At this time of year, we all have them. Fitness goals we want to achieve and put a renewed focus on for the coming year. For some of us, they remain just that – pipe dreams that we never get around to. For others, 2018 will be the year the finally transform their bodies and become what they’ve always dreamed of being. What separates the two? Determination and a few clear tips that will propel them towards a new level of fitness. Here’s how to get serious about your health:
Have a Clear Plan
The first step is the one that people often miss. Don’t just throw yourself into a new regime. There’s every risk that if you don’t have clear and specific goals, you’ll go hard at first and then tail off without ever having made serious gains. You need to identify exactly what you’re hoping to achieve before you can work out the best route there. Do you want to lean up? Build muscle? Improve your endurance? That’s a start. Then get specific about numbers, progress and events you want to train for. The trick is to aim high enough for it to be a challenge, but in the range where you will see improvement to keep you going. A personal trainer can be useful to help you set the right goals and give you a route to go about them, or there is plenty of advice, sample training plans and routines online to be found.
I recommend the free BodySpace app from Bodybuilding.com. I have been using it for about 4 years. It comes with hundreds of free workout plans that can by synced with your calendar. The best part of it being the ability to track your workouts over months and years. If you are someone who loses focus easy, this is perfect for you. It takes the guess work out of developing a plan.
Commit to Meal Prep
Whatever fitness goal you’ve decided on, you won’t get far without also sorting your nutrition. Good food, enough sleep and hydration are the keystones of any successful workout regime. Not only will you see the gains much faster, but you’ll be powering your body in the right way to get a better performance with your workout. So commit to the right diet for your goals. Meal prep comes into its own here. Set aside time at the weekend to prepare and freeze your daily meals in advance. At first, this can seem boring, but it quickly becomes a habit and just part of your weekend routine. Invest in proper containers to store the food and research nutritionally-balanced recipes that are easy to batch-cook. The temptation to go off course is much less when you have the right food on hand, ready to go.
Find a Dedicated Space
Not all gyms are equal, and depending on the specific fitness goals you’ve identified, some will ‘fit’ better than others. So take the time to find a gym that will help you achieve what you need to. Do you need a gym focused on muscle building or one with great outdoor facilities? What style and expertise do the trainers have? It doesn’t have to be about a gym either. If you don’t live near one or don’t want the hassle, consider setting up a home gym. Convert a space such a garage or outbuilding, or construct a home gym with a steel-frame such as the ones from armstrong buildings. Having a dedicated space for your workout will encourage you to stick to your routine without letting outside distractions in.
Select the Right Equipment
Committing to success with your fitness doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune to begin with, but if you’re serious about achieving your goals, you may need to invest in the right tools at some point further into your journey. This could be a bench and set of weights or some other equipment to work a specific body part. Consider your sports garments too – ill-fitting ones can restrict your range of motion, and hinder your workout. You may also need gloves for doing body-weight movements on a bar or lifting weights, and think about joint support with knee or elbow pads. The idea is to minimise discomfort and the risk of injury. This means you can keep going for longer, push yourself harder and recover quicker after a tough session. Achieving peak performance is all about minor tweaks that add up to enhance your abilities.
Challenge yourself, but don’t overtrain
Although pushing yourself is the only way you’ll really achieve your goals, it’s also important to know your own limits and listen to what your body is telling you. Overtraining is dangerous, and if you cause an injury, it can throw everything off, disrupt your program and mean that you won’t achieve your goals. So learning when to stop is as key as knowing when you can push a little more. Make sure you’re scheduling in enough recovery time and rest days alongside your training sessions.
Getting in shape takes a commitment. Mental, physical and sometimes a financial commitment. These 4 steps will help you set yourself up for success so you can transform it from a task to a lifestyle that will serve you.