People go to the gym for various reasons: to build muscle, lose fat, to get in shape, to “tone” their body, to improve their health and some of them even go just to chat and pass some time.
Of all the “gym goers” just a small percent will become regular trainees, while the others will work out for a few weeks, few months or, in some cases, a couple years, before they disappear and decide that it’s enough training.
Out of all these remaining trainees, 90% will fail to make significant improvements after the initial few weeks of working out.
Do you wonder why this happens?
There is one simple answer to this question – they don’t have a progression plan. They just go to the gym and do what they do every time, spinning the wheel over and over again in hopes that they’ll get the body they want.
Trainees that want to build muscle usually follow workout routines from the muscle magazines or the pros. Or even worse, they will go to the gym, pick up any exercise that comes to their mind at the moment, and do 3 sets of 10 reps before moving on to the next random exercise.
The trainees that want to lose weight on the other hand, plan to lose it by following the “diet of the month” in same muscle magazines mentioned, or spending countless hours a week on cardio machines without any weight training.
How to Make an Improvement Plan?
1. Define your goal
Pick a goal. Don’t just pick a goal to be jacked, start with a smaller goal, like gaining 5 lbs or lift a 10lb heavier squat. Concentrate and work towards your goal. Put your mind and heart into it, don’t just do it mechanically. Once you reach it, set a new higher goal.
2. Find a routine that works for YOU
Everyone is unique and not all workout routines work for everyone. You can find out what works for you with trial and error. One piece of advice – keep away from the workout routines of the professionals. They probably have better genetic make up than yours, they are chemically assisted and don’t have a 9-5 job to worry about.
3. Change your workout routine periodically
Even when you find a routine that works for you, consider changing it from time to time. Remember, no routine works forever. Your body adapts to the stress that you impose upon it. So consider changing your workout routine every 12-16 weeks.
4. Take a step outside your comfort zone
Doing exercises that feel comfortable won’t bring any progress usually. The hard exercises are the ones that will make your body transform by adapting to handle the stress. Try doing deadlifts, squats and standing shoulder presses for 5-6 months while progressively lifting heavier over time, and tell me that there is no improvement after that.
5. Take enough rest
Your body recovers and repairs itself during the periods of rest. Working 3 to 4 times a week with weights is enough to trigger muscle growth.
The non-lifting days in between are perfect for some cardio exercise. The right cardio session will keep you healthy and speed up the recovery process. Remember not to overdo the cardio either. 30 minutes of moderate pace walking, jogging or static cycling is a good start.
6. Keep a training and eating log
Keep a log of the weights you lift and the food you eat. Monitor your progress. You’ll know what works and what doesn’t work by looking at the log.
You’ll know exactly how much weight you lifter last time and how much weight your should put on the bar the next time you train. You will know how many calories you ate, how much protein and carbs you ate, and if you need to eat more or less to progress further.
7. Be consistent
Read and learn new things. In time you will learn how to distinguish good from bad advice.
8. Enjoy yourself
If you don’t like what you are doing you can never see improvement. Make sure you that fitness is your lifestyle and everything will be easier. Good luck and enjoy the journey.