“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week” – General George S. Patton.
There are usually only 2 reasons why some people don’t succeed in seeing results from a regular exercise or training programme.
They either have a good plan but don’t stick with it, or else they are disciplined in their training, but unfortunately they are following a bad plan.
Of the reasons listed above, I believe that not following a good plan is the number one cause of not reaching strength and fitness goals.
I mentioned in previous articles that there is a tendency in many of us (myself included) to seek the quick fix or The Magic Bullet. Good examples of this are the latest supplements or “superfoods” that magically melt away fat and allow us to eat as much as we like of all our favourite goodies!
In the training world we have programmes like 5 or 6 or 7 Minute Abs (the shorter, the better) that will have us ripped, toned and looking like Greek Gods and Goddesses. Or better still, machines that vibrate and do all the work for us!
Even when we’re prepared to actually commit some time and our own physical effort to getting in shape, it can be mind-boggling with the amount of options that are available. This amount of choice can lead to what’s known as Paralysis by Analysis. In other words, while looking for the best or Perfect Programme, we actually end up doing nothing.
In order to try and simplify things a bit, I‘ve put together a list of guidelines that can help make your plan simple enough to follow, yet good enough to work.
Decide on The Purpose: OK, so this is just another way of saying “pick a goal” which seems to crop up in every 2nd article I write. However, it needs to happen if you want to be successful in this, or any other area of your life. Your training routine will vary depending on what your main goal is. One size does not fit all, and somebody who wants to run a marathon will need to have a completely different training programme to a rugby player who wants to sprint faster, and be stronger in the tackle.
Choose The Correct Intensity: Your current body shape, fitness and strength levels are the result of your current lifestyle and activity. Training hard causes changes in your metabolism and hormonal output that can result in improved fitness, strength and body composition.
Without the appropriate intensity you are very unlikely to see much improvement, so make sure that your training sessions cause you- at the very least – to sweat, breathe hard, and to feel a certain amount of discomfort if the above items are your goals.
Keep Your Programme Varied and Balanced: This is an area where lack of success may be due to a bad plan. Many people follow training programmes that they found on the internet, in a health magazine or that their friend told them about. This in itself doesn’t make them bad programmes, but they may not be appropriate for you.
Although training at the correct intensity is important, making sure that the same muscle groups are not being constantly overworked is vital to preventing down-time through injury or constant aches and pains.
Far too many lads that want to “bulk-up” focus almost entirely on the “Mirror Muscles” of chest, biceps and abdominals, while neglecting the back muscles, and usually completely ignoring the legs!
When the ladies want to “tone-up”, there’s usually an excessive amount of Squat/knee-dominant movements (squats, split squats and lunges) without an appropriate amount of deadlift/hip-dominant movements like variations of deadlifts.
Most people have a difference in strength levels between their left and right limbs, so it’s also a good idea to train unilaterally on a regular basis i.e perform single arm/single leg exercises.
It’s quite normal to hit a “plateau” with a training programme somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks into it, depending on how often you train. This is known as accommodation to the programme, and simply means that it’s past its sell-by date and needs to be changed.
By making a few simple changes to your programme, you will revert to the adaptation phase and start seeing improvements again.
Enjoy! You are unlikely to stick with anything –especially training- if you hate it. By picking a type of activity that you actually look forward to doing, you are more likely to stick with it and reap the happy hormone benefits of more energy, better sleep and improved mood, as well as looking good naked!