Setting goals is one of the best ways to push your mind and body to new limits, and setting them within time constraints goes a long way toward maximizing that effort. Whether it’s a marathon, a target weight, or a new squat max, it’s important to put forth a plan complete with both a training regimen and a time frame for that period of growth.
However, too often, ambition can get the best of us, especially in areas where we lack experience. In general, if you’re taking on a new challenge, it’s a good idea to allow a little more time than you may think is necessary. Setbacks happen and even the most faithful, rigorous training schedule can leave us behind our original timeline and expectations.
Allow proper time to reach your goals.
Not allowing enough time to reach a goal, or being realistic about present limitations, is a slippery slope that can quickly lead to overtraining. Overtraining can result in injury, and potentially even death in extreme circumstances. More frequently though, overtraining impedes or prevents you from reaching your ultimate goal.
One of the main reasons time is so important, and unfortunately often overlooked, is because of the need for recovery. Recovery is just as important as exercise in training; it’s when the actual building and repairing of muscle tissue occurs. If you don’t allow sufficient time for your body to rest after an intense workout, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle that is dangerous, unhealthy, and consequently unproductive. Far too often, the recovery aspect of physical development is overlooked.
Set realistic goals.
In addition to allowing yourself enough time to train, it’s also smart to set realistic goals. Some people prefer to intentionally overestimate their goals because they believe that’s the best way to ensure maximum results. That sounds reasonable, and perhaps it works well for many, but it’s also flawed.
Not only is disappointment likely to follow unmet goals, you don’t want to form the habit of being content to come up short. Part of what’s great about setting goals for yourself is finding out what you can achieve after you’ve succeeded. The next goal can be even harder, since you achieved the first one. Certainly you want your goals to be hard to reach, but if you aren’t pragmatic about your limitations (physical, responsibilities, etc.), overtraining becomes a real possibility.
Pay attention to your body.
Another tip for avoiding overtraining is to use caution when you’re sore. “No pain, no gain” is the age-old motto every athlete endorses. That doesn’t mean you should ignore and dismiss pain in every circumstance, however. Some level of soreness will accompany almost any grueling workout, which is where recovery comes in. As your conditioning improves, soreness should become more consistent and shorter.
Lastly, whether your goal is two years away or two weeks away, never compromise on form. Bad form puts you at risk for injury with every repetition, and diminishes the exercise as a whole. Yes, perfecting form is tedious, but it pays positive dividends in every way, in both the short and long term.
Training is an important element in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but it isn’t everything. Optimizing your nutrition through supplements can help you see the results you want, faster. Find out how WellPath can help you meet your goals by taking a free consultation.
Zac Howard is a writer on The Path Editorial Team. He is a graduate of Florida State University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in magazine journalism at NYU. With his passion for lifting and dieting, Zac enjoys writing about all different kinds of exercise as well as keeping up with the latest news in the world of fitness. For more of his work, visit his website.