When it comes to building strength and fitness, there’s a lot of information out there that can be confusing or contradictory. However, there are guiding principles that will always apply in undertaking any fitness pursuit.
Here are 10 simple tips and mantras to keep in mind that should keep you on the right track as you travel on your fitness journey.
1. Work for it, wait for it.
As with most things in life worth doing, fitness success doesn’t necessarily come easily. It will take work to make it happen. But day by day, you will see small improvements — in your sprint time, in the weight you can lift — and those small improvements over time add up to big results. Have patience and perseverance.
2. The basics aren’t easy — but they work.
Many things that seem simple in theory are actually hard in practice. That goes double for strength and conditioning. It’s all too easy to get drawn in by the newest trend or system but when it comes right down to it, the basics are what work.
3. Your lifestyle has an impact.
Is your life set up for fitness success? If you aren’t prioritising rest and health in your everyday life, all the work you put in at the gym won’t count. Of course, everyone needs to unwind once in a while but partying every weekend isn’t going to help. On the other hand, if the rest of your life is in order, achieving fitness goals will be much easier.
4. Consistency = success.
Seems pretty simple, right? Once again, it’s a simple concept to understand but difficult to implement. Sticking to the plan, even when you don’t feel like it, is one of the underrated keys to fitness success.
5. Progressive overload is the key to strength success.
Put simply, progressive overload is increasing your workload in the gym over time, putting your body under increasing stress, so that it never adapts. When it comes to strength, hypertrophy — growing muscle — is caused by regular muscle overload, meaning lifting heavier weights. Aiming to do slightly better every week or even every workout will set you up for fitness success.
6. Mindset is everything.
You might think that what your body does in the gym determines your success but it really has more to do with what’s in your head. Your mental game has to be strong — that means mindfulness, determination, willpower and persistence. Otherwise, you risk your body being let down by your mindset.
7. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
Nobody starts out the best at anything so don’t get discouraged when attempting a new feat, whether that be a new exercise, a new PB or a completely new style of training. Every time you try to do something, you will get better if you work at it.
8. Take time off regularly.
Your body grows and recovers when it’s at rest, not while it’s in the gym. So it’s important to not smash yourself every single day of the week with intense workouts. If you’re the type of person who naturally goes overboard, build some rest days into your workout plan. Your body will thank you.
9. Set goals.
Once you’ve set achievable, measurable fitness goals, you have a roadmap to achieve them. They don’t have to be big goals, especially if you’re a beginner, but you should have them. In addition, your goals can determine the training you need to do. Setting short- and long-term goals for your chosen sport or your physique will help you to decide on the style of training you should be undertaking. If you’re a long-distance runner, hitting the weights to bulk up might not be the best use of your time in the gym. But training for your 10K run on a treadmill puts your body in the right direction.
10. There are no shortcuts. Enjoy the journey.
Despite what social media might have you believe, there are no easy fixes. There’s no way around putting the work in, day-in and day-out. The road is long — so get used to the long haul. It’s worth it.
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