We’ve all said it:
“The diet starts on Monday.”
“I’ll get back to the gym on Monday”
“Monday will be my fresh start.”
Then Monday comes along and nothing has changed. It’s an exhausting cycle to be in, and often results in unnecessary guilt and shame. But it’s a cycle that you have the power to break! You really can get started on Monday. The key is to start the planning process before Monday arrives. Every detail of your plan should be accounted for. This way when Monday comes, there are no more decisions to be made or obstacles to work through. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to actually get started on your fitness journey this Monday.
Step 1: What are your goals?
The goals you are setting out to achieve will help to inform many of your other decisions during this process. Your goal should be something more specific than “get healthy” or “get fit.” Be honest with yourself about your true motivations for embarking on this fitness journey. If your primary motivation is fat loss, that’s a totally valid goal! Other common fitness goals include building muscle, gaining strength, improving mobility, improving endurance, and acquiring athletic skills.
If you have multiple goals, I recommend focusing on just one or two of them at a time. You will reach your goals faster by having a less divided focus. Once you achieve or make significant progress on your first goal, you can shift your focus elsewhere. This is especially true if your goals are somewhat conflicting, like fat loss and muscle gain.
Once you have your main goal, work backwards. Get as specific with the goal as possible and then break it into smaller goals and behaviors that you can work into your routine daily, weekly, or monthly. For example, if your goal is strength gain, a more specific goal might be to work towards achieving your first pull-up. Behaviors that could contribute to this goal might include performing assisted pull-ups and drills that will contribute to your pull-up strength several times per week. Your outcome based goal might be to achieve your first pull-up within the next 6 months, but your behavior based goal might be to practice assisted pull-ups three times per week.
Step 2: Where will you be training?
You’ve committed to starting your fitness journey on Monday, but do you know where you will be working out? The goals you set during Step 1 might be a determining factor. If your goal was fat loss, you might be able to get away with home workouts and minimal equipment. If your goal was to squat 200 pounds, you’ll likely need a gym membership or a well equipped home gym.
If you plan on working out at home, make sure you have a distraction-free space set up for yourself. It is ideal if you can exercise in a room where you don’t sleep or work. If that is not possible, at least set up a workout corner for yourself with a yoga mat and any equipment you plan to use. Make your exercise space feel like a distinct part of your home. Purchase any equipment you might want to use and set it up ahead of time. Bodyweight workouts are fantastic. If you are looking to invest in any equipment, I recommend a few bands, adjustable dumbbells, or a suspension trainer.
If you plan on exercising at a gym, do you already have a membership? If so, make sure that your membership is active and ready to go. If you don’t already have a membership, choose a gym based on your goals, convenience, and affordability. It doesn’t matter how great the gym is if it is too inconvenient for you to get to consistently or if it is outside of your price range. Reach out to gyms in advance to see if you can get a free or discounted trial period.
Step 3: What will your program look like?
Your program should be based on your goals. If you have the resources, purchasing a program from a qualified trainer or hiring an online coach or personal trainer can be very helpful. Following a program that is written by a professional and tailored to you as an individual will help you get to your goal faster, more efficiently, and sustainably. If you do not have the resources to do this, there are some great free resources online that can be extremely helpful.
It is important that you have a structured plan written down before you go into your workout. Without this step, it is easy to perform exercises that are not relevant to your goals, end your workout early, or abandon your workout altogether since there is no plan in place. Following a structured plan, even if it is not a perfect plan, will get you to your goals much faster than if you just wing it each time you enter the gym.
Your program should be based around your goals, but it should also be based around your schedule and lifestyle. You should not be following a program that requires four days per week in the gym if you can only commit to three days consistently. Be honest with yourself about how many days per week and how much time per day you can realistically commit to your training.
Step 4: When will you train?
As discussed in Step 3, your programming should be based around your goals, schedule, and lifestyle, You shouldn’t have more training sessions per week than you can handle. If you only have a 45 minute time block available in your schedule, your workout should not be 90 minutes long.
After taking all of that into account, it is time to decide exactly when you will be training. Decide on specific days and times and block it off in your schedule. We block off specific time for dentist appointments and work meetings. Why not do the same for our own workouts? Decide on a specific time and actually put it into your calendar. If it is difficult for you to make this commitment to yourself, it may be a good idea to hire a personal trainer or enlist a workout buddy. That way, you are required to schedule a time for your workout and stick to it.
Planning is the key to success in your fitness journey. Making these decisions ahead of time takes away the guesswork when Monday comes and it is time to start your new routine. Your goals, training space, programming, and scheduling are all basics that should be decided in advance. For your greatest chance of success and to end the cycle of starting over each Monday, month, or year, do yourself a favor and take a little time today to make a specific plan.
Need help reaching your fitness goals? Head to pappa.fit/train and fill out my training application for online fitness coaching from anywhere or in person training in Boston! We will set up a complimentary consultation call to discuss your goals, needs, and lifestyle!