So, you've been getting in the gym a bit, huh?
First, off... Let's go! I fully believe that the most important step in getting closer to your goals is just starting! (refer to my "Just Start" article here.) You know what you want to accomplish. Just jump out of the plane and learn to fly on the way down.
Starting is huge but what about when motivation fades? What do you do when you hit a plateau or you're not seeing the results you thought you would?
Today, I am going to drop 7 simple, yet actionable knowledge bombs. Are these tips Earth shattering? No. But the beauty is in the execution. Let's take some messy action and get to work!
1: Show Up
Woody Allen stated that "90% of success in life is just showing up." Now, while I don't agree completely, you have to at least show up to see results. Not showing up guarantees no results.
Literally just showing up for the gym will help you build consistency and build this habit into your normal routine.
Get specific. Not "I'm going to workout 3 times this week" but "I'm going to workout 3 times this week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 am with Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory."
Getting started is so important. Make the decision, write down the goal, and then hell or high water... Keep showing up. Don't feel like it? Show up. Sore? Show up. Whatever is going on in life, keep showing up for yourself.
But don't stop here, just showing up is not enough.
2: Have a Plan
You see it all the time. People who "workout" consistently. When you first start in the gym, just showing up and going through the motions and doing random machines can get you results aka newbie gainz.
But eventually, you will need an ironclad plan in order to continue seeing results.
If fitness is not your profession, hire a trainer or buy a solid program. That way the most important exercises are prioritized and you will save time because you know what to do ahead of time and you're not just wandering around the gym.
When you don't have a plan to follow you will also tend to only do the exercises you like and avoid the exercises that are challenging. The magic happens when you have a well-rounded program that highlights your strengths and addresses your weaknesses.
Don't do some program from a magazine. Do some research, choose a program, and stick with it for at least 4-8 weeks, ideally longer.
3: Progressive Overload
Progressive overload is the process of gradually increasing the intensity of workouts so that you continue seeing strength and lean muscle mass gains.
If you go into the gym each week and bench 185 lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps, you will maintain, not improve.
If you want to improve you must increase intensity by either adding a small amount of weight or reps to your sets. Nothing crazy here but by adding 5 lbs or 1-2 reps to a set, you provide a different stimulus, further break down the muscle, and can continue riding the gainz train.
Keep it simple by logging how much weight you lift or you can do 1-rep maxes for the major lifts and then use percentages for each set, based on how many reps per set.
Either way, you must challenge yourself!
4: Challenge Yourself
You need challenge in your life to continue improving and this goes for every facet of life.
If you don't challenge a muscle, atrophy occurs aka it withers and gets weak.
Whereas, if we provide challenge, hypertrophy occurs aka bigger and stronger.
Every year on my birthday, I pick a physical feat that I will try to accomplish in the coming year. A few years ago I decided that I wanted to reach a bodyweight of 180 lbs and to deadlift 550 lbs. I had to push myself to get there.
This year I am going big with a goal to run a sub-5-minute mile and squat 500 lbs on the same day. Can I do it? I am honestly not sure.
Even if I fail, I will get faster and stronger this year.
Vlog of my PreTest where I test my mile and max my squat. It doesn't go as planned.
Hear me out: As we age, we decline. We decline even faster if we are not challenging ourselves. In what way can you challenge yourself to continue or start improving?
Well, let's address the elephant in the room: Nutrition.
We all know the saying "You can't out train a bad diet." I see people all the time who are pushing in the gym and just can't escape the fast-food and potato chip vortex.
I love some pizza and burgers. I just plan it out a bit. I believe the 80/20 rule works really well for diet. Most just get it backward. They overeat 80% of the time and then lock it down 20%.
Keep it simple. If your calories are on point, you get plenty of protein, and you're staying hydrated, you will see great results.
Enjoy some "junk food" 1-2 times per week and be on point the rest of the time. Feeling physically and mentally well, gaining confidence, and performing at a high level is worth it.
Check out my article on 7 habits to challenge your fitness for some simple tips on nutrition.
6: Make Fitness and Nutrition a Lifestyle
I want to look a certain way and be an athlete until I die. Sure, I make some sacrifices but to me, it is worth it.
You will see limited results in fitness if you are eating fast food daily and drinking too much alcohol. To be honest, if you want to see really quick results, cutting out alcohol is one of the quickest ways to expedite the process.
No shade on alcohol but it is a goal killer.
Lack of sleep is also a goal killer.
Take some simple steps to help your fitness goals: eat fast food and drink alcohol in moderation. For me, just cutting out alcohol was an easy choice, as I feel wayyy better when I abstain.
Increase and perfect your sleep habits. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
And Lastly, hydrate. I am continually shocked by adults that drink less than 1 liter of water per day. Aim for 3 liters per day and guarantee you will feel better, look better, and have better workouts.
7: Make it Fun
I realize several of those tips were a buzz kill but getting fit is fun. Seeing the results of your hard work is fun. Striving for greatness and challenging yourself is fun.
My kids think I am Superman and that is fun. Knowing I am the fittest dad at my kids' practices is fun and being confident at the pool, lake, and beach is priceless.
Make the investment in yourself. When you look good, you feel good, you play good.
Get started. Keep showing up with a plan. Challenge yourself with progressive overload. Make fitness and nutrition part of your lifestyle. Learn to love and have fun with the process!