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The right training for your goals

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To select the correct training for your personal goal(s) you first need to know what your goal is! Do you know what your goal is? As in, could you write it down right now? To really know what your goal is, you also have to be prepared to be totally honest with yourself. As some of you reading this will know, I used to manage a gym in central London, after that I worked as a personal trainer in said gym and then went on to run my own personal training business. I have trained my fair share of people. I’ve heard all manner of goals/aims for training; what I noticed as a common theme amongst a lot of them was that they are often masking the truth.

I found that 80% of people actually just wanted to look better. Is that surprising? The media, Hollywood, social networks; everything seems to be about how we look. We all judge each other on it as well. It used to be that if you went on holiday, the only people to see you in your speedos/bikini were other holidayers and anyone you chose to show your developed snaps to. Nowadays, Instagram and Facebook means everyone has seen you within seconds of hitting the beach with your friends. The Hollywood ideals don’t help either: from superhero movies to RomComs it seems everyone is “perfect”. If you’re single and looking for someone, do you look for the Hollywood perfection, or as close to as possible? If the answer is even slightly yes, then you can’t expect the people looking back to be any different. Either change your perception or accept why “looking good” is so important to everyone.

I would often spend 20-30mins of the first session with someone getting to the root of what they REALLY wanted. Yes, some people really did want to complete a triathlon or get under 3.30 for a marathon. But many, many more (and perhaps this was due to a central London location) really wanted aesthetics; to look better which (at least in their minds) would also lead to them feeling better. I am not judging by any means. I certainly trained a few people who were depressed or verging on, with a lack of confidence to match. By working on their aesthetic goals and working in some fitness challenges we helped them gain confidence, stop being depressed and start a more focussed and successful life.

So what’s my point? My point is that you NEED to be self-aware. Honest with yourself about what you want. Thousands of people sign up to the marathon, a 10km run, tough mudder or the like, every year. Why? I don’t think I am far wrong if I say at least 50% do so to try to lose “weight”. I actually think it’s probably far higher. Yes, some people do so because friends have or for the challenge, or for fun or for something new to experience. But for each one of those, there’s at least one who signs up with the overall aim of losing weight. A lot of the time, the thought process is that losing weight and having a better figure/physique will give a confidence boost and help with other facets of life, and this is often the case in my experience.

Here’s the crux of this post. What if I said that running a marathon/10km race/tough mudder wasn’t the best way to lose “weight” and that actually there’s other styles of training that can be far, far more beneficial? Hence the title of this blog: “The right training for your goals”. Don’t get me wrong, I am not chastising running. I am a runner. I love running. I was a cross-country runner at school to a high standard, a 400metre runner. A good runner in the Marines and at one point I was running 4/5 times a week just for my own training to see what boundaries I could push. I also only weighed 78/79kg and couldn’t hold any muscle. I now weight 83/84kg, am leaner with a better six pack and hold more muscle. I love running, but I had to back off it to achieve the goals I wanted and change my training.

Running is a great place to start if you are just starting a fitness regime. I wrote a running book for that reason. The first programme in that book is a walk to 5km run programme to get people started. If you have a busy life, with work and kids and getting 20-30mins to go for a run around the area you live is all you can fit in, then perfect. Keep doing what you are doing… but… there is only so far running can take you. If you want to be a runner, run. I’d always advise some specific strength and conditioning for the muscles needed to be a good runner like the glutes and hamstrings; although most runners miss this out. But at the end of the day, if you want to be a good, competitive runner, you need to run.

Now, if you want a lean, “toned” (I hate that word) figure/physique, running is not the best use of your time. You can still run once, maybe twice a week, but if you only have time for 3 sessions a week, I would actually drop it if your real aim is to lose fat and be more aesthetic for yourself. Three sessions a week spent doing resistance exercises at a slow tempo, that take you to failure, get your heart rate up and really challenge you will see greater fatloss and a better physique/figure created than running will. If you don’t have time to go to the gym or don’t have a membership, no problem; try something like my Perfect Pins workout (ladies) or my Bodyweight Sixpack (ladies or gents). If you do have use of a gym, there are a myriad of free programmes elsewhere on this site for you to follow.

Choosing the correct training for your goal comes down to really being honest with yourself about your goal. If you are honest with yourself, you can pick the correct training and your goal will become reality all the sooner allowing you to move onto the next goal or to focus on other things.

Sean Lerwill - Author

Sean is an former-Royal Marines Commando Officer & Physical Training Instructor. He has been published as a writer five times, has a BSc in Molecular Genetics and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He is also a Maximuscle ambassador.

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