In my last blog post here, I spoke about how fitness is a marathon, and not a sprint. Remember now, the only thing that separates the average gym-goer from the gym-goer who gets results is that they show up on a consistent basis. It is easier to do this if you have a plan, and even more so if you enjoy the process. With all these in check, you have already won half the battle.
Here are 3 things you should do, now that you’ve already get the first half down.
1) Make progress every session
Make no mistake about it. Results are made in the gym, not in the planning stages. You can have the best training plan in the world, but committing 50% effort won’t get you there. You’ve probably seen that one person at the gym, who does the same thing week in and week out, with the same weight no less, and an aimless expression on his face. He’s just…there. It doesn’t look like he’s working hard, and he might be paying more attention to everything else around him. Sure, he showed up. Maybe he’s even enjoying himself. But he’s not improving. He’s just spinning his wheels.
Your goal in the gym is to improve. It’s not about walking around, doing the exercises, and simply checking off the boxes on your training program. For almost all gym-goers, the best measure of progress is the weight on the bar. If you are working on an endurance modality, the bike or the treadmill, think about increasing your pace. This is why it’s important to record the numbers you achieved in your workout. You want to improve on them the next time out there. And if you’re busy, with multiple demands on your time, either in your personal life or work, you probably won’t remember it. Write. Them. Down. That way, you’ll have an idea of how you want to improve the next time out. It’s all part of the plan!
2) Work on technique
There will come a time when progress will inevitably halt. Beginner trainees have the most potential for improvement, and they can make progress every workout. Experienced trainees who have specific goals in mind—think of an athlete looking to improve a performance variable—may take weeks if not months to improve in that specific variable. For them, their numbers in the gym, taken at face value, may not be as important. But the cumulative effect of all their effort achieving them is. So when the time comes, when progress by the numbers halts, there is still something you can improve, slowly but surely. Maybe it’s time to concentrate on exercise technique, as any good training program will utilize compound movements which have multiple moving parts. Chances are, there’s a weak link in the chain somewhere, and you’re leaving some weight on the table. Let’s say you stalled on your deadlift. Try some technical tweaks. Get tight. Focus on and take note of how you feel. Focus on assistance exercises. Change the sets and reps. Or maybe, try a different variation of the hip hinge. Build up your weight and technique on that. There’s always something you can work on in your pursuit of improvement.
3) Ask questions
If you have indeed reached a sticking point, and have no idea where to take your training, being proactive goes a long way. Do some searches on google. Browse through T-nation. If you are under the supervision of a coach, ASK QUESTIONS. As a coach, I can tell you that my colleagues and I are well-prepared to answer your questions and provide some pointers. Your impressions of the exercises you’re doing are way more important then what we observe and assume. Remember, we’re here to help. Let’s discuss how you feel and how we can continue making progress, because we’re invested in this together.
When you have a plan, and show up with excitement for the training session ahead of you, you’ve won half the battle. This here today is how you conquer the other half. Take ownership of your training process. Remember why you’re doing this. Tweak, tweak, tweak. Invest your time and energy into your training and the results you seek. It truly is a labor of love, and you’ll find that in some way, you’ll improve more than you could ever imagine. So here’s to getting better, little by little, every single day.
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.