Name: Zane Hadzick
Occupation: Bodybuilding.com spokesmodel, Promera-sponsored athlete, personal trainer
The start of a new year is always an exciting time. It's a time for second chances and time for change. It's also a time for people to resolve to get fit and change their lives. Unfortunately, many who make fitness resolutions give up before reaching their goals.
So what's the story? Why do so many people struggle to keep their resolutions and achieve their goals? Although it may be unwise to assume everyone makes the exact same mistakes, I'll throw out a common denominator: Most people overcomplicate what should be simple.
Your nutrition and training don't have to be complex. By sticking to a fundamental, realistic, and systematic approach to your fitness resolutions, you'll be 10 steps ahead of everyone else. Throw in a positive attitude and you'll look back from 20 steps ahead.
If you've made fitness resolutions this year, you don't have to go it alone. Here's some basic advice that will get you off on the right foot!
Set Goals and Develop a Plan
First and foremost, you need a plan that is curtailed to yourneeds, goals, and lifestyle. You can't pick up your husband's, brother's, or cousin's workout plan and expect it to work. Before you jump in, sit down and think about what you want and why. If you're not absolutely positive about what you want or why you want it, then you'll struggle to follow through. It might seem like a really basic first step, but it's the one most people fail to do.
You also need to be realistic. I see too many people with the get-back-into-my-high-school-jeans-by-tomorrow mindset fall off the wagon. Sure that's a great goal for the long term, but you need to ask yourself: What am I capable of right now? If you are 50 or more pounds overweight, thinking you'll be down to a size 32 in a matter of weeks will set you up for failure. Instead of focusing on that big, 50-pound goal, take a smaller bite. Try, "I will lose five pounds by the end of the month." It may not be a drastic change, but achieving it will feel great and will serve as excellent motivation.
Additionally, choose a goal that bolsters your health and well-being and doesn't just focus on the way you look. By improving your overall health, you'll feel better, sleep better, think better, and live better!
Successful goal-achievers also pay constant attention to their progress. Write down your goal in hardcopy journal, in a phone app, or on BodySpace! This way you can revisit and assess how you're doing.
Don't Overcomplicate Your Training
True, training is probably the most difficult aspect to figure out. When I first began, I would walk into the gym and train my chest, biceps, and triceps. I would do this every single day. If this sounds familiar, that's OK—you have to start somewhere.
This year, instead of doing some biceps curls and then heading to the treadmill, follow this basic system:
|Build Muscle||Shed Body Fat|
|Weight training frequency||3-6 days per week||4-6 days per week|
|Rest periods||1-2 minutes||30-45 seconds|
|Lifting load||Heavier weight||Lighter weight|
|Cardio frequency||2-4 times per week||4-6 times per week|
|Cardio duration||10-30 minutes||15-50 minutes|
Like I said before, the most important aspect of training is to support your goals. If you want to gain muscle, aim for longer rest periods between sets, exercise with heavier weights, and shoot for lower rep ranges. If you want to shed body fat, train with lighter weight, high reps, and short rest periods.
Remember, this doesn't need to be super complex! It is better to keep it simple. The key is constant progress. Each week try more weight, more reps, or shorter rest periods. Record your workouts so you can keep track of your progression.
Although resistance training will be the most effective way to achieve your physique goals, I like to encourage cardio. If your goal is to gain muscle, keep your cardio sessions to just three times per week. Use high-intensity interval training (HIIT) techniques to ensure the preservation of your hard-earned muscle. If you want to lose body fat, I still suggest HIIT, but I'd increase the session frequency to 4-6 times per week and increase the duration.
Finally, you have to rest. Spending days away from the gym will allow your body adequate time to rebuild and repair. You can schedule rest days whenever they best fit your schedule, but don't leave them out!
Don't Overcomplicate Your Nutrition, Either
Nutrition might be the last thing I've written about, but it's the most important part of your progress—it always trumps training. Despite its importance, people tend to overlook it because they "work so hard" in the gym. You can kill yourself every day, but if you supplement that training with cupcakes and hot chocolate, you won't see gains or losses where you want them.
I also see people eat too little. The point of your fitness resolution is to make lasting change. Nobody wants to lose 50 pounds and then gain it all back again, right? A month-long liquid diet or 1,000-calorie plan might work in the short term, but they won't provide you the nutrition for a healthy mind and body or the building blocks for a lifestyle change.
Don't make it complicated. Simply put, your calories should come from all the major macronutrients: fat, carbohydrates, and protein. You need all of them— there isn't a magic way to meet your goal by eliminating one or the other! Eat more protein than you think you need, don't skimp on complex carbohydrates, and don't skip healthy fats. Don't worry about counting calories just yet. Get in the gym, eat whole, nutrient-dense food, drink plenty of water, and cut out the processed crap.
Similar to goal-setting and training, it's important to keep track of your diet in a journal, app, or BodySpace. Write down what you eat, how you feel, and any other aspects of your nutrition you'd like to chart.
We covered the essentials, but there's one more thing I need to cover. To be a success story, find something fitness-related that you enjoy doing. Whether it's Zumba, CrossFit, bodybuilding, cycling, or powerlifting, do what you like. If you hate what you're doing, then it's difficult to be motivated to get back in and do it again. Furthermore, your fitness and your goals are personal. Make sure whatever you do is going to help you be the best you.
You have the tools to succeed. Now go do it!