What’s the best way to start your fitness journey?
At the start of this week, I decided that I was going to challenge myself. As you may have seen from my previous post, my goal was to get to my best level of fitness ever. This meant stronger, faster, fitter… all in 8 weeks.
First, it’s important to put this into context as to why i feel this is even close to possible. If I was currently inactive, I wouldn’t consider it. If i was recovering from injury, I wouldn’t consider it. If I was unsure how to approach an all out training programme safely (and without impacting on my already busy schedule), I probably wouldn’t do it either. But the fact is, I think I can do it. I have been training recently, just not focused or consistently. I’m particularly weak after an illness over the Christmas period leading to a large weight loss (which is still not all back on).. and I’ve always been able to adapt pretty quick to endurance training. My nutrition has been poor recently, and I’ve lost track of where I’m up to with energy intake, protein intake and other key features of good nutrition. Most importantly though, with enough commitment, I’m confident i can balance my training enough to be in “good condition” in several areas. I’m simply looking to apply myself in an intelligent manner, to get back to feeling my best. After all, it’s what I aim to do on a daily basis for several of my personal training clients, and balancing different stimulus is not only required, but often optimal for a lot of the athletes i work with as a strength and conditioning coach. So, it may seem like a mountain to climb, but actually, I simply need to balance several training requirements around a busy schedule, and optimise adaptation and recovery. Sound familiar? If not, should it?
So, how to start?
Well, the first step is to be clear on what you want to achieve. This was discussed in my previous post see it here.
Once you’re clear on what you want to achieve, we need to start by finding out where you are in relation to where you want to be. This may mean those dreaded before photos, weigh ins, food diaries, strength and fitness testing specific to your goals (mine involved all of this, and was tough!). This was made far easier by using our new FX Fitness Experience App (launching to everyone soon!) to keep all of my results (including photos) in one place. I’d also suggest using my fitness pal to keep a food diary (this links automatically with the app), but is a great tool not only for you, but also for your PT in seeing where you’re at. Take a look at the end of the article to see what tests i used for my journey and why.
Alongside this, you need to have a clear picture of the time you have (or can make) available to train. If we have your current fitness levels (as tested), your current screening results, previous fitness levels, pre programme exercise routine, injury history and current schedule, we can look to build a well rounded programme to get you moving towards your goals efficiently. REMEMBER, THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF ANY GOOD TRAINING AND NUTRIITON PROGRAMME IS ADHERENCE. Start with something you can stick to, if not, adapt it so you can. I guarantee having a plan for 4x per week with recovery work will be more beneficial after 6 weeks of doing it than a plan of 6x per week that you don’t do. Within the training programme, knowing where we are and what we want to achieve, and the time we have available to commit to this, we can set TARGETS. These can be the Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound, goals, with number to look at to evaluate your performance. For example, the numbers in testing here will come into play (eg, 100kg back squat may aim for 110kg in 8 weeks). From a nutrition perspective, after a short food diary (3-5 days), we should have enough basic information (combined with your training programme) to set some initial targets for your nutrition to help you meet your goals. For the quickest adaptation, this should at lease include calorie targets, protein targets, guidelines to help you keep “high quality” levels of nutrition, along with some basic advice on meal timings and supplement options. Also use targets for those little but important achievements- did you track your nutrition? Great! Did you get done what was on the Plan (even if this means RECOVER)? GREAT! Did you get a full week exactly on plan? GREAT!!! These smaller goals are the thing that will determine success long term, not the first change on the scales, so make sure you give yourself credit for achieving them!
Remember, having the ability to review and evaluate a programme can be invaluable in long term success. Always ensure you work with your PT (or coach), let us know what you’re doing by tracking nutrition and exercise, and trust us to work with you, and adapt the plan IF and WHEN we feel it’s needed.
So, there it is, four crucial aspects of getting started on your fitness journey (or started on this stage of your fitness journey).
- Have a clear Goal.
- Find out where you’re at (Lifestyle, available time, current weight, current relevant fitness, current health, current nutrition).
- Set targets, and set a plan. Not only starting the actual programme (setting the workouts and nutrition numbers) but also the SMART targets to measure your success. These can be long term (bodyweight, body composition, strength, etc), or can be daily goals (workout? Tracked diet? No takeaway!?).
- Communicate with your trainer. If you’re struggling, let your trainer know. There may need to be a simple change, or there may not need to be a change at all. But good communication is key.
If you’re currently not on top of any of these aspects in your fitness journey, then you’re missing out. Remember, this is the first step, the basics. Underrated, but the rest is built from this. If you feel you’re missing any of these aspects, please feel free to get in touch over social media (links on the first article) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“To be Successful you don’t have to do extraordinary things, you have to do ordinary things extraordinarily well”- Jim Rohn
My Week- Fitness tests, Pepsi and Sore Legs.
Just a quick rundown of my first week… Here’s my fitness testing schedule:
Monday – Still deciding. Then committed to the change (starting Tuesday). Planned nutrition.
Tuesday- Weigh in, photos. Bench and Deadlift.
Wednesday- Pull ups and Power Clean.
Thursday- Cooper run (12 minutes maximum distance).
Friday- Snatch and Front squat.
Saturday- 5km time trial.
Important points. I was sore from the tests. Sore to the point I almost moved them to get a more “valid” result. BUT, I didn’t. my training goals are to improve overall strength and fitness. Surely this must include an improved ability to recover. So I didn’t change the days. I warmed up, a lot. I made sure I was doing what I could to optimise recovery (as much sleep as possible, fast glycogen replenishment after training (hence the “full fat” pepsi over the water after my cooper run) and generally adequate nutrition (including supplements)). But, I got through it, and actually felt great by the end of the week (aside from still side stepping down stairs). So, I now have my starting point.
In addition, I have some great topics that i want to cover already over the next 8 weeks, including strategies to enhance recovery, my supplement stack review, concurrent training and interference effect and more! So keep up to date. Thanks!