Arguably, the most important part of your fitness journey is not determining how many sets, reps, and how much weight you should lift. It’s not even determining whether or not you should do steady state cardio, high intensity interval training, weight lifting, or any combination of the like. The most important part of your fitness journey is finding a form of exercise you like and sticking to it long term, otherwise called consistency. People often get caught up in the miniscule details of optimal program design when their foundation hasn’t been set first. In this blog post I’ll be giving you very brief steps on how to choose a training program that is tailored to your wants and needs and how to stick to it long term.
#1 Decide What Type of Training to Employ
Set the foundation of your training program by deciding what type of training to include into your program. If you are not a professional athlete, consider the fact that this part of your journey is completely up to you to decide on. Technically speaking, any form of exercise that can be progressed and done with effort and intensity along with good nutrition will get you results you’re set after. There is no one training program that is inherently better than the other if both are done consistently and with progressive effort. I will argue that strength training gives you more “bang for your buck” if fat loss is your primary goal, however, it is still recommended to implement training strategies that you like over what is “optimal.” If you’d like to know more about why strength training is more optimal than cardio for fat loss, read this blog published on Tony Gentilcore’s website that goes into more detail on strength training for fat loss. Ultimately, you should consider what your goals are, how much time you have to dedicate to your program, and what type of training you can stick to long term (for life, really).
#2 Find Ways to Progress in Your Program
The next important step in staying consistent with your training program is finding ways to constantly progress in your program. Not only is reaching a plateau not good for reaching your fitness goals, but reaching a plateau is also not good for your own motivation. One of the most motivating aspects of resistance training and cardiovascular training is seeing numbers increase, be that in weight lifted or distance ran/swam/cycled/etc. Find ways to progress in your training program to make sure you reach your fitness goals and stay motivated throughout your fitness journey.
#3 Accept and Plan for Progress Barriers
One of the hardest parts of being on a fitness journey is reaching roadblocks that work to hinder your progress. These oftentimes come in the form of time commitment issues, lack of motivation, derailing from your nutrition plan, vacations, etc. One way to help stick to your fitness program long term is to include these barriers into your program. Not all barriers can be predicted, however, if you have an upcoming vacation or plans that may interfere with your fitness program, make note ahead of time to make sure you stay on track with your goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean dieting or working out extra hard on or near a vacation, rather it could mean simply giving yourself grace around that time of year keeping in mind that your fitness routine can always be returned to once your vacation (or the holiday season) is over. This type of grace also needs to be extended to yourself in times of unplanned obstacles because it’s unreasonable to expect yourself to stick to your goals 100% of the time, 24/7, 365 days per year. Know that reaching your goals does not require that level of commitment either. Reaching your goals is more determined by staying consistent with your habits long term and not letting any minor (even major) setbacks completely derail you from your program altogether.
This post was inspired by Tony Gentilcore whose blog posts I’ve been obsessively reading the last couple days and have received great advice from. Check out his blog post from earlier this year titled “10 Suggestions on Your Quest for Sustainable Fitness” where his guest writer, Elaine Studdert, highlights how to make your fitness journey a sustainable one. It’s a great read with many actionable tips that can be applied to your fitness program.
As I’m writing this on Christmas Eve I wish you the best holiday season and hope this blog, as well as the additional articles and sources listed below, will help you in the new year. Stay safe, healthy, and happy!