What’s truly amazing about the time we live in is that there are so many options for getting fit, and a general social acceptance that there’s no one right choice. Yogis and Crossfitters and Runners and Bootcampers exist in harmony, with many people embracing overlapping exercise identities. Maybe you are motivated by group classes at a gym, or maybe you prefer to workout in the comfort of your own home. You may even alternate days where you exercise socially and independently. Cardio, HIIT, Strength Training — the options are limitless for every interest, budget, and schedule.
So how do you decide where to spend your hard-earned money and time?
Here are some questions to ask yourself before making your exercise selections. Doing a bit of planning now will help you stay consistent throughout the year.
1. What is my #1 fitness goal?
Choosing a goal is a wise place to start for several reasons. First of all, having a goal in mind will keep you focused and motivated when life makes it hard to keep your exercise schedule. A goal will also guide your exercise selection. Are you looking to compete in a powerlifting competition, or run a personal best marathon, or lose weight, or strengthen your shoulder after surgery and physical therapy? These 4 goals will require very different programs. For instance, if you’re working towards becomes a really strong powerlifter, you’re not going to be able to focus on losing weight at the same time. If losing weight is your main goal, than you may want to reconsider your marathon time goal since your body will need those calories for training. If you’re recovering from shoulder surgery and physical therapy, you may want to hold off on the powerlifting until you regain a foundation of strength. This isn’t to say that you can’t be strong and run well and maybe lose a few pounds along the way, but you need a main priority to guide your training because if you try to do everything well at the same time, you’re going to get frustrated from the lack of progress. Like everything else in life, you need to prioritize what you want to accomplish.
2. What do I need to do to reach my goal?
If you want to run a personal best time, you’re going to have to run consistently. To keep up with the consistent running, you’re going to want a strength training routine that prioritizes your glutes, core, and unilateral hip and knee exercises. If you want to achieve a particular time, you’ll have to backwards plan your running workouts, too. So your training is going to look different than if your main goal is to be a powerlifter. Running 5 days a week is going to do nothing to achieve your goal of a 400 lb deadlift. Deadlifting, however, can really benefit your running. If you’re more focused on getting a lean physique, you want to prioritize strength training and your diet. Figure out what your goal requires, and then plan out your weeks accordingly.
3. How can I be consistent?
Consistency is the key to reaching any goal you set for yourself. If you’re not consistent, it’s going to take a lot longer to reach your goal, if you reach it at all. Be honest with yourself–can you really commit to making that 5 am group class every morning? Will you actually run on the treadmill sitting in your basement? Are you prepared to start lifting on your own? Do you know how to prepare a plan for your goal? Getting started is hard, but maintaining consistency when things get tough is even harder if you don’t have the right resources at hand. If you know you will not run on your own, join a running group or find a running buddy. If you love group classes but you cannot make the scheduled times, find an on-demand program that you can do at any time. If you need some guidance with achieving your goal, find a coach that specializes in what you want to accomplish. Having a plan that works and the level of accountability you need will help you stay consistent in pursuit of your goal.