As we enter 2021, the new year presents an opportunity to "hit the reset button" and rethink the health and wellness goals that define our behaviors. When framed correctly, a New Year's resolution can be a valuable tool that inspires change and allows one to focus energy in a positive and productive way.
This week, I'll present a few tips for sticking with a New Year's exercise plan. Plus, I will introduce an exercise that's perfect for those looking to restart their workout routine.
There are thousands of "New Year, New You" articles and television segments produced every January, but many are simply veiled attempts to tout a particular product, service or membership. If you've read Master Class long enough, you know that I'm not selling anything. My goal is simply to educate and inspire Arkansans to achieve their health and fitness goals.
The new year does present a great opportunity to change one's behavior, but that's not easy. Research indicates that somewhere between 50% and 80% of health-related New Year's resolutions fail. At the same time, this means that 30% to 50% succeed — so let's focus on that. Having assisted with thousands of New Year health prescriptions over the years, I've distilled the common success characteristics into three primary keys.
First, the goals must follow the SMART principle. They must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based. I've rarely seen someone achieve a goal of "getting more fit," because it's impossible to evaluate progress toward a goal that's so vague. I'll always follow up this kind of goal statement by asking questions like: "How fit do you want to be?" "How long will that take?" "How do we measure that?"
The second common success characteristic is a clear plan for achievement. As the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said, "a goal without a plan is just a wish." And this idea, maybe more than any other success characteristic, directly influences outcomes. Creating a goal-achievement plan is a critical process that includes several steps. Once must determine which actions to take, when to take them and how to perform them. Planning is a piece of the puzzle that often leads right into the final key — supportive resources.
Supportive resources include the people, the information and the motivation for achievement. They are the friends, spouses, trainers, on-demand videos, mobile apps and fitness centers that help one pursue that New Year's plan. Whether it's social support, education or access to equipment — this network of resources provides the necessary help when and where it's needed.
This week's exercise is a perfect addition for someone looking to re-engage in fitness as a New Year's program, simply because it is achievable and simple, but also effective. The Prone Leg Plank can be performed at home, outdoors or in any fitness center environment.
1. Lie face down on an exercise bench.
2. Move your body down so the bottom of the bench is even with your hips.
3. From this position, simply hold the bench with both hands and extend both legs straight out.
4. Your entire body should be parallel with the floor as you hold this isometric position.
5. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat for two or three sets.
If you are experiencing lower back pain today, this is not a good move for you today. But I selected the Prone Leg Plank for this article specifically because I know that almost every reader can perform it successfully.
New Year's goal achievement starts with little successes that build on one another, and this is one exercise that helps beginners feel success. At the same time, it's appropriate for advanced exercisers looking to improve lower back strength and endurance.
With all we went through in 2020, I think it's important to start the New Year with a few small "wins." Now let's get to work!
Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.