If you’re serious about reaching your health and fitness goals, working with a professional is the smart thing to do.
But hiring a personal trainer is only one part of the puzzle if you want to achieve success; the fact that you’ve invested your money into your fitness journey doesn’t mean that change will happen automatically.
In this article, I will lay out for you the 5 things you need to do if you want to get the most out of your personal training sessions while avoiding negative setbacks and failure.
1. Outline Your Goals And Track Progress
So you want to « get in shape »? That’s great! You already have the drive to change, which is the hardest step to take.
But before you dive head first into your training program, its important to refine your goals and make sure you can measure your progress along the way.
Set measurable outcome goals
An outcome goal could be the number of lbs you wish to lose, the amount of weight you wish to lift on a given exercise, or the size of the dress you would like to fit into.
Describe 1-2 outcome goals you wish to achieve, and set a deadline by which you will have achieved those goals.
If you are unsure about what can be done, talk about those goals in detail with your coach. He or she will help you set realistic expectations.
Track your progress
If one of your outcome goals is to « get stronger », you will want to pick a few different exercises that are easy to measure, so that progress can be charted over time.
Once you have decided (together with your coach) how you are going to measure your progress, make sure you establish benchmarks for all those exercises at the beginning of your fitness journey. These metrics can now be tested formally every 2-3 months, or simply be undated during the training process itself.
Use process goals to stay on track
Because some outcome goals can take weeks or even months to materialize, you can use process goals to keep you motivated each step of the way.
Process goals will help you build toward your main outcome goals by breaking them down into actionable parts.
Here are a few examples of process goals you can use on an ongoing basis:
– each week, schedule all your physical activities in your work/personal calendar
– each training session, focus on one exercise/movement/task of your choice and try to beat you previous result
– once a week, spend 3 hours in your kitchen prepping food to save money and avoid eating out at work.
Universal metrics to track
Regardless of what your outcome goals are, there are a few efficient ways to measure your progress over time.
1) body measurements – the scale doesn’t always tell the whole story. I’ve often seen people drastically improving their body composition (I.e. gaining muscle AND losing body fat) while seeing no change at all in their weight. Frustrating? It can be. But the body measurements will show you how your body is changing a lot more accurately than a single number on the scale will ever do.
2) progress pictures. Save those for yourself if you aren’t comfortable sharing them with your coach. Update them ever 4-6 weeks wearing the same clothes (underwear only OR tight gym clothes) to see your body transform over time.
3) gym results. Even if you don’t have any specific strength goals, seeing numbers go up can be very motivating especially at times when other progress metrics might not be changing as much as you’d like them to. Establish a baseline for all the major movement patterns and a couple of conditioning tests as well.
Here at Upside Strength, we use a comprehensive tracking system to make sure that none of the workout data gets lost or forgotten. To learn more about our personal training and online coaching offers, get in touch today
2. Show Up
Booking a training session isn’t good enough – you actually need to show up and do the work.
But what can you do on days when you don’t feel like working out?
Establish a routine leading up to your gym session. Pack your back in the morning before going to work, buy a banana at your lunch break to eat before your session, etc.. The more automatic you can make the process of getting to the gym, the more likely you will be to actually go.
On days when you don’t feel like even showing up, force yourself to just GO INSIDE and talk to your coach. Focus on the first step that will get you in the gym. Let habits do the rest.
And remember that consistency will be the biggest determining factor of your progress and success. Stick to the plan and keep showing up, day after day and week after week.
3. Communicate With Your Coach
Do you feel comfortable talking about your ideas, preferences, concerns, and dislikes with your coach?
The better you communicate with your coach, the more he or she will be able to tailor their programming, session structure, and even their teaching approach to YOU.
When your coach asks you questions, (e.g. “what did you feel during this exercise?” or “how many more reps could you have done at this weight?”) try to answer as honestly and as accurately as possible. There isn’t always a good answer (in fact, there rarely is), but the more upfront you are, the more information your coach will have to stir the ship in the right direction.
4. Do Your Homework
Even if you see your coach 3+ days per week, you will need to put in work outside the gym to reach your goals.
If your goal is centered around weight loss, your nutrition will need to be on point.
If you are trying to increase your overall fitness, some light conditioning performed once or twice a week will likely aid your progress.
For those of you who are chronically stressed and always feel tight, some kind of movement practice or relaxation should be included, along with an improvement in sleep hygiene, sleep quality and sleep quantity.
No matter what you’re working toward, you can’t just rely on your handful of training sessions to just “do the trick”.
If you aren’t sure what can be done, talk to your coach about it and find a couple of main homework items to work on in your own time.
5. Challenge Yourself Daily
To greatly increase your chances of success, find a small daily challenge that is outside of our comfort zone and tackle it. If you want to produce lasting change in your behaviour, you will need to repeat that daily challenge multiple days in a row.
Once you start engaging in the bahavior without having to schedule it or think about it, you’re ready to move onto your next challenge.
More Than Time And Money
Spending your hard-earned money to work with a fitness professional is the hardest step to overcome once you’ve decided to change.
But don’t forget to got the extra mile and apply the tips listed above if you want to truly transform yourself and fly toward your goals.
Question: Which tip will you be using first? Answer in the comments below!