Personal Planner

I know how it can be.  Stuck for time, juggling home, work, and valuable “me time” including a programme of fitness including targets.  You rush from task to appointment, and try to get the most bang for every minute.  That hour in the gym HAS to be 60 whole minutes on the bike…
Although it seems bleeding obvious….and absolutely necessary…..stop.  As tempting as it might be, you might actually be wasting time and energy by rushing to exercise.  Taking the opportunity to properly prepare including fueling, stretching, warming and planning will all pay dividends.

It can take a couple of hours to digest food.  If you want to realise all of the benefits of food and supplements these will take longer for your body to extract.  To get maximum benefit of food, especially if you are planning to fuel specifically for the gym, do think and act in advance.  If you consume too close to exercise time not only will you not see benefit but you might also experience discomfort maybe even distress.  You are best placed to make judgement, and the very best advice for any aspect of training…… listen to your body.

Many if not most of us have probably taken on the habit of “warming up” without really understanding or appreciating the benefits.  Stretching is something we did whilst at school, and is pretty standard start to any sports club or class you might attend from dancing to martial arts.  Most of us don’t really know what muscles we’re stretching but if you’re in a class hopefully you have expert guidance, otherwise I suggest you’re just copying what you have seen?  My advice would be to watch a few videos for technique but in general terms – and this is really obvious – you need to warm the muscles you’re going to be using.  Yep.

I haven’t yet started to run again but for the fixed bike I do about 90 seconds of very light cycling before starting my programme – and I also make sure a use the steps not the lift to get to the gym!  At the end of exercise I also do a minute of so of light cycling and take a good gulp of water to ensure I don’t get any muscle reaction – and so far this approach has worked.  For weights I’ve taken a combination of approaches determined by my objectives for the session or that week.  If a standard week, with focus on reps and finishes, I would tend to do more stretches but if I’m in a transition week and increasing weights I tend to do a few lighter sets before work out begins.  The advice I have read on weights preparation is similarly mixed – you should try a range of approaches and find what fits best.

The route to success is commitment: Commitment to change and commitment to do.  Once you have acquired the mindset to succeed the rest is simple hard work! but it does come with reward both in terms of satisfaction with physical achievement and also mental wellbeing.  However, when starting out the first victory is how we make exercise an enjoyable habit, something which we plan for and in time look forward to.  You need to programme your brain; build some practicalities into your diary to ensure it happens. Your routine will include checking your kit each evening, planning meals and snacks in advance, and when you feel comfortable sharing this new “thing” in your life with those close to you.  Once family and friends know and understand they can support you with diet and arranging social events around this – and understand when you refer to the gym.

Depending on the type of person you are will determine how much motivation you will want to encourage and will receive from others.  I have seen the “social” approach whereby friends or groups of friends will train together, whilst I enjoy the solitude in the gym allowing my mind to both focus on task and drift away.  It will again for you to find that right balance for yourself on what you do, what you share and what response you want to encourage.  Personally I do like make occasional reports of progress on social media for friends to comment but equally I’m inspired when I see what others have done.  I’m very taken with friends who are running and keep beating personal bests.

I guess my primary motivation is responding to the targets which I set myself, the weights which I’m pushing on each machine, and the distance and time on the bike.  This probably again underlines, for me at least, the importance of planning and preparation. Take the time to create a routine that works for you, ensuring that it includes preparation time.  You should try a number of approaches before committing to one which works for you, and never be afraid to change your plan.  Be challenging but be honest with yourself, listen to your body; as an injury can not be trained on.

My lifestyle blogs

Veganism: My Veganuary

Weight loss: My heavy heart

Vasectomy: My Snippet

Hernia surgery: My Snippet

Fitness: I’m a #GymWanker

Change: Be a morning person

Planning: Personal Planner

Bucket List: My 50 things at 50

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