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Edition 71: Striking a Balance in Summer
Another summer, another mixed bag for most when it comes to consistency and growth.
After all, how are you supposed to stay committed and on track with your goals during these cherished months we have longed for since October? With all its excitement, unpredictability and temptation to lap up the sunshine and late sunsets, we can be dragged into social engagements at a moment's notice, losing all sense of consistency and discipline in our training.
Your friends, as much as they love you, are not the ones who bear the brunt of your lost progress. They will not experience your disappointment or frustration when the principle of reversibility rears its ugly head. Take it as a compliment that the people you care about want to spend time with you, but should you consider yourself obligated to honour a social invite simply because it comes your way? Of course not, especially if it clashes with your commitment to self-improvement. Whatever your training and exercise schedule looks like, it is a personal choice that you have made. A promise of sorts, that you have made to yourself based on the idea that this is what you (or your trainer, in collaboration with you) feel you need to do in order to get to where you want or need to be. Breaking that promise should take something big.
Now this is not the same as saying you cannot be flexible with your schedule. At this time of year you should actually be looking for exactly that, and aiming to make this quarter of the year the most flexible 3 months in your fitness diary. This is how you keep the promise. You are going to zoom out and look at the summer and all of the obstacles it can throw your way, which if you’re anything like me, might be:
Staying away with friends
All day BBQ’s
Holidays full of great food and drink
Late evening sunshine
Impromptu pub gardens
Wedding weekends out of town
These types of activity are the perfect breeding ground for unstructured eating, increased alcohol consumption, poor sleep and skipped training sessions, and we need to acknowledge that with a realistic head on our shoulders before deciding we need to do something about that if we actually want to keep our progress. Coming up with some personal rules is a good place to start, but what might that look like? It could be anything from:
Accounting for the change of season in your programming
Maximum alcohol limits
Practising the art of saying ‘no’
Having contingency plans
Being accountable and dedicated to your cause ‘when it matters’
1) Account for the change of season in your programming:
To stay committed to fitness during the summer months, it's important to adjust your workout routine to accommodate. Below you can see how I personally tweak things. This can involve planning fewer sessions, taking advantage of outdoor workouts, or combining two shorter sessions into one to maximise efficiency.
Touching upper body 3x per week and including more holistic ‘total body’ workouts, makes it less of a problem when a session is missed.
2) Maximum alcohol limits:
Maintaining a commitment to fitness during summer often involves managing alcohol consumption. Setting maximum limits for alcohol intake can help you stay on track with your fitness goals. Being mindful of the empty calories in alcohol as well as the negative effects of excessive drinking can prevent any major setbacks and help you maintain your healthy lifestyle throughout the chaos.
3) Practising the art of saying no:
Summer is often filled with social events and temptations that can derail you. It's crucial to know when to say no to friends, family, unhealthy food, or activities that don't align with your goals. Setting boundaries and prioritising your health and fitness will help you stay on track and give you space to breathe and think clearly.
4) Having a contingency plan for skipping a workout:
Sometimes unexpected events or circumstances can disrupt your workout schedule. That’s fine. But it's important to have a backup plan for such situations. Whether it's finding alternative exercises, rescheduling the missed workout, or engaging in active pursuits during your downtime, having a contingency plan will help you maintain consistency and prevent guilt or demotivation.
5) Be accountable and dedicated to your cause when it matters:
Staying committed to fitness requires dedication and accountability, especially during crucial moments (and you have to decide what those moments are). Remind yourself of the reasons why you started your fitness journey and the goals you want to achieve. Stay focused on your long-term vision and remain disciplined, even when faced with temptations or challenges.
Remember, you WILL miss sessions occasionally in the summer. But by foreseeing these summer pitfalls and planning accordingly, your health and fitness will thrive at the time of year when it is hardest to keep it, and you can continue to stay committed throughout the summer months and beyond.
“Only those who are asleep make no mistakes” - Ingvar Kamprad