As more and more fitness resources flood the market, it seems that exercise is getting infinitely more complex than it needs to be. I mean we’ve seen workouts that involve pyramid sets mixed with drop sets with complex rest intervals – it gets mind-boggling. Just walk through your local gym and you will hear people discussing their workout duration, the number of sets they do and even how many reps they perform. But what if you don’t exactly know what a lot of these more complex options are?
While all of these principles do have a very important place in exercise, they can be overwhelming for the person trying to just “get in the groove” of working out! Plus, don’t even get me started on workout length! Heck, it seems that if you don’t exercise for at least 45 minutes at the gym, many people will say or think it wasn’t worth going to begin with! What beginner wouldn’t be incredibly intimated by these complex workouts that requires 45-60 minutes of their time every day? I’m intimidated by that and fitness is my job!
Is the jumbling or cluttering of our workouts actually needed to get results? Is 60 minutes of high-intensity exercise required? Nope and nope – for the beginners out there (and even to reaffirm to the veterans), I’m going to quickly breakdown how you DON’T have to always follow the flow when it comes to fitness. We are going to breakdown and paint a different light on exercise duration and set-up and how as the beginner you can still get results! Let’s try to make it a little less confusing!
Don’t Over Complicate Things
Trust me, some of the programs out there can be flat-out intimidating and head-scratching. Look, these types of workouts are great and I’m a big fan of both pyramid and drop sets but to those just beginning, they can seem completely foreign. The thing is that a 2014 study found that simple workouts conducted at a high-intensity (maximized effort) were capable of achieving the same results as more complex workouts with variable sets and rest periods. They were equally effective! This was over the course of 12 weeks.
This means that as you begin your fitness journey, start simple with easy to follow high-intensity workouts! These will still achieve results and be easier to follow! If you want to throw in some of these variable/complex sets you can do that as well – it was simply found to be personal preference and didn’t really have any bearing on the overall results! So if you are confused on where to start, just pick a simple program and have patience as you work towards your goals!
Not Enough Time?
We’ve all been there, we only have 15-20 minutes after work and we don’t think that’s enough time to get in a workout. We all have it built into our heads that you have to exercise for at least 45 minutes to see any effects, right? Well get that junk out of your mind, because a 2014 study determined small bouts of exercise – running was the exercise in this study – can be incredibly important in keeping your heart healthy and preventing cardiovascular disease.
The study found that small bouts of exercise – even if it totaled less than 60 minutes the entire week (8.6 minutes a day) – is just as effective at improving your heart health as exercising for over 3 hours a week (25.7 minutes). In fact, both were effective at decreasing cardiovascular disease risk by 45% and lowering mortality risk by 30% compared to those who didn’t exercise at all! No, we aren’t saying to exercise less, but we are saying that those few minutes you have free could in fact save your life!
So if you got 10-20 minutes free, bust out some bodyweight exercises (pushups, dips, lunges, pull-ups, squats…etc.) or jumping jacks or run in place…etc. This totally kills our “I don’t have time to exercise” excuse and is a great way for beginners to get started – short bouts to build up your exercise capacity!
Of course, these two studies don’t make the information above concrete fact but it does lend credence to the fact that we can exercise in a simple, high-intensity format. Likewise, when we exercise it doesn’t have to be for 45 minutes every time – a little exercise goes a long way! For the beginners out there, just remember that you don’t have to be intimidated by the complex workouts out there. Start simple, start with small bouts of exercise and build that exercise capacity up! Exercise doesn’t have to be intimidating or complexly hard – just get started with these two tips:
- A little goes a long way – have patience with yourself
- No more excuses – it’s time to get started and learn as you go
Josh Anderson (M.S.) is a certified personal trainer and the founder of Always Active Athletics: “DIY Fitness, Food and Lifestyle!” He combines the latest science with a practical approach to make exercise as convenient and efficient as possible!