What are the 5 super complicated top secrets behind effective workout programs? Well my friends, only the CIA and yours truly know what they are, and I’m sworn to secrecy.
Well they aren’t exactly classified secrets at all really. They are actually simple and sensible concepts if you think about it. These concepts apply whether you are doing weight training, cardio, Yoga, Pilates, hiking, or even Zumba.
The problem is too many people don’t think about it. They go through the motions and assume that just because they throw on their Lululemons,
show up at the gym or yoga studio, get sweaty, and feel some muscle burn, that they will lose body fat, build toned muscles, and be blessed with the all mighty thigh gap.
Sorry ladies and gentlemen, but it doesn’t work that way. That leads me to secret #1.
Secret #1- Make a comprehensive workout plan
Without a specific plan for how to accomplish your goals, how do you realistically expect to get anywhere? What if you showed up at college and your professors didn’t have any curriculum or course materials planned. Yes there is room for improvisation, but you still need some form of a plan to guide your way.
The 3 main parts of your workout plan will be:
- Where to start
- Progression Steps
- Back up plans
The first part of your plan that is extremely important is knowing where to start. It can be a good idea to start off with a plan that is not too challenging. You can ease your body into learning good technique, preparing your muscles and connective tissues for new physical stresses. Over time you can keep making incremental changes to your plan to make it appropriately more challenging.
On the other hand if you make your fitness plan too hard at the start, the worst case scenario is that you risk injury and being unable to continue your plan. At the very least you risk being excessively sore, developing bad habits with poor exercise technique, and sacrificing the quality of the next workout just to suffer through the current one. It’s much easier to slowly step out to the edge of a cliff, than to get back once you’ve jumped off into midair.
The best method of figuring out where to start is going through a personalized comprehensive fitness assessment with a qualified professional. In absence of being assessed by a professional, here are some categories of assessments you can use to assess yourself.
- Range of Motion or ROM Assessments
- Strength Assessments
- Balance Assessments
- Endurance Assessments
For more detailed information about assessments you can do on yourself, check out my youtube channel www.youtube.com/channel/UCg2CRxVasjWGCb-H4gIZxPw or email me at Darren@BellevueFitnessTraining.com for more info.
The second part of your plan is progression, the stepping stones to your success. If you keep doing the same workout over and over again for weeks, months, or years, you are not going to see results because you are not progressing. On the other hand if you have too much random variety with no thought behind why, there’s a strong possibility that you won’t have great long term progress.
Planned progression for a novice exerciser should take place every week. You need to plan in what aspects of your fitness you are going to progress by challenging yourself to do better each week.
How do you plan on nudging your progress another step each week? Will you….
lift more weight
do more reps
do more sets
rest less between sets
move faster to build speed and power
move slower for more time under muscle tension
run further, faster, or at a higher incline
hold your yoga poses longer or try a more advanced pose variation
The third part of your plan is having a plan B for various circumstances. What strategic changes do you make when:
….your schedule gets screwed up and you can’t make it to the gym or yoga studio?
…..you’re on vacation
….. coming back after being sick
….. working around a sprained ankle
…..super stressed out and not focusing well
Plan B could be a regression workout, meaning the difficulty or work load has to be reduced due to you not feeling your best. Plan B could also be an alternative workout due to not having access to your normal workout environment and equipment.
Once you have your plan set up, the next step is to start executing it, and that is where secret #2 comes in.
Secret #2- Consistency
Consistency or workout frequency is a huge key to success with your fitness goals. If you aren’t putting the time in on a regular basis, the body will not adapt and change.
That is why as kids we go to school five days a week. That is why anyone wanting to become fluent in a language or learn an instrument will need to put in daily focused practice. You need to be consistent to stimulate progress
There is no black and white rule of thumb on how many days per week you absolutely have to workout to see results. Some people can see results working out 2 times per week, and some people have to workout practically every day, but most of us fall somewhere in the middle and benefit the most from 3 to 4 days per week.
That doesn’t mean every day your workout is the same intensity or the same type of workout. All it means is that a certain amount of work and progress is required by the body to change over time. If you look at elite athletes, dancers, musicians, and other people that have strived to achieve self mastery in a specialty, they do so by working on it very frequently, not just one day per week. Working out doesn’t have to take a lot of time each day depending on what your goals are, it can even be as short as 10-20 minutes at a time, but it has to be done on a regular basis.
The next secret is integral to having the mindset that will inspire you to execute your plan on a consistent basis. Shall we take a look at secret #3?
Secret #3- Passion and Positive Attitude
In my 16 years of experience in the fitness industry, I can say with 100% certainty that I’ve never witnessed anyone out train a negative attitude. People that are negative about various aspects about the fitness journey whether it is the investment of time, the physical discomfort, the sacrifices required, or the physical energy required, don’t seem to succeed compared to people that embrace the journey with a positive mental attitude.
Passionate people excel. Indifferent people stagnate. If you don’t embrace your fitness journey with a positive attitude and passion you will not succeed at the same level as someone who is fired up. Going through the motions doesn’t stimulate the muscles, brain, metabolism and hormone production in the same way that being passionate and positive about your workouts and performance improvements does.
If you’re the type of person that doesn’t have the competitive spirit, doesn’t get the runners high, doesn’t get the post workout endorphin rush in the gym, my advice for you would be to start experimenting with different types of exercise methods, or other types of physical hobbies that might bring you more enjoyment.
Finding physical activity and exercise methods that make you look forward to get moving and work towards progressive improvement consistently is a crucial strategy for maintaining your passion and positive attitude through the ups and downs of your fitness journey.
Secret #4 is the next step in staying inspired to keep busting your butt on your plan regularly without losing your positive mojo.
Secret #4- Support
While there are people that do fine with the lone wolf approach, most people’s chances of fitness success go up substantially by having a better circle of support in their life. As humans we like to think of ourselves as so independent and unique, but we are herd animals and we tend to gravitate to the standards set by the people we’re around most of the time.
This could include:
Workout partners that make the workout more fun and social
A fitness professional that holds you accountable
Family that cheers you on while you’re working towards your goals
A nutrition support group
If the current people in your life aren’t doing a great job of supporting you towards your fitness goals, you might try having a heart to heart talk with them about how much it would mean to you if they could be more supportive. If that isn’t working, then you might try widening your social circle and make some new friends that are also trying to improve their situation.
You can often get a huge built in support system by joining a group training class such as:
Not all options will be right for you, so take the opportunity to try out several to see which one resonates with you the most. What class, trainer or support structure makes you feel comfortable and inspired to execute your plan, break through your road blocks, and keep striving to be your best even when you don’t feel like it?
Once you’ve found the support system or combination of systems that resonate with you and get you on track, focus on secret #5 to make sure you stay on track and don’t get tempted by shiny things that threaten to distract you from you plan.
Sectret #5- Patience
Patience- Patience is vital and here is why. One of the very common scenarios I see as a fitness professional, who has worked with hundreds of people over the years, is that many people are in such a rush to see instant results that they quickly become discouraged with the program they are on and completely give up and quit or they keep jumping from one program to the other without ever giving it enough time to work.
I’m not saying people should always stay with a fitness program no matter what. There is a big difference between quitting a program because you don’t feel it is safe for you or that it isn’t sustainable in the long term, compared to quitting a program because you think some other program is the magic bullet that will lead you to quick and easy results.
As a beginner, if you have a quality plan that you are following consistently, you should see improvements in strength, endurance, coordination, and flexibility in your first month. These qualities should continue to improve consistently until reaching a more intermediate or advanced level of fitness which will take years to reach.
Noticeable improvements in weight loss, muscle mass, muscle tone, fat loss, posture, how your clothes fit or how you look naked in the mirror are more likely to occur over the course of 6 to 12 months.
Truly dramatic transformations done in a healthy and sustainable way usually occur over the course of 1 to 3 years.
These timelines are based on assumptions of people spending an average of 2 to 4 hours per week exercising, with little to no other physical activity, and some focused improvements in their nutrition and lifestyle. There are exceptions, but these often due to more extreme changes to your nutrition habits, higher than average time spent exercising, and other lifestyle habits such as sleep, water intake, stress management, alcohol consumption, etc.
Putting it all together
Now that you know what the 5 top super secrets are, think about how they all fit together as integral pieces of your fitness puzzle. If you were to rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 3 (1 needs a lot of improvement, 2 not bad but could use improvement, 3 kicking ass on this), in regards to your
Passion and Positive Attitute 1-2-3
How would you rank in each category? Pick your worst category and spend a month focusing on improving that one area. Once you’ve improved in that area, spend a month focusing on the next area you’re lacking in. If you commit to doing that over the course of 5 to 6 months, I think you’ll see a dramatic difference in your fitness habits and the results that you get.
Darren Cobin, MAT, ACE
Certified Personal Trainer
Muscle Activation Technique Master Specialist
Learn more about Darren and schedule your first training session with him here.