TRAINING FOR RESULTS: GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PLAN
When it comes to training, my goals have always been focused on how I can build a strong, healthy and physically fit body whilst maintaining a balanced lifestyle. For me, exercise should not feel like a chore, it should be something we look forward to doing as a release from the stress of everyday life. It’s a moment to prioritise yourself, your health and your sense of wellbeing.
Regardless of your goals, your exercise and diet regime should be planned to optimise your results. With each new client I train, I analyse their baseline fitness levels and lifestyle to produce a short term and long term plan. For the majority, and in particular those looking to reduce body-fat, the priority initially is to improve fitness. Quite simply, the fitter you are, the more calories you can burn over a given period. I often use the analogy of ‘burning-off a Mars Bar.’ If we take 2 individuals, one physically fit and the other sedentary and unfit, running on a treadmill it would take the trained individual about 15 minutes to burn a 180 kcal ‘Mars Bar’ through steady running at a fair pace. In contrast, for an untrained individual this might take 25-30 minutes through a combination of jogging/walking. If we place this in a fat-burning context, the trained individual can burn more fat over a shorter period of time. Therefore, improving your fitness level will improve your efficiency to burn fat.
Secondly, I will analyse the persons ability to move by performing exercises such as a squat, lunge, jump and plank. This will make me aware of any imbalance the individual might have or ‘weak’ areas. For example, in a squat the individual might lean forward during the upwards movement signalling weak core stability. This will create a priority-list of muscle groups to focus on in the short term to ensure the individual moves efficiently and correctly. Not only will this reduce the likelihood of injury, but it will also ensure that the client uses the correct muscles when working with weights to stimulate the response - i.e build muscle.
Once this has been achieved, I can start to work with the individual to push towards their goals. For example, we can start to build an ‘overload’ by increasing the weight the individual lifts to improve strength and muscle mass or make changes to the repetitions to target muscular endurance. Typically, we use the following repetitions for lifting weights:
1-4 Reps: Power
4-6 Reps: Strength
8-12 Reps: Hypertrophy
15-20 Reps: Muscular Endurance
One this plan has been executed and the individual lifts confidently with a solid fitness level, I will then make changes to the diet if required. Diet and meal planning has always been something I try to avoid doing. The problem with ‘diets’ is that we create a list of good and bad foods, rather than accepting that all can be enjoyed in moderation. Therefore, I prefer to educate clients on making sensible choices and recognising the importance of balance. For example, if you want a biscuit, have one biscuit rather than 10. Sometimes by holding out for something we want, we get a taste of it and crave more which can lead to over indulgence. I have had amazing results by only making change to the diet when absolutely necessary and have had clients lose 20-30 kilos through this method.
One thing that remains the same regardless of goal is consistency. When clients succeed in their plans, its because we set out the plan and they were prepared to put the hard work in to stick to it. There will be sacrifices that are made along the way as we learn the art of balancing exercise with our lifestyle, but in my years of being a PT, I have never heard a client achieve their results and say they regret it! There are challenging times when you are tired, hungry, fatigued and have to exercise but the end result makes it all worth it. There is nothing more rewarding than looking and feeling great so don’t be afraid to log your improvements. Look back at your achievements each month to keep you motivated, take pictures to record changes in your body shape and download an awesome playlist to get you through the tough sessions!