It’s a new year! And you’ve promised yourself you’d start a new exercise routine. In addition to your annual New Year’s resolution, the past two years of a pandemic have affected us all in one way, shape or form. There is no time like the present to start or get back to working out.

I personally believe New Year’s resolutions to get back into the gym are great. No one should ever be discouraged from getting healthier and breaking a sweat at the local gym. However, once you’ve set an exercise goal, being consistent is the most important factor. So, what’s the key to staying consistent when starting a new exercise routine? My biggest piece of advice is to create a plan.

Now as a physical therapist and CrossFitter, I believe that every person needs to be strong. So, my suggested plan is centered around functional strengthening exercises. It’s important to incorporate strength training into your exercise routine because in addition to improving your fitness and protecting your joints, strength training can enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities.

When implementing a new exercise routine that includes strength training, I recommend starting simple for the first 4 weeks with 3 days of exercise per week. Hey, if you exceed that, fantastic! But if you haven’t worked out in awhile and the past few years have affected your activity level, it’s important to start with goals you can achieve.

On your exercise days, you’ll want to make sure you properly warm up before starting with any strengthening exercises. Walking or biking for roughly 5 minutes along with some dynamic stretching will get your body primed for your workout activity.

With the 3x/week plan, I would recommend starting off with a breakdown that looks like this:

                Day 1: Squat/Hinge – i.e., squats, deadlifts

                Day 2: Pull – i.e., rows, pull downs, pull-ups

                Day 3: Push – i.e., push-ups, overhead press

I know, I know. This may look scary. BUT remember, these exercise groups are movements that we do every day. We squat when we get off a chair and hinge when we pick up our kids or pets. We pull when we pick something up off the ground and push when we put it on the top shelf of our closet. Start small with your weights and repetitions and work your way up to it being more challenging.

As a physical therapist I’ve seen so many different types of injuries since COVID-19 started that were related to a drastic increase of sedentary lifestyles from patients/clients who were typically very active. I’ve seen patients – who prior to the pandemic could press 185 pounds overhead – not be able to press only 5 pounds due to neck issues. It’s important to be considerate to your body when starting your exercise program to reduce your risk of injury. If you’re unsure where to start, a physical therapist may be able to guide you to exercises that are appropriate for you.

No matter what, I’m stoked that you’re taking the first step on your journey to great health. Remember that consistency is key and you’ll crush your 2022 exercise goals!