What determines your success?
Is it the particular program you’re on, or is it how you approach it?
Granted some methods of training are better than others, or rather are better for you specifically than others. But to get the most out of any plan of action, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Find Your Match
The most important thing is to consider whether the program is aligned with your goals.
What is the intended outcome of the program and how does it relate to what you hope to achieve?
The end result of a program should have more specific outcomes than just the generic “build muscle, lose fat.” These aren’t bad goals, but common goals like these don’t really tell you very much.
Nearly every exercise and diet regimen has this at its crux.
Of course we all would like to change our body at some point in our lives and for some people that seems to be a never ending situation, but we want to look a little bit deeper.
And it’s more than even the goal of better control and performance of your body, which is our particular interest here at GMB. Of course, we think this is a fine intention as well, but really it’s more than the specific goal, because that is a personal choice.
Once you make that decision however, that’s when you need to examine the details of your program.
Every particular exercise routine comes out of an underlying philosophy. Whoever designed the program has a specific set of beliefs about why their program works, or should work.
This is what you need to make sure it fits with your situation and your goals.
The best programs in the world are no good if you can’t follow through with it.
For example, some regimens follow a style which emphasize high frequency and high volume. In this system, daily, or several times a week, training for a few hours a day is considered optimal. And it well may be, if you are able to commit the time.
Another system focuses on shorter and less frequent training, but insists upon going all out in the training, with a high level of exertion at every workout. According to that training philosophy and no matter how you feel, if you aren’t training at 100 percent, you’re not expending enough effort to make gains. Some people thrive on this, and some people don’t.
Take some time to think about your temperament and how you’ll handle a program for the long term.
- Will you be able to consistently devote several days a week to training?
- Is it in your mental makeup to go at it hard in every workout session?
Is this program a good fit? If you are being honest with yourself, and feel you match the regimen well, then that’s what you should do.
Follow the Plan
So you’ve figured out the best program that’s a fit for you and your goals. Now you just have to do it!
Along with the philosophy, each regimen has a plan of attack and a timeline.
Eight Weeks to Awesome Abs!
Three Months from Couch to Marathon!
It’s more than just a promise, the very act of having a deadline itself is part of a good program. Having an endpoint gives an impetus to your training and provides a sense of purpose and motivation.
It’s much easier to keep running if you can see the finish line up ahead.
Within reason, you should follow the chosen plan as closely as possible. The best plans were designed the way they are for good reasons, and yes there should be concessions to individual concerns such as injuries and such factors, but you’re on the program, so you should go ahead and do it the right way.
Give the method its due and follow it to the letter.
Consistency is the Key to Success
You’ve chosen the plan, and you’re diligently following the instructions as best you can. Now you have to keep at it!
My patients often ask me how they should start back up on their exercise routine (or start one altogether) after their rehab is done. Most of them are eager to get to it since they are feeling better and ready to move on. My advice is always to “Do half as much as you think you should on the first day and stop there even if you feel you could keep going. Then see how you feel the next day and go on from there.”
It doesn’t matter where you start in your training, it matters where you end up, and how you progress all depends on being consistent.
In all of the regimens I’ve done and ones that I’ve placed my patients and clients on, the best way I’ve found to encourage regular performance is the “slow boil” approach.
Starting off very easy, even ridiculously easy, and building up from there tends to keep people coming back to exercise.
You’ve probably seen examples of this all the time. The New Year’s resolution folks in the gym on January 2nd, flailing away at the treadmills and ellipticals with all they got, only to be so sore the next day that they stay home. I remember in college seeing the same thing at the start of each semester after a break, guys going at it trying to make up for lost time, but then petering out after a couple of weeks.
Don’t let that happen to you.
What to Do When You’re Stuck
Does this sound familiar? You’ve chosen the right program, and you’re working it correctly and being as consistent as you can, but then you get stuck. What can you do?
Don’t stress – you don’t have to get stuck at a plateau in your training!
Try these two tactics:
- Do the bare minimum of all the other exercises in the program: That way you can spend your energy on that difficult movement.
- Move that troublesome exercise to the beginning of your workout: For instance, if you are on a weight training program and one exercise seems to be lagging behind the others, go ahead and do that one first (directly after your warm up), even if it’s scheduled for later.
This strategy helps quite a bit if it’s a strength or conditioning issue that’s preventing your progress. And being fresher and stronger also helps if it is a technique issue, because it allows you to focus on your form when you aren’t concerned about whether your strength is going to hold out.
“Success is a Series of Little Daily Victories”
We all want to gain as much as possible from our training.
It’s only natural to want to make sure that our investment of time and energy isn’t wasted.
The strategies I’ve outlined will help you get the best out of whatever program you’ve chosen to meet your goals. Be sure to choose a plan that’s best for you, follow that program as best you can, keep showing up, and devise a strategy to navigate through those periods of “stuckness”.
Remember that we’re always available if you have any questions while working through one of our programs. Just send us message.
An even better way to get personalized help and support with your program is to join Alpha Posse, our growing community of people just like you.
Frustrations in training are inevitable, it’s just the way it is in any kind of training.
Progress isn’t always linear. But you can use this feedback to reassess where you are and what you’re doing, so that you can keep moving towards achieving your goals.