How to Never Miss a WorkoutIt wasn’t until I became a mom that I was finally able to find a more flexible mindset when it came to my training. Your training does not always have to be the most theoretically optimal program.
How to Never Miss a Workout
By: Nikki Burman
Nikki is Barbell Logic’s Director of Client Experience and an Exclusive & Nutrition Coach. She is a master at genuinely connecting with her clients, learning what it takes to drive a person to make incredible changes and going above and beyond to support them. She specializes in working with women pre-and postnatal, those in the military, and people wanting to lose or gain weight. Nikki also has a knack for competitive lifters, coaching many through state, regional, and national meets, and multiple clients have set powerlifting state records. Get coaching from Nikki.
As coaches, we know that the lifters who make the most progress are the ones who have the most consistency in their training. This is probably an obvious observation, but maintaining consistent training habits year after year can become incredibly challenging when life gets in the way.
Life does tend to interrupt training from time to time for everyone. That’s okay! Training does not have to be “all or nothing.” We are all human, and expecting perfect outcomes is like planning for disappointment. The critical skill to develop is navigating through stressful times in a way that continually moves forward and maintains the habit of training. Progress may look different, but progress in any form is better than nothing. Also, the psychological benefits of doing something can help balance your overall stress versus doing nothing. No one benefits from that.
A Positive Approach to Habits
A great way to cultivate adherence to a habit is to celebrate your small wins! Small wins add up over time. Instead of feeling defeated, you should look back and feel proud of what you were able to accomplish—regardless of how “small” or “unimpressive” it may seem. Those small wins along the way will bring you positive thoughts and allow your body to get back into the full training groove much easier when life allows it once again.
Getting away from this “all or nothing” mindset when it comes to training can be difficult! I get it! I am also a perfectionist and have a very Type A personality. It wasn’t until I became a mom that I was finally able to find a more flexible mindset when it came to my training. Your training does not always have to be the most theoretically optimal program. I repeat: your training does not have to be textbook perfect for it to be worth doing or for you to see results.
What Matters Most for Long-Term Progress?
The most important factor that predicts long-term results is simple consistency. A program designed to fit your current demands—one that leads to the highest compliance you can achieve—is perfect for you. It is okay when life doesn’t allow you the time or energy to put 100% effort and focus into training. Your goals may need to change as you go through these waves, helping prevent your gym stress and life stress from competing with each other. If gym stress gets too high to find that balance, your body will start to struggle, and progress may be harder to come by.
You may begin to have annoying aches and pains because your body cannot efficiently recover, and energy can plummet. This leads to missed sessions piling up, leading to the worst-case scenario: you feel like a failure and stop altogether. It does not have to come to that! As noted in this podcast episode, there are two main factors of consistency: (1) your support system and (2) deciding whether your current program is realistic (not optimistic).
Factors of Consistency
You may need to rely on that support system more when it is harder to get into the gym. Your support system may look like your spouse, family member, friend, neighbor, or coach. Whoever that is for you, use them! On my lower-energy days, I tell my husband before he gets home to make me get out to the gym. That way, there is no time to talk me out of it—and it turns into fun family time as the kids join us! If it weren’t for my family and my coach, I would miss more workouts. Extra accountability from an experienced coach and having someone else plan out your workouts can be that last little nudge you need. And they can help adjust the program along the way.
Are your goals realistic for this period in your life? How long are your workouts taking to complete? Training sessions may need to be shorter during stressful times, or you may need to train fewer days per week. Switching to a four-day split can help with this, but sometimes that can still be too much. If you can’t commit to four training days per week—but could benefit from the shorter workouts—you can have the fourth day carry over to the following week. If time is seriously constrained, pare down to one lift per session. Worst-case, if you have two movements programmed but only squeeze one in, that is still a win! Your coach can easily drag that movement to a future session. This is where the “all or nothing” mindset can backfire on you. You could have chosen not to train at all, knowing that you didn’t have time for both movements. Instead, mark that sucker green and move on! You showed up, maintained the habit, and you did benefit from that.
Other Programming Strategies
Some other programming strategies you could experiment with are EMOM (every minute on the minute), AMRAP (as many reps as possible), adjusting exercise selection, and circuits to fit more movements into a shorter workout. You could also use tonnage as a goal for each lift (which means your sets X reps X weight added up). I love using this strategy for my pregnant clients, whose energy can fluctuate (just like during high-stress periods). This gives the client the flexibility to do more weight and fewer reps or less weight and more reps, depending on their time and energy. Seeing the tonnage increase is motivating and shows progress.
It is also essential to try and have fun during this time. Getting to the gym to move, sweat, and have fun might have more benefits right now, both physically and psychologically.
Consistency not only leads to PRs and results, but it is also the groundwork leading into these stressful periods. When life calms down, you will be able to find your groove again much easier. The end goal is to always figure out what you can do. PRs can become the focus again later, but you may surprise yourself with the different types of PRs that you can still hit in the meantime! With some creativity, you can find realistic goals that are exciting to strive for.
Celebrate those wins! Stay positive, use your support system, make necessary tweaks to your goals and programming, and continue “marking that session complete.” For our Barbell Logic clients, you will be seeing your name on BL1K before you know it. Remember that we train for life, not the other way around. Continue having fun, and keep up the hard work!