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Goal Driven Exercise

So, were you one of the thousands who suddenly joined a gym in January? Started a new diet or opted to go ‘dry’ for the month?

If you did decide to up your fitness regime as a great way to start 2014, you may already be finding that the motivation you had only a few weeks ago is already starting to wane. Was it wanting to lose a few pounds or build muscle that inspired you initially? Or was it improving your general health and fitness that led to your lifestyle changes? Whatever it was, without defining specific goals, it is unlikely that your new year’s enthusiasm will have lasted any longer than the turkey leftovers at Christmas.

How to stay motivated

Making a plan, in which you set specific goals, is key. Often, the compulsion to act overrides the desire to plan, so we never truly identify what we want to achieve nor how to achieve it. The result of this is that people do not get the results they expect and become disillusioned with the ‘January health kick’.

Do not give up on your goals in 2014! So, before you adopt a ‘what’s the point?’ attitude, set aside a bit of time to make your health goals SMART. Here’s how:

Specific – Identify exactly what it is you want to achieve; don’t just say “lose weight” or “run faster”. Identify exactly how much weight you want to lose or exactly how fast you want to be able to run a specific distance. Consider why you want to achieve this; without a purpose many goals remain unmet.

Measurable – Make sure you are clear on your measure of success; how will you know when you have achieved it? Will it be when the scales say a certain figure or when you can run 10k in 50 minutes? Without being clear on your measure, how will you know if you’re making progress towards its completion?

Attainable – Make a plan of exactly how you are going to achieve your goal. It sometimes helps to start at the end by imagining you have already achieved it, then work backwards and identify exactly what it was you needed to do each day/week/month in order to get there.

Realistic – Whilst your goal may be to run as fast as Mo Farrah by April, if your current timings put you on a par with a tortoise rather than a hare, the chances are that no amount of training will get you there in such a short space of time. Whilst it’s great to stretch yourself and aim high, be realistic with your goals and make them personal to you.

Time-bound – Identifying an ‘achieve by’ date is crucial in being able to plan and stick to your goals. Without a deadline, it is easy to lose focus and allow day-to-day activities to get in the way of you achieving your goals. Set yourself regular dates to review your progress; this will help to get you back on track if you have gone a bit wayward in your plans.

Here are some quick tips that will help you to set SMART lifestyle goals in a variety of areas:

Weight Loss

Or more accurately, fat loss. The key to successful fat burning is 90% dietary, meaning you can exercise as hard as you like, but if you are loading sugar and carbs into your body, you will simply be burning this off and not fat. Cut the carbs to a minimum (keep eating fruit and veg of course) and when you get the chance to work out, go for a high intensity interval style session to shock your body and maximise the calories burnt; resulting in metabolic stimulation that lasts for hours after the session.

Muscle growth

Resistance exercises for 3 or 4 steady sets of 8 – 12 reps work best here. Stick to whole-body exercises such as deadlifts, squats and bench presses for a more balanced body. Dull as this sounds, if you want to grow muscle, this is what you need to do. Explosive higher weight reps build power and strength but not necessarily size. Eat roughly 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight on training days and 1.5g on all other days.

Muscle-toning

Far more reps with lighter weights will do the trick here. Also, bodyweight exercises such as press ups, pull ups, burpees and dips are fantastic for building lean dense tissue. Kettlebells are also great for building lean, powerful and explosive muscle tissue.

Cardio-vascular Endurance

Working your heart and lungs at high intensity for a prolonged period of time or perform several high intensity intervals to get results. Jogging the same route at the same pace will not improve your cardio-vascular endurance. Running hard, interval training, skipping and cycling are all fantastic methods to try. Keeping a variety of methods in your training plan will also prevent boredom setting in.

So there you have it, some basics on setting SMART goals and maintaining motivation. If you would like further support in any of these areas, please get in touch.

Good Luck!