Log Your Progress:
Logging your progress is key to ensuring that you are on the right track and that your programme is working for you. Noting weights used, reps completed, scale readings and taking weekly / fortnightly transformation pictures for example, will allow you to track your progress more specifically, in turn helping you make finer adjustments, based on actual data, to continue to reach your goal.
It may not seem worth it at the start, but looking back at your initial start pictures /weights used etc. after 2 to 3 months consistent training, should show you just how far you’ve come and how well you are doing!
I borrowed this from J.Wendler, but I believe it’s another important factor when you’re thinking about your goals and training. If you are training for size, ensure you do a little Cardio. If you’re training to run a 10Km race, don’t neglect your strength training. And everyone – do more mobility and flexibility work!
Focusing on your goal and creating a programme to help you achieve that goal is obviously important, but ensure you have a balanced approached to your training. Intelligently incorporating other training facets, even minimally, will usually help (not hinder) you attain your primary objective.
Being efficient not only makes your training more intensive and effective, it saves you Time!
Too many people (especially beginners) try and incorporate to many exercises in the gym, following what the ‘pros’ do or think more is better. The key is to utilise exercises / training modes that give you the best results in the quickest time.
As a quick guide:
Warm up well (use this time to mentally prep too)
Use compound movements primarily
Don’t look at your Instagram or Facebook accounts when training
Leave knowing you did what needed to be done…
Increase Workload Gradually:
This follows ‘Start Light’. It’s a simple guide to ensure that you remember to increase the demands that your body has to acclimatise to for it to continue to adapt. This doesn’t mean it has to happen each workout or even each week, but implementing a structured plan that incorporates an increasing stimulus for continued adaptation over time is important for continued progress.
To help you do this effectively, LOG your progress.
If you are starting back or doing something different (different challenge) then start in ‘first gear’ and keep the revs low to begin with. If you ‘red line’ the engine (using the car analogy still) from the get go, you’re going to damage the engine very quickly and progress will come to a halt very fast.
Depending on your experience this ‘start line’ will vary from person to person, but ensuring you ramp up the revs (in a controlled manner) over weeks, not days, will help you keep that engine running for much longer.
Probably the most important piece of any training puzzle. Creating a near perfect programme means nothing if you can’t stick to it. Instead figure out first what days you can train and how long you can train for and then write your programme accordingly! It is better to consistently train 3 times a week than writing the “Optimal” 4 day a week programme but regularly missing half the sessions….
Set Your Time Frame:
Like any goal, you need to know when you want to achieve it by. Don’t be that person who says “I’m going to lose weight this year” but never achieves it because the time frame is too ambivalent. Conversely, don’t aim to add 20Kgs to your Bench Press in 4 weeks because that time frame is too unrealistic. Make a time frame that is:
Able to be broken down into smaller time frames
So, for example, if your aim is to lose 7lbs, you could create a time frame of 6 weeks. This can then be broken down into weekly weight loss targets, Week 1 = 2lbs, Weeks 2-6 =1lb loss per week. This will help keep you focused as the 7 lbs is broken into nice small but attainable goals.
Set Your Goal:
This is a really important starting point to any programme. As Mr. Schwarzenegger has said, there is no point being the Captain of a fantastic ship if you don’t know where you’re sailing to. You need direction! Saying I want to be a bit stronger, or lose a little body fat is a start, but make those goals more quantitative. Write them down!
Write I want to add 10lbs to my Squat at the end of this training cycle or I want to lose 5lbs this month. Writing what you actually want to accomplish is so much more powerful than just saying some ambiguous comment that gives you vague direction.
Adding the ‘WHY’ you want to achieve these goals can also be immensely powerful and help you remember the reason you set this goal, in turn keep you more disciplined in achieving it.
Once the goal is set, the plan can be written.