First Things First

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THE SECRET IS THERE IS NO SECRET

There are basically two types of people who use weight training for fitness. Type A, the driven and type B, the not-so-driven. Though the degrees of difference vary, I know that for those of you of the A type, it would be an act of cruelty to keep you from your workout - an absolute impossibility, like stopping the movement of a glacier or the stampede of wild horses.

And then there are amongst you of the B type, neither lazy nor irresponsible, who can't seem to make it to the gym (or the garage) on a regular basis. You have a long list of reasons why you can't and some of them are even pretty good. It is to this larger half of the population to whom I speak.

To be effective, exercise must be consistent. This is the first and foremost precept of physical conditioning. If there's a secret, it's consistency. Don't quote me on this, but I believe bad exercise, badly executed consistently is far better than no exercise at all. Getting to the gym whether you want to or not, even for a short appearance, a salute or a bow is vitally important to the health of your fitness lifestyle. A break in consistency leads to the erosion of your training foundations, and without sound foundations no structure will stand.

How do we train consistently, especially if we don't have a milligram of discipline or patience? To be consistent, training must be desirable, not drudgery, not dull, boring or fruitless. It must and can be exciting. I bought my first set of weights when I was ten years old, haven't put them down since, and still find them fun and fulfilling. (Embarrassing - that I don't have any brains has nothing to do with it!)

For training to be productive, you must look forward to it with enthusiasm and confidence. Merely doing it is not good enough. Train with steady pace, moving from set to set, breathing fully to oxygenize and psychologically prepare for the set to follow. Get involved with the flow of your exercise, always focused on your immediate task and surroundings. Concentrate on the muscle's action, the burn, the pump, the extension and contractions. This is not advanced thinking reserved for champions and pros. No time is too soon to think in these terms. If you're brand new in the gym, practicing your exercises with these obscure thoughts in mind will speed your progress. Always keep your eye on your goal, knowing you'll eventually achieve it and savor the time spent along the way.

Absence is erosive. In fact, your presence in the gym can be restoring, even bring you out of depression, solve a problem, squash stress or inspire you to have the best workout of your life. Try it! Just go to the gym when all roads lead elsewhere, maybe nowhere.

I've discovered new exercise angles, approaches and combinations on these very low energy, low spirited times out of simple instinct and survival. I can't count how many times people have crawled in the front door of our World Gyms, a slim smile pasted on their face and 30 heroic minutes later march out exclaiming "I made it!"

Basically, you'll want to settle into a sound exercise program for at least 6-8 weeks to provide your mind with order and discipline. It also provides time to understand each exercise separately and collectively and to afford the healthy overload to the muscles so they respond by growing strong.

But when the time comes that you're short of time, distracted by life's ups and downs, achey, slightly fluish or overtrained, try one of my SlumpBusters. They're not original anymore, but they were 30 years ago when I first put them to use. I've written up some short and sweet exercise combos that I've used over and over again for great results when my training hit the wall. These combos are available at the SlumpBusters link above.

Remember, while we're all alone (which helps make this one of the most fulfilling sports), we're also all in this together. And in the gym there's probably nothing you're going through that we haven't all gone through at one time or another. It's the peaks and valleys... I'll get to that another time.

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