When you head to the gym, or outside for a workout, do you have a plan of action? Or do you just do what you always have done? Or, do you just do what others do, or things you’ve seen on the internet, without thinking of your personal needs?
Unless you have a specific training plan, with realistic goals for this plan, then you’re just spinning your wheels. Going nowhere. Getting no results. And, even worse, you may be dramatically increasing your risk of injury from exercise. That’s a sure way to go backwards quickly.
Over the last several months, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many gyms on vacation as well as for various workshops I’ve presented. It’s always very interesting from my viewpoint to see what kinds of exercise the average gym user engages in. Last year, while at a local YMCA, I saw an elderly woman doing super slo mo kettlebell swings. Sloooo Mooooo. I can not imagine why she was doing them, or where she learned the technique from. Nowhere, I guess. But, I’m sure she thought she was doing the latest and greatest exercise. Little did she know, the only thing she was doing was setting herself up for injury. On vacation, I worked out with a man who literally did 5 kinds of biceps curls and then walked on a treadmill. Literally. I’m sure neither of these people had a plan for their workouts.
Recently, I gave a golf fitness workshop at a full service health club, where members had their choice of many many kinds of weight training machines, classes, free weights, foam rollers, med balls, TRX’s and more. When I asked the golf clinic attendees what kind of workout program they engaged in over the winter, they all said they only walked on the treadmill. That’s it. That was their golf fitness plan.
The worst kind of “no plan” person is the gym goer who just copies what others do. If they see someone at the gym hopping over cones or benches, or doing sit ups with a 45 lb plate, they throw it in their routine, regardless of their goals. I’d almost rather see someone just walk on a treadmill than do this, at least they won’t get hurt.
Having a plan is the only way to get good use of your gym membership and most importantly, to get results and not get hurt. Lots of people get hurt at the gym while exercising, and I’d bet a million dollars that most of those injuries are due to inappropriate exercises or inadequate training. Like slo-mo swinging a kettlebell, or doing shrugs because the meat head next to you does them.
Having a plan means you took time to think about your goals, to research how to achieve these goals, to consider your time constraints, physical fitness level and nutrition needs. Having a plan means you choose exercises that you enjoy, but that also address your weaknesses as well as strengths. It is absolutely essential that your plan addresses your weaknesses! So, if you are already flexible, stretch less, strengthen more. If you do a lot of strength work, add cardio intervals. If you love yoga or pilates, add strength work or intense cardio.
Having a plan means you also plan for a slip-up, or failure. Your Plan B. How will you proceed if your gym closes, your work hours change, or you fracture an ankle?
And, lastly, having a plan means you know your goals and have created and adapted your plan to get you to that goal in a certain time frame. If your goal is to lose body fat, what must the plan look like to get you there? What exercises should you include? How often? How long? Who will teach you the exercises? Do you have a nutrition plan? How will you be accountable to yourself? Do you need support? Who will do that?
These are just a few questions you need to consider when creating your plan. Take the time do do so. Don’t be one of those people I may write about in my next blog, wandering aimlessly in the local gym. No Plan. No results. And, no one to blame but yourself.