Be Your Own Personal Trainer In 5 Steps

By Jon Goodmany on Live Strong

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Working out has been made out to be more confusing than it actually is. But at the same time, it’s hard to know what really works, what doesn’t, what exercises you should be doing and how often you should train. For some people, it may be easier to just hire a personal trainer to worry about all those details for them.

But if you want to strike out on your own — either because you can’t afford a personal trainer or because you like the freedom of doing your own thing — keep reading. Everything you need to know to become your own personal trainer is in the following slides. Get ready to take your workouts to the next level.

1. Set a Goal 

The power of a goal is not always in reaching it — rather, it’s about having something to aim at. It’s the process of chasing a powerful goal rather than simply achieving it that’s important for your training and growth. To set a goal for yourself, the acronym SMART is a great place to start. 

Pick a goal that is SPECIFIC in terms of what exactly you want to achieve (e.g., “I will be able to do 50 burpees in a row” instead of “I want to get ripped”). Make the goal MEASURABLE so you’re able to consistently track your success. Your goal should be ACHIEVABLE. Rather than picking something so ambitious you can’t do it, pick a goal that is challenging but practical. Your goal must be REALISTIC, taking your health and life in the direction you want, rather than scattered and inconsistent goals that get you nowhere. And lastly, your goals must be TIMELY to set a sense of urgency in your training.

2. Create a Workout Schedule 

Three full-body, strength-training sessions per week is plenty for most people to make significant improvements in body composition, performance and health. If you’re new to training, full-body workouts for each of the three is the way to go. Total-body training incorporates each of the major muscle groups more often than simply dedicating an entire day for your biceps and triceps. 

Since the entire body is being trained during each session, you’ll stimulate greater gains in muscular strength, burn more calories and train more efficiently around your busy schedule. Of course, if you’re more advanced you can create a workout schedule that targets different muscle groups in each workout, depending on your goals.

3. Track Your Progress 

Before you start training, see a qualified personal trainer or dietician for body-composition measurements. A basic weight and circumference measurement and skinfold body-fat test will give you a clear picture of where you’re starting and a good point of comparison. If you have other measurable goals (add more weight to your deadlift, lose an inch from your thighs), make sure you take and record those as well. 

After four to six weeks, go back and measure your progress. While in the gym, carry a notebook with your workouts written out. Track all your lifts and strive to increase the weight a little bit each week. Over time, this progression will show you all the progress you’re making and reinforce your motivation. Smaller goals can still lead to big changes, when accomplished in succession. A notebook and body-composition measurements are vital to tracking your small wins.

4. Good Nutrition 

Training smart and hard is important, but so is nutrition. After workouts, you’ll need fruits and vegetables to aid in overall health and digestion, lean protein to support muscle repair, carbohydrates for energy recuperation and healthy fats to support proper hormone levels. Remember that your goals aren’t reached solely through what you do at the gym: Staying hydrated and eating a healthy, balanced diet aids your progress just as much as your workouts.

5. Consistent Effort Triumphs 

More important than the intensity with which you attack a workout is the consistency with which you train. It’s better to stay consistent and exercise three to four times a week for months than to train all-out six times a week for a month then stop. It takes time to turn actions into habits (about 66 days, according to research). And the body you want isn’t going to be built overnight. Consistency breeds long-term changes, helping you create a healthy lifestyle and stay in better shape for life. Keep your eye on the prize: Fitness is a lifelong journey, not a three-month blitz.

The original article “10 Steps to Becoming Your Own Personal Trainer" appeared on LIVESTRONG.COM.