I think it’s fair to say that everyones fitness journey is a long game of trial & error. Try something, see if it works, try something else, see if that works, etc. Coaches are just here to help you fast track your journey. So today I want to share 8 things you can do to having a well balanced exercise routine. You may already be doing some of these things.
Assess or Self-Assess
Assessments help determine what your body is or isn’t ready for. You may want to do bench press, but your shoulder may not be ready for that exercise. The best way to determine what you’re ready for is to assess. Any quality you want to train you can assess; range of motion, strength, cardio endurance, etc. For assessing joint health I would recommend an FRA (Functional Range Assessment). You can find coaches to run you through them but there are also free resources online to help get you started. Assess, don’t guess.
Clearly Define Your Short Term & Long Term Goals
Have you ever looked at the ‘regulars’ in the gym? Chances are you’ll see a lot of them look the same year in and year out. For many it may be because working out is a social activity for them. However, for many it’s because they lack clear goals. Even something as simple as writing your goals down increases the likelihood of you completing them. I’d recommend writing goals in increments of 12 weeks/3 months. That gives you the opportunity to revise your goals 4x per year.
One of the single biggest things people struggle with is accountability. That might be why gyms are filled during the opening weeks of January and then fizzle out through February. People have amazing intentions but without accountability, there’s nothing stopping them from quitting. Experiment with different accountability systems to find what works for you. Examples inc: texting a friend, accountability apps, facebook community groups, Zoom calls, workout buddy, etc.
You’ve assessed where your baseline fitness level is; ✅
You’ve set specific goals that you’ll reassess each 12 weeks; ✅
You’ve discovered an accountability system that works for you; ✅
Time to put it all together! Now every exercise in your routine should have a purpose. Everything you do should be pointing towards a north star. Treat your exercise program how you treat baking muffins. Only use ingredients that help you towards the end result. Remove any unnecessary ingredients that you can’t clearly explain how they help. You’ll notice by looking at exercises like this you may be able to eliminate some and replace them with more helpful alternatives.
When done right, having a routine for things you do outside of the gym can make your in-gym routine even more effective. Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight and your routine contains exercises like; pushups, squats, lunges, planks, etc. An ‘out-of-gym’ routine can help prepare your body to get more results out of what you do in the gym. Maybe you stretch to boost recovery, maybe you do ‘physio exercises’ to improve minor movements you’re struggling with. Typically this could mean a 15–30 min bodyweight routine you do 4–6x per week. Regardless what you chose to do — you SHOULD have an out-of-gym routine.
It is my opinion that people should stretch way more often than they do. It’s extremely underrated. Stretching can help in improving passive range of motion, reduce pain symptoms, induce hypertrophy, etc. It’s no secret that stretching improves flexibility. It does this by improving stretch tolerance, a neurological barrier that is in place to protect us from injury. It takes a lot of time to improve this — so just doing a few sessions won’t be enough to make long term gains. Does stretching physically lengthen muscles? No. Long bouts of stretching ‘primes’ the tissue to get ready for change — which is super helpful for people that combine stretching with strength training protocols. (ie. PAILs/RAILs)
Improvements in flexibility
People treat warmups like completing homework or eating your vegetables. It would make sense that you should prepare your body for exercise before you heavily exert yourself. Going to train squats & deadlifts? Better warm up that movement + the joint movements that are involved in those movements (ex. hips, ankles, knees, toes). Try this! Warm up for 8–15 minutes before your next workout. Be really comprehensive and intentional with each exercise. The next time you workout skip the warmup and jump right to it. Compare the difference in how ready you feel for you workout. Always warm up.
Aerobic fitness helps you recover quicker in between bouts of exercise. Want to recover fast in between hard sets at the gym? Aerobic can help. Want to recover faster in your hockey rec team when you’re on the bench in between shifts? Aerobic can help. Want your body to recover faster from the workout you just completed? Aerobic can help. Aerobic fitness serves as the unsung hero, because training it doesn’t look sexy and isn’t as marketable. Look up ‘Heart Rate Training Zones’. If you’re a beginner, spend a lot more time in zone 2 than you normally would.