If there is one conversation I have with new gym members more than any other, it’s about managing expectations. Unrealistic expectations are one of the biggest detriments to beginners.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have big goals or expect a lot out of yourself. The problem lies rather, in expectations surrounding two things and if you can shift your mindset around these two expectations, you’ll empower yourself to make real, lasting, positive change in your health and fitness.
Mindset # 1 – “30lbs in 30 days”
I touched on this in our free guide “Top 10 Beginner Mistakes”. Here’s the problem; we live in a society of instant gratification and a society where the conversation about health and fitness is sometimes dominated by companies seeking to profit on the discomfort of overweight and unhealthy individuals, making promises that you can make no lifestyle change, address no nutritional needs, and reverse 5, 10, or 20 years of over eating in a month… with a pill.
Now I’m not pinning this pervasive mindset surrounding weight loss on weight loss companies. There are so many societal and cultural factors that play into this. The point is, we have to stop putting our faith in magic pills and magic diets and magic quick fixes that don’t work and don’t address the lifestyle, the choices, the habits, or the lack of education around health that needs to be addressed before we begin to see lasting change.
I almost always start of my first session with clients helping them set goals and almost every single time I have help them alter their mindset and help them see progress as much much more than just pounds on a scale.
One of the things we do is define progress as any positive change that aids in the ultimate end goal. These are things like drinking an extra 10oz of water a day, moving up every 1-2 weeks. We also often start making diet changes simply by trying to add SOME sort of protein to each meal until it becomes a habit. These very small changes we make over the course of anywhere from a week to a month. Never do I ever ask my clients to start a meal plan, overhaul their training, go to bed 2 hours earlier, meditate an hour a day, and never miss a day in the gym all at once. That’s not only not feasible it’s setting yourself up for failure.
So, here’s what you need to do. Set a goal—your end goal. Then, take inventory. Look at everything you think will need to change in order to meet that goal and even changes that need to happen to allow for those changes. Then, pick 1 maybe 2 small goals, and start working on making those changes. It may look like buying a water bottle on amazon and filling it up every single night before you go to bed which will allow you to drink more water at work the next day. That’s progress and positive change towards your goal. Will it make you drop 15lbs of fat? Probably not but, it sure as heck will set you on the path to hitting your goals in the future.
Changing your mindset around the time it may take to attain your goals may be a tough pill to swallow but, it’s the only way to make sure the results you do get, are results that last!
Mindset #2 – All or nothing
In addition to expecting results too quickly, it’s very common for new gym members to get discouraged when they are unable to make it to the gym 4, 5 or even 6 days a week, which brings us to our title question, does it really matter if you only make it to the gym 2 days a week?
The answer is absolutely it does! This is especially true if you currently aren’t working out at all. Your potential for adaptation is so high that 2 extra days of exercise a week will cause tremendous change.
There’s a lot to this question, however. First things first, if you’ve been hitting the gym consistently for 6 months or more with a frequency higher than 2 days a week, you likely won’t see a ton of progress if something comes up and you find yourself struggling to get your workouts in. Don’t let that freak you out though!
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making is settling for regression when they can’t have progression. That means, whenever work gets crazy, your kid’s sports pick up, or you just struggle to find the motivation to workout as frequently, that doesn’t mean you have to go backwards!
No, you likely won’t make leaps and bounds of progress but, 2 workouts a week can certainly maintain all the work you’ve done up until that point! So, don’t settle for regression. The way I see it, not going backwards when you otherwise would have, IS progress.
The second piece to this is how the workout should change when decreasing frequency. If you typically workout 4 days a week and perform somewhere around 15 sets of exercise, that means your body is used to 60 sets of exercises per week. Higher workout frequency is always superior but, when you can’t make it in, one of the ways you can sort of hack your workouts, is to increase your volume to 20-25 sets of exercise per workout, to get a little closer to the weekly volume you had before.
CAUTION: Even though this is less weekly volume, it doesn’t mean you won’t be more sore the day after your workout than you’re used to. It’s wise to dial down the intensity just a bit when performing more sets per workout.
Lastly, it’s extremely important that your sessions are comprised of primarily or entirely of weight training. This will preserve more muscle and keep your metabolism higher than cardiovascular training. Also, you’ll stay feeling mobile and energized from your workouts which will greatly increase or maintain how great you’ve felt since beginning working out!
· Shift your mindset to making small changes – one of which may be only exercising 1 or 2 days per week
· Don’t settle for regression – there’s so much you can get done in 2 days a week!
· Consider a workout program designed for individuals short on time!
o Uplift Cuts was specifically designed to get you in and out of the gym in 30 minutes and accomplish everything you need to in 2-3 days per week. Check it out here!