When was the last time you achieved something substantial with your fitness training? For example, when was the last time you set out to compete in a race and succeeded? Or you put your mind to losing the extra 20 lbs you’ve been carrying around? Or you made an effort to address the knee pain that’s been holding you back from skiing and other activities?
For most people this is an ongoing cycle of disappointment when it comes to training. And unfortunately for these same people there are a number of reasons (cough, cough excuses) why success was not realized.
‘I ran out of my supplements during the training phase’
‘My training partner quit on me’
‘I got really busy (at home, work, in general)’
‘I wasn’t sure what to do and how to do it’
This last weekend Okanagan Peak Performance Inc was proud to host the 3rd Annual Okanagan Strength & Conditioning Conference. Speakers and attendees came to Kelowna for 3 days of learning, networking and professional development. And from one speaker to the next there was a theme that kept popping up. And this theme had to do with how you approach a goal or task.
For example when Dr. Stephen Norris, vice-president of Winsport Canada, spoke he talked about the importance of having a plan, executing the plan and then reviewing the plan. And when noted-strength coach Dan John spoke he compared the concept to hunting. He said you need to plan the hunt, then do the hunt and finally evaluate the hunt.
Below I’ll break down in more detail what each of the presenters was getting at and how to apply it to your own situation.
Step 1 – Have a Plan
The sad truth is that most people that approach tasks in life don’t have a plan. Why is that? Well it may come down to a number of reasons such as:
* ignorance – not knowing how to get started
* intimidation – gyms can make some people really insecure
* spontaneity – some people like to do things on the fly
* lazy – it takes work to put a plan together
* over-confident – they incorrectly assume they have the skill set to complete a task
However when someone approaches a task without a plan it shows. It takes longer than it should. It usually could have been done better. And it wastes resources such as time and money.
Consider for example my own situation of finishing our basement. I have a rough idea of what needs to be done in terms of painting, flooring, hanging doors and trim as well as finishing a roughed in bathroom. And I could probably find a store that sells all of the tools and supplies to complete the required jobs. But since I’ve never finished a basement before I may do things out of order. Or I could miss a step altogether. And it may be clear to others that an amateur and not a professional did the job.
When you plan out your training you want to think of the end first. What do you ultimately want (i.e. your goal)? And this goal must be reasonable. How much time do you think it will take to achieve your goal? What tools are you going to need to achieve your goal? Have you been there before or would this be a first ever achievement (there’s a big difference)? What obstacles do you anticipate as you work towards your goal? How much commitment will it take to get over the finish line?
The more detailed you can sketch out your goal the better your chances of realizing your goal.
Step 2 – Execute the Plan
This is the step where most people fail. Just think of all the expressions we have related to not taking action:
* the road to HE double hockey sticks is paved with good intentions
* having a bookcase full of ‘shelf help’ books that have never been cracked
* you can’t plow a field by turning it over in your mind
And you only have to look at the number of people who get results simply by getting started. They get out there and go for runs. They gradually challenge themselves to use heavier loads at the gym. They do what they remember doing when they were younger or what they believe to be effective training.
There’s no denying that even the worst training program ever written will generate results when applied with intensity and regularity. Could this individual still get hurt? Maybe. Could they get better results? Probably. And could they do it more efficiently? Sure.
But because they simply got started and saw some initial results this spurred them on to future efforts. They did what most people won’t do and took action. The pain of their current situation became great enough that they decided to get started even if they didn’t have a plan.
Once you have a plan make sure to take action. Get started. And know that you will miss a workout here and there. And not every training session will see you setting personal bests. But overall you will do better with time and this only happens when you get out there and hunt.
Step 3 – Review the Plan
After you have completed a training plan you need to do a final assessment. Did you achieve your goal? How many pounds, inches and percent body fat did you lose? How many of your lifts increased and by how much? How are your joints feeling? What is your range of motion like? How did you place in your competitive event?
Knowing the answers to these will help you tweak your plan for the next time. And the nice thing is you already have a working plan. And if you saw positive results than you know it is a proven plan. So there is no need to completely abandon your plan. You simply need to make some tweaks and adjustments.
Let’s look at an example for a hockey player.
Imagine a hockey player comes off a great session where he or she had a best ever offensive points total, was a key contributor and led the team in many statistical categories. However this player suffered a knee injury and had difficulty being as effective later in games.
Doing a quick review of the previous training program might shed light on gaps. Could there have been some better drills to stabilize the lower body particularly at the knee? Could the energy system training been better designed to allow for energy later in games and overtime? Could the nutritional approach been modified to allow for a leaner physique?
And while some things may be added to a program as a result maybe something else gets trimmed? A better program doesn’t continually add more components to it but rather is the most complete and efficient one that achieves the end goal.
As you go forward with your training make sure to plan, execute and review the process. Most people don’t make it that far and so not only is it a great way to ensure you are the best you can be but it also helps separate you from everyone else trying to achieve the same thing.