If you are planning on working towards a new health goal, a performance target, or really anything worthwhile, the following article will help you set yourself up for success from the beginning.
If you are reading this, it is likely that you have already decided to pursue a new fitness plan, or are on the verge of making that commitment to yourself. This is a great start.
Having said that, relying on your initial fitness motivation to carry you through to the realisation of the end-goal is not a good idea, especially if your goal is a big one that will need consistent work over a long period of time. Generally speaking, your motivation will run out before you achieve your goal if you neglect to get your training, nutrition, or desired behaviors on autopilot asap. Life will get in the way, and you will rue the missed opportunity to capitalise on your current spark of motivation.
The following 5 points are from personal experience, and I can say that they have each played a key role in any significant goal that I have personally reached in recent years.
1. Establish your Fitness goal(s)
The first thing is to work out exactly what your goal is. Having a general idea of what you want to achieve is a good place to start, but you considerably increase the chances of your achieving the goal if you pick something that excites you, that you can realistically achieve given the scale of the goal and the time that you are willing to put into it, that you are giving yourself a predefined time period to work on your goal, and that involves a measure of cooperation with others, or accountability to achieving it.
2. Create a fitness routine to achieve your goal (keep it simple)
This is where the help of a professional will come in handy, to help you put together a personal fitness plan that will fit with your goals, your current level of ability, and your schedule. This can be the biggest stumbling block to progress, as doing too little will delay progress, and doing too much can result in bringing training to an abrupt halt at a minimum, and injury at worst.
Keeping it simple is the key to a good workout plan, and answering the following questions will help you get started.
How often per week are you going to train?
What will each of your training sessions consist of?
What time will your training sessions happen at?
How much will you progress by in each training session?
Is this plan simple and effective?
Make getting the job done as easy as possible for yourself. Cook more meals in advance, have your training gear ready from the night before, and save time where you can to minimise the chance of getting caught up with distractions.
3. Schedule your fitness training into your calendar
I always add my training to a weekly schedule such as the one below. This lets you see what exercise training you have planned for the coming days, and lets you plan ahead accordingly. Not having a weekly plan can result in doing random sessions here and there, skipping sessions, and lack of direction with your training. Use the workout schedule guide below to help you.
4. Reasons to Workout in the morning
Personally speaking, when introducing something new, or challenging to my weekly schedule, I plan to get it done before other activities that could potentially leave me too tired to complete the new task by the time I am finished. For example, I get my own training done before I start coaching at ACLAÍ. If you plan to do a run, and have the option of doing it before a meeting or after, go for it beforehand and get it done!
5. Build or join a fitness group support network
There are a few ways that you can go about building a support structure around your fitness training that will encourage you on the good days and get you through the tough days. Having a supportive structure is one of the most important aspects of helping you stick to the plan, and will result in you enjoying the journey and looking back in the near future at amazement at how much you have achieved. Having people around you to encourage, motivate, and advise you is the difference between your training going by in a slow and cumbersome way, and whizzing by in a fresh and inspiring way. A few ways to build your support network is to:
Start off training with a partner or group
Work with a coach on a regular basis
Join a club or training group
Set goals with a friend and work towards them together