After months of experimenting with various exercise routines, I realize that there are a few mistakes I make when I come to planning and executing my exercise routines, and I’d like to share this with you guys!
There was once this period in my life when I decided that hey, I want to start seeing some reliable, guaranteed results with my training.
What should I do?
The first thing that came to mind was to do a quick google search on some renown exercise routines that I could start right now. I found, among other things, the German Volume Training method. Excited about what I read on it about how this system could absolutely “shock your muscles into growth”, I thought that this would be the perfect thing for me. For three weeks straight, I was doing all the sets as planned, even if my body felt like it was dying, or if I was just way too occupied with other things. (I even filmed myself for posterity’s sake – but no you guys are not getting it hehe)
By the end of those three weeks, my body was aching like crazy, I could lift heavier dumbbells but my motivation dropped, and the rest of my life was affected – I couldn’t quite gather my energies to write, do music, or dive deep into the bits of research that I committed myself to during that period of time. In short, it was probably one of the most effective routines I’ve ever tried, but it wasn’t appropriate for me.
And over time, as I played around with other kinds of standard exercise routines, I learned that this problem wasn’t unique to the German Volume Training method – whatever other program that I was doing, I will reach a point when my needs diverge terribly from what the plan called for me to do.
Clearly it wasn’t easy to find a cookie-cutter mold to fit into! Unless you go find a personal trainer who can tailor a training plan to your specific body and lifestyle needs, you’ll probably be stuck with all the not-quite-suitable training plans that can be found online or in the library. There are only 3 solutions to this problem: you suck it up and fit someone else’s mold; you give up on your fitness (ha) goals, which is probably the easiest thing to do; or you tweak the plans to fit you.
The answer lies, of course, in option number three. As empowering as it sounds, it’s not an easy thing to do at all! For a start, you’ll need to have at least a bit of working knowledge of the kinds of exercise that work for you, and you’ll also need to know what price you are willing to pay for your goals. These things can be fixed quite easily given some time, smart google-fu, and honest soul-searching. The tricky part is that you don’t want to invest so much effort in it that you might as well have gotten a personal trainer instead.
However, the good thing about taking some time to figure these things out yourself, is that you get the chance to become a territorial expert – not necessarily even nearly as good as a regular professional – but enough to help yourself when you need to, and also to adjust accordingly when life-situations call for it. Who knows, you might even find people in the same situation as you, and then you’d be the (relative) professional!
For me, I had an idea about the kinds of exercises that could serve my fitness needs, but I did not realize the price it cost to obtain them. Think of it as shopping – specific routines and exercises can have their own utility value, but how much money do you have to spend on it? For me, my budget was not quite as much as I thought it was; a large part of my daily energy and time went into other pursuits, such as writing, music, and research interests. I am unwilling to compromise on the quality of these areas of my life, and so exercise doesn’t get center stage most of the time. But then I would still like to maintain a certain level of fitness (and resting metabolism rate… helps to know that you can burn off most of what you eat!), so it was clear that I had to find a style of exercising that catered to all that.
Before I get into how you can organize your exercise “shopping list”, there is still one other aspect that’s important to sort out first: You can’t know how much you’re willing to pay until you know why you are willing to pay it! I’ll continue with the rest of it in a future blog post, so stay tuned, you all (: