Working out is not just about getting fit, but overall physical and emotional health. With time at a premium, making sure you maximise the benefits of every workout session takes a degree of focus and planning.
When embarking on a new fitness program, take some time out beforehand to set your intentions and reverse engineer what you need to do to get to where you want to go.
- Set your intentions
First and foremost, put some numbers to your goals. If it is about weight loss, align weight goals with dates. Make them realistic.
Fitness goals are also important. You might start your program struggling to do five burpees and lift 3kg weights. Within a few weeks you’ll probably be able to double that. But unless you track your progress you won’t appreciate the progress that you have made.
Factor in your emotional well being as well. You won’t hit all your goals precisely, so you need to make sure you are not hard on yourself, and give yourself a degree of slack.
- Create your program
Once you have set your intentions, you need to develop a program focused on achieving those goals. By setting a final check in date, you need to work backwards and put markers in your calendar between now and then so that you can keep track of your actual progress.
Break your workout down into cardio, different muscle groups, flexibility and core work. Focusing too much on one area could lead to fatigue and burn out, so it is good to mix and match. Combine workouts using gym equipment with getting out and about in local parks to give you more variety and make the workouts more interesting. Always ask the advice of a professional if you’re not sure how best to structure your workouts.
- Incorporate your workout into your daily routine
If you’re not a mad fan of exercise and struggle to get to the gym or a workout session, then build it as much as possible as a non negotiable into your weekly routine. If you know that a Monday and Wednesday evening, for example, are the days that you are committed to exercise, then you are less likely to veer off that path.
- Focus on quality not quantity
Seek help and information from someone who can teach you how to work out properly. If you’re not doing a certain exercise properly, it’s not actually worth you doing it at all. If you are new to exercise then you may want to invest in a personal trainer for a few sessions who will make sure that you are starting off on the right track.
- Avoid the comfort zone
Progress in exercise is all about pushing your personal boundaries. After a couple of weeks you may be able to comfortably do your five burpees. However, sticking to those five burpees for the next few weeks is not going to help your move forward in your fitness levels and reach your fitness goals.
Every week you need to be incrementally pushing your boundaries. This might be a step by step increase in the number of repetitions, or a kilo by kilo increase in the size of weight. Avoid the comfort zone like the plague.
- Learn to recover
Recovery is as important as the actual exercise. Your muscles need to recover in order to repair, which is why working on alternative muscle groups is such an effective approach to working out. Don’t forget as well to stretch out and give your body the chance to accommodate the new stresses on it.
Most of all – enjoy the process. Approaching your fitness regime with joy rather than dread is a mindset attitude that can be achieved through persistence and consistency.