The doors sweep open, a rush of cool air curls around your legs and your mind makes the connection: today is going to be a good day for personal bests. You woke up with purpose, maybe you’ve been waking up with the same decisive air for a few weeks or days now, but you’re not quite sure where your next level begins and where the old you ends. Before you load up the bar with too-heavy weights and strain underneath barbells bigger than your head, butt and thighs put together, pause over a draught of fresh water and follow these common sense steps to the next stage…after all, we want you to get there injury free, whether you’re a cardio lover or a weights room devotee.
What Do You Want to Achieve?
Where do you want to go with your fitness goals? The answer to this question lies in an honest assessment of where you are, where you’ve been and your general progress from day one to yesterday afternoon or evening. How long did it take you to reach your self-imposed KPIs last time? Did you have help? What were your limitations and how can you adjust your expectations to suit this next level?
On the topic of “level”, this isn’t a video game where you’re running a pixelated gauntlet, building strength and skill to face the final boss – there is no final boss, staggered stages or definitive zones beyond what you can handle. If your next level is to lift ten, twenty or fifty more kilos within a certain time period, that’s fine; if you’re keen to knock off another kilo or ten, go for it; there is no wrong next level. There’s only your next level.
Rate Your Performance
Most people dread the imposing process of the internal performance review. You may be tempted to take a short day after picking at old scabs, your weaknesses put on display. Although it may be daunting, scoring your own routine requires a momentary split personality and a lot of honesty – how well have you really been doing? Have you been working out to your full potential or letting whole sessions drop altogether. There’s no wrong score, you can’t fire yourself or put yourself on a STAR plan, but you can benchmark your current habits and set new goals to improve. Physical development isn’t the only goal here – think about duration, dedication, punctuality, exercise attitude and how you treat yourself as worthy KPIs.
Take a Test
After sitting down with yourself and having a good ol’ internal chat about your performance to date, put your runners where your mind is and get moving to prove your achievements. Testing yourself against a series of categories will determine your fitness goals over the next six, twelve or eighteen weeks. Don’t forget to factor in flexibility – although bendiness gets little airtime next to strength, gains and cardio endurance, maintaining flexibility is essential to a healthy body and amazing technique.
Make Plans not Promises
Promises are easy – we all make them, rolling a few M&Ms in our mouths while aspiring to stay on the treadmill ten minutes longer later on. If you’re not great at keeping promises to yourself normally, your fitness regime shouldn’t even slide in the same group as aspiring to do the dishes every night or learning a new language. Instead of promises, you need a plan and a good one. If you need structure to succeed, create one, researching and implementing a weekly calendar of exercises to test those limits and build resilience. Print it out and paste it up, slapping it on the fridge, on your desk or even your computer screen to ensure you’re accountable to yourself and everyone else who spies your mission. They will ask about it – do you really want to claim you’re doing well if you’re not sticking to the goals you’ve set?
Set a Date
There’s nothing better than a deadline. Ask any marketing or creative professional; as soon as that date rolls around, if you don’t have your stuff sorted out, you will fall and fall hard. No excuses. No comments. A deadline is a deadline. Go commando and hold yourself to a D-day – an event, a fun run, a 5K, an obstacle course, even a charity fitness event – set a goal and make the social calendar an ally, not an enemy. You can’t pull an all-nighter or put in make-up hours a few days out from the event; falling short of your goal but still giving it a go is better than blowing your deadline or not trying at all.
Build Your Crew
Everybody needs friends. Good friends, supportive friends, friends who will slog it out next to you and wipe the sweat away from your forehead as you stride towards a new record. A positive, fitness focused group of people will keep you motivated, stand beside you and supervise as you attempt a heavier weight and generally bounce around stories you can automatically smile at and think, hey, these guys get what I’m going through. Never try to tackle the improbable alone – unless you love a lone wolf atmosphere!
Remember, this is not an exhaustive list or a guaranteed how-to guide. Next level fitness comes with real commitment, real change and the acceptance that some habits are better broken and left behind.
This article was proudly provided by the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers, who support Genesis Fitness and help our members achieve their fitness goals.