1. Have a Plan
It is important to have a list of goals and the steps to reach the goals. Doing this is the key to self confidence and motivation. Keeping a log of how you do in following your plan helps to see what does and does not work for you. This will help you to create better plans in the future. The best logs include not only information about strength and cardio training but nutrition, sleep and motivation as well.
2. Train in cycles
Plan a 6 – 12 month training cycle. It is difficult to maintain top shape or train at maximum levels all year around. We all need periods of physical and psychological recovery. Build an adequate base of endurance and strength before adding work. Peaking for sports performance means increasing workout intensity as well as sharpening technique. This type of training is only used for short periods of time, (4 to 12 weeks), to prepare for competition. After a period of competing there should be a period of reduced training, rest and recovery leading into another cycle of base and strength building which should see you improving on your previous personal bests.
3. Use the Hard/Easy system
For training effect to take place, a period of overload needs to be followed by a period of rest, during which the actual adaptation to the stress takes place. Exercise physiology research has shown that the hard/easy cycle for training needs to be 48 hours or more. It has also demonstrated that alternating hard and easy workouts is more effective training than doing the same workout each day. Thus alternating hard and easy days is appropriate training for all fitness participants and can maximize results while minimizing burnout. The most common beginner mistake is to do the same intensity and the same duration every day.
4. Train specifically
Ask yourself, does this training make sense for the activity I’m planning to do? If not, do something that makes sense. Adaptation needs to be specific to attain your goals. You must train duration specific energy transport systems and you must train volume and intensity specific neuro-muscular responses. This means if you are a boxer, don’t train like a marathon runner. And if you are a marathon runner, don’t train like a power lifter.
5. Don’t train any more than you have to
Efficient trainers are healthy trainers. There are no bonus points for doing a longer workout than you’d planned. Most injuries seem to occur when people feel good and over do it. Remember that how you feel is a poor physiological measure of how you are. Err on the side of conservatism. If you feel bad, do less. If you feel good, stick to your plan. Don’t do more. Always emphasize quality over quantity.
6. When doing cardio, Focus more on speed and intensity over distance and time
The risk of injury from over-training must always be factored against the gains made. By focusing your “aerobic” training on speed and intensity over distance you will receive the maximum physiological improvements possible in the minimum time. You train all the energy transport systems you need for aerobic endurance by alternating bouts of more intense speed-work with active recovery periods, during any cardio activity. By combining intervals alternating slow periods and short fast periods you avoid the risks (not to mention the boredom) associated with the high stresses of long drawn out cardio training sessions.
7. Add variety
Varying a number of aspects of your training avoids injury and keeps you mentally interested. For strength training try experimenting with different modalities such as resistance bands, sand bags, medicine balls etc. For cardio training as well as trying different equipment you can vary pace, distance, courses, terrain etc. For an intense and challenging twist try cross training by combining alternative cardio and strength activities into brief, intense and challenging circuits. This type of training can directly increase your overall fitness and resistance to injury and burnout allowing you to train consistently for long periods.
8. Make your training enjoyable
If you are not enjoying the training, you will not be able to maintain your commitment. Variety, mentioned above, will help. Also consider things like a once a week fitness “adventure” where you try something you have never tried before. Take a class you have been curious about or explore a martial art. Join a sports team an outdoors training group or a run for fun group.
9. Hire a Coach or Personal Trainer
At least educate yourself on training techniques and your body’s responses so that you can coach yourself. If you cannot follow the rules and need more help, hire a Trainer or Coach. A Trainer / Coach should help you set up and follow a program based on your ability and your goals. A Couch / Trainer’s primary goal should be to keep you healthy and motivated.
10. When in doubt, rest
This is the golden rule of training. Do unto your body as you would have it do unto you. Listen to your body. If it is saying, “I’ve got a problem, what now?” The usual answer should be to take a day off, either your head or your anatomy need it.
PAU for NOW