Yep – you’ve likely heard of these before. Failing to adhere to these (or similar principles) is the main downfall of many a budding fitness enthusiast who, through little fault of their own, would be far better off getting a taxi to the local take away to burn off those troublesome calories.
Number 1 – you should always have an idea of why, or what, you are training for.
Now we can delve a little deeper into this.. ‘SMART GOALS’
You should be specific with goals. That is, setting specific goals removes any confusion as to whether a goal has been achieved. For example, ‘I want to lose weight’ is very different from ‘I want to lose 8lbs in four weeks’. The latter being specific, removing all ambiguity and swiftly taking us into the next point.
Your plan to achieve this should then compromise of how you will measure your progress. Use an outcome measure to track your health/physique/performance at the start of a training cycle, throughout and at the end.
Outcome measures could include weight gain/loss, percentage increases in weight lifted and increases in distance when performing cardiovascular specific exercise. A word of warning however, measure with caution! It’s easy to get disheartened if you track these things too often and don’t see any progress.
Significant, long-term progress happens over months and years, not days or weeks. Short term benefits of exercise tend to be more subjective; you feel better, you have more energy throughout the day, your sleeping and eating patterns improve, quality of time spent socialising improves etc. These are all huge reasons to start (and stick to) training, and although some improvements may not be quantifiable, this doesn’t mean they’re not improving the QUALITY of your life!
This one goes without saying. If you’ve led a sedentary lifestyle for years upon years, it wouldn’t be wise to set a target of beating Usain Bolt’s 100metre sprint world record anytime soon (though if this is your goal, I can’t fault your motivation and enthusiasm).
This is where periodised training programs come in handy (this is a whole other topic – one that we may cover in the future). So, this is to say that you’re not going to safely add 50kg to your squat in two-three months – unless you’re a genetic freak, on performance enhancing drugs OR have undertaken some maniacal Eastern European strength program that is basically survival of the fittest (I’m looking at you, Smolov).
If your goal is to lift heavier weights, it would be wiser to test your 1 (or 3 or 5) rep max, then decide what percentage increase on those figures is achievable in a specified time frame.
If your goal is weight loss, it would be wiser to aim to lose between 1-2lbs of bodyweight per week over the long term, as opposed to some crash diet/exercise regime that sees you lose lots of weight quick time.
*Sidenote – these fad diets tend to cause insanity and bitterness towards the world! So much so that you start slamming down the simple carbs and fat again to regain some degree of sanity back! (Google ‘YoYo dieting for more info). Anyway, I somewhat digress.
Sometimes also referred to as ‘REALISTIC’.
If you want to run a marathon in 6 months, why train to increase your bench press by 20kg in 2 weeks at the start of the program? And yes, ok.. there are always exceptions to the rule when it comes to individualised training (improving your bench MAY benefit your marathon running at some point by improving global upper body strength), BUT your primary focus should be around improving your cardiovascular function (through a variety of different training methods). There’s tonne’s of other (probably far better) examples of making a program relevant, via a quick search of the world wide web.
This one is self-explanatory. Set a point in time where you would like to see these changes occur by. A good rule of thumb is three months.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics.. it’s time to pay the bills and send the shameless plugs!
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Until next time, all the best! Signing out.
Whilst not writing for FGUK, Tim works as a Physiotherapist, Personal Trainer and is a Retired Ammunition Technician with the British Army. In his spare time Tim enjoys engaging in a whole variety of sports, spending considerable time with his little rascal of a dog, relaxing with his friends and family, but most of all.. geeking out on all things fitness!
*Timmy’s Top Tips
‘Comparison can be the thief of joy!’
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