Once you’ve designed your training program it can often be tempting to drop out before you’ve even really begun. Many people I know have come to me with elaborately drawn out plans for how they’re going to go from weedy to brawny only to find themselves falling at the first hurdle. I’m so used to hearing people tell me they’ve given up after a week that I’m always truly surprised when I see someone actually make any progress. So what’s the secret to actually sticking to your workout regime?
Well first of all you need to be realistic. If you’re currently living a completely sedentary lifestyle and do no sports or exercise then don’t expect yourself to be able to suddenly jump into a five day split involving two hour sessions and three protein shakes a day… it just won’t happen. If you’re just starting out then you need to ease yourself into it gently, if you’re doing it right and are well informed then you’ll soon start to see results and then you can start upping your weights.
Setting achievable goals then is important. That doesn’t mean you can’t have ambitious ones as well and maybe you do fancy yourself the next Ronnie Coleman, but in the meantime try and have some nearer goals that you can tick off and work towards along the way. Have a goal for tomorrow, one for next week, one for next month, one for next year and one for the next decade. That’s good advice for any kind of ambition and means you can actually feel like your achieving your aims instead of working towards an impossible pipe dream. Taking photographs of yourself as you progress can also have that effect, as can measuring your improvements. You’re gradually creeping closer to that ideal and the more you see this the more you’ll keep at it.
The training program also needs to flexible while staying tough. If you’re too harsh and don’t allow yourself the occasional unplanned day off, then every time you’re forced to rest up (and you will have to sometimes) you’re likely to get disheartened and feel you’ve set yourself back. That’s not the case and resting is actually important as training, but at the same time you can’t just keep taking days off indefinitely until you forget that you were meant to be training at all. The way I get around this problem then is to pick which days I have off. I have two to three a week and I take them when I need them (though I’m not allowed three in a row). This means I have freedom and flexibility and I’m ready for whatever life throws at me.
Tracy is renowned fitness writer and her health articles are liked by many companies. She looks for inspiration in Mary Szela, vice president of Abott Labs.