Struggling to stay on track with your workouts? Have big goals but don’t know where to start? Here is how to go full metal awesome on your goals in the gym.
So you’ve decided that it’s high time you get your butt (back) into the gym.
Here are the essential things you need to know about crushing those fancy new workout goals in the gym:
1. Write it down.
Science says that writing out your goals is better for you, with written goals being 42% more likely to be achieved than those that aren’t.
Seems overly simple, but there is a profound difference between writing out your goal and fantasizing about it. Having your goals floating around your brain, insures that it only gets lost in the other daydreams and fantasies you secretly have.
Like the ones where you have that long lost relative who dies and gifts you a $100 million inheritance. Or where you get in shape without having to workout. Or where that douchebag room from work gets hit by a trolley car.
Instead, pull it down from the clouds and make it real and legible.
2. Carve out a schedule.
A goal that depends on how you feel has no chance.
“I’ll go to the gym after work, if I feel like it or if I have time.”
You already know that there will be a lot of times where you initially don’t feel like it. This is natural.
To combat this schedule a non-negotiable time for your workout routines. Don’t allow your workout goals to become subject to the whims of how you are feeling from moment to moment.
A nice little side-effect of giving your time in the gym a dedicated slot in your life is that the rest of your life will bend around it to accommodate it.
3. Train for something.
Working out for the sake of working out might work for some people, but if you are having a hard time staying consistent in the gym it might be time to consider training for something.
Instead of working out for muscle gain or loss, consider training for a particular event (that as a byproduct gives you the results you are looking for).
Note: Be aware and plan for the post-event motivation freefall.
You train for something, and once that thing has happened, there is a collapse in motivation and focus.
You see it with athletes who retire and pack on 50 pounds within 6 months (*raises hand*).
Or the friend who trained for Tough Mudder like gangbusters for six months, posting motivational quotes and face-in-agony selfies on social media, only to drop off completely once the race is done.
If you are going to take this direction be prepared to redeploy towards something post-event in order to maintain the motivation and momentum that you created in the first place.
Remember, it’s not necessarily about having a goal, but putting together a routine that insures the kind of lifestyle and results you want with your body.
4. Regularly evaluate + track performance.
Wanna hear a fun little fact?
You are twice as likely to stick to your commitments and goals in the gym if you journal your progress in the gym and in the kitchen.
Regularly evaluating is powerful for one reason in particular, and that is that it forces you to be a little more honest with yourself. It creates a level of accountability that those of us who don’t have a full time personal trainer lack. It helps solidify the habit of working out that we so desperately want to develop.
After all, we are experts at glossing over our missed workouts, missed nutrition plans, and missed opportunities. We look back and tell ourselves it wasn’t a big deal, that it was “just one” workout, all the while quietly amassing a heap of missed sessions.
But having a written record of our performance forces some much needed objectivity upon ourselves.
Journaling your goals not only give you a record of progression that you can look back on with pride, but it will also instill a much-needed level of objectivity in the gym and at the dinner table.
5. Be smart (and realistic) about scaling effort.
All-or-nothing thinking is fun, isn’t it?
It provides us with that made-for-movies moment where we tossed the soda can across the room, stood up and said, “Enough is enough!” And sure, those enough-is-enough moments act as a pivot for immediate change, but wholesale change is super hard to maintain.
Change is hard enough, but trying to go from couch potato to 6-day-a-week athlete overnight is impossible.
When you are first hurtling and stumbling towards your goals the thing you should aim for most on a daily basis is consistency and progression. Of doing it just a little bit better than you did last week. Not a whole lot better, but just a little.
The goal is sustaining effort and progress over the long term. If this means eating a bit of humble pie when you are first starting out, so be it.
6. Starting is all that really matters.
You can have the best crafted goal in the world. A killer workout plan designed by an expert strength trainer. A meal plan cobbled together by a sports dietitian that plays to your likes in the fridge.
You can have all the plans in the world, but without action they are but talk. Empty promises. Just another broken deal you made with yourself that solidifies the worst parts of your self-talk that reminds you that you cannot do something.
Start as small as you need to in order to, err, start.
I get the trepidation of thinking in terms of small wins, like they don’t feel “enough” or as though they will have enough impact to matter. Or perhaps you think you are better than having to baby-step your way to big things.
But really, if you need to trick yourself to get to the gym, and it’s working, who really gives a s***?
It doesn’t matter if the step you take today feels meaningless. In the long run even the best workout of your life, when held up completely independent of all the others, is meaningless as well.
But starting today means you will get today’s workout in. And it greatly improves the likelihood of you getting tomorrow’s workout in as well.