A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Laozi, Dao De Jing
A new year, a fitter you. You’ve set your goals, put a line in the sand and now it’s time to pick your plan. Selecting your training plan might seem like one small step, but it will mean one giant leap towards your fitness goal.
There are a ridiculous amount of training plans out there for you to choose from, many of them might get you the results that you are looking for. But what good is a training plan if you start it, get bored or distracted and it is left unfinished?
It is just as important to pick a training plan that is going to keep you engaged and fit your workout style, as it is to have the right combination of exercises that will help meet your goals. If you’re just embarking on your fitness journey this will be crucial.
Now for the level-up question: “How do I pick a plan I’ll stick to?”
Pick a programme, interrogate it using these 5 questions and then decide to stick or twist.
How fit do you need to be to even start the plan?
They say that BMW is the ultimate driving machine and some assume that because if you drive the ultimate driving machine, that makes you the ultimate driver. While this is certainly not a truism, the same concept applies to picking a programme. If you are not at the right fitness level, picking an elite, high level plan there’s a high chance you’ll tank it. A general rule of thumb if you’re hopping back into training, is to pick a programme that is one degree under where you currently stand. It is better to start off easier and get that morale boost than be huffing and puffing the first week and knowing you have more, much harder, weeks to come.
How long is the plan going to take?
“Time is money”, well it’s certainly precious. A common issue when choosing a new programme is to believe, “more is better.” Just because you start a new training plan doesn’t mean that suddenly the rest of your life will slow down to accommodate or that extra hours will pop up in the day. Duration is key in terms of the number of weeks it’ll last, how many workouts you’re expected to do each week and how long each workout is.
The best advice is to choose a plan that requires a bit less time than you think you have. If it’s easy to squeeze your workouts into your schedule, you will feel successful and become more confident in re-arranging things- goodbye cleaning- as you progress.
What is the focus of the plan?
“It is far easier to do something you like than something you don’t.” – Anyone ever
Once you have your goal set, it’s important that you choose a plan focus, this can be a combination of your fitness goals and things you enjoy doing, and are actually good at. There’s no point focusing on your weaknesses, not only will that be incredibly challenging to complete, you’re certainly going to cut it short or stop.
Think about what you usually enjoy doing for exercise: is it running, lifting weights, interval training, yoga? When you’ve picked your plan make sure to change up one of the day’s workouts for an activity you love to do. Better yet, find a programme that includes your favourite workout types. This is in no way a cop out, as you’re more likely to see the plan to the end and with noticeable progress.
Does it have variety aka will you get bored?
Variety and focus go hand in hand. We’re talking variety in terms of workout type and equipment you’ll need. You need to ask yourself, how much variety do I want in a programme? Am I willing to do the same thing everyday? Every week? Am I a fan of repetition? Before you answer it’s worth nothing that although variety is important, there tends to be better success in knowing what you are up against week to week. As you look through your new plan, see if there is enough variation so that you won’t get bored and disengaged.
Do I have to go it alone or is there a community involved?
What will keep you coming back to workout day after day? Are you a lone wolf who commits and sees things through or do you need some help and support from others who are working through the same obstacles? Community and accountability go hand in hand, so pick a plan that brings this support. If community is important to you, Tough Mudder has created training programmes that will not only prepare you for your next event but also connect you with other like-minded Mudders.
Finding the right fitness plan can be a challenge. Experimentation is important, especially if you are new to training or getting back into shape. Figure out what you like, what helps you progress toward your fitness goals and what will really keep you grinding week after week. The next step is often the hardest, give it a shot, and put your plan into action.
Now you’ve got the how to train, why not have something to train for? Grab your ticket and be ready for the upcoming season. We’ll catch you in the mud.