“What should I do today?”
“Legs.. I’ll do deadlifts. No, wait..maybe some squats..when was the last time I did squats?”
If you’re deciding what your workout will be as you’re walking into the gym.. then I’m sorry to say.. but
In order to see any results you need to have a structured program. Walking into the gym, let alone trying to reach any goals without a fitness plan, is like trying to drive in a foreign country without a map; you will eventually get somewhere, but where you end up may or may not have anything to do with where you actually wanted to be. Without a proper fitness plan you have no way of tracking your progress, and no way of knowing if you will reach your goals.
The Right Way
Write down your goals. This is the first step to create a fitness plan. Do you want to reach a certain PR in your deadlifts? Do you want to chisel your back? Maybe you just want to feel comfortable on the beach. Whatever your reason is to workout you need a structured fitness plan to get you there. Once you’ve established what you want to accomplish, you need to create a ‘map’ to get you there, these are your short-term goals. Short-term goals are mileposts on the way toward your long-term goal.
- Long term goal: doing 12 unassisted chin-ups
- Short term goals:
- wk 1-4: build muscle strength by doing band assisted chin-ups
- wk 5-8: work on holding your weight- negative chin-ups
- wk 9-12: 3 unassisted chin-ups x 2 sets, 1.5min rest between sets (add 1 set per week)
- wk 13-16: 4 unassisted chin-ups x 3 sets, 1.5 min rest between sets
- wk 17+ : gradually increase reps per set, until 12 straight reps achieved
Establishing a fitness plan eliminates the guess work and tracks your progress. Having a schedule to follow helps eliminate the “I’ll do it tomorrow” thought pattern and holds you accountable. Once you get into the habit of following a plan, you’ll see how easier it is to get through your workouts which in turn helps motivate you to succeed. Also by having a visual record of your progress means you can actually see how far along you’ve come, which is always motivating.
Keep It Simple
It doesn’t need to be fancy (unless that’s your style). Simply having a small journal with your workouts written in them and space to write in reps, sets, weight, is enough. The main point is to make it a habit.
And that goes for any goals in general. The only way to ensure you reach them is by writing them doing, creating a ‘map’ & then following it. It eliminates any guess work, helps you be prepared for any obstacles you may encounter, and serves as a visual record of how far you’ve come and how much closer you are to your end point.
And that’s that.
Happy Training 🙂
So with the New Year approaching, the gyms will be full of those whose resolutions are to: lose weight; build muscle; gain strength; build booties; tone.. etc etc.
Now are these goals being set realistically? The majority, probably not.
You see we tend to have our eyes set on the end result.. but a lot of people don’t take into account the steps needed to get you there.
And what happens when you’ve bought a gym membership/classes and/or spent an ‘X’ amount of money on a personal trainer; or purchased the services of a nutritionist..and after the first few weeks have gone by you realize you haven’t seen your numbers change.. or that you’re still having to struggle to put on your favourite pair of jeans? What happens then?
You lose motivation. You want to give up. You think it’s impossible.
But the truth is, it’s not impossible. Everything is possible with enough determination, dedication, and… the proper plan.
Coaches have game plans; architects have blueprints; teachers have lesson plans… (you get my drift). These plans have a basic structure to them: the necessary steps needed to achieve an end result.
They provide guidance. They provide a time frame. And there will even be a plan B, C, or D in case something goes wrong.
This is where having a plan set in place is crucial if you are serious about your fitness goals.
Setting Realistic Goals
○ Be specific. Instead of saying I want to lose weight, state the exact amount of fat loss you are looking to achieve. Ex: 20pds of fat mass
○ Make sure that the goals you want to achieve are realistic. If your goal is to lose 20pds in one month, you might want to re-evaluate. Healthy fat loss is 1-2pds per week (4-8pds/month), this ensures that you are not losing a significant amount of muscle mass.
Track Your Progress
○ This is an important part of reaching your goals. Keep a workout journal to track your progress in the gym; a food journal or calorie app will help keep track of what and how much you’re consuming.
My favorite way of tracking my progress is with pictures. By taking bi-weekly or monthly pictures I can compare and actually see changes in my physique that I might miss by looking in the mirror.
Note: I did not include weighing yourself as a way to track progress because the scale does not tell you the whole story. The scale might not even budge but if your clothes are suddenly fitting better or even too big..then you know you are doing something right.
○ Hey, life gets in the way more often than not. Obstacles are also a natural part of change. By coming up with strategies to overcome obstacles, you won’t be caught off guard when you hit a speed bump.
Avoid seeing obstacles as a reason to quit, instead use them as a learning opportunity and improve on strategies. This will ensure you are ready the next time you find yourself in the same situation.
(Here’s a good article on setting fitness goals.)
So to all those starting new at the gym this January.. I wish you luck & success on your fitness journey.
To the veterans.. I wish you gains, gains and nothing but gains! 💪