Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Be inspired - set yourself goals and train for a reason

When I first started using a gym it was so that I could become stronger in order to make me a better rugby player.

YES, I wasted probably the first two years of gym visits as I didn't know what I was doing and so I'd dabble with a few machines, copy a big guy at the gym and maybe try something I'd seen in Men's Health or similar.... not good!

BUT... at least I had a reason. This kept me focused, determined and meant I came to the gym each time with something in mind.

This is ESSENTIAL for anyone, though you may not think it, if you're making progress in the gym you probably have an inspiration.

Find yours. Try...

Think of your emotions. How does the gym make you feel afterwards? How do you feel when you haven't been to the gym for a while? Was there an event in your life which spurred you to join the gym? Are you training to improve yourself for something which means a lot to you? How does it feel when you've trained hard for a while and someone compliments you? Many of the people I meet train simply to lift their mood. If it's what keeps you coming through the door, go with it!

What will going to the gym help you do physically? If you're a keen sportsperson then this is much easier to imagine. I want to be faster, stronger, fitter etc.. This will also help you focus your style of training much more easily. Even if you don't have a sport, function is still important. Consider your job, lifestyle and hobbies. How can you focus your gym work to improve them? ie: if you drive for hours and hours it's important to strengthen your core and back in order to avoid postural problems.

A number of people exercise for health reasons. To avoid disease, aid recovery, lengthen life, improve cardiovascular strength and generally feel more awake, agile and youthful. However, training to "feel healthier" can be a difficult goal to gauge success against. Make sure you have some more tangible goals that can be targeted. Look at your recovery time during cardio work or even make sure that you have regular medicals conducted with particular focus on body fat percentage, resting heart rate and blood pressure. I see too many people visiting the gym to improve their health but in fact hardly break a sweat. Walking through the gym door does NOT make you healthier!!!

Aesthetics shouldn't be viewed as a dirty word. Looking around my gym, I'd estimate that well over half of the members use the gym as they want to make their bodies look better and nothing else. If that's for you then that's fine, but don't go to the gym so that your body looks "better"; you need to be much more specific! Focus on areas such as, you want bigger legs, or smaller hips or more definition on your arms, whatever it is, be specific. If it helps, use a visual guide to keep you on track. This should take two parts:

1) If you find a picture of someone, anyone, who has a body that you crave, keep it. They can be a celebrity, model or random from a magazine; either way you need some kind of target
2)Keep a photo log of yourself. This will show your progression more clearly than any other method if "looking good" is your goal. It will also show you where you have fallen short and areas to focus on in the future

Remember: What the mind can imagine, the body can achieve.

There are MANY reasons why a person might join a gym. To get a healthier lifestyle, lose weight, build muscle mass, appear more toned or improve cardiovascular capabilities.

Whatever the reason, make sure you have a S.M.A.R.T goal

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timed

If you can follow these guidelines then you'll soon notice an improvement in your focus in the gym, commitment to each session and hand-in-hand with that, your results.

Make a note of your goals, making sure the stick to the S.M.A.R.T guidelines and highlight how and where they fit in. Create a timeline and stick it up somewhere that you'll see it. Without a clear timeline in mind, weeks will pass and session after session will go unnoticed. Work to a timeline and you'll feel like you're in control of where you're going and you will know what you can expect.

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