The key to, and success of, any type of training is specificity. We all have a goal and a reason for training. Mine is vanity and being able to wear tight t-shirts 🙂 Therefore, we must ensure that this reason is central to what we do during our gym sessions along with the rest of our life in order to achieve that end goal. This is absolutely vital to achieving the body you desire while not wasting wasting your precious time (as a lot of us are doing and I have done previously).
The end goals of my clients that I work with are to burn fat, build lean muscle and feel healthy, which in turn, will boost their confidence. This is what their training should be based around, achieving these end goals. Everything they do must directly be to improve these areas, otherwise their training time is being wasted.
No two people are the same. We all have different qualities and skill levels. However, it is important that we train towards “the goal” which each person defines for themselves. This may sound very simple, but how often have you seen trainers urging their clients to lift the heaviest weights, run further and faster, or swing the heaviest kettlebell in the gym? This is only beneficial for two reasons. First, it exercises your trainer’s ego. You are paying for the privilege of making him or her feel good and feel like they are a great trainer. They are looking after themselves here, not working towards and adapting for your goals. This is great if your ultimate goal is to be an Olympic weightlifter, a runner or a kettlebell competitor. It’s not great if your goal is to be lean, fit and healthy. Every training session and every move within that session must be designed and performed with the individual’s end goal in mind. It must be relevant, otherwise it is just time being wasted and energy being used up with no beneficial results.
Another way to train for specifics is in the time you spend trying to reach these goals. It is essential that you do not spend too long in the gym. Notice that I do not say too long training, but more importantly, too long in the gym. The length of time that you spend in the gym or training is not equal to the results you will get. Spending hours in the gym does not automatically mean you will become more fit. Some of the people I have seen spend the most time in the gym are some of the most out of shape people in there! This is because they are not maximizing their time properly.
Most of us waste a lot of the time in the gym. Personally, I want to get maximum results in the least amount of time. My idea of a perfect evening is not spent in some big room listening to bad music while wandering around surrounded by sweaty grunting strangers. I save that for a Saturday night 🙂 I would much rather be off doing other things such as walking in nature, painting a beautiful sunset or writing poetry (sorry, I meant watching sports on TV or eating ice cream while lying on my sofa).
If I am in the gym, I am training and I am focused. That’s what I am there to do. I am not spending my time on Facebook, texting, watching the television, chatting with friends or anyone I can start a conversation with or looking at myself in the mirror (okay, sometimes I do that). I am there to train hard and reach my own personal goals. It is essential that you do the same. A training session that lasts 30-35 minutes is the perfect amount of time to give you an effective workout where you will see big changes and feel the benefits of your hard work. What will not get you results is being in a gym for several hours and training for only 15-20 minutes! This will only cause frustration at your lack of progress along with disappointment.
For a training session of 30-35 minutes to be effective, we must focus on the intensity that we train at. Human nature is about being comfortable and it is inherently in all of us to seek this out. If we see an escalator and a set of stairs, the majority of us will take the escalator. When we are in the gym, we do the same thing. We go at a steady pace on the treadmill, we choose a weight that we can do for 10 repetitions without too much hassle, we take longer breaks than we need to and find any reason to distract ourselves. We later sit and say “I go to the gym for over an hour every day, why am I not seeing any changes?” It’s because you’re not really doing anything!
If this sounds like you, then you really need to focus on pushing yourself. You need to choose a heavier weight you can safely handle, but also challenges you. You want to be struggling to finish ten reps and then when the day comes where you can perform the ten reps successfully, you should increase the weight again. You need to keep rest periods in between sets to a minimum (1-2 minutes) and just enough time to recover fully before starting the next set. There is no need for 4-5 minute rest periods while you’re chatting with friends or checking your email on your smartphone. Make sure to push yourself because your body is capable of so much more than you think! You will be amazed at what you can really do. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable!
Last, but perhaps most important, you must live by the old adage, “You are always training”. What you do out of the gym is even more important than what you do inside of it. You do not stop “training” once you walk away and take a shower. How you eat, how you sleep, how you hydrate yourself and how you recover are all vitally important. We hear a lot about marginal gains these days and all the small 1% differences that we can make that get us to the top and help us achieve our ultimate goals is the key. What you put in your body is vital. Your nutritional plan needs to support your training because it’s one of the key elements to help in recovering optimally from intense workouts. The amount and quality of sleep you get every night will have a huge impact on your ability to train at your maximum each day. Proper sleep plays a big role in determining how quickly you can recover from your training sessions.
This is not to say that you need to be perfect. I most certainly am not! I recommend following the 80/20 rule. Do the good things 80% of the time and let things slide the other 20% of the time. You will see results without feeling deprived. Have a little cake or a bottle of beer and enjoy it without beating yourself up about it. Life is to be enjoyed, but just don’t do it every day. We spend a lot of time over-complicating things. Try your best to keep it simple.
Everything you do inside and outside of the gym should be geared towards your end goal, whatever that may be. Ensure that everything you do is with this in mind and you will greatly increase your potential to reach your ultimate fitness goals!