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Take One Step Back Then A Giant LEAP Forward

Without a doubt the number one way to reach your fitness goal is consistency. That’s a good thing because humans are by nature, creatures of habit. We seek out routine and once we find it we rarely deviate from our patterns. Change is scary and can even be overwhelming depending on how major it is, so we stick with the evil we know (read: stay inside our comfort zone). However, this inevitably leads to a problem. In our heads we imagine something happening, whether that be altering our body composition or simply moving better without pain, yet our actions don’t reflect this goal. Then we do more of what we are already doing, expecting the outcome to be different. It’s a vicious cycle.

Luckily I’ve got good news for you...preparation breaks this cycle! Preparation makes the seemingly daunting task turn into a series of attainable stepping stones. Preparation forces us to think critically about what is important and how to get there. Most importantly, by planning, we manage our own expectations so we can avoid an emotional roller coaster.

Below is my 5-step process to make long lasting lifestyle changes.

1) Identify your short and long term fitness and/or body composition goals

    • Short Term - Faster race time? Increase mobility? Speed? Power? Strength? Work on your beach body?
    • Long Term - Weight loss? Weight gain?  Improve quality of life?
2) Identify your hierarchy of goals (e.g., lose weight then maintain, bulk up then lean out, etc.)
    • Compromises must be made to attain ANY goal, so identify them ahead of time to avoid future disappointment or unrealistic expectations

3) Once goals and hierarchy have been established, work backwards to come up with a plan and timeline

    • Long term goals (2 months - 1 year) can be rough outlines while short term goals (1 - 2 months) should be detailed
    • Regularly update the short term goals so you always have a current detailed plan for each month or so
4) Make sure your plan takes into consideration the following:
    • Progression - How are you challenging yourself more this week/month/cycle than previously?
    • Specificity - How is your training affecting your ultimate goal? Is it addressing a weakness? Strengthening an already proficient area?
    • Variability - What have you done to prevent yourself from getting burned out or from plateauing?
    • Environment - What access do you have to equipment/partners/information/etc.? What will your home/work life allow?
    • Time - What are realistic expectations for your daily time commitment?
    • Recovery - Injuries are one of the biggest barriers to training longevity so plan out your rest and stick to it!
5) Avoid these progress killers
    • Lack of sleep
    • Excess alcohol and/or sugar
    • Too much training in the medium intensity zone
      • It is the most taxing on the body and least impactful on performance
    • It is the most taxing on the body and least impactful on performance
    • Improper hydration & nutrition

A quick tip on workout intensity

Depending on the variables above, if you are training with low intensity then it needs to be low enough to allow for very long durations or as part of a planned rest/recovery day, NOT, ‘Oh this is easy, let me bump it up and go ham real quick…’ If you are training with high intensity then the mindset is quality over quantity - very hard reps (be it bike sprints, sleds, rowing, etc.) with adequate time to recover so the quality/intensity never dips.

While it may require a bit of work on the front end to sit down and write everything out, it will surely help you reach whatever goal you strive for.

For more training details and an in-depth look at how I train the top-25 ranked Charlotte Men’s Soccer team, check out my recently published article in Training & Conditioning Magazine here

In health and happiness,

Sean Muldoon

Co-Owner, brüks bars

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