05 Jan 20 Fitness and Training Tips for 2020
A new year, a new decade. I will admit, celebrating the new year isn’t the same as it used to be for me. Maybe it’s cause I’m getting a little older. But there is something to 2020. It has a ring to it. You could say there’s some clarity to it, like vision being 2020.
It’s not only an opportunity to start with a clean slate for the year, but for the decade.
And to help with starting the 2020 off right, here are 20 fitness and training advice to jump start your journey.
1) CONSISTENCY IS KEY
I would say above all else, being consistent is key to success. You could be on the best training program ever designed; but if you only do it once in a while, what progress will you make? A poor training program done consistently will yield better results than the best program followed occasionally.
2) FOLLOW A TRAINING PLAN
Whether it’s an app you follow, or a program designed by a coach, following a plan is better than trying to figure it out on your own (although one designed by a knowledgeable coach will yield better results. Yes, I am being biased.).
3) KEEP IT SIMPLE
Training doesn’t have to be complex. You find your limits, you push them, you get better, and you continually find ways to get better and make improvements. Progressively moving forward, step by step, that is the goal. Training can certainly get complex, but unless you’re trying to achieve at the highest levels of fitness, don’t get caught up in complex sets and programs. Keep it simple.
4) MASTER THE BASICS
Don’t get caught up in the Instagram videos. It looks cool to see the one legged box jumps, the one arm push-ups while balancing on a stability ball that’s balancing on a BOSU, etc. but those are circus acts. They are certainly impressive, and I’m not discounting the people who can do them, but they got there because they mastered the basics.
You can get far by mastering the basics, and training it relentlessly.
5) HAVE PATIENCE; FITNESS SHOULDN’T BE RUSHED
I see this all the time; people going from couch potato to training 6x/wk, and training hard. How do you think you’re body is going to react? Not well. It’s going to fight back, and fight back with a vengeance. I had a friend who suffered terrible shin splints because he was preparing for his test and started running 1.5 mile, fast, nearly every day. Although his fitness improved, it came at a cost. His shins got so bad, he suffered true shin splints and needed surgery to relieve the pressure he was feeling in his lower legs.
6) EASE YOUR WAY INTO TRAINING
If it’s been months since you last trained, take your time getting back into a routine. Similar to tip #5, you can’t rush your fitness, even if you were fit before. Once you are deconditioned, the body needs time to get back into the game. The good news is for the former fit person: it doesn’t take as long to get back to where you were before.
7) DON’T STOP THE TRAIN
Once you’ve built up your fitness, don’t let it go all to waste. Sure, life gets busy, and you can’t train the same way all the time, but it’s not an excuse to stop cold turkey.
I guarantee you will hit a road block this year, and the next year, and the following year…you will hit several in your lifetime that will affect your fitness. Unless you become physically incapable, you can still do something. Like tip #1, consistency is key, so don’t stop the train.
8) SCHEDULE YOUR WORKOUTS
Just like you would schedule a doctor’s appointment, schedule your workouts. You are more likely to do a workout that is put into your schedule than you are if you just say you will. We all say we’re gonna do something, but seeing it written it down makes it more real than what’s in your head. Write it down, have it scheduled.
9) MAKE TIME FOR WORKOUTS…
…don’t find time. Can’t workout in the middle of the day? Do it after work.
Feel exhausted after work? Train first thing in the morning. And if that means waking up an hour early to do so, then do it. I know how comfy the pillow feels, and how warm and toasty the blanket feels. But if you’re serious in achieving something bigger, you need to make fitness a priority. You need to make time for training.
10) DEFINE YOUR GOALS
“I want to get stronger” means nothing.
“I want to improve my cardio” means nothing.
Define your goals, make it concrete.
“I want to do 30 push-ups before I go to Depot”
” I want to run level 10 for the beep test before I run my official test”
When they’re defined, you have a destination. When they’re defined, you can develop the steps to get where you want to go.
11) PERFORM BENCHMARK WORKOUTS
A benchmark lets you know where you currently stand. Combined with your defined goals, you now have two points: the starting point, and the end point. Knowing where you stand, and where you gotta go, makes it easier to design a plan.
Throughout that plan, you will perform the benchmark workouts (once a month, or once every two weeks) to see if you’re on the right track. If you’re not, then adjustments can be made.
12) TRACK YOUR WORKOUTS
Whether you use an app, or good ol’ pen and paper, you want, nay, need to track your workouts. There’s a quote from the business world: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.
If you’re not tracking your workouts, how do you know what’s working and what’s not? With strength training, it’s pretty simple: track the exercise, the weight lifted, for how many reps, for how many sets, and what rest time you took between sets. For example:
Back Squats, 4 sets of 8 reps, 95 lbs each set, resting 1 min between sets
If it’s running, and performing intervals, track the distance ran (or time), how long it took (could be a range or track each set, which is preferred), the number of sets performed, and the rest taken between sets. For example:
Distance based: 400m, 8 sets, times were 1:55-2:00, 2 min rest between sets
Time based: 1:00, 10 sets, 250-300m per set, 2 min rest between sets.
13) LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
There will be days when you can push it, there will be days when you back off, and there will be days when you just go off script cause that’s what the body is telling you. Listening to your body is a skill that gets honed the more you train. You learn what is good pain (the “burn”, the heavy intense breathing, muscle soreness) and bad pain (anything sharp, slight pulls). When you’re in tune with your body, you learn to adjust the training plan. Sometimes the body is willing to run faster, or lift heavier. Don’t hold yourself back when you know the body is willing.
14) DON’T BE AFRAID TO PUSH YOUR LIMITS
Working off the previous tip, you should embrace the unknown of your limits. You improve by going to places you don’t know exist, delving into areas you didn’t know was within you. This is a scary prospect when you’re starting out your fitness journey. It does get easier, though, over time, but only if you embrace it.
15) NOT EVERY WORKOUT HAS TO BE BALLS TO THE WALL
This may sound contradictory to tip #14, where I ask you not to fear pushing your limitations. If anything, this advice relates to #13. With Crossfit and other high intensity training models at a popular high, everyone thinks an effective workout means an aching body after every workout. Progress shouldn’t be defined solely by how the body feels after a workout. That’s subjective. Progress should be objective, where you can see measurable gains and not simply feeling sore. An effective workout, and in the larger scheme, an effective program, is one where you are continually getting stronger and fitter, and balls to the wall type training isn’t the only way to meet those objectives.
16) TRAIN HARD, RECOVER HARDER
Contrary to popular belief, your body doesn’t improve during training; it improves during recovery. Training is the stimulus for the body to get better for the next workout. When given the chance to recover, the body will build itself to withstand the next bout of hard training, but only when given the chance. If it is continually battered by hard workout after hard workout, it won’t rebuild.
This isn’t to say you can’t do back to back hard training days, it just means you need to back off regularly to allow for proper rest.
One way to recover well: get some sleep. For shift workers, this is a challenge, but it doesn’t undercut the value of sleep. If anything, it becomes that much more important. I can spout off the benefits of sleep, but y’all know sleep is important, and sleep is a whole topic in and of itself. Just know that if you want to see gains in your fitness in 2020, you need to get sleep. Whether that’s a solid 7-9 hours of straight sleep (most ideal) or catching cat naps throughout the day, you need sleep.
18) BE MIINDFUL, BE AWARE
Being aware of your surroundings, and being mindful of the situation at hand is an important skill to have. It becomes a critical skill to have when you’re under extreme stress and duress. Which is why when you train, and when you train high intensity, you don’t want to “check out”. You don’t want your mind to go blank. You want to train your mind to be aware of the situation, of what’s going on around you, to pay attention to details. I see it all the time in training and testing. People get tunnel vision. They get confused and make mistakes. Don’t let that be you.
19) HAVE AN ACCOUNTABILITY BUDDY (OR HIRE A COACH)
Why do people fall off the training wagon? They have no one to be accountable to. The moment shit hits the fan, they fall to the wayside and they remain on the side of the road while the wagon rolls further and further away. But if you have someone to be accountable to, they will get you back on the wagon as quickly as possible.
Whether it’s your best friend, significant other, or even a coach, accountability plays a large role in success.
20) SHORT TERM PAIN FOR LONG TERM GAIN
Achieving your goals requires long term thinking. It requires sacrifice and compromise to get what you want. And that means foregoing all of life’s immediate temptations. Because you will be tempted. You will be tempted to hit the snooze button 50 times. You will be tempted to wait out the rain before you run. You will be tempted to eat the bowl of ice cream when you know you shouldn’t. You will be tempted.
Who wants to wake up at 5 in the morning to train? Who wants to run soaking wet in the cold and dark morning? Who doesn’t want to eat the bowl of ice cream?
The person who wants to achieve greatness.
And that person could be you.
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