There are numerous ways to keep fit, some individuals enjoy the movement within a yoga practice whilst others prefer to run for miles. Not only do you require a plan that is conducive to your goals but it is essential that the regimen is enjoyable and attainable.
Step 1: Identify your goals
Whether you are training for an event or are striving to become more active, it is important to identify ‘why’ you want exercise. Try to focus on one goal at a time and keep it realistic; early success is instrumental to build confidence which can lead to long-term results.
It is important that your goal is measurable, specific, and time bound so that you can keep a track of your progress and have a clear pathway for improvement. Wanting to ‘be stronger’, for example, is a great start but very vague. Wanting to ‘be able to do 50 deadlift repetitions with 50kg in 3 months’ is more specific, has a deadline, and can be measured.
Within your larger goal, schedule in smaller goals that are achievable in a shorter time period. For example, say that you want to run an eight-minute mile. During your training, you should identify a smaller goal, like running half a mile in four minutes. It is all about those small victories which will keep you on track in the long run.
Finally, consider recruiting a support system that will encourage you when an extra boost of motivation is needed.
Step 2: Find an enjoyable workout routine
Movement does not have to be an unpleasant experience; it can actually be great fun.
If you are someone that likes exploring new places, then try walking or cycling. If you enjoy socialising with others, then an exercise class could be the right type of exercise for you. By choosing enjoyable workouts, you will become invested in your fitness journey and appreciate the process.
Step 3: Create a routine
Planning a week of exercise can seem a little daunting but it is actually pretty simple.
Firstly, decide how many days per week you can dedicate to training and which days would be best to take off. For example, if you are usually out on a Saturday night, make Sunday a rest day so that there is no pressure to head to the gym when you are feeling a little delicate.
Ensure that you have regular rest days within your week to facilitate recover and adaptation. It is easy to push through training and negate taking a day off but this will only hinder progress and risk an injury or illness occurring.
Maintain a similar plan each week in order to build a habitual routine. Try to space out the higher intensity/impact workouts throughout the week and ensure that 70% of your training is a lower intensity/impact type of activity.
Training plans needs to progress over time and be completed consistently for results to occur. Keep things realistic but do not be afraid to push yourself when the time is right.
Step 4: Keep track
Tracking your workouts (whether it be with a workout journal, a fitness app, or something else) should accomplish three goals:
It should be quick and easy. Spend the time exercising, not recording it.
It should be useful. Only record the essential information and admit anything that you will not act upon.
It should be versatile. The recording system should be able to adapt to any style of training.
An effective workout tracking system will help keep you accountable, stay motivated, and maintain focus. Get it right and you will reap the rewards of being able to measure progress and plan accordingly.
Step 5: Manage your expectations
It is great to be ambitious and set the bar high with your goals- after all, what doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you! However, progression can be slow and it is important to not expect huge changes overnight. This can really hurt your self-esteem and hinder any further advancements.
It is very easy to think that we are not progressing but do not be discouraged. The speed of improvement does not matter, improvement is improvement.
Think of fitness as a lifelong experience, get your routine right and you are halfway to leading an active lifestyle.
About the author: Laura Smith is an elite-level athlete and has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.