If I were to say, we get ‘results’ at Dabbs Fitness, what would that mean to you?
Would you automatically think about 6-pack abs, biceps, glutes maybe? These days most people probably would jump straight to the aesthetic. But what about some of our athletes? Wouldn’t a result to them be increased performance at their chosen sport?
It could also mean a year of consistent training, remaining healthy and not getting injured. That’s a massive result, which would lead to a better aesthetic appearance anyway.
To an older client, a result could be being able to move better, and having more strength when walking up the stairs or standing up from the sofa.
Personally, I would argue that for every individual the best results that you could experience would be improved sleep, feeling better, having higher confidence, less pain, better posture… the list can go on. Again, 9/10 times this will lead to long term improved aesthetic appearance anyways.
Let’s say your target is purely aesthetic. You’re mindset? Probably rather short term, maybe you haven’t thought past your next holiday in a few weeks. This is all fine, but it always ends up with people making the same mistakes, and always playing catch up. Fitness shouldn’t be seen as a struggle, or a short-term period of discomfort, preceding a holiday, to then ruin it all within a week. Fitness is a journey, which goes on throughout your life. I want to try and propose a different way of approaching your training, and target setting, which will result in both short AND long term results.
Firstly, lets differentiate between ‘exercise’ and ‘training’. Exercise burns calories, it makes you sweat, and is better than not moving at all. However, it’s a short-term solution, and has limited long term benefit. Training however, is when you go to the gym with a target, and a progressive plan in mind. You build on your work from week to week, year to year, and you create long term benefits for yourself, such as strength gains, muscle memory improvements, and general health and fitness gains.
I think it’s clear that TRAINING is far more beneficial than simply exercising, regardless whether your targets are performance-based, or aesthetic.
I’m now going to propose a few different mindset techniques, that can work for anyone, with any goals or targets, whether they are aesthetic, or athletic. One problem with having body image goals, is how subjective they are, at worst case leading to mental illness. What is a ‘perfect physique’? As soon as you start looking better, you won’t be satisfied and will keep trying to look better, and better again. This isn’t a healthy or sustainable approach.
My proposal is to start setting measurable, performance-based targets. Train for performance, and the mirror will take care of itself.
I’ll use myself as an example, I perhaps want to lose some weight. I know that middle distance sprint intervals are the best way to shed fat, from a metabolic standpoint, so I test my 400m personal best time. I then go on a training program, with a new personal best time in mind. Let’s say my time is 1:05, and I want to break 1 minute. I train for a month or so, and then re-test this time. I beat it. I guarantee you, if anyone goes on a training plan designed to get faster at the 400m, which may consist of shorter intervals, longer intervals, perhaps some 5km runs, hill runs, maybe some weight training as well for some added strength and power- you will look a hell of a lot better, and you will almost certainly lose weight.
You could adopt this approach with a 5km distance, or any running/swimming/cycling distance. In my personal program I love strength training, and over the past year or so I have improved my PB’s for lifts up in the squat, bench, deadlift, and also Olympic weightlifting variations. Over this time, I have also added some muscle mass, and generally am moving better, and am stronger and personally would say I look better (even though this wasn’t the original goal).
If you work in an office, and have a social life, it’s of course not the same as sportsmen, and you have to allow for that, eat a bit less, try to limit alcohol, and try to get moving whenever you can. But you would be amazed what a small change in mindset can do, and how big an impact making specific, measurable training targets does. This leads to more motivation, better routine, and generally better results all round.