Happy New Year, everybody! I’m Big Steve, an original English bloke with my roots in Barbados. I’m 6’3” and I weigh in at 210 lbs of muscle.
I’ve been running a few health clubs in London, and after over 20 years of continuous work-out and working in the health and fitness industry, I’ll share a few tips to help change your mind, life, and send you on your way to a rock hard body. You can stay in shape and keep that New Year’s Resolution. But you have to be ready to work for it!
Last time, I shared some general tips. In this post, I’ll try to be a bit more specific to help you get your workout underway.
Practice winning. Hopefully, you are doing at least one workout session a week. This is a good start. If you ever catch yourself thinking, “Oh, this isn’t doing anything for me, I might as well quit,” then you are in the losing business. I’m in the winning business. Did you know that winning takes practice? Any good goal is one that challenges you to finish, but for starter, start small.
For example, when running on the treadmill, as a warm up, go for 20 minutes. And when you set 20 minutes, don’t stop at 19:45. Do the full 20 minutes. Practice winning and always practice winning. Always finish what you set out to do.
Gear. The gyms and stores are full of fancy cool-looking clothes. You can spend a fortune on gear, and your gym will love you. But what it really comes down to is how many hours of training you put in every week. Those of my mates who work out the hardest still have the same sweatpants and tank tops from ten years ago. For them, the motivation is not in the clothing. Some other friends of mine work out just as hard and always sport the latest. What I’m trying to say is that it’s a personal choice. It’s about who you are. If clothing is important to you, go for it! If being the best dressed helps you perform…why not?
BUT, don’t fool yourself. A lot of beginners go for something I call “the bad conscience strategy.”
This is how it goes: First they get a really expensive gym card, then they get all the expensive gear. Psychology: They are spending a lot of money in order to psyche themselves up to practice (otherwise the money will be a waste). But how can a negative start built on guilt ever work?
Goals. Envision them. Define them. Would we have ever heard of Usain Bolt had he not once said to himself, “I’m going to be the fastest man on earth?”
Of course not. We are all human, and we can all be Bolts in our own way. I can. You can. Dare to set a goal. It’s okay to set a hard-to-reach-goal, but if you do so, be sure to also set “milestones” along the way.
For instance, you want to get fit and lose weight? Why not run a marathon? For most people, this may sound astronomic. It’s not. But if you’re not used to running, maybe the first season you start out with a half marathon. And then second season you go for the full distance. (Ever seen long distance runners in the shower? No extra pounds, I tell you!)
Want to bulk up? Measure your arms/legs. Check back in a month; measure again. In my professional opinion, personal trainers are successful not so much because they know the best exercises; their expertise lie is in converting the words you say into measurable, attainable goals.
Personal training. I get a lot of people asking me if I can be their personal trainer. Since I’m not working at the gym anymore, I just usually smile and say, “No, but if you ever want to come down and lift with me some day, you are welcome”.
To be honest, almost nobody takes me up on the offer. I think it’s because most people think that I’m going to do the job for them… Back to the subject: Getting a personal trainer is a good idea, but I also know that it costs. If you think you need a PT to help you with goals, motivation, and technique, then get one! And you don’t necessarily have to practice with them every time. Checking in with a PT twice a month may be enough for you.
Remember: The personal trainer is not your Mummy. He/she will not be angry with you for not having worked out. They will help you even though “you haven’t done your homework.” It will just take longer for you to reach your goals. So, if you can afford a personal trainer, why not try it?
Group training. When you are a bit new to the gym scene, one of the best ways to stay motivated is group training. Most gyms offer spinning, core-training, and/or different forms of aerobics.
Here, my friends, is something I do not understand. All these classes are filled with women. Where are the men? Women are so much better at attending gym classes. I think it’s because men think it’s unman-like to go and work out in groups. (I’m not a sociologist, so I’m just guessing.) Why?? There are so many positive sides of group training. For instance, if you attend a class the risks of “cheating” on exercises or quitting is greatly reduced.
A good friend of mine is an Iron-man triathlete. He exercises a good 10 hours a week by going to classes every day. He says it helps him vary his training.( And since he’s usually the only guy in the room the poor guys has to suffer through being stuck with 30 ladies in tight clothing.)
Alcohol. Alcohol has become a popular way to socialize. It’s is a legal drug, but it is bad for your health. In small doses it’s fairly harmless, but in larger doses it may render your hours at the gym almost pointless.
One good thing about working out hard is that your body will tell you what it wants and needs. Try higher volumes of training and your body may surprise you. Instead of screaming, “beer-time” when opening the fridge, it may lead your hand to the orange juice. Listen to your body. Even small amounts of alcohol will decrease your ability to perform. Also alcohol dehydrates you. Dehydration can impact on your system on a very personal level. It can decrease your ability to perform by 20%. So, if you are used to hitting the bar scene after work on Fridays, you may not be feeling in the mood for practice on Saturday mornings.
Here’s another good tip: team up with someone else, schedule a work-out on Saturday morning. Turn it into contest. Loser pays for lunch/brunch. No show = automatic loss.
And remember, you don’t have to be a puritan. Even I enjoy a pint of lager or a nice glass of wine with my steak every once in a while. Live! Enjoy yourself! But if getting up is hard the next morning and you’ve lost valuable work out time, then that is a definite sign that you’ve drank too much.
Strategy. Get one! Before, I used to chart how many pounds a week I should lift and make complicated heart-rate charts, showing pulse-zones and endless data. Nowadays, I try to keep it as simple as possible.
This is my secret: Every day I imagine waking up in debt. My daily debt is 1 hour of workout. And I have until 10 pm to pay it off. Sometimes I run 30 minutes in the morning and do 30 minutes (or more) of weights in the afternoon. My point here is that instead of making this huge 8 or 10 hour/week goal – I bite-size it.
New day – new bets. Get it? It’s just like trying to quit a bad habit…one day at a time. It works for me. I learned that from my triathlete friend and he got it from his coach, who just so happened to have competed twice in the world championships. Are you convinced now? I sure hope so.
Are you ready to try it? If so, adapt this strategy to your own goals. Start with one hour every two days.
Peace! And see you at the gym!
Liked what you read? Leave me a comment, that would make me happy!
- The Benefits of a Personal Trainer (everydayhealth.com)
- How You Can Lose Weight by Setting Attainable Fitness Goals (massageenvy.com)
- How to Fit a Personal Trainer In a Tight Budget (mint.com)
- Setting Fitness Goals – 5 Exercise Mistakes Keeping You From Your Goal (massageenvy.com)