This is the first part in a 5-part series for people who are starting their journey towards getting in shape from Vickey Nolan, fitness director at West Wood Club, Dun Laoghaire
Getting into shape is hard work. What most beginners don’t realise is that the most important works start before you lift a weight or step onto that treadmill.
Getting into shape starts with good planning, and it starts with a fitness diary.
Plan your week with realistic goals and expectations for every workout. Write down on a physical list the days you want to work out for the coming week. Plan your times and your sessions. So many people plan to start their workouts on a Monday, which is super but what’s going to actually get to you to the gym and then keep you motivated and focused when you’re working out? Have you ever gone food shopping and then gotten home to realise you have forgotten what you actually went out for in the first place? Working out is a lot like that: you need to know exactly what you’re doing when you go to the gym. You need to have a physical plan, one that is going to keep you focused and accountable.
It all starts with writing your goals down and making a plan to get there.
Set yourself workout goals that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Many people will start with goals like ‘I want to lose massive amounts of weight’ or ‘I want to get ripped in eight weeks’. That’s just not going to cut it we’re talking about getting into great shape. You say you want to get fitter – but what does that actually mean?
Let’s break right down how to get the fitness plan that will get you in shape.
Before you embark on your fitness plan, decide exactly what it is you want to achieve. Do you want to build lean muscle mass? Do you want to reduce body fat at a rate of 1% of your total body weight per week? Your goal will be become more achievable the more defined it becomes.
Your goal must be measurable. Write down exactly what you want to attain, whether it’s losing half a stone or lose 3kg. Saying ‘I want to get fitter’ won’t cut it. Your goals needs to be objectively measurable.
Once you decide what it is you want achieve, then you need to find out if your goal is achievable. Ask yourself how you’ll get to this goal – does it mean reducing your calorie intake by 500 calories per day or burning an extra 500 calories per day – and then – and this is important – write it down. From there you can come up with a gym plan for how to get there.
Don’t overestimate how often you will go to the gym. Similarly, don’t underestimate how difficult it can be to get yourself into gym on top of everything else going on in your life. Lots of beginners say they’ll go to the gym 5 times a week. Sometimes, it’s just not possible. Also, you might be sore, you might be tired after a gym session. It can be demotivating. Be realistic with what you can achieve. Make small realistic targets for yourself each week and then a devise a plan of how to reach them and what days you’ll be working out.
Every goal you set should have an achieve by date – this should be your driving force before you move into the next goal! Put an end time on your goal. Maybe it’s a six-week plan. Maybe it’s an eight-week plan. Tell yourself ‘I want to see results in 6 weeks and if I stick to my plan I will’.
Now this is very important: your fitness plan needs to be progressive. Always try and progress your plan, whether it’s reps, sets, weights or length of session or distance. If you have a progressive workout plan, your performances will improve and you’ll achieve your goal faster. Every Sunday write out your weekly plan for achieving your goal, and what you’re going to do to get there. Plan it progressively.
It can be really daunting for people when they start out to achieve a new goal, and sometimes people think its best to go every day. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Set little goals and keep yourself accountable for them. If you are new to exercise don’t set unrealistic targets – if you not achieving them, you will feel like you’ve failed and are much more likely to quit.
Don’t find yourself wandering around the gym unprepared or lost. There’s always a fitness professional there. The vast majority of fitness professionals want people to succeed: they’re there to help you. Don’t be intimidated. Make sure that the gym you’re going to is going to suit your needs and that the trainers are there for your specific goals.
Contact the fitness professionals for the best advice and they will devise the plan for you. Here at the West Wood Club, this is complementary with every membership and fitness professionals are always on hand to help you make the perfect fitness plan for you.
Vickey Nolan is a Personal Trainer, General Manager, and Fitness Director at West Wood Club, Dun Laoghaire. She has a BSc (Hons) Degree in Health Promotion and Physical Activity and has been working in senior roles in the fitness and wellness industry for over 15 years. Follow Vickey on Instagram and follow West Wood Club on Instagram.
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