We all have big goals and dreams for our body. We want to be able to achieve superhuman feats of strength and power, while also having the health and well-being that comes from being physically active. But living in a world where everything has been made profoundly more convenient, from eating to work to even how we exercise, sticking to our fitness and workout goals is turning out to be harder than ever.
Forget the overnight diets. The 6-minute abs. If you are serious about getting into better shape, if you are desperate to make working out a habit, and you want the windfall of benefits that come from being more physically active, than make sure you are doing these three fundamental things.
Go into the gym with a plan. How often have you walked into the gym with a sense that you would do what you felt like that day? If you are like most gym-goers or athletes, this casual approach is taken far too often, and almost always at your own detriment. When we don’t have a plan for our workouts we are easily distracted, we cut short sets and workouts because we aren’t “feeling it”, and we let things like our friends at the gym and our cell phone gobble up valuable chunks of training time. Before you set foot into the gym write out the exercises, reps, weights, and the conditoning work you want to achieve that day down in your workout log. Not only will you have much better workouts, but you will avoid the idle time wasted chatting at the water fountain.
Have a clearly defined goal. One of the fastest ways to give your training more purpose and meaning—and thereby make yourself more likely to stick to it—is to have a realistic and clearly defined goal. After all, working out is difficult. It goes against our natural default setting of doing nothing. Remember: we are programmed for necessity and to take the path of least resistance. Having a clear, over-riding goal for our time in the gym will help you maintain workout motivation on those days when the last thing you want to do is hit the gym.
Drop expectations of progress and focus on the routine. If you really want to achieve your workout goals you need to stop thinking so much about them. One of the most common pitfalls everyone encounters when chasing improvement in the gym, whether an Olympic athlete or someone trying to drop 5 pounds, is that moment when we feel like things aren’t happening fast enough. We’ve worked hard for a couple weeks and have barely improved under the bar. We’ve stuck to the nutrition plan and not lost the weight we expected. The reality is that we are brutal at guesstimating how long it is going to take in order to achieve our goals. Instead of getting frustrated by focusing only on the results, make sure that you are consistently dialed in on improving your daily routine.