8 Strategies You Can Use Now To Develop & Maintain Successful Training Habits.

All the reported reasons for dropping out of a new program boil down to the fact that when faced with adversity, people revert back to their bad habits. Follow these 8 strategies to form the habits you need to achieve your training goals this year.

Does this sound like you? I have a good friend that told me he wanted to lose some body fat and start to get really lean. He was about 180 lbs at the time. We spoke about what it would take for him to drop the body fat and he said he was committed to making it happen. Less than two weeks later I talked to him again and he told me he changed his mind. His new plan was to bulk up to 200 lbs and then start to shed body fat.

At this point, I was done giving advice. I have seen this situation all too many times. About three weeks later he was up to over 190 lbs. He had not gained over 10 pounds of muscle in three weeks. In fact, knowing the way he was training and what he was eating, I would be shocked if he put on ANY muscle. At this point, of course, it was time for him to completely change his goal again, back to shedding fat. He returned back to his initial weight, no more muscle-bound, no less fat, and no stronger. Over six weeks of his life and countless hours in the gym were completely wasted.

With New Years rapidly approaching, I can't help but think about the millions of people that will soon depart on a similar journey, using twisted logic to justify their trip. Research has repeatedly shown that over 50% of people that begin a new training program quit within 6 months. Over 50%!

Mark Twain once said, "There are a thousand excuses for every failure, but never a good reason."

I think he underestimated. Essentially all the reported reasons for dropping out of a new program boil down to the fact that when faced with adversity, people revert back to their most well-formed habits, which NEVER include their new program.

The key to success in any area is forming success-oriented habits. In the words of Aristotle, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Following the 8 strategies below will help you form the habits you need to achieve your training goals in 2009.

8 Strategies To Develop & Maintain Successful Training Habits

Strategies 1 & 2: Do Your Research And Set Goals:

    These strategies are so interrelated that I had to pair them together. Regardless of your training goal (increased muscle mass, increased strength, loss of body fat, etc.), your road to success should start with very clear, objective goals. You should have short-term (e.g. 2-4 weeks), medium-term (e.g. 3-6 months), and long-term goals (e.g. 6+ months). Start by visualizing where you want to be, your so-called "final destination." When you decide your final destination, write it down, in as much detail as possible.

    Now it's time to do your research. You should read, watch, and listen to anything by reputable authorities in the area of your training goals. Your research should provide you with information on:

    • A realistic time-course
    • Training strategies
    • Dietary and supplementation strategies

    The next step in mapping your road to success is having a clear understanding of your starting point. Consider the following goal-oriented objective measures:


      Muscle Mass/Fat Loss:

      Waist-To-Hip Ratio:
      Waist-hip ratio or Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips. It is calculated by measuring the waist circumference (located just above the upper hip bone) and dividing by the hip circumference at its widest part (waist/hip). The concept and significance of WHR was first theorized by evolutionary psychologist Dr. Devendra Singh at the University of Texas at Austin in 1993.

      Athletic Performance:

Click Image To Enlarge.
Shuttle Run.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod

    There are dozens of other tests and measurements that people use to help monitor their progress, but the ones listed above are relatively easy to measure with minimal time and equipment requirements, and will give you a good idea of where you're starting from. Don't feel restricted to using only the tests listed within one category. For example, strength is an important part of athletic performance. So someone looking to improve sport performance should probably also include some of the strength measures as part of their baseline testing.

    Related Strength For Sports Articles:

    Use the information you have on where you are now, where you want to be, and what it's going to take to get you to where you want to be to set your short, medium, and long-term goals. Assess your progress every 2-4 weeks (depending on your goal) to make sure you're staying on track. Regardless of your rate of progress, stick to your goals! The fastest way to get nowhere is to constantly change your path. Take your time deciding your goal; then resolve to never stop working toward it until you achieve it. Never stop.

Make Your Goals Stick!
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Make Your Goals Stick!
The amazing thing about the future is that if you wait, it will always come to you. By reading this you should gain some insight to making goals and actually keeping them.
Jeremy Likness

Strategy 3: Begin Immediately!

    Start today. If you're serious about your goals, do not push off getting started another second. Begin immediately. How many people say, "I'll start my diet next week" and then overeat for another week, gain more weight, and lose motivation? The longer you wait to get started, the further you separate yourself from your goals. You waste valuable time (our only non-renewable commodity) moving in the wrong direction.

Strategy 4: Plan Ahead:

Strategy 5: Find A Partner:

    Even the best of us will have days where motivation hits an all-time low. Nothing will help keep you on track like a highly-motivated partner. I used to think you needed a partner that had the same goal as you. I'm starting to rethink that idea.

Does Your Training Partner Have The Same Goals As You?


    I think it's more important that you have someone that is equally as serious about achieving their goals, and will not let you fall off course. Success-oriented attitudes are contagious. Team up with someone that won't accept failure and will help push far beyond what either of you could do individually.

Strategy 6: Tell As Many People As Possible:

    I'm consistently shocked at how derogatory people can be toward any behavior that isn't in accordance with their own. "Will skipping one lift really hurt you?" "It's just one piece of cake!" People can more easily justify their own behavior if everyone around them is doing the same thing.

Justify Their Own Behavior
+ Click To Enlarge.
People Will Always Try To
Justify Their Own Behavior.

    As a consequence, some people will need others to skip workouts or eat unhealthy foods to prevent them from feeling bad about themselves. If you approach the large majority of the people you interact with regularly, tell them that you're going to be making some changes in your lifestyle in order to achieve a goal that you're very serious about, and ask them for their help and support throughout the process, you may be surprised at how little negativity comes back to you.

    By letting people know about your goals and asking for their help, they are more likely to be supportive and feel like they play an instrumental role in your success.

Strategy 7: Surround Yourself With Reminders:

    Quite simply, the more you can affirm yourself and maintain a goal-oriented mind state, the more successful you'll be. Surround yourself with pictures of people with the body, strength or athletic prowess you desire.

    Put motivational quotes on your desk and walls. Make several copies of your list of goals and post them everywhere. The places you spend the most time throughout the day should be littered with images and words that reinforce your goals.

    Motivational Wallpapers:

NPC Bodybuilder & BodySpace Member Randy Leppala!
NPC Bodybuilder Randy Leppala
BodySpace Member "Most Muscular"!
Image Courtesy Of Jeff Spain.
Week #141 - 12/02/2008
1600x1200 - 1280x1024 - 1152x864 - 1024x768 - 800x600
480x640 - 320x240 - 240x320 - 160x160 - 160x120 - 128x128

Dark Sketch Of Arnold, Circa 1975
Sketch Of Arnold, Circa 1975!
Dark Version, By Robert Nailon.
Image Courtesy Of Robert Nailon.
Week #137 - 11/04/2008
1600x1200 - 1280x1024 - 1152x864 - 1024x768 - 800x600
480x640 - 320x240 - 240x320 - 160x160 - 160x120 - 128x128

Silver Screen Superstar Dolph Lundgren!
Silver Screen Superstar Dolph Lundgren!
Rocky's 'Ivan Drago' Still Trains!
Photo Courtesy Of Kris Gethin.
Week #124 - 8/05/2008
1600x1200 - 1280x1024 - 1152x864 - 1024x768 - 800x600
480x640 - 320x240 - 240x320 - 160x160 - 160x120 - 128x128

Strategy 8: Reward Yourself:

    Make sure you take time to recognize your achievements as you make them, but make sure you do this without resolving to derailing habits. For instance, it would not be advantageous to reward a significant decrease in body fat by eating ice cream cake. Try to find a reward that is unrelated to your goal altogether, or that actually reinforces your goal.

    Take time to do something fun that you don't usually make time for: a mini-vacation, going out with friends, a sporting event, etc. It doesn't matter what you choose, as long as it doesn't interfere with attaining your goals.

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Utilizing these 8 strategies will help you stay on track with your training and/or dieting. The most important thing is that you make a commitment, a promise, to yourself that you will never give up on yourself, ever. Persistence is the true key to success. Keep working hard. Keep working smart. Enjoy your success.

    About The Author:

      Kevin Neeld, CSCS has helped athletes of all ages fulfill their athletic potential. Through the application of functional anatomy, biomechanics, and neural control, Kevin specializes in guiding athletes to optimal health and performance. He is also the author of Hockey Training University's "Off-Ice Performance Training Course." To learn more about how Kevin can help you achieve your training goals, visit www.KevinNeeld.com or contact him via email at kn@prodigyperformancetraining.com.