Whether able bodied or disabled, everyone can benefit from some form of fitness training. But fitness doesn’t just mean being able to run a marathon or squat double your body weight. These achievements are great, however, fitness goals are all meaningful and relative to the individual.

Below are my top four questions for you to ask yourself when trying to achieve your fitness goals.

1: Where do I start?

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People starting fitness training focus too much on what others are doing around them. Your fitness goals are specific to you as well as your training plan so try not to worry about anyone else’s workout. Instead try to focus on what you think will benefit you the most. Prior to starting cardiovascular and resistance training, your posture and mobility will likely need a bit of work as they are the foundation of your training. Developing good posture and mobility reduces the risk of injury and can also help to prevent muscular pain. A good example of this is if you have bad upper-back (thoracic) posture from sitting frequently, lower-back and shoulder pain commonly arises.

Cardiovascular and resistance training can be done in a variety of different ways. The main focus from the beginning should be (no matter what style of training) steady progression over sessions. Workout volume and intensity should be relative to your level of fitness and progress over time.

Remember, it doesn’t always have to hurt to make a difference.

Try to work movements to a full range of motion when completing resistance training to reduce the risk of muscle imbalances.

2: What long- and short-term goals should I set?

Someone’s long-term fitness goal might be your short-term fitness goal, and vice-versa, that’s why they are relevant to the individual. It is important to focus solely on improving yourself.

Long-term goals are like an objective, they are the big ones that you consider milestones, these can take anywhere from months to years.

Short-term goals are the check points along the way to reaching this objective, keeping up morale and giving you that boost to keep up the journey. Short-term goals are just as important, if not more important than the long-term goals.

Short-term goal examples:

- Increasing shoulder mobility by 2 inches

- Losing a few kilograms

- Lowering your resting heart rate by a few beats per minute

- Decreasing the time to complete a 2,000m row from 14 minutes to 12 minutes

Long-term goal examples:

- Lowering your resting heart rate significantly

- Lowering you BMI

- Increasing your max push-ups in a minute from 15 to 30

- Swim 10 lengths

3: Can this realistically be adapted to suit me?

Most exercises and training can be adapted in a variety of ways for individuals with disabilities such as:

Can you change how you are positioned so that the exercise is better suited for you? Example: lying down on your back to do an inverted row rather than a bent-over or seated row.

Can you change the resistance object?

Example: doing a dumbbell overhead press rather than a barbell over head press.

Can you change the format of the exercises?

Example: if you have a tabatta workout that’s fast in changing between exercises with little rest, it can be hard to keep up due to the set-up time needed. Save time by organising a way to do a group of exercises from one position.

However, if the difficulty lies in mimicking the specific pattern of movement it may be more beneficial to find another exercise that targets the same area that needs less adaptation.

4: Should I get a coach?

Okay this is the biggest one on my list. If you are interested in training to improve your fitness levels you should consider getting a coach. A typical coach will understand how to plan, program and deliver your training. A good coach will adapt and use feedback as the prime tool to improve his/her coaching methods and ideas.

A good coach will want constructive feedback and strive to make the individual comfortable enough during training to open up about their thoughts. A good coach will use this feedback to adapt and develop a better understanding for the individual’s capabilities.

Final words of advice

If you would like to find out more info on what you exercise training would be right for you why not get in touch with Everyday Athlete Gym at info@everydayathletegym.com.