By: Tim Rigby (courtesy of Inside Fitness)
Each year, many astute people get a jump-start on New Year’s Day by drawing up and commencing resolutions ahead of January 1st. If you fell off the wagon with your fitness program this summer or fall and diverted away from the path to reaching your goals, you’re not alone – far from it. Particularly in regions of the world where summer is short, it’s an almost universal phenomenon for people to go on a fitness hiatus. All is not lost, however, since with drive, ambition and repetitive renewal it’s easy to get back on that horse and set yourself on the proper course for reaching your fitness destinations. The same holds universally true whether you’re into fitness for fun, or actually competing in bodybuilding, physique, figure, fitness model or bikini divisions. Clearly, identifying your particular niche will help you maintain a sharper focus on what you need to do in order to remain motivated and get yourself in shape to compete.
Constant Change for Consistent Gains
One secret of the pros is that they constantly examine and monitor their training and regularly make adjustments to keep their gains consistent. This means accepting the fact that certain elements of training (workout protocol, nutrition, supplements, lifestyle) may provide only temporary benefits. What works for you at the very start, or say for the first six weeks, may not always work for you to the same extent during your entire journey. Whether you do it all yourself or wisely work with the assistance of personal trainers, prep coaches or nutritionists, the constant monitoring of your progress will allow you to make appropriate adjustments and renew. The added benefit of training partners is that a fresh set of eyes is more likely to spot imbalance in symmetry, such as an underdeveloped right rear delt, or an overdeveloped left quad. Keeping in mind that competition requires strict aesthetics, you’ll want to be sure your muscles are not only developed, but also balanced.
Read the Calendar like an Athlete
To the most successful competitive athletes, the date is never simply “September 15” or “November 21.” To them, the date represents not only where we fall on the calendar, but also how many days or weeks you are into your training – and most importantly, how many days and weeks out from competition you happen to be. The lesson here is that you should always be cognizant of the pace at which your gains are arriving. Before you even commit to a specific deadline (say, of a competition), you must leverage self-knowledge of your capabilities to calculate whether the rate of your optimal gains will make it feasible to walk on stage by competition time. You’ll find an amazing (if not surprising) renewal of motivation once you remind yourself that the event for which you’re training is only say five weeks away. If you have any particular muscle groups that need developing or sculpting quickly, you’ll rarely experience such motivation to get the job done.
Renew with Every Split
Even competitive athletes sometimes forget that the judges in competition couldn’t care less as to how you train; all that matters is the results you’ve accomplished and the package you present on stage. To that end, another often-overlooked way to look at the calendar is to forget whether it’s a Monday, a Thursday, or a Sunday – you should only concern yourself with whether it happens to be, for example, Day 2 in your 5-day split or Day 6 in your 10-day split. In order to absorb this type of mentality, you must be willing to make sacrifices and sometimes put aside your favourites. If you happen to be addicted to bench pressing on Monday, keep in mind that you need instead to constantly switch it up. Instead of a “bench day” on Monday, turn it this week into Day 4 of your split, for example. The days of your split are a closer representation to your actual training than whatever the day of the week it happens to be. When you optimize your results, you’ll definitely find it easier to keep your motivation high.
Committing to a specific time means that you’ve instantly allotted yourself a finite length of time to accomplish a specific transformation of your body to an exceptional level. Whether this period of time is three months or nine months, the best way to make efficient, consistent gains is to repetitively renew your motivation.