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Myth #1: You can get in shape in an absurdly short amount of time

How many advertisements have we seen promising that within a very short amount of time we can have a perfect body? It does seem appealing. The idea that within weeks one can take a body that is unconditioned and turn it into a sculpted work of pure physical perfection seems delightful. Guaranteed or your money back within 30 days we are told. Before and after pictures make all of the promises seem possible.

Numerous extreme fitness regimens are promising that by exercising at extreme intensities one can become fit in a very short amount of time. Some suggest that you can exercise only seven minutes per day intensely and get in shape in as little as two weeks. Sounds good but there may be a price to pay.

The truth is that to get in shape safely many things must be considered.

1. First for muscle to increase in strength one increment it takes six weeks.

2. Second we all begin at different starting points with different degrees of ability – One needs to consider whether they meet the following criteria to participate at a high intensity without ending up in the hospital:

  • Are you strong enough to exercise at the intensity recommended?

  • Do you have the endurance to begin so intensely?

  • Do you have any medical conditions which could possibly affect the safety of beginning so intensely?

  • Are you currently injured or do you have and old injury that never fully healed?

  • Do you or have you suffered from low back pain?

  • Are you on any medications that might interfere with a sudden intense change in activity?

  • Do you feel that your alignment and body mechanics are efficient without high intensity exercise and do you feel that you are capable of maintaining efficient alignment and body mechanics at a much higher intensity?

  • Is your balance good? Can you balance on one leg, with your eyes closed, for 60 seconds?

  • Are you able to recruit your core muscles well?

You have all the best intentions trying to get in shape. And that is great! Trying to do it faster than is physiologically safe is counter-productive. You need time to develop strength, to improve faulty form, to increase mobility, to develop balance, endurance and power. If you exercise based on addressing your body you will get in shape and it will last. But this will take time.

If you are in relatively good shape, with a clean bill of health, with a good sense of alignment and body mechanics, and good balance, strength, and endurance than you may be able up the ante and increase the intensity of your work out. But if you are not in good shape to begin with then submitting yourself to working at an extremely high intensity puts you at risk for injury or worse and takes you further away from your goal.

Of course you need to challenge yourself when exercising to make positive change. But if you challenge yourself well beyond your ability the chance that you will want to continue will decrease and the chance that you will get hurt will increase. There should be always challenge for improvement to occur. But that challenge should be within your own capacity and address your individual fitness needs.

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