Whenever I work with a client, the first thing I ask is what the client wants to achieve. All too often I receive vague responses like fitter, bigger, firmer or thinner. As with any aspect of life, if you don't focus on what you want to achieve, you're unlikely to get it. So, to help focus on your goals, I’ve prepared some helpful tips and common sense ways to make a difference in your training - and keep you motivated along the way.
Whether you want to lose weight, tone up or gain bulk, deciding on your final goal is key. Some important questions to ask yourself then are: ‘Do I want to lose weight?’ If yes, how much exactly? ‘Do I want to tone up?’ If yes, then what specific areas of your body do you want to work on? ‘Do I want to gain bulk?’ If so, how much and where? Then you need to consider what your timescale is to achieve these things. Is it realistic?
Bigger arms, bigger smiles!
There’s an acronym I use with training which is used in many different fields: SMART(ER). It originally comes from Motivational Interview Therapy; a therapeutic model developed to work with people to implement sustainable changes effectively. This model is useful to cement what you want to do and how to get there. Here’s how it goes:
Focus on specific areas. If you say you want to “generally look better, tone up a bit”, this isn’t gonna help! Prioritise what would make the biggest difference to you. It's hard to bulk up when you're trying to lose weight, so which is the more important? Or if you want to tone up, is your belly your priority or your moobs?!
You've picked your goals, but what is your ultimate end goal going to be? Set a date for your ‘Adonis’ completion! Be sure some measurements of where you are at the start, e.g., weight, body measurements, body fat composition and also take photos of how you are now and more as you go alone. I'd recommend setting yourself some fitness tests, suggestions below. If you see yourself improving, this will also give you more confidence to keep going and reach your goals.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have nothing going on in your life except exercise, be realistic. Fitting in family, friends, work and hobbies is paramount. If you sacrifice everything for fitness, chances are you’ll push yourself too hard and then fall off schedule, and then it’s harder to get back on track. Know how to fit training in with your life and try to pre-empt what barriers could arise, and how you’ll counter those. Consider making a fitness timetable and then sticking to it.
You've got your goal and a time frame, but is it realistic and is it safe? Crash dieting and high-intensity training can have noticeable effects, but also make sustaining these changes very unlikely. If you're working out, make sure you’re getting nutrition and plenty of rest: if you're working out to the point of exhaustion, it won't be long until you make yourself sick. Also, it’s important to know your body type: not everyone can physically achieve the same results as their favourite porn star.
Now you have your end goal, break it down for some briefer intervals where you can review how you're progressing. If you want to lose two inches off your waist within three months, review if you’re one inch thinner at six weeks - this way you’ll know if you’re likely to reach your goal.
At your review points, think about how you’re doing. Evaluation will measure if you’re exceeding your targets or have more work to do. If you’ve exceeded, great, take the time to celebrate your achievements.
This is where you can up the challenge and change your end target if need be. If you’re not reaching where you’d to be, then it’s useful to think about if your goal was unrealistic and review this, or how you can up your efforts to reach your goal. Likewise, if you’re losing weight fast for example, perhaps you want to increase your end goal.
For measurable results, keep your eyes on the prize!
One last thing: if you are struggling to motivate yourself, group classes can be great at doing just that, and having a good personal trainer (like me) can help you make the progress you want. So what are you waiting for?
Arash Nassir-Pour is a qualified personal trainer from the UK based in Barcelona, Spain. He's on a quest to follow his dream to work outside in the sun doing what he loves - telling other people to work harder!
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