As my good friend Carl Martin said, “days off are for wusses”. So my birthday blog post is aimed at all those who aren’t wusses, but struggle to see results.

I have a client, we’ll call him Bob, who starts almost every session with the following; “What do you think about…..”?

Bob is a Magpie. Now I don’t mean he’s an actual magpie, for starters we don’t have the kit to train an actual bird and I also have no idea if magpies have the facility to pay by direct debit. Rather, Bob is distracted by every new ‘shiny’ that enters his life. It could be a new programme in Men’s Health, a blog post, a suggestion from a friend or an overheard comment in someone else’s conversation. Regardless of the source, Bob’s always worried that he’s somehow missing out on the new best thing.

Now you might assume that this is because Bob’s progress has stalled and he needs a kick-start. The truth is Bob’s made more progress in the last few months, than he has in the last six years.

So why the ADD?

It’s partly our fault as fitness professionals, particularly those of us that blog. We write titles designed to catch the eye and pique the interest. “Blast your chest like never before”, “Learn the sure-fire trick to a six-pack”, etc. The downside to these articles is that they can prompt people to programme-hop and as a result prevent them from making progress.

So what to do?

The following are my top five tips for preventing yourself from becoming a magpie and staying on the road to success:

  1. Get a plan – If you haven’t got a plan in place, anything that looks like a plan is going to distract you. Not only that, but if you don’t know what you’re doing and understand why you’re doing it, you’ll be easier to tempt with a shiny new strategy that promises results.
  2. If you’ve been following your current programme for less than 12 weeks, don't change – Notice I said programme, not workout. Your workouts should have changed in some way over that time frame, even if you’re a beginner, but you should have a plan in place that dictates those changes. It can take up to 12 weeks to determine if a programme is right for you or not. I’ve had clients respond to a new programme in a couple of weeks, I’ve had others that took 6-8 weeks and then started making crazy progress. The reverse of this is also true however, if your programme hasn’t generated worthwhile progress in 12 weeks, then it needs changing. Your body needs time to adapt, so give it a chance to recognise the changes you want and provide you with them. Otherwise you just end up confusing the body and going nowhere.
  3. Record your progress – This is huge. One of the key mistakes I see people making, (including trainers) is not recording their workouts. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. As I mentioned in an earlier post, make sure you’re constant in your measurement. Your bench press going from 100kg to 120kg means nothing if the time under tension, range, and other variables are inconsistent. Not only that, if you don’t record your progress, you might think or believe you’re making or not making progress, but it’s unlikely you’ll know for sure. When you get hard evidence, your commitment to the programme increases.
  4. Don’t read sales pitches – This one’s easy for me to say because I don’t have any products to sell or service to push, but if you’re on track, don’t put temptation in your path. I get weekly sales pitches from coaches I respect, for programmes that look great. As soon as I see them though, I delete them. Why? Because my current plan is working well, I’m happy with my results and……..I don’t need the distraction. The famous fable in the Buddhist Calladhanuggaha Jataka, tells of a jackal bearing a piece of meat whilst passing by a river, dropping the meat to chase after a fish it sees swimming there. On returning from its unsuccessful hunt, the jackal finds a vulture has carried off the meat, leaving it with nothing. The moral of the story, if what you’ve got is good, stick with it until it isn’t before you pursue something else.
  5. Schedule your plans – One thing that keeps me on track if something does tempt me, is to schedule when I can do it. That way not only do I have something to look forward to, I’m not denying myself the allure of something new and shiny. My current programme is pretty much mapped out for the next 10 months, but after that I’ve got a couple of other plans to try for the following 6 months. Another benefit of this, is by deferring gratification, when the time arrives to implement those plans, you’re much more objective about them. At that point you can make a much more rational decision about whether to proceed with them or not.

So, hopefully the above strategies will help keep you on track if you’re wobbling on it, or bring you back on track if you’ve veered off course.

As always though, the key is to take action and to do so now. Although it’s No.4 on the list, going on a sales/information diet, can make the other 4 a lot easier, so maybe start with that one.

If you like this post – Please feel free to copy it and use it as YOUR next Blog post, Newsletter, etc. All I ask in return is that you include a link to THIS original post, and that you credit me for my work as the original author, along with this bio at the end of the article:

Based in Lancashire, Jeremy Boyd is a practising strength coach and nutritional therapist. Jeremy still spends most of his time ‘in the trenches’ with clients, with a focus on making people ‘bulletproof’. The rest of his time is spent writing and delivering fitness courses across the UK.