Most workout programs start with good intentions – the desire to make oneself better physically and mentally. Unfortunately, a poorly designed workout program can undermine anyone’s will to succeed. An even more common problem is the lack of any program at all. For example, showing up to the gym and doing one hour on the elliptical machine three days per week will yield minimal results, become boring, and most likely derail the motivation that got that person to begin working out to begin with.
I’ve heard the excuse, “I tried working out and I just wasn’t seeing the results that I think that I should have” too many times. The biggest problems that I have seen leading to the failure to achieve results are a poor allocation of time and effort when training, a lack of physical activity outside of the gym and a poor diet. Here I will explain how to get the most out of your physical training time.
No Substitute for Hard Work
One thing that you may be surprised to learn is that you are much more capable than you have given yourself credit for. We create boundaries in our own minds about what we can and can’t do and by doing so we limit our potential. There are no shortcuts to real physical fitness. There is absolutely no substitute for hard work. If you believe that only with discipline and determination you can achieve the exceptional, then you will achieve optimal results with the proper allocation of resources.
Allocate Your Time for Maximum Results
In order to achieve the fitness that you want in the time that you have, you cannot waste time on exercising the components (hypertrophy, cardio, etc.) alone. This is inefficient. Why do a “back and biceps day” followed by 15 minutes of core and 30 minutes of cardio, when you can do kettlebell snatches, thereby working out the legs, traps, back, and biceps (among other muscles) while simultaneously conducting cardiovascular conditioning. This is not only efficient, it is also more functional than doing the components separately. For example:
1. Eliminate the single-joint exercises and train multi-joint exercises for the best allocation of time spent muscle strengthening. Multi-joint exercises are also safer.
2. Move from machines to free weight exercises as soon as you are comfortable with them. These will require more muscle recruitment per lift, an advantage for functionality and time management.
3. Use circuits to integrate muscle strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning with one another. This will make the workout more challenging, yield greater results in less time, and be more enjoyable (one of the keys to long-term success).
Change and Adaptation
It is not uncommon to undertake a workout program and achieve results only to see those gains plateau. Our bodies, in an attempt to increase efficiency, will adapt to whatever demands we continuously place on them. This will inevitably lead to a time when we will reach equilibrium. This is most obvious when we are doing the same activities, eating the same diet, but no longer seeing the same results (i.e. weight loss). This isn’t a bad thing, it is just our bodies telling us that it is time for a new challenge. Once the elliptical no longer works, start jogging. When jogging no longer works, run, and so on. The key is to always look for a more challenging exercise.
Finally, when you are working out, try to focus on making that one workout as productive as possible. Give it everything you’ve got. Set a goal for each day, either a certain number of repetitions to complete, a certain weight to lift, or a speed to run. Setting smaller goals along the way will bring you a long way to meeting your greater goal. “Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.” – Bear Bryant
Josh Cormier is a Certified Personal Trainer and owner of North Atlantic Personal Training. Visit www.NorthAtlanticPT.com for more information or if you have any questions.