How to stick to your training plan.

Do you aspire to improve your health, fitness and exercise routine? Do you constantly feel annoyed and frustrated by not following through with your plans, getting half-way and then abandoning it? Martial arts requires a lot of commitment and dedication to achieve a specific level and efficiency in your chosen discipline. As the saying goes: "A black belt is only a beginner who never quits."

There are many times when you do not feel like getting up early in the morning to run, do push-ups, practice forms or even meditate, especially after a hectic workday or on the coldest day of winter. These are all the challenges that we must face and overcome to better ourselves, thereby making progress to achieve our desired goal. The consistent dedication to your training plan goes hand-in-hand with the consistent practice of self-discipline.

Discipline is the key to achieving anything that we desire whether it is achieving a specific level in martial arts, studying to achieve a qualification or even saving for the holiday of your dreams. Discipline is an integral part of achieving anything of value in our lives. Discipline, like any skill, needs constant work to improve it. So how do you strengthen your discipline? Motivation is great but over time it weakens, leading to you abandoning your plan. Here are some tips to help you stick to your training plan:

  1. Define your goals: Now this might seem straight forward but from my experience, I have noted that most people make very vague goals regarding their training. For example, "I want to lose weight" or "I want to get fit again". These are goals but they are not specific nor do they inspire you to push yourself. A better example would be more along the lines of, "I want to lose 5 kg of body fat and build muscle within the next 3 months to look and feel much better in my own skin ." The goal has a deadline as well as a positive emotional component that will help drive you on your low days.

  2. Build a routine that complements your goal: You might say that you do not have time to add in a few extra hours a week to exercise, prepare a healthy meal or take time to learn a new skill. And the fact is - you are probably right. Your current schedule probably does not make provision for your desired goal - you have to make time. I have seen this time and time again with many students that have trained before stating they do not have time to practice a form, meditate or even breathe. I understand this, I really do but if something is important to you, you will make a plan to ensure that you get it done - right? That is why your goal has to be specific and inspirational so that you will carve out the extra time, dedicated to achieving your goal whether it is at 5 am to go for a 10 km run or exercise at least 30 minutes each day. Once your routine is in place it becomes easier to stick to your plan because it becomes your norm.

  3. Train with others: Training with a family member, friend or group provides an extra motivational boost especially on the days you do not feel like training. We all have days like that but knowing that someone is there training too and working hard can encourage us to commit even more. This adds an extra level to your motivation - accountability. Since you have committed to training with others, they will hold you accountable if you start to slack off and vice versa. So call up someone you want to train with and get to them enrol with you in a class or just to achieve a similar goal.

By implementing these 3 tips, you will begin to cultivate the fortitude and self-discipline to progress and achieve your goals. Progress takes time and it is not always a smooth road - it can be bumpy and you might fall off the 'wagon' a few times but pick yourself up and keep going.

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