7 Simple Steps to Training Success

Richard Whall



This post is designed not to provide definitive answers but to encourage you to think a little more beyond sets and reps and at how other aspects can influence your training success. I've spent a great deal of time and effort reading and learning from some of the best names in the fields of nutrition, fitness and strength & conditioning. I have tried to focus in on the key aspects of training & development that occur consistently through their writings to produce this Blog. I do, however, strongly encourage you to read and research for yourself any points of interest this blog post may bring up.  

What is Training?

I like to use definitions of key terms as a starting point for when I'm analysing any new information that I may have come across, and feel this is a useful system that will occur frequently throughout this blog. I guess we had best start with defining exactly what training means:
  • Activity leading to skilled behaviour
  • Repetition of an action so as to develop or maintain skill
  • Deliberate practice to improve something
So if this is what training is, let’s break things down to the 7 keys that will help us unlock our potential.  

1. Set a Goal

Whenever you read any training articles, they will almost always suggest this as your starting point. You must set a goal. What is it that you want to achieve through your training and when do you want to achieve it? This is an absolutely vital first step that will guide you through what to assess so you can monitor progress and figure out the most appropriate methods to utilise in order to reach your goal. Be specific with it and really feel what the goal means to you. How will you feel, look or move when you've achieved your goal. What does it feel like to have achieved it? How will it help you? There is so much information available today through the internet, books, DVD’s its difficult to know where to start. On the one hand you could spend the first few weeks going through all sorts of different assessments to see what you are currently capable of, or you could just jump straight in to the latest training routine you read on the web. Neither of these approaches is particularly helpful for you in your quest for your goal. Only assess what is relevant. If your goal is to be able to complete 15 chin ups, then is there any point in measuring your vertical jump? You want to focus on issues related to being able to improve your chin up, such as how many chin ups can you currently do. What do you feel are the weak links in your chin up performance? How much surplus fat mass you might be trying to work against in your fight with gravity to pull your weight up over a bar? Asking the right questions will help you set your focus.  

2. Remove a negative

This follows on from point one and is based on the thinking of Gray Cook, the creator of the Functional Movement Screen. The movement screen was developed to provide an objective assessment of the movement quality i.e. how well does the body function during fundamental movement patterns. The human body is a remarkable machine, able to adapt to overcome various stresses placed upon it. If the body is unable, for whatever reason, to complete a movement in the most mechanically efficient way, the body will find a way to work around tightness and weakness to achieve the task following a path of least resistance. This may not necessarily be the most efficient or safest way to do it, but the body has ultimately achieved the objective of successfully completing the movement. Over time, this can lead to wear and tear on the joints and eventual injury and potentially a continuing spiral of injury and re-injury as the body goes through different compensation patterns. Before working on movement quantities such as strength, size, speed and power, or even working through the latest high-intensity training craze, look to ensure that the movement quality of the body is performing at a high level. It is amazing how much stronger and durable you can become just by getting the body working more efficiently and aligned.  

3. Variety

It takes time to develop physical skills and capabilities, results do not happen in an instant. This requires dedication and commitment to the cause, which can be seriously undermined if there is any hint of staleness or boredom creeping into your training through lack of variety and sticking with the same session every time you train. Much as this can affect your mind it is also crucial to your body, it will soon learn and adapt to the same stimulus so constant changing of sets/reps can increase motivation, results and success. Avoiding repetitive motion can also help minimise the risk of over training and overuse injuries through repetitive strain induced for example by treadmill running for an hour a day.  

4. Recovery

Training is actually the process of applying stimulus or overload to the body. It is only during recovery that actual improvements and adaptation occur. Therefore, recovery is an absolutely essential aspect of training success and should be planned in the same way you plan your training. Recovery begins the second you complete your final exercise of your training session and can be enhanced through simple strategies. Strategies such as post-workout nutrition to supply the fuel and nutrients for the recovery processes and hot/cold showers to increase blood circulation to enhance delivery of fuel and nutrients to where it is needed.  

5. Nutrition

To fully understand the importance of nutrition, we must first define exactly what nutrition is. A simple internet search for a clear definition of nutrition and or nutrients will bring up a wonderful array of definitions... From the variety of definitions that I have come across, my favourite, and most easily understood, definition of nutrition is simply ‘the food and liquid needed to maintain life and health’.   So what does that mean? Let’s say it again, nutrition is ‘the food and liquid needed to maintain life and health’.  These foods and liquids are the macronutrients that we need to either provide energy and the building blocks for growth, or the micro-nutrients that support metabolism. Unfortunately, not all foods are created equal. Some foods are bursting full of these essential nutrients, and thus have a high nutritional value, whilst other foods have little nutrient content and therefore are not essential for life or growth. Whether training to get bigger, stronger, enhance performance or improve body composition, nutrition is central to success. Provide the nutrients that are required and avoid those things that are not!  

6. 23 to 1 Rule

Even for serious trainers and professional athletes, the ratio of training time to other activities is heavily swayed to other activities. Remember, the body will adapt to any given stress, positive or negative, and if you are imposing upon it 23 hours of bad stress through poor posture, sitting all day or poor sleeping positions then you are fighting a losing battle. For every hour spent training, there are 23 other hours available for other stimulus to threaten your training progress. Become aware of your daily habits and remove anything that will hinder your success.  

7. Commitment and Desire

It really is plain and simple. Your health, fitness and general well being are determined by YOU and the decisions YOU make.   Blame can’t keep being shifted to lack of time to exercise / eat healthily, local take-aways, too much fat being in certain foods, sitting at the computer, etc, etc. You must start to take responsibility and ownership of your decisions, behaviours and management of time. The phrase “you are what you eat” is quite true, though I suggest an alternative to that by saying:

“You are what you choose to eat – and do!”

One step even further:

“You are what you choose to be!”

  The mind is an incredibly powerful thing and the human body a highly adaptable organism. If you make the choice to develop a strong and healthy mind and body plus choose to take action, with the correct amount of application and guidance, you can achieve what you want to be.   So, if it were your choices and decisions that made you who and what you are now, it is also up to you to decide whether or not to take action. Don’t stick your head in the sand! I really encourage you to draw a line and FROM NOW, start to make positive changes. Do you want to achieve the self and lifestyle that you desire?   Most nutrition, fitness and strength & conditioning experts will agree that the worst program done well with appropriate attitude, effort and commitment will achieve far greater results than the best program in the world done without any effort.    

Tagged: Nutrition, Training

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