The other day while I was working out at the gym I had my pen and paper in hand, like always, making notes of each exercise I performed, how much weight I lifted, and how many reps. A guy at the gym, who also is a regular, asked me if I was trying something new, and said he was surprised to see me following from a plan since I had been coming for so long. That same day I had another encounter with another guy. I had just been hanging from a bar, performing hanging leg raises. While I was resting (briefly) he approached me and said that he really liked the exercises I used and thought I had some really cool moves. He wanted to know where I got my workouts from. I enthusiastically proceeded to ramble off my current list of favorite books and fitness programs, and he quickly jotted all the info into his phone.
Both of these encounters were really positive but they also point out two entirely different ways people approach their fitness programs.
I see a lot of people, often “regulars”, working out at the gym on a consistent basis, and not really going anywhere with their workouts. They don’t seem to have a specific goal or plan.
Now there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this. If you enjoy just going to the gym and hanging out, getting some movement into your day, and you are happy with the results you get, keep on doing what you do.
But I also happen to know another little secret. Just about everyone is looking for some sort of result! Goals can vary, like losing weight, building a leaner frame, increasing strength, stamina, or power.
No goal is necessarily better than another. What’s important is that you clearly define what your GOAL is!
I will use myself as an example. The workout program I recently started is designed to increase upper body strength and to teach a person how to better perform pushups and pull ups. Now, as I have mentioned before, I can do pushups and I can perform chin-ups, but I cannot eek out a single pull-up yet, and I really want to!
Why you may ask? Well, I am glad you did! Because not only is it important to have a specific goal, it is also important to have a specific REASON for setting your goal in the first place. Reasons give us added motivation and add some extra fuel to our inspirational fire.
The reason I want to be able to do pull-ups is because to me, and many other people in the fitness world, the ability to perform pull ups is a true sign of having mastered your own body weight. It is an admirable sign of true strength as well as hard work and accomplishment.
In addition, I think it is incredibly sexy, inspiring, and just so fun to watch women be able to perform what is known to be such a tough exercise. I want to be one of those women!
So that paper I carry around at the gym? That has my PLAN written on it.
Yes, here is one more important component for ensuring success. You have to have a plan. I did not design the workout I am currently following. Seeing as I cannot perform pull ups, I thought it would be smart to seek out a fitness professional that could do them really well, and follow their program. What is even better is the fact that the program I am following was designed by a woman. So as I perform these workouts, which have been beyond super challenging, I am even further inspired to stick it out and continue because I know the program was designed and performed by a woman. It’s the whole “if she can do it, I can do it mentality”.
Now, I also have to recognize that it may take me longer, or I may need to work a bit harder. Everyone’s bodies are made differently. We all have different schedules, time restraints, stress levels, etc. The list could go on for quite a while.
So the last ingredient you need for achieving your goal is PATIENCE (and a sense of humor). My body was feeling extremely tired yesterday and my workout at the gym was not nearly what I had planned. Instead of pushing myself through and beating up my body, I took slightly longer rests, eliminated some reps when necessary, and simply got through. Because I shifted my mentality and didn’t overdo, I actually got a really good workout in, but felt accomplished after instead of run down and exhausted.
So in summary, if you want to get a desired result from your workouts, you first have to ask yourself:
- What is my GOAL?
- What is my REASON for wanting to achieve this goal?
- What type of fitness PLAN will help me achieve my specific goal?
And the last necessary component, of course, is:
Once again, that piece of paper I carry around with me? Not only does having a plan already written out keep me on task, and focused, it helps me to see the smaller, incremental improvements I am making with each workout, when I might otherwise feel frustrated and as if I’m not “getting anywhere”.
Every extra rep counts, every little increase in weight counts. Sometimes you notice just a little more power, fluidity in your movement, or more energy. And some days just showing up is what counts the most.
Now get out there!
For more from Jeannine, head over to Real [Fit] Life here!