In part one, I described the Exercise Code as your preferred combination of the various how, where and what options of your training regimen. Once you “crack” your personal Exercise Code, you have the best chance of sticking with your program for the long-term. So let’s take a closer look at the wide range of options available, then I’ll give you an idea of how I use it all.
1. Location – Where you work out can be a critical factor where the quality and consistency of your training is concerned. You basically have three choices of where you can train;
A) Home: Somewhere in the house or in your garage or basement.
B) On Location: This could be a health club, dojo, yoga studio, etc.
C) Outdoors: Either in your backyard, around your neighborhood, or at a park, beach, etc.
2. Listening – For many of us, certain kinds of music gets the blood pumping and helps to create an extra edge for our workouts. Unfortunately, most gyms (in my humble opinion) play the worst kind of schlock to train to, which is why I always have my trusty iPod handy. But whether it’s a portable MP3, CD or tape player, the controlled environs of your home gym where you can play whatever you want, or a tolerable music situation at your gym, consider how music might maximize your workout experience.
And speaking of listening, don’t forget about the endless array of audio books, lectures, teleclasses and podcasts now available that you can download directly to your iPod and listen to while you’re training. It is truly multitasking at its finest when you can feed your brain and train your body at the same time.
3. Distraction – This category includes any kind of additional activity you can engage in while training: reading, watching TV, talking on the phone, etc. These ideas really come into play for cardio work like the stationary bike, treadmill, mini-trampoline, cross-country elliptical, etc., or even with certain stretching routines. Many health clubs have TVs set up near the cardio gear. If you’re into watching TV, why not time your cardio work to coincide with your favorite program and watch it from the gym, as opposed to your couch? And many cardio machines – especially the various bikes – are conducive to reading books, magazines, newspapers, or whatever you want.
4. Training partner – This is where you hook up and train with a buddy. This works great for most aerobic activities like jogging or walking, sports like tennis or basketball and, of course, lifting weights. In fact, a training partner at the gym can play a practical function of spotting you on heavier lifts and actually inspire you to go heavier and train harder.
There is also an accountability factor to having a training partner. In certain cases, you might ordinarily have skipped a session but, because your pal is counting on you to show up, you’ll suck it up and make the session.
5. Interactive – Here is where you participate in a class setting like kickboxing, aerobics, yoga, martial arts, etc. Many people enjoy the camaraderie of the group energy and the interaction with a central teacher. Additionally, watching an exercise video would be considered interactive, because you are interacting with the instruction coming out of your TV!
Also, this category could include a personal trainer. Many people find that this is the only way they can consistently show up and get a good workout in, be it at the gym or martial arts dojo.
6. Solitude – Then again, you might enjoy the solitude of going it alone and creating more of a meditative experience. As you lift weights, go for a vigorous walk or practice a few yoga postures, you can get lost in your thoughts while practicing mindfulness with your activity.
Mix and Match the Elements
Needless to say, there are no rules for how, when or if you implement these ideas. In fact, you might find that certain approaches work best with certain aspects of your training and decide to mix and match approaches, depending on what you’re working on that day.
So, to review the options…
Pick one of these:
- Train alone
- Training partner
- Interactive with a video, in a class, or with an instructor/personal trainer
Do it here:
- At home
- On location
If applicable. combine with:
For example, here’s how I personally use these concepts:
1. When it comes to Resistance Training, I like to train alone at a gym and opt for either the solitude or listening approach.
2. For Cardio work, if I’m outdoors for a walk or a jog, I like the solitude, but I also like to listen to a wide range of things on the ol’ iPod. However, if I’m training indoors on a machine, then I prefer the distraction of a book or TV.
3. For Flexibility training, it’s still another story. I’ve found that I make my best progress with my (flex-heavy) martial arts training when I go to the dojo, have a training partner or, best of all, study privately. At the same time, the distraction of the cell phone or TV works great for just straight-ahead stretching.
All of these, by the way, are just general preferences, depending on how I feel in the moment. But the point is, you should be aware of these options and be ready to bring them in as necessary.
If you’re just getting started (or re-started), pick the exercise modality that seems the most appealing, then choose your preferred options. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations until you find that perfect combination for you.