The Key to Long-Term Training Success (Strength and Conditioning Sustainability)

Physical fitness is a journey with numerous variables that can affect your performance, how you feel about yourself and your results. Most of us will agree that having a consistent training routine plays a huge role in achieving greatness. However, no one ever talks about sustainability and the long-term aspect of training.

Sustainability and consistency are the most important components of one’s training regime. Having these two factors in check, you are going to experience the long lasting training success we all seek.

So in this article we will thoroughly go over the tips and habits you should implement in order to stay in the game no matter what.

Use Specific Performance Oriented Goals:

Let’s face it, the majority of lifters have an aesthetic goal in mind, which was the reason why they started training in the first place. Even though there is nothing wrong with that, it still can be a very slow and frustrating process. Training definitely contributes to ones physical appearance, however in most cases a desirable physique owes itself to mostly proper nutrition.

When it comes to discussing aesthetics and performance, majority of time, strength is the most successful marker. This is probably because strength progress comes from neuromuscular adaptions driven from fat loss and hypertrophy.

So, the bottom line is that you should focus on performance-based goals (ex. strength) as your initial milestone, since you will probably see the benefits of training sooner (1). This will boost your willpower and motivation to train harder, simultaneously setting yourself up for long-term success.

An example of a performance goal would be to add a few more pounds to your bench press or squat each week, or to be able to do one more rep in any given exercise.

One Goal at a Time

While having performance-based goals is an amazing thing, they are also something that we can easily misinterpret. Many fitness enthusiast make a big mistake by focusing on too many things at once. While it is beneficial for us to work on several factors of our training, making one of those factors a priority over the other is another step forward towards long-term training success.

Try to prioritize one or two performance-based goals, and try to do them every training session for a certain time period (ex. 2-6 weeks). You can work on different versions of the same exercise or change it completely with a new one.

Incorporate Different Training Options

There will always come a time when you will feel tired and unmotivated to lift anything really heavy. However, without a consistent overload to the muscular system, strength and aesthetic gains can diminish within weeks.

While you can always lower the intensity and volume of your training program, adding some different exercise options and variants may offer you another way to maintain strength and constant progress. These exercise options may also correct some muscle imbalances that cause aches and pains, which come along with heavy lifting.

  1. Isometric exercises

Represent a great chance to turn your boring old strength program into a more challenging routine that will aid with your body development. Essentially, isometric exercises are those in which you simply hold a position for a prolonged period of time. This may sound easy, however the truth is quite the opposite. Not only will isometric exercises push you to the limit, but they will also increase strength, muscle mass, and even your recovery from injuries along the way.

  1. HIIT

Are you looking to drop some body fat and finely see those abs? Don’t have a lot of time but still want to get an effective workout in? Then high-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short, is what you’re looking for. This form of training involves short periods of intense exercise alternated with recovery periods, allowing you to spike your heart rate, metabolism and weight loss. The activity you will be performing with HIIT doesn’t really matter, you can choose from a wide range of options, including sprinting, biking, rope jumping, swimming, etc. Summarizing everything, you will experience a more interesting workout that is going to boost your performance and willpower.

  1. Low impact exercises

While it is essential to have a regular exercise routine in check, heavy physical training can sometimes have a real negative impact on your joint and muscle health. If you suffer from joint and muscle discomfort, or have an existing injury, then you absolutely need to incorporate low impact exercise into you training regime. Low impact exercises such as swimming, walking, cycling, yoga and Pilates place less stress on your joints, and are an extremely effective way to stay healthy and happy. Additionally, these activities are also easier to execute, and they are a lot more fun to do then regular strength training.

  1. Alternate between high and low rep ranges

In order for you to create a lasting training program you simply need to understand the concept of the neural-metabolic continuum (2). This term actually indicates whether you’re training your muscles or central nervous system (CNS). By only training in a high rep fashion, you will only be focusing on metabolic (hypertrophy) gains. And if you’re doing less reps with more weight, then you are only aiming for pure strength gains. The truth is that your body can not progress in the long run by just sticking to one of these options. Try to perform a more hypertrophy training style for 4-6 weeks, and then switching it up with a more strength oriented program. This will ensure that you’re training on both ends of the neural-metabolic continuum, allowing you to see constant and long-term results.

Injury Prevention and Recovery

Injuries and poor recovery can definitely stun your progress and training achievements. While there isn’t really much you can do for acute injuries, we can still ensure that our body recovers properly after each workout, minimizing the chance of bad training outcomes.

Some general guidelines you can follow in order to recover fast and prevent any injury include:

  • Warm up properly before every workout. This is crucial, since you are risking serious health problems by not doing so.

  • Execute each exercise with proper form. Swinging and rocking the weights won’t get you far. Lower the load if you need so, just do each movement in a correct fashion.

  • Do not overtrain! Too many people spent way too many hours in the gym working out. All you really need is 1 hour, in some cases even less.

  • Make sure you are taking in the right nutrients and fluids outside the gym, this can have a significant impact on your recovery rate. Sleeping is another crucial factor that you will need to have in check.

  • Incorporate deload weeks from time to time. This will allow your body to heal and recover properly.

Never Give Up

Becoming a better version of yourself is definitely not easy. Eventually, you will reach a point in your fitness journey at which you are going to think about giving up.

Do not do it! Remember that progress doesn’t happen overnight, it is a continuous upward climb that you need to conquer. There are many ways to be successful with your training, but the one single thing that a successful and sustainable training needs is consistency.

Create goals, train smart and believe me you will have long-term training success.

Sustainable Program Example

To simplify things, we are going to showcase a sustainable training program below so that you can get on the right track in no time.

  1. Monday

Regular Strength Training

  • Heavy compound lifts, followed by isolation movements

  • Rep range: 4-6 reps (80% 1RM)

  1. Tuesday

Isometric Strength Training

  • Compound isometric exercises, no movement

  • 60-70% 1RM

  1. Wednesday

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

  • High intensity biking with short rest periods

  • Workout duration: 15-20 minutes

  1. Thursday

Rest day

  • Stretch, meditate and avoid stress

  1. Friday

Circuit Training (Strength oriented)

  • Heavy compound lifts followed by isolation movements

  • Rep range: 4-6 reps (60-70% 1RM)

  • 3-4 circuits in total

  1. Saturday

Low Impact Cardio (Steady state)

  • Slow-paste hiking (40-60 minutes)

  1. Sunday

Rest day

  • Ice bath, tai-chi and stretching

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4562558/

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14986190

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