This is the simple truth of the process. If you want to do something you need a goal, a target. Something definite though. Most people have floaty goals, something nonspecific. Get bigger or lose weight, etc. You need to make your goal specific, something that you can track and measure. It doesn’t matter if it is too easy or too hard. If it’s too easy to reach, once you reach it you can adjust and be better at setting your next goal. If it is too hard for you to reach, if you can track your progress you will still see improvement and can correct course accordingly.
It is not actually about the end it is about the process. All the magic happens on the journey. We develop grow and change in the process of getting to the goal. It doesn’t all miraculously happen once we reach the desired goal, but to have a process you need something to work towards. The goal gives you direction.
So you have a goal, how do you reach it? You need a plan. A plan can be simple or really detailed and complex. What you do depends on you. A plan can be as simple as having set days that you train. It can be as detailed as having a training schedule, tracking your progress on certain movements and having set increments of progression each week that you have to do.
The most important part is that your plan must be sustainable. It is pointless having a plan that you won’t do. A plan must give you a balance between structure and variety. If you think about structure and variety on a continuum. Most people need more structure. There are the few who need a bit more variety. They balance is skewed and slightly different from person to person. Personally I need more structure. I will always tend to variety, I always have new things or movements that I want to play with. What I do to maintain balance is I give myself a structure in terms of my training session layout and the main things I need to do to get results. I get variety through the assistance things that I do and the extra sessions I fit in.
A good way to think of things is according to the Pareto principle also known as the 80/20 rule. It states that 80% of your results comes from 20% of your effort. Simply put out of 10 exercises that you do 2 of them is going to give you 80% of your results. This does seem like an oversimplification but it is not far off. The percentage might shift depending on what you are doing, it might be 70/30, 60/40 or 90/10, but it is always the smaller percentage that gives you your highest yield. Based on this you can see that out of all things that you do to work towards your goal, there are a few that you need to really focus on and keep track of. I’m not saying that you should cut the others out. What I am saying is; know what is important. Give it the necessary focus. If you need variety change the 80, keep the 20.
Too many people program hop in training. Human nature always craves the new, the novel. We always tend to think the thing that we are not doing is going to better. Most people don’t need complex programs. The truth is you are most probably not strong enough or advanced enough for this complex program that you think you need. When you look at the training of the high level athletes their programs are actually quite simple, the difference maker is the quality of work that gets put in.
To bring everything together.
· Have a specific goal
· Get a plan
· Know what to focus on
· Stick to the basics for long enough
· Satisfy your need for variety without changing everything you do
· Track your progress
· Reward your success
Things that give structure:
· Having a set training schedule
· Tracking your progress on certain exercises
· Having set increments of progression on exercises ( increasing by 2 reps each week, or 2kg each week)
· Having a training manifesto that keeps you aligned with your training goals
o This is just a collection of statements, your key training principles that keep you on track
Things that give variety:
· Extra sessions
· Playing (sport, games in training)
· Trying a different activity
· Changing your warm up
· Changing your Assistance exercises every few weeks
There you have it. Have a plan, have a goal. Stick to your plan, make adjustments, but not drastic changes.