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How to Stick to and Maximize Your Workouts

March 4, 2013 | Mo Skelton

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Everyone has fitness goals, such as getting stronger, losing fat or lowering their 40 time. Yet too often people fail to achieve their goals because they get stopped by common roadblocks.(See Are Your Goals Achievable? How To Make Sure They Stick.)

It's important to understand what you are capable of at each stage of training. It's also important to avoid comparing yourself to athletes on airbrushed magazine covers to measure your progress. Determine what success means for you and set achievable goals based on it.

Define Your Goal

"I want to get in shape" is not measurable. Set a weight loss goal, a Bench Press rep or a Squat max goal. Write it down and define a strategy to achieve it.

Focus on Short-Term Goals

It's good to have big goals. However, you need short-term goals to track progress and give yourself a sense of achievement. Make sure to regularly document your progress.

Fight Through Bad Weeks

We all have weeks that upset our schedule, but don't let them alter your goal. If you have less time to work out, up the intensity. If you can't make it to the gym, work out at home with bodyweight exercises. (Check out The 8 Best Bodyweight Exercises and Best Bodyweight Exercises for Any Fitness Level.)

Ignore Bad Days

We've all had days that bring an unforeseen emergency, extra film study or mindless eating. If you let them, such days can cause significant frustration and even a feeling of failure, especially early in a training program. Forgive yourself and reset your focus. Remember to look at your goal sheet to remind yourself of what you are working toward.

If You Sustain an Injury

If you deal with common issues like knee or back pain, you might think working out will make them worse. In some cases, this is true. However, you can adapt your training to fit your needs. Try performing bodyweight exercises or training non-injured parts of your body to get some physiological benefits of exercise. (Read 3 Steps to Coming Back Better From an Injury.)

Prevent Fatigue With Recovery

Short-term fatigue can limit your progress, so schedule recovery weeks to prevent plateaus when lifting heavy weight. Also, make sure to get a warm-up so that your muscles and nervous system are active and engaged prior to your workouts. (See Boost Your Recovery With a Contrast Shower.)

Correct Your Mindset

If you have a history of workout failure, you will have negative feelings toward exercise. Yes, it takes hard work, but it will pay off in the long run if you are committed and approach your workouts with a positive frame of mind. If you are having trouble changing your approach, talk to a friend, coach or trainer.

Schedule Your Workouts

Schedule your workout for tomorrow. Don't hope it fits in your day. Even if it's short, do something. Remember, intensity and effort trump length with any workout.

Stick to a Plan

Don't go into the gym and arbitrarily perform exercises. To get best results, create a plan and stick to it. This ensures that you maximize your time in the gym and that your hard work will help you achieve your ultimate goal.

Refine Your Diet

You cannot out train a bad diet. Eating unhealthy is easy, and burning calories through training is difficult. Hone in on your diet so you have the energy and nutrients you need to support your exercise regimen.

Allow for Mental and Physical Recovery

Turn off your phone, TV and computer at some point during the day. Your mind needs time to unwind and relax without constant stimulus. Also, take two or three days off during the week to allow your muscles to recover. Give a muscle group 48 hours to recover before reworking it.

Photo: catalystathletics.com

Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
Mo Skelton
- Mo Skelton is a physical therapist at McCurtain Memorial Hospital (Idabel, Okla.) and is the founder of F.A.S.T. Sports Performance. He also serves as...
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