1) Progressive Training
Progressive training is the idea of creating training programs that become increasingly more challenging as the body’s fitness level increases. The reason behind this idea is that when you train, your body starts adapting to your training demands by increasing its muscle mass, cardiovascular capacity, flexibility and proprioception. But this forms of adaptation happen when the body is pushed out of its comfort zone, creating a stimulus where the body has to adapt and become more efficient to handle the stresses placed on it.
If you lifted 30kg for your barbell squat on the day of your training and a year later, you’re still squatting the same weight, chances are that after the initial adaptations to help you handle the 30kg barbell squat happened, you will not have progressed. Essentially progressive training is the idea of doing whatever you did the last time plus one and over time these changes can add up to big differences.
2) Creating milestones and an ultimate goal
Before starting your training one very important question you have to ask yourself is what are you working towards. What is the ultimate goal that you are trying to achieve from all those hours of training? Having a direction to work towards helps shape your training program, so ultimately all the factors that make your training program has to be tweaked into helping you reach your ultimate goal.
Milestones, on the other hand, are smaller goals that you set for yourself, these are more short-term goals that will help you stay motivated and make sure you are on the right track. You can set as many milestones as you like to celebrate all your mini achievements in your training. You can reward yourself in a manner that will further encourage you to keep working towards your goals, for example, you buy yourself a new pair of running shoes when you hit your first 10k.
3) Setting realistic expectations
If you have spent an hour on the internet, you’ve probably been bombarded with “Drop 5 kilos in just 7 days!” advertisements. The problem with these types of advertisements is it creates a false expectation, people expect too much to happen in a very short period of time and when they don’t get these results they become discouraged and might quit.
Progress takes time and can sometimes be very frustrating, therefore it is important that you understand, achieving your goals is hard work and will most likely not happen overnight. Most of the people you see in the gym that have great looking physique or can do extraordinary things did not achieve these overnight, it is a result of years of training.
4) Tracking your training
Do I really need to?
Well, the answer to this is a definite, YES! Tracking is probably one of the biggest factors that will set you apart from most of the regular gym crowd. It is also pretty easy, all you need for tracking your training progress is a book to write down all your training data. Here are some data that can be written down:
- Exercises performed
- Repetitions/Sets/ Rest and Work Time/Weight
- Special Notes for your next training session
Chances are you are not going to remember what you lifted for how many repetitions for each exercise a month later. However, having it written down gives you a clear understanding of how you have progressed in terms of your training and what changes you might need to make to ensure you are continuously progressing.
For example, if your goal is to increase your cardiovascular capacity, you track the variables average speed, distance and time for a period of a month. After a month you would be able to measure how much progress you’ve made through all the data you collected.
Make tracking a habit, and it would one of the most useful tools in your training, the idea is to train hard and also to train smart.
5) Training for your goals
After you have decided on your training goals, you have to pick which form of training style suits you the best and you enjoy the most. If you’re a skinny guy trying to pack on muscles, it would not make sense for you to choose RPM classes as your main form of training as they are more focused on increasing cardiovascular capacity, so make sure the classes you pick aligns with your goals. The good news is that fitness has branched out into so many different forms from Zumba to CrossFit to yoga, meaning you have a variety of choices to pick from which suit your training program and something you enjoy doing as well.
Rest is the most overlooked factor when it comes to creating a well-designed training program. Contrary to popular belief muscles are not built in the gym, when we train we create a stimulus by pushing the body slightly beyond its comfort zone, it is when we rest that these muscles repair themselves and become more efficient as a response to the stimulus.
In general 6-8 hours of sleep a day and 1-2 days off training works best for recovery. Too little sleep or training without proper recovery will leave you feeling sore all the time and lethargic.
Nutrition for most people is the most complicated part when it comes to starting a fitness program and one of the questions personal trainers get asked the most is “What can I eat if I want to achieve XYZ” The answer to this is actually a lot less complicated than you might think, in general, you want to stay away as much as possible from fast food or processed food and try to cook your own meals because at the end of the day you are what you eat. A basic understanding of calories in vs calories out and food macros also goes a long way in deciding what to eat and how much to eat.
In our next upcoming articles, we will be talking more in depth about each one of these. These are the basic rules of starting a fitness program that needs to be understood when creating an effective training program that will have you progressively moving towards your goals