I’ve been avoiding writing too much about training plans because for me, they do not work – but now I’m questioning why. Why don’t they work for me? And the answer is probably because I am the queen of excuses. People fall out of their exercise plans for a myriad of reasons so let’s try and build up a resistance so even I can finish one.
- REST INTERVALS – this is one I can fully get behind! I have more rest days than exercise days, that’s for sure. Your body needs time to grow and heal, rest is encouraged – you should not be doing intense exercise every day. And on days you do exercise, ensure sufficient rests are included, for example thirty seconds to two minute rests during circuit training, including a full two minute rest upon one entire circuit.
- PARTNERS – if you tell yourself you’re going for a run in the morning, but then the morning arrives and it’s miserable, it is very easy to say “I’ll go tomorrow”. If you’ve already made those plans with a partner, you are less likely to cancel. A partner also provides you with encouragement, motivation – and some healthy competition. Secondly, it eliminates the need to start talking with strangers in the gym to get them to spot for you – you’ve got your partner already, get to the action!
- TRAINING LOGS – Training logs can be handwritten diary-like entries or there is a plethora of apps available now like Strava or Runkeeper to track your activities. Training logs are excellent for motivating an individual, and on some apps you can arrange for them to keep bugging you until you log in an exercise. A training log can also be used to record effective or ineffective training methods, document illnesses or injury, mood, the training environment (e.g. I did 5 reps then chatted for 20 minutes), and goals…
Speaking of goals, they ought to follow these principles. Anybody involved with goal setting in any shape or form from teachers and fitness instructors to big businesses likely use SMART goal setting – and usually they have a different acronym to follow – however the meaning is pretty much the same.
- Specify your goal, rather than I want to be able to run make it “I want to be able to run 5km”
- Measureable, if you want to get stronger then how will that be measured? Measure number of reps and the weights used
- Achievable – if you have never ran in your life and set yourself the goal of running the London marathon this year then you’re highly unlikely to achieve it – and any progress you make towards the goal will then feel like a waste of time. Instead, a more achievable goal could be to complete a couch potato to 5km running program
- Realistic – this ties in to the above one; let’s face it, I am never going to be in the Olympics and setting myself that goal is ridiculous.
- Time based – Set a time limit and be realistic with it e.g. set yourself the target of six weeks to complete the couch potato to 5km program.
Goals are incredibly important and provide drive and motivation. Their completion increases self-worth, self-efficacy, and goals should progress your fitness too! Further, by following the SMART principles, the fitness plan should be suited to your actual fitness – because a big reason for people dropping out is that they over-estimate their abilities and it becomes too hard.
Never underestimate the power of motivation too – consider why you want to exercise and keep that in your mind each time you want to skip out on a work out.
Ultimately, what I will say is that if you’re hating every minute of it then it’s probably not for you – find something you enjoy, be it swimming, running, zumba, kick boxing, or bowling.