From the several hours I spend a day at my gym I get to observe all types of gym goers.  One thing most of them have in common is that they all appear to be lost.  The gym, much like a dense forest, can be a very scary place and if you don’t have a plan you can end up forgetting where you are or where you are going.  Here are a few things you must do if you want to guarantee success at the gym.

1. Have a clear destination

If you’re going to venture into the forest it would seem smart to have a general idea of where you are going and why you are going there.  The first question you must ask yourself is “why”?  Why are you even working out?  It sounds simple but if you cannot come up with a good enough answer than you may be wasting your time.  You see, if you are working out based on other people’s values of what a healthy lifestyle is, then you may be setting yourself up for failure.  Once you understand why then you must figure out what you would like the end result to be.  You should choose something specific and you should write it down.  How many pounds would you like to lose?  What size clothes do you want to fit in?  How many points off your cholesterol would you like to drop?  Ask yourself specific questions and have answers for them.  Next you must decide when you would like to have reached these goals.  Create specific times and dates.  Mark them down on your calendar.

2. Have a plan

Once you know where you want to go you must now figure out the path you would like to take to get there.  In fitness there are many paths to choose from and it can be quite confusing.  While some paths may be quicker or more appropriate to take then others it is most important to just pick one and stay with it.  Every time you enter that gym have a clear idea of what is going to happen. Know what pieces of equipment you need to use, know how many sets and reps you must perform and have a good idea how long it should take you to complete the workout.

3. Stay the course

There will be times when it may seem hard to stay on track.  Whether you’re traveling, someone is using a piece of equipment you need to use, or work gets in the way.  It will be important for you to learn to improvise in these situations.  Plan ahead when traveling, have alternate exercises in mind, and learn to adapt when change occurs. But in the end, always trust in the course you have previously mapped out for yourself.  Come back to it and adhere to it as accurately as possible.

4. Record everything

Always keep a fitness journal. Otherwise you will find it very hard to keep track of where you have been and where you are going.  Write down all exercises performed, how much weight used, how you felt, and if you think you can do better the next time you workout.  This is one of the most overlooked and powerful tools when it comes to attaining your goals.

Fitness is all about getting from point A to point B.  Unless you have a clear and defined path to get from one to the other you will find yourself going in circles. Using the tips outlined above create yourself your own fitness map and stick to it until you reach your destination.

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