CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

Create Success in Fitness

It’s one thing to know what to eat, which exercises to do and how to do them — but it’s another thing altogether to do all this consistently.  If you have tried and failed to establish long-term, healthful habits, then you know all too well what I’m talking about.

Any kind of change, even toward healthful habits, can feel stressful. Without question, your habits are more powerful than your desires or motivations; while motivation can kick-start you, it’s your habits that will power you through to the end.

The key to making successful changes is understanding that the path isn’t linear. Follow these steps to create healthy habits that will last your whole life.

1. Set some goals — TODAY!

The first step toward making improvements is to create some goals. Most people think goal-setting simply means choosing something to work for that they don’t have (e.g., losing 20 pounds) — but there’s more to it than that.

Saying you want to lose 20 pounds isn’t a goal; it’s a statement. Successful goal-setting is both a science and an art form. Your goal should be specific and realistic; involve both short- and long-term components; and focused on your behavior, rather than on the outcome.

2. Make them specific and measurable

Going back to our example, “losing 20 pounds” isn’t a solid goal because it doesn’t give you anything measurable or specific to work on. What’s more, scale numbers are unreliable, as your weight can fluctuate up to five pounds throughout the day based on what you’re eating.  However, simply changing your goal to “losing 20 pounds of body fat” is specific, since it refers to losing one thing — body fat — and it’s measurable, since it targets a number: 20 pounds.

3. Challenge yourself, but be realistic

A good goal is big enough to inspire you to action — but not so big that you can’t accomplish it, leaving you feeling frustrated. A goal such as, “I will work out 5 times a week” is a bit too lofty for someone who hasn’t been working out.  Instead, pick a goal such as “I will work out 3 times a week”. That’s challenging, yet realistic.

4. Frame your goals around behavior, not outcomes

Make sure to set behavioral goals — those based on things you can directly control — rather than outcome goals: the end product of a series of behaviors. The sad truth? Too many people only set outcome-based goals, such as:

  • I want to lose 20 pounds.
  • I want to make $100,000 a year.
  • I want to squat 315 pounds.

While these goals are specific and measurable as well as challenging and realistic, there’s one problem: They’re focused on the outcome, which is beyond your control. You can’t control your rate of fat metabolism, or force your boss to pay you more.  You can, however, focus on your behaviors.

Try these types of behavior-based goals:

  • I will exercise five times a week.
  • I will eat protein with every meal.
  • I will have either fruit or veggies with each meal.
  • I will drink 150 ounces of water daily.

In the end, if you set goals based on your behavior and things you can control, your outcome goals — such as losing that 20 pounds — will fall right in line,  without you having to worry about them. (Well, except for that $100,000 salary; I’m still working on that one, myself!)

4. Have both a short- and long-term vision

In order to achieve your challenging yet realistic goals, you must break them down into even smaller behavior-based goals. Set the smallest goals just for today, the bigger goals for next week and so on. Save your very biggest goals for later. In this way, you’ll create mile markers on the road to success.

5. Share your goals with someone else

Once you set specific goals that you’re committed to achieving, tell someone else your goals right away. If you keep your goals a secret, it’s easier to either ignore or completely forget them.  But sharing with another person helps keep you accountable; they can hold you to a higher standard, so you’re more likely to get things done.  If you’re up to the challenge, share them on social media and create your peronal online support group.

Remember, what gets measured gets managed. Set goals you can achieve, focus on small behavioral changes, share your plan with someone else — and you’ll be primed to succeed.

CategoriesBlog Move.

Training For Strength… Is it for You?  

Yes.  Yes, it is.

When I meet a potential member, I always ask them about their goals. For the most part, I hear roughly the same answer: Lose ___ lbs.,  tone (insert body part), and usually something that has to do with their core – at which point they frantically point to their abdominal area. I rarely hear that someone wants to get stronger (unless I am working with an athlete), which makes me wonder if training for strength is reserved for only those with athletic performance goals? Or is it something all of us, regardless of size, shape, age, or activity, can (and should) look towards improving?

Training to be strong can benefit everyone, and should be an area we all look to drastically improve. Training for improved strength generally consists of working with  a resistance  that only allows for 4-6 repetitions with proper form. Most believe that they are getting stronger through classes such as body pump, boot camps, HIIT, and even some CrossFit sessions, but you really are not training for strength during these sessions.  The weight isn’t heavy enough, the reps are too high, and the rest period is too short. Most of the training you are experiencing in these formats are for muscular endurance, conditioning, and hypertrophy (muscle building).  These classes have amazing benefits and should be part of your training routine, however, there are also great benefits to traditional strength training.

For starters, training for strength requires a tremendous amount of neuromuscular control and activation which helps with balance, stability, and coordination. Making vast improvements in these areas translates favorably into your daily activities  including walking upstairs, picking up groceries (or a child), getting up off of the ground, climbing, and running, to name a few. Further, because the primary adaptations to traditional strength training are neural, you can get considerably stronger, without added muscular development (contrary to popular belief). In other words, you can add strength without getting bigger. For all you “core” enthusiasts out there , training with heavy weights is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your hips, lower back, and abdominals, as core strength is a major factor in accomplishing a successful lift.

Another great benefit of traditional strength training is minimizing the loss of bone density (or in many cases improving bone density) as we age, particularly among females. Healthy bone density is crucial in reducing the occurrence of osteopenia and osteoporosis. Finally, strength training puts a tremendous amount of (good) stress on the connective tissue, including tendons and ligaments, which helps with joint integrity and drastically reduces the chance of injuries.

Now that you have learned about some of the benefits of training for strength, here are some guidelines to follow so you can begin to challenge yourself and mix up your routine in the gym:

  • If you have never worked with heavy resistance, allow your body to SLOWLY adapt to heavier weights by starting with 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions of a lighter resistance  on  all exercises. After 3 weeks, increase your weight so that you can only accomplish 6-8 repetitions with proper form utilizing 3-4 sets per exercise. Following another 3 weeks at this intensity, you should be ready to tackle weights at 4-6 repetitions for anywhere between 2-6 sets.
  • Begin each strength exercise with a very  light warm-up set (or two) to increase blood flow, train movement patterns, and “excite” your central nervous system.
  • Choose exercises that incorporate large muscles groups (Legs, Back, Chest) and are multi-joint in nature. These exercises  include weighted squats/lunges , pull-ups, deadlift, overhead presses, bench press and Olympic style lifts. Extremely heavy loads are not recommended for accessory muscles (i.e.. rotator cuff exercises, bicep curls).
  • Because of the added neural fatigue associated with strength training, as well as the need for perfect form, adequate rest time of  2-5 minutes is required to ensure safety and successful lifts over the course of your workout.
  • If you are pressed for time or want to get  more of a “conditioning effect”, you can superset (doing two exercise in successions of each other) opposing body parts (exp: Front Squats with Weighted Chin-ups) and keep your rest between supersets around 90-120 seconds. You can also superset mobility and/or accessory exercises with your lifts.
  • Because of the neural adaptations associated with strength training, your ability to lift more weight will come faster than your connective tissues’ ability to withstand it, so keep your increase in weight modest (3-5% for Upper body, 5-10% for lower body exercises) on a week to week basis.
  • Choose only 3-4 exercises during your strength training sessions, the remaining exercises should be designated for accessory muscle groups and /or mobility training.
  • Record all your workouts, including exercises, weights, reps, sets, and rest time.

Now stop reading, grab a pre-workout meal, and go get STRONG!!!!

And if you have questions please stop in and see me, or one of the other trainers at Flow.