We are coming up to the end of 2014 and soon a new year brought with new goals, new dreams, and new beginnings. The winter is always a retrospective time of the year for me and every year I habitually evaluate my life and set new goals for the coming year. As a personal trainer, I always see an influx of new clients and peaked interest in attaining fitness and health goals as the year turns and I am always amazed at how this heightened interest dies off as January passes by and those who have started training fall off the bandwagon. The common thread in these individuals is almost always a lack of proper planning in their training programs.
The goal of this article is not to provide you with a detailed approach to planning a proper training program, but to provide you with what I consider to be some of the most important principles and considerations in planning an effective program that is sustainable in the long term. With that said, let’s get right into it.
Before you even step foot in the gym, or even begin contemplating your methods of training it is with absolute importance that you shift your focus beyond the external and look within. Why are you doing this? This should be the first question that you ask yourself. Any goal or dream worth while needs a meaning behind it to be achieved. Without purpose and motive, all goals will fall short of achievement. Similar to a ship at sea without captain, it is bound to wash ashore or drift aimlessly. But with the right captain and direction at it’s helm, it will surely reach it’s destination.
The person you are today will need to be much different tomorrow if you expect to achieve your goals. Who is that person and why are the changes worthwhile? Truly find a riveting and meaningful reason to make lasting changes to your life. Without it, you are bound to fail.
The next step is to become very clear on what it is exactly you wish to achieve. This is not intended to be a treatise on goal setting since most are familiar with it and there are far better resources out there on the topic, however, it is imperative that you clarify exactly what it is you want to achieve if you are to achieve it at all. Write it down, record it, transfer it from the realm of the mind to the realm of the physical. In other words, make it more real and be as specific as possible.
I’d even go so far as to suggest you surround yourself with your goal as much as possible. Keep a note with it written in your pocket, constantly refresh yourself with it, talk about it as if it has been achieved. Keep it fresh, keep it in the forefront of your mind so you are constantly giving it attention with your thought and focus.
The subject of nutrition on exercise performance is a hot one these days and yet still I see most people falling short. Nutrition is most often one of the major contributing factors in failing to adhere to a training program. The act of exercising itself places a stimulus upon the body from which it must adapt to. And this adaptation process requires a steady stream of nutrients to be delivered or the adaptation process will fall short of it’s potential.
Most people fail to realize the power of the saying, “You are what you eat”. If you were to truly understand the power of this saying you would immediately seek only the highest quality foods for yourself. You cannot expect your body to build massive biceps, or a toned physique without the proper building materials so much as you cannot expect a carpenter to build a house out of straw.
I see this all the time. John Doe starts an exercise program and is extremely motivated to make changes to his life. He starts going to the gym five times a week, two hours at a time, week after week. John is having a great time, his energy levels are soaring, he is seeing incredible changes to his body and then CRASH! John’s momentum is totally wiped, swept out from under his feet. His energy levels bottom out and he starts to experience aches, pains, tightness or perhaps he even gets injured! John proceeds to take a couple days off, and provided he’s not injured, he goes back hard into the gym again with the same enthusiasm and gusto! Again, CRASH! This time, he didn’t even make it to the second week. What happened?
Simply, John was overtraining. John exceeded his capacity to recover from the training stimulus he was placing on his body. As a result, his hormonal systems crashed and he was no longer able to keep up with the demands placed on his body. This is far more common than one thinks, in fact, I suggest most people, in any gym anywhere, are experiencing some degree of overtraining.
When individuals are planning their training programs, they often give such an incredible detail to their training regimes and yet pay very little detail to the recovery that is required to sustain it! The magic of training does not happen in the gym, it happens when your body is resting and recovering from it! If the time is not given or allocated, then the body will not be able to keep up with the demands of training and will crash. It is inevitable! The laws of nature cannot be broken.
Most people would fair much better on their training programs if they were to give themselves at the very least a half week off of training every 3 to 4 weeks and a full week off after every 8 to 12 weeks. I’d even go so far as to suggest this a conservative approach as the subject can be opened much further! Planned rest and recovery is essential to the long term success of ANY training program.
If anything, I hope this article gets you thinking about your training program and plants the seeds of thought that leads you to make improvements to the way you approach training! Intelligence is a gift and most people do not make adequate use of it! Above all, listen to your body as it will reveal to you what it needs most.
Good luck in 2015!