There's that famous saying that goes something along the lines of "the definition of madness is doing the same thing every day and expecting a different result', and unfortunately most people fall in to this trap with their training. Let's be honest, the vast majority of the population are either out of shape, unfit, unhealthy, or a combination of all of the above, so if we follow what everyone else is doing we're destined to end up like them.
The key to breaking the cycle and achieving your true potential is in being proactive; being willing to take your training to the next level, to try different approaches, and to push yourself to new extremes. And most of all it's about the desire - the desire to be fit and healthy, to look great, and to make the most of you time on this earth!
Here are a handful of quick tips to help you break the cycle and set yourself apart from everyone else around you!
1 - Sleep! If you're going to push yourself when you train you need to let your body rest and recover. Some of us function perfectly on 6 hours, some of us can't operate without 8, but the key is making that sleep, however long it may be, quality. Don't over stimulate yourself at night, and take steps to ensure your sleeping environment is conducive to getting a good night's kip!
2 - You've heard it before but it still is, and always will be, a priority - you've got to drink water! Purely and simply your body needs water to survive, and it certainly needs it to perform at optimal levels. You need water to flush the bad stuff out of your system, and you need water to keep yourself hydrated. When we become dehydrated not only does our physical performance suffer, but our mental performance does too. When we're dehydrated we get lethargic; we get unmotivated and train poorly, and we lack focus, which often, as I'm sure many of you can attest too, leads to poor decisions with your diet! Avoid all that drama, scull water whenever you get a chance.
3 - Stop kidding yourself! - You know KFC and McDonalds, potato chips and chocolate are all bad for you, so cut them out of your diet. Not everyone is capable of maintaining an ultra-strict diet, and if you aren't regimented enough to stick to a full-on meal plan just cut out all that rubbish that you know is doing you harm. But...make sure you treat yourself every now and again, or you'll go crazy!
4 - This goes hand in hand with tip #3 - fill yourself up with the good stuff. If you load up on the stuff you already know is good for you - fruits, vegetables, lean meats etc, not only will you be doing your body a massive favour by flooding it with nutrients, you'll also stop yourself craving the rubbish stuff. If you reach for the fruit bowl or a handful of almonds when your mid-arvo hunger pangs strike you'll satisfy your bodies' desire to eat and silence that part of your brain which is humming the Pizza Hut jingle in your head!
5 - Don't waste your money on complicated supplements that promise miracle results. Depending on what you're trying to achieve a good protein powder and some multi-vitamins may be all you need. Bare in mind, there are no short-cuts, and no magic pills - you'll achieve your goals by working hard and pushing yourself, not by guzzling pills purchased on-line from some dodgy website.
6 - Train dirty! There's a limitless collection of innovative workouts at your disposal nowadays, but at the end of the day getting fitter and stronger can be achieved the same way it always has - by picking up heavy stuff and throwing it around! Don't be afraid to let the Caveman/woman loose every now and then - flip the tyre, swing the sledgehammer, find an awkward shaped stone and carry it around!
7 - Be productive with your time. If you're trying to cut weight there's nothing more tedious than sitting on an exercycle pedaling away at a moderate pace for an hour, trying to keep your heart rate in some pre-determined 'optimal range'. Instead, go berserk for 15-20 minutes with some intense interval sessions, then hit the showers and get out of there, content that you've burnt far more calories in far less time, and that your body is continuing to burn calories throughout the day as it recovers from the intensity of your short, sharp session.
8 - Approach your training sessions with a positive mindset. If you're pushing yourself your gym sessions shouldn't be fun, but they should be satisfying. If you go in there dreading the pain you're about to experience you'll never be able to push yourself through that mental barrier which takes you to the next level. Instead, go in to the gym with steely determination, relishing the opportunity in front of you to push yourself to set new personal bests and break through those mental barriers that have previously held you back.
9 - Train intuitively - listen to your body. If you're amping yourself up every day to train like a demon your bodies eventually going to tell you it wants a day off. It may be that you've been going hard in the gym lifting heaps of heavy stuff for the last few days in a row, then one day you walk in and you're just not feeling it. Don't beat yourself up - bang out a 20 minute circuit, get a sweat on, then call it a day, and hit it hard again tomorrow.
Depending on what you're trying to achieve it’s possible you may need to take a really in-depth, highly technical approach to training. But it's more likely that focusing on some basic principles like not eating rubbish, putting the right stuff in, and training with grit and determination are all you need to blast your results to the next level. Now go and cut down a tree and drag it round for a while!