Planning an exercise regime to achieve certain results is a science within itself.There are so many variables that give different end results and with the wealth of knowledge we have out there (internet,magazines etc) it can all get a little confusing.
A very simplistic way to look at this is using ‘what,when,where,how and why?’
What exercises am I doing today? NEVER walk into a gym with no idea of what you want to do.It will leave you wandering around aimlessly or doing inadequate amounts of everything but not really achieving anything.
I plan all my workouts.By plan I mean anything from writing out a detailed plan on a piece of paper to organizing my exercises in my head on the bus.Give yourself 5 or 6 key exercises you want to achieve and some back up exercises in case the equipment is being used etc.For example:
ON THE BUS: “Okay I want to work my lower body today.I will warm up on the treadmill then I will do weighted squats on the rack and throw in some ab work in between sets.Then I’ll work my hamstrings and quads separately.Maybe I’ll use the machines for that.Then a cool down and stretch.”
You’ve planned a workout frame.You can change it easily and add or take away exercises but you can walk confidently into the gym,get your work done,feel the benefits and leave satisfied.
For me, “when” can stretch to “how often” meaning how many times a week am I going to work out ? Most important of all be reasonable, if you are constantly busy or just beginning to exercise, aiming for twice a day isn’t going to be a good idea. Set yourself an achievable goal frequency of sessions a week.I would suggest a minimum of three .
“Next week I have two morning meetings on Tuesday and Thursday plus I have to look after the kids Friday night.I know I’ll be knackered then and I don’t want to be late for my meetings so I’ll do Monday morning, Wednesday evening and Saturday lunchtime instead.”
Here is the key part: Make your arrangements and stick to them.If they are reasonable and achievable times then you should have no reason to cancel other than procrastination or excuses.
This one is quite simple and relies on your needs. Let’s say your goal is to build up muscle and get ripped.Unless you have a fully stocked home gym ,you will need to use your local gym or sports center. A home workout relying on body weight will not be enough to grow tons of muscle mass.However if you are looking to burn a bit of fat, body weight exercises and cardio outside can be enough.There is plenty of equipment that can be bought for use in the home so have a look online for extras.
“How” links directly to “what” and brings me to my favourite topic of time under contraction and delivery of movement patterns. This alters to your specific goals so I will give a few examples :
“I want to improve my explosive power for a boxing match coming up in a month.I have several compound lifts at a fairly heavy weight so in order to reach my goal I need to lift and lower the weights as fast as possible using maximum effort and power.”
“I need to build up endurance in my upper body, so for these press ups I need to keep the movement controlled and slow.Ideally 3 seconds down and 3 seconds up.Maybe I can even hold at the bottom for a few seconds to really challenge myself.”
“I want to bulk up and gain muscle.I don’t have to be militant with how long I take but as long as hold proper form and don’t rush it’ll be okay. I’ll go with 2 seconds down , 2 seconds up.”
This is the most important factor in your workout.A fantastic trainer once said to me “When it gets tough people will only truly respond to ‘why’.Remind them why the exercise is good for them and they will be motivated to carry on.”
When I am pushing to the end of a sprint and I want to give in because my legs are burning and I feel sick there are several ways I can deal with this.
-I can shout at myself to carry on: “Come on! Don’t stop! You can do better than this!ARGGHH!” This works some of the time but 9 times out of 10 it won’t really do anything apart from make me feel bad about myself.
-Alternatively I can say to myself “You need this.When you’re in the ring and you’ve got your opponent in a corner, this fitness will allow you to win the fight and knock them down.” I’ve explained to my brain in logical clear terms why I should carry on and suddenly petty excuses don’t have the same effect.
“I need to do this long endurance run today so that in a weeks time I can beat my PB in the marathon.”
“I need to do this strength work so I can sort out my posture and then I’ll be free of that horrible back pain.”
So next time you are lacking in willpower or motivation, stop and actively remind your brain why you need to be doing that workout.In the end it all comes down to your goals and you can’t achieve them without hard work.
So there it is, I hope this is helpful and aids you in your fitness journeys.