I have a few clients who show up to train, sporadically, and are puzzled as to why they don’t seem to make any real progress. I’ll see them maybe once or twice over the span of weeks or months. Some of them think their exercise selection is the problem. They want to try all kinds of different modes of exercise (which is not necessarily a bad thing), but they don’t stick with any of them on a regular basis.
The reality is, you don’t have to take an extreme or fanatical approach in the weight room to be productive. Same goes for your speed training and diet. Establish a goal, create a plan, ensure that your plan is aligned with your goal, and commit to it on a regular basis. I realize that’s easier said than done, but the process itself is not complicated.
Strength and Conditioning
Research shows that strength training two days per week — about 30 minutes per session — can help individuals build strength, power, muscle mass, and endurance. Focus on exercises that work large and multiple muscle groups like the squat, deadlift, bench press, and row. As a rule, choose free weights over machines. Free-weight exercises generally require more balance and stability to perform, increasing the intensity level and degree of difficulty.
Speed and Agility
Strength training plays a key role in the development of speed and agility (remember, speed and agility is largely impacted by the amount of force you can generate against the ground; stronger legs generate greater force). You can be more efficient with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), regardless of your mode of cardio training (run, bike, elliptical, treadmill, etc.). Try this 10-minute approach: go hard (aggressive pace) for 30 seconds, and easy (very light pace) for 90 seconds. Repeat four more times.
Diet and Nutrition
Follow the 80/20 rule. Adhere to your diet and nutrition plan, strictly, 80% of the time. Allow yourself a “cheat” meal every fifth day. I’ve read about a physician who recommends 10% discretionary calories, every day, for his patients. For example, on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, you could eat 200 calories worth of whatever you want, every day — but only 200 calories — as long as you stick to your plan for the other 1,800 calories. This plan allows his patients to reward themselves for “good” behavior (positive reinforcement).