**Spoiler Alert: There is no specific training program attached to this article, rather guidelines for creating or picking a long-term and sustainable exercise program for yourself.**
Many people start new workout routines all the time with the intention of becoming healthier and more “fit.” Sadly a lot of people struggle to maintain these routines due to the fact that the programs they are following are not sustainable nor enjoyable. It is immensely difficult to create sustainable long-term habit change when those changes are focused on engaging in habits that 1) you hate doing, 2) burn you out.
So how do you create an exercise routine that serves you best?
You would want to look at several factors when creating an exercise and activity routine (that are not limited to): frequency, duration, and qualitative factors that you enjoy but also keep you motivated.
Frequency & Duration
When choosing your frequency and duration you want to factor in your general lifestyle, schedule, stress levels, and ability to recover. People who have low levels of stress will be able to recover more quickly and will often times do better training and exercising more often (3-7 days per week.) While people who have high levels of stress or anxiety will recover more slowly and will need to train less frequently (1-5 days per week.)
Knowing this you’d also want to keep the duration of your exercise in line with your training frequency and ability to recover. Generally, the more often you train the shorter in duration your workouts should be, and the less often you train the longer in duration your workouts should be. A workout or bout of exercise could range anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes.
When looking at different qualities a training program or activity has, different people will naturally be drawn to different types of activities. Some people like high intensity training, some people prefer activities that are more soothing, some people like working in groups, while others prefer doing their exercise alone. Whatever floats your boat, at the end of the day it’s about finding what works for you and keeps you consistent and motivated.
Typically people are drawn to at least one of these five qualities:
- Intensity: Activities that are maximal effort, neurologically demanding, require brute force, and often times are more aggressive in nature. These activities can include boxing, powerlifting, rugby, olympic lifting.
- Explosiveness: Activities that are neurologically demanding, requiring explosive efforts and high levels of power but also coordination such as sprinting, jumping, olympic lifting, gymnastics, etc.
- Variety: Activities that are varied and satisfy the need to learn new skills without getting bored. Exercise needs to be both neurologically and muscularly demanding. Essentially every type of exercise can be enjoyable and will deliver progressive results. Anything will work but only for a while. A very popular activity in this category would be CrossFit.
- Sensation: Activities that allow you to create a strong mind-muscle connection and pay attention to how the body feels. This includes but is not limited to activities such as bodybuilding and yoga. These activities are muscularly demanding.
- Precision: Activities that are demanding on the muscular system but require structure and constant repetitive mastery of a skill such as distance running, grappling, and bodybuilding. The repetitive movement patterns often have a calming effect.
NOTE: These categories are from Christian Thibaudeau’s Neurotying which is based in research surrounding individual sensitivity to neurotransmitters (dopamine, adrenalin, and serotonin) and other factors like (Acetylcholine and GABA.) I highly recommend getting more information, starting here.
The idea behind picking activities to do that you are more drawn to is that because you enjoy what you are doing you will be able to push yourself harder, get results, and stay consistent – making your exercise routine sustainable. This will allow you to express yourself physically in the way that is best suited to your individual needs and desires. Who doesn’t want more of that?
When you love what you do, and it suits your needs and lifestyle, what reason do you have to not part-take in physical activity?
I firmly believe there is an activity or training program out there for everybody, you just need to find what works for you and respect that.