How to Start on the New You

By Dave DiFabio

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. Before you get started on your journey to the new you, here's a list of 5 things you should do first.

1. Make sure you have the right athletic shoes.

Are you flat footed? Not sure? What kind of surface are you running on?..... Asphalt road? Rubber track? Dirt trail? How much do you weigh? What gender are you? Do you wear orthotics? Might you need orthotics? How should you lace your shoes? Did you know there are multiple ways to lace your shoes in order to make them more comfortable? These are important factors to think about when choosing a shoe. Here's a couple of online resources to help you out:

2. Determine your THR (training heart rate) Zone.

Many people know that it is important to record and track SETS, REPS, and WEIGHT to ensure progress during a weight training program. Yet many of those same people don't bother to pay attention to their heart rate during an endurance training program. Think of the THR Zone as SETS & REPS for your heart while it's engaged in an endurance training program.

Here's a handy THR Zone calculator:

Before you start plugging in numbers, let's go over a few basics. First, we want to customize the THR Zone to your fitness level. To do so, you'll first want to determine your resting heart rate. The more fit you are the lower your resting heart rate will be and vice versa. This is why it's important to factor your resting HR into your THR Zone calculation. The calculator will still calculate a THR Zone without this number but it's best WITH resting HR factored in. To determine your resting heart rate you ideally want to count your pulse for 30 seconds upon waking in the mornings. Take that number and multiply it by 2 and that's your resting heart rate. Check it a couple days in a row upon waking to make sure it's consistent. Remember that exercise, cafiene, stress, sleep, and medication can affect your resting pulse, this is why you want to check it upon waking after a good night's rest.

Then we want to calculate 3 Training Zones. Warm-up/Cool Down Zone, Aerobic Zone, & Interval Zone.

For the Warm-Up/Cool Down Zone enter 45% in the Heart Rate A box in the left column of the Training Zone Calculator and 65% in the Heart Rate B box. Click calculate in the right column and it will give you a THR Zone for warming up and cooling down. In terms of the warm-up, this should make up the first 5 to 10 minutes of your workout and you should break your first bead of sweat during this time. In terms of the cool down, you should repeat this process for 5 to 10 minutes at the end of the workout. However, instead of breaking a sweat, your goal during the cool-down is to commence the recovery process. The cool-down will allow you to get your hear rate to come down gradually instead of just letting it "crash" by abruptly stopping your workout.

Aerobic Zone: Enter 65% in Heart Rate A box and 85% in Heart Rate B box. Click calculate in the right column and it will give you a THR Zone for working on endurance and burning calories. The bulk of your workout may fall in this zone (20 to 40 min). As your fitness level improves you may try to spend more of your time at the top end of this zone.

Interval Zone: Enter 85% in Heart Rate A box and 100% in Heart Rate B box. Click calculate in the right column and it will give you a HR Zone for working on high intensity activities/intervals of short duration (10 to 120 sec).

Many of you know that I advocate interval training. Once you've calculated your zones, you can do some cool things with these numbers to truly customize your workout. Here's one example:

Let's say your lifting weights and you're doing supersets (this is just one type of interval training). You can use your heart rate to determine how much rest you should take between sets. Instead of coming up with an arbitrary unit of time and then staring at the clock between supersets, you can use your THR Zone to allow your fitness level to dictate your rest period.

First, do your superset. If it's intense enough, it will raise your HR up into your interval zone (if not, you can increase the intensity by increasing weight and/or reps and by adjusting your tempo). Once your superset is done you will rest until your HR falls down into your warm-up/cool down zone. Then start your next superset.

As your fitness improves, a couple of things will happen. First, you will need to increase the intensity of your supersets just to get your HR up into the interval zone again. Second, as your fitness increases, your HR will drop back down into the warm-up/cool down zone faster thus naturally shortening your rest period. This is a very effective way of tailoring your workouts to your fitness level and it can make a huge difference in your results.

3. Give yourself a fighting chance

When you feel pressed for time, convenient and efficient workouts are of utmost importance. Wouldn't it be great if you could squeeze in an effective workout in the comfort of your own home? You can build yourself a home gym without a single hammer or nail and do it on a shoe-string budget. You can get a very effective workout with light kettlebells, dumbells, medicine balls, stability balls, resistance bands, etc.... Everything you could possible want or need is available on-sale right here: Check out their web specials and holiday close-out specials. They even have Heart Rate Monitors to help you take advantage of your customized THR Zone.

4. Read my article: Stop Acting Like an Adult!

5. Get some FREE help with your nutrition:

Till next time... Train Like You Play, Play Like You Train

Dave DiFabio MA, CSCS, USAW

Owner/Strength & Conditioning Coach - Team Speed Fitness LLC