Updated: Feb 13, 2021
Valuing your time to exercise is a important to achieving the results you want. For some it is making time in a busy schedule to get to the gym for 30 minutes or an hour for a few days a week. For others, the gym is a way of life. Nonetheless, there's work to do. Sometimes that schedule is so packed that the gym isn't even an option so we need to seek out alternative forms of activity. One thing is for certain, you get out what you put in. The results come from effort and consistency.
Exercise can be done for any number of reasons. Maybe it's to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. How about improving your appearance and body composition. A good reason could include improving coordination and performance for daily activities or sport. It all comes back to improving the quality of life you want to have. Consider how you exercise. What kind of attention do you give in pursuit of your fitness goals? Be honest with yourself because quite frankly you are the only person you need to answer to. Stop reading this for a moment and thing of the actions and thoughts you've committed to today that have improved your fitness.
Evaluate your training.
Now, why are you going to the gym? What's the picture within that frame that says you act upon your quality of life? Goal pursuit. What you are doing in the gym is part of a connected cycle of establishing meaningful habits that can translate to the real world (if you chose to apply it this way)? Keep the big goal in mind and take steps to get there. If you find that you struggle to maintain the level of commitment that you know in your brightest of moments that you know you want to have, find yourself an accountability partner. We all know someone who wants to see the best we have to offer the world and they recognize we deserve it. If you don't know someone like this, reconsider your surroundings. I'll do you one better. Come talk with me when you finish reading.
In order to evaluate your training you need to check your baseline. Where are you starting from? What is your starting weight, bmi, blood pressure, resting heart rate, or bicep size (because this is all anyone really should care about). When is the last time you tested a max push up, mile time, or plank. What is your sleep routine and hydration like? Make your measurement count because the first day is the worst day you should have but it is most important to keep it real. Don't make it fluff and say "Well I did eat a healthy lunch" and continue the thought to realize "oh but I skip dinner, slept 3 hours, and drink 30 ounces of water all day." This is all relevant to your health just as much as how many sets of kettlebell swings you did so start tracking. Write it all down. Don't rely on your ability to recall where you started because when you have something tangible in front of your face. This is accountability. You worked your ass off in a productive way, or you need to re-evaluate how you are spending your time.
After the baseline, set SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Take the guess work out and have a short term goal to get you to the long term. Short term to me means weeks or phases. What can you do with 6 weeks of a bench press program? By March 31st I want to increase my bench press from 215 to 225. It shows a specific change, measured by weight, achievable and realistic with consistent training, and certainly timely. Hint hint! You won't be able to maintain increasing your max bench press every 6 weeks if you are like most of us. So when you stop making progress does that mean to stop chasing that 225 bench all together? Hell no! Identify where you are weak in getting to that goal and go hammer out the sticking points. Work on your technique, dips, your push ups, floor presses, and rows. Then after a few weeks, cycle back and see what kind of improvements you made. If you are a runner and you find that your mile time hasn't improved much, consider putting 4-6 weeks into running technique, or evaluate how often you are actually training and recovering.
Dr. Stephan Covey said "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Let your goals drive your training and don't get too caught up the in noise. Training is fun and working on yourself should be the highlight of your day. Feeling obligated without recognizing purpose is what causes burnout. I have worked with highly motivated people who want to get stronger and their fire can only stay so hot for so long. This happens when you have nothing to feed into. So if I haven't already left you with a takeaway, here it is. Know why you are showing up. Who is it for? How will you know when you're successful? What is a tangible thing you can do every day that helps build the habits that become the pillars for your temple? Who or what holds you accountable? How do you know you are better today than a month ago, six months ago, a year, 5 years ago? Set a goal, plan it out, take action, evaluate, and conquer.
In a later blog I'll discuss some templates for this but first and foremost make training fun.
Improve your training. Improve your life.