycles at a snail’s pace for fun. It’s human nature to want to go faster, to make more dramatic advances in your fitness, as well as beating your personal records. So everyone who is trying to get in shape will naturally want to put as much effort as possible in, to get the maximum benefit out.

Studies of people exercising have shown that the maximum benefit derives from the principle of progressive overload. That is doing an activity at a slightly higher level than you’ve done it before, then resting, then repeating. The human body is great at adapting to this sort of regime, and this is the way to make really fast progress in your health kick. Some people call this ‘interval training’. It doesn’t matter what it’s called. It’s just a question of push hard, then rest, then try it again.

Now to the two other questions at the start of this page. First - what MUST you do before starting to get in shape? You must get checked out by a doctor. No one likes doing this, but only someone who has physically examined you can advise you about what you can do. Some people may need to start out with non-impact exercise (e.g. cycling or swimming) until they have build up their leg muscles (and / or lost sufficient weight) to enable their bodies to be able to take more vigorous exercise. Others may need to take special care with some other part of their bodies.

If you doctor does advise you not to do a particular thing at the outset, don’t be put off the whole idea. Don’t forget that human bodies are supremely adaptable, so as you start doing even the lowest level of exercise, your body becomes stronger. So over a period of time you can build up to doing things you never thought possible. If 70 year olds can start training for marathons, and actually finish them, there are virtually no limits to what you could achieve with the right level of application.

Lastly, what must you NOT do when starting out? The most important thing is to avoid trying to make progress too fast. I know that this contradicts what I’ve just said. But, assuming that you are out of shape to start with, you need to be very careful not to try too hard at first. If you can’t cross the road without breaking into a sweat, trying to run as hard as you can for 30 seconds could kill you. So start gently, and build up. Once you have built your fitness, you can start the progressive overload mentioned earlier to make more rapid gains. But if you try too hard right at the beginning, you run the risk of injuring yourself, and having to wait for your body to repair before you get started again. And believe me, that is the most frustrating thing you can endure, when you’ve finally started out on your new life.

So if you want to know how to get in shape, the answer is simple:

I managed to get in shape over a period of years, finding things out the hard way. More recently I’ve done some research and found out a lot more about how I should have done it. Now I’m using what I found out to get into even better shape, and get the maximum health benefits from the minimum amount of effort. I’ve written an eBook called Get Fit, Feel GREAT! about what I’ve learnt. To find out more, go to www.GetFitFeelGREAT.co.uk

Get Fit, Feel GREAT!



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