The importance of having small fitness goals to achieve results
If you look deeper into the world of fitness, you will understand that progression is one of the most important aspects to get the best results. If that statement sounds redundant, it is maybe because you don't know progression as one of the principles of physical training. Doing it the right way will help you achieve your goals but missing the target would make you lose valuable time and money with no satisfying results.
But, what is the best way to progress in exercise and fitness?
Baby fitness steps
If you want to race a marathon, you won't be trying to go for a 26-mile race for starters with no previous training and conditioning. Instead, you would enrol in short-distance competitions first, get used to them, and slowly advance into longer runs. The same principle applies in everything you try to achieve with your body. You need to know the importance of taking baby steps towards your ultimate goal.
Instead of enrolling right away in the next race, start with frequent training sessions. If you don't feel it's challenging enough, race instead of jogging or increase your goals in time or total miles. Do not take another step forward until you feel your body has gotten used to what you're already doing.
The same applies to weight training when you decide to increase your loads. You won't try to lift heavy right away in spite of your technique. Doing so reduces the effectiveness of your workout and increases your risk of injury. Instead, according to the principle of progression, you could increase the number of repetitions while keeping the same weight (which is called volume progression) or increasing weight when you're able to do extra repetitions with a perfect technique (simple load progression).
Keep motivated to achieve results
Changing the way your body works and how it reacts to exercise might take longer than expected. However, it is possible to keep motivated. One of the most important tools you have to keep your motivation lies within you. If you track your own advances and actually see your progress in numbers, that will give you the motivation you need.
Tracking how much time it takes to run your 5-mile goal and keeping a record of the weight you are lifting will give you statistics to see your real progress on the way. Monitoring your numbers every month or twice a month is maybe what you need to keep motivated and see the results of a new lifestyle adjustment or a training style you're trying. This will help you understand more about your body, find the right match and find the best way to progress in your individual case.
However, we can't talk about motivation and not mention the people you surround yourself with. Finding a group with the same fitness goals you have will help you keep at it and enjoy exercise. Sharing your thoughts, tips, motivation quotes, and day-to-day experiences with likeminded people will give you an extra boost to achieve your goals and go for a greater feat.
So, if you really want to achieve results, remember baby fitness steps, track and measure your progress, and keep motivated by sharing your experiences with people like you. The principle of progression lies in not giving up and learning more about your body every step you take in this endless journey towards a better self.
Gibson, A. L., Wagner, D., & Heyward, V. (2018). Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription, 8E. Human kinetics.
American College of Sports Medicine. (2013). ACSM's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.