Always Have a Back-Up Plan!

In this week’s column, I’d like to touch on the idea of creating a back up plan for your regular exercise routine.  The clients and athletes that I’ve trained with over the years that have had the most consistent success are the ones that have had at least one (preferably more) backup plans for the times that life gets in the way.  Long-term fitness is all about maintaining momentum and without a back up plan, momentum is easily lost and progress, or even maintenance, quickly grinds to a halt.

To begin with; it’s important to concede that life will, absolutely, get in the way of your weekly exercise in a variety of ways.  Here are the most common interruptions that I’ve seen with my clients;

  • Work or family demands and lack of time
  • Inclement weather
  • Injury
  • Travel

While all of us live with these interruptions, only some of us are able to maintain our health and fitness regimens while we manage them.  The ones that do aren’t surprised when things come up; they simply go with Plan B until life gets back to “normal”.  This does two things.  It keeps them active (even if Plan B isn’t exactly what they wanted to do) and it provides a subtle reminder that they matter and that looking after their health is important.

To put a back up plan into action when you need it requires that you put some thought into designing it.  I would suggest having back ups for both strength training and cardio depending on your need.  Make your plans as specific and clear as possible.  There should not be any thought involved when you need use them, just simple action.  For example; I like to lift weights at a gym after work using a split body routine.  This means that I work out like a bodybuilder using a large variety of equipment, working one muscle group at a time.  A full workout done in this manner can take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes.  If I’m booked heavily with clients and also have a family commitment in the evening, I might not be able to get to the gym at all and only have 20 minutes of free time when I get home.  In this case, my back up plan is to do a full body workout at home using resistance bands and bodyweight movements with little to no rest between exercises.

In other words; IF I can’t get to the gym for a full workout, THEN I will do a high intensity full body workout at home for 20 minutes.  I have the intense home workout planned, written out and ready to go whenever I need it.  I don’t have to think; just act.

Here is an example of the If/Then idea from a client of mine.  “If it is raining and I can’t go out walking, I will ride my stationary bike at home for 30 to 45 minutes while watching the news.”

As simple as it might seem, having an emergency plan, ready to go, could very well be the difference between successful long-term exercisers and those that continually fall short of their goals.  Take a few minutes to write out a contingency plan based on your own needs and the equipment, if any, that you have available to you.



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