Six Ways to Help You Reach Your Strength & Fitness Goals

One of the main deterrents to sticking with a strength-training program is the lack of timely progress. For many people, slow progress can lead to discouragement and become an excuse for quitting. Here are six things to help you make positive and timely progress towards your strength & fitness goals:

  1. Consistently change your weight-lifting routine. Continue to challenge your body by varying your routine on a regular basis. For example, change the order of your exercises, alter your set-rep sequence or modify your rest periods between sets. Also, vary your lifting tempo from time to time. Instead of taking the standard 3 seconds to lift a weight and 3 seconds to lower it, change it to 5 seconds each way. This will shock your system and help stimulate growth. Change your routine every few weeks.
  2. Eat a healthy diet containing plenty of lean protein foods, fruits, vegetables, lots of water and skip the junk food. The leading culprit for failing to achieve one's fitness goal is poor nutrition. Keep a diary of what you eat and discipline yourself to eat as healthy as you can.
  3. Get at least 7 ½ hours of sleep per night. This is one of the secrets to strength training success. Adequate sleep is essential to strength gains, tissue recovery, and fat burning and very important for providing the energy necessary to excel.
  4. Get plenty of rest. Even though getting enough sleep is very important, getting the proper amount of rest is equally important. Rest and sleep are not the same. Rest is taking the proper amount of time between bouts of exercise to allow the body to recover and repair. It is said that, "it's not the one hour you spend in the gym that counts as much as the 23 hours you spend outside the gym." A good rule of thumb is to take at least one day off per week, two to three additional days off per month and two to four weeks off per year, minimum. Failure to do so can lead to overtraining and under recovery. These can manifest as fatigue, sleeplessness, increasing joint or muscular pain, lack of motivation, decreased strength, and workout stagnation.
  5. Minimize the stress in your life. A deterrent to progress in the gym that is often overlooked is negative stress. When you worry or stress, your body creates a cascade of negative chemical reactions that hinder growth, lower immune response and impede progress. For example, negative stress stimulates a hormone called cortisol, which suppresses human growth hormone and other hormones vital for muscular growth, tissue repair, fat burning and overall recovery. Negative stress also zaps your energy and taxes the immune system making your body more susceptible to sickness. Arguably, negative stress is the number one deterrent to a stronger, leaner and healthier body and is the leading saboteur to your fitness progress. The best ways to overcome negative stress are practicing meditation and visualization, implementing deep belly breathing, embracing your faith and many of the principles found here on my website. Stress is a killer, don't be its next victim!
  6. Set reasonable and attainable goals. You should dream big, but set short-term goals that are within reach. Losing 3 inches in your waist in one month is not reasonable. Neither is dropping 2 dress sizes in three weeks. Set short-term goals that are both measurable and attainable. By successfully accomplishing small, easy steps, you are building confidence for achieving bigger and more exciting fitness goals.

Positive progress towards your goals takes time, but it also takes know-how and perseverance. So be patient and confident and enjoy your journey. If you stick with it long enough and use common sense and wisdom, you can definitely realize your greatest fitness dreams.