Regardless of your goal, achieving it will be no easy task, particularly if you are just starting out on your journey. You do not need to be overly clever with your strategy, however understanding what areas you should focus on and make consistent is essential.
I have worked with hundreds of clients all over the world, and I have spoke with even more. Upon conducting an initial consultation I always receive similar answers to my questions when asking about the individuals previous experience and history with training and trying to improve their performance or physique.
Many people struggle to achieve their long term goals. This is commonly blamed on the onset of injury, time constraints, lack of knowledge, social occasions or holidays, or reduced level of motivation once the rate of progress slows down.
I get it, it's enormously frustrating. However more often than not, there is one reason for all of the obstacles you face… The initial APPROACH you used was wrong for you!
Here are 5 out of the 10 methods we use to help our clients maximise their training to achieve incredible results! The other 5 will come soon in part 2!
1. Perspective on your journey
Your goal may be incredibly motivating. The idea of achieving it excites you, but the time frame you've set is unrealistically short. Have a little perspective on your journey. If you haven't been attending the gym more than 3 days per week consistently, then trying to increase your training frequency to 5x per week all of a sudden will end badly for you. You'll no doubt burn out, lose the determination to achieve your goal and your progress will stop.
Progressively increasing frequency, volume, weight etc is essential for achieving results. Just ensure you're doing so realistically and gradually. Take small progressive steps forwards. You'll achieve far more in the long term.
If you do everything at once, you'll run out of resources come a time when you reach a plateau. You want to keep as many tools in your tool box for later use.
2. An unplanned day of results in you falling off the wagon.
This approach is common in training, nutrition and everything to do with towards transforming your health, body and performance. You may have an amazing week, performing your strength training and conditioning consistently, you're completely on plan with your nutrition, then one day off and BOOM the week is a write off.
Remember that having an unplanned day off isn’t going to harm you. Life has its own way of getting in your way sometimes. Accept it and get on with it. Deciding to take the week off and restart on Monday is going to set you back enormously.
Stop chasing perfection and focus on improving on each day. There is no such thing as perfection!
3. Complex Programmes
You may have recently purchased a fitness magazine or read an article on the internet that inspired you and gave you some suggestions as to what you should be doing with your training programme. Perhaps you follow someone on instagram and wanted to give their programme a go. Perhaps you've come across a plan that was endorsed by a professional bodybuilder or weightlifter. Their results seem amazing, so you try to replicate some of what they are doing.
Unfortunately, that programme didn’t take into account your specific needs.
This quickly results in injury, as without proper execution, experience, mobility, understanding, or assessing your body's current capability to move, you are putting yourself at risk of overreaching / over-training, or worse... injury.
Hire a good coach that is capable of prescribing a programme that is specific to your needs. Be aware that if your coach does not ask you a tonne of questions during the initial phase, the programme they're writing is probably generic. Your consultation should feel like an interview. If you're working with an online coach then your questionnaire should take more than 5minutes to complete.
4. Mind muscle connection
You take a look at your programme and you understand what each movement is. You load up the bar and you work through each exercise one by one. But all you're focusing on is getting the exercises done and out of the way. You're moving the bar from A to B without considering where you should be feeling it.
If you are squatting without squeezing your quads hard, or you are benching but your shoulders reach failure first, you need to re-assess your technique.
It is possible that you may be performing the movement correctly, but you're unable to contract the relevant musculature. As a general rule, if you cannot squeeze a muscle without weight, you certainly will not be able to stimulate when you are lifting weight.
Learn to contract the relevant muscles hard. You'll start to see significant improvements in both your posture and physique in a matter of weeks.
If you're an athlete or a weightlifter using squats, presses, pulls to improve force production and isolation exercises to prevent injury, this rule still applies. Whilst you may not be doing so for physique reasons, exercises selected based on the muscle groups and movements they stimulate... you're not just lifting heavy for the sake of it. If you're performing pendlay rows and your arms fatigue, you need to take a step back, regress and perform the movement with the right intent.
5. Stick to one goal
You are trying to lose body fat and grow lean muscle tissue. You improve your diet and as a byproduct you eat fewer calories. Within a week or two you feel leaner and you've lost a centimetre or two around your waist. Motivation is high! You remain on plan for another 4 or 5 days but then you feel a little weak, you feel smaller and your clothes don't seem to fit as well.
You do something about it.
You increase calories. Energy levels improve, you start to feel stronger and you get a better 'pump' in the gym. You're beginning to feel like your clothes fit better, however you're unhappy that you can't see your abs and you still feel a little overweight.
You do something about it....
The cycle continues for months, if not years, and as a result you look the same 3 years down the line.
Get the picture?
You need to stick to one goal, and stick to it until you've achieved it.
Accept that if you're eating to reduce body fat, you won't get stronger and you won't develop more muscle mass. If you're wanting to get stronger and increase muscle, accept that you won't have abs.
This is the same from a performance perspective too. Yes, in this case, you should incorporate a variety of methods / disciplines into your training (maximal strength plus speed, for example) as 'if you don't use it you lose it'. However, your training needs an emphasis. If your main aim is to become more explosive then 80% of your training should consist of plyometrics, jumps, bounds and speed-strength work. The other 20% can be strength and hypertrophy related.
If you spread your goals across a variety of disciplines, you're results will be diluted.
Stay tuned for part 2