Don’t worry if you hit a bump in the road toward your fitness goals. It happens. You’re human, and life happens every now and again. The important thing is that you pick yourself back up, start over, and keep moving forward.
Sure, filling up a bucket with cereal and skim milk is an easy way to get a big breakfast down but it’s not exactly a nutritional strategy that is going to help build a killer physique. Eating a breakfast that contains protein (along with healthy fats) is a great way to ensure you are starting your day off right, and has been proven to increase long-term satiety. There is much less of a chance that you’ll engage in binge eating later in the day.
Add in some high-intensity intervals on the treadmill, rowing machine, or bike can really help with your body composition by incinerating fat and revealing some of that hard-earned muscle definition.
Try shooting for three 20-minute interval sessions per week. That extra hour may just help get you the body you’re looking for.
Your body isn’t the only thing that responds to training; your mind is just as powerful. Taking some time to visualize your success, whether in the gym, in the classroom or on the playing field will actually result in you being more successful in those arenas.
So take 10 minutes before you go to bed to clear your mind and picture yourself deadlifting or acing that presentation at work. Make sure you really set the scene, and go through every step as if it’s actually happening in real-time in your mind. It’s a great way to help make those goals a reality.
Working on the things that you need and aren’t very good at is the fastest way to help you improve movement, performance, and body composition. Plus it will test your desire, and build your fortitude. Try designing a ‘weakness program’ in which you really focus on improving strength and technique in all the lifts you are terrible at. I can promise you that when you return to your ‘regular’ program you’ll see gains in almost all of your major lifts.
You know that those bags of Cheezy Poofs, boxes of Choco-Cakes and all the other processed foods that are crammed into your pantry aren’t good for your health or your body comp. Yet there they sit, waiting for a late-night moment of weakness. Don’t wait for a craving to strike. Grab a garbage bag and get pro-active about tossing all these crappy ‘foods’ out of your house. Better yet donate them to your local food pantry. Your doctor and your abs will be happy you did.
There’s no problem with making the gym part of your social scene, but that cannot come at the expense of your workouts. Rest periods are among the most overlooked aspects of training. Yet they are critical to your results if you goals involve getting bigger or losing fat. So keep an eye on the clock.
Gratitude journals have been proven to reduce stress levels which, in turn, can help you develop those V abs you’ve always been after. Simply write down 6 things that you are grateful for each day. They can be as simple as being grateful for your delicious bowl of oatmeal, or a traffic-free ride to work, or as major as being thankful that your Dad was able to beat cancer. Not only will this exercise help your physique it should give you a bit of perspective on your day and life.
Training hard is truly a double-edged sword. While it can help you get the body your looking for, reduce stress, improve your health, and is critical to athletic performance. It can also lead to overuse injuries, and muscle tightness. As you progress and become a more experienced lifter adding things like sports massage, self myofascial release, and foam rolling to your routine becomes more and more critical to your longevity, and performance. Find a great message therapist, and book a standing appointment with her once every two weeks. You’ll feel much better and it may just help you lift harder, and heavier every time you train.
A training partner can help push you harder, keep you accountable, and may just make training more fun. If nothing else, you’ll never again have to search around the gym for a spot.
Whether your trying to get the final chores of the day finished, or you really have a thing for late night TV; most of us resist heading off to bed. Yet getting enough sleep ensures that you are optimizing the anabolic hormonal responses that only occur while you’re laying under the sheets. So if your growth hormone and testosterone levels are important to you – and they should be if getting bigger, stronger, and leaner are a priority – set and keep a sleep schedule that has you tucked in for 8 hours per night. Remember all your gains come while you are recovering from your training session, not while your repping out sets of biceps curls.
BY DAN TRINK, CSCS