Setting your New Year’s resolution to get in better shape? Well, one set of bench presses won't have you looking like Arnold in his prime, and you won't be Usain Bolt after one sprint workout. Getting in shape and performing better takes a plan, but more important, consistency. However, history and research has shown us that most memberships only get used for the first month or two. Why? Because "fitness" isn't immediately gratifying. But, if you don't want to be another person throwing in the towel too soon, here’s a four-step plan to stay consistent and build a better body.
1. Set a SMART goal
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, "I want to add five pounds of muscle in two months" is a good goal—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. "I want to bench more" is far too general.
2. Create a plan
Keeping a journal is a good idea, and log every exercise you do. Write down your workouts before they happen; it keeps you accountable and if you don't see progress in the mirror, you'll see it in the numbers.
3. Consult a professional
Far too many people decide they want to make a change, join a gym, and start working out full-speed, only to burn out or injure themselves. It's important to make sure you're healthy and you've got all the basic knowledge you need. We recommend a checkup with your doc, and a quick session or two with a certified trainer.
4. Evaluate and re-evaluate your progress
If you see yourself hitting plateaus, or getting stuck, it's time to change up your plan. This could mean getting a trainer, switching up your diet, adding volume, or even reducing volume. Plus, it will keep things interesting.