Ever find you go to the gym, do whatever exercises you feel like, stack up whatever weight you feel like, and leave once you feel satisfied? I used to be stuck in this treacherous, plateaued cycle not long ago, until I realized that I was not improving how much I could lift, my physique was remaining relatively the same, and I never felt like I was achieving or accomplishing anything. How do you get past this, you ask?
I found, with me, I needed to first set goals. Yes, we hear about setting goals (SMART Goals even) all the time, but I know majority of us don’t ever really appreciate the importance of them. It’s very hard to set a good fitness goal that isn’t “lose 3 kilos” or “run for 30 minutes”, but we need to look past that, and set more specific, time-oriented, short and long term goals. I found with me, setting goals such as “add 2.5kg to my clean and jerk in 3 weeks” eventually leading to “clean and jerk 50kg in 3 months” helped me learn the course of my progress, if I am on the right track, what I need to change, and what is going right. My suggestion is trying to set 3 short term goals and 3 long term goals for yourself, and constantly review and change them.
Above I had mentioned SMART Goals. These goals are very commonly set in a sports and fitness setting. What does SMART mean, you ask?
S-Specific- try making a goal as specific as “to be able to squat 80kg for 1RM by February 1, 2017”
M- Measurable- how are you going to measure the goal? In this case, you will be able to measure the increase in weight on the bar
A-Achievable- how are you going to achieve the goal? Add 1.25 kg to the bar each week?
R- Realistic- is it something you can actually achieve? This is very important to consider, as if you set a goal that’s too difficult, and unachievable, it will eventually demoralize and discourage you, which will set you back even further.
T- Time- how long do you plan on giving yourself to reach your goal? In this case, it’s 2 months, as stated above.
Great- now we have our goals set! The next step, make a plan….and follow it! There are many different fitness plans you can follow online… Bodybuilding.com offers an amazing array of programs to meet various goals, so if you aren’t confident in deriving your own plan, I would suggest looking here, or on other sites specific to your goal, or contact me, and I’d be happy to help! You saw above that I stated follow the plan in bold. This is very important because if you deviate from it, try to add extra workouts or slack, you won’t build where you need to build, recover when and where you need to recover, and it will hold back your progress. I always make the mistake of not following programs, but when it came to my olympic triathlon training program and my olympic lifting programs from my coaches, I found I got the results I wanted when I just stuck with it. Some days are going to be easier than others, but keep going!
Next, you need to efficiently track your progress and efforts. A lot of people use a pen and paper for this, or their minds (I don’t suggest this method, as it’s easy to forget), but I have been using an iPhone application lately called Strong App. This app helps you build your own workouts, track them, calculate percentages that you’d need to achieve, times rest sessions between sets, allows room for cardio, leave notes, leave progress pictures, and show you when you achieve personal bests (PB’s). I honestly suggest trying it out. I absolutely LOVE it!