You might want to consider changing it up!


My work involves a lot of planning to get results. In fact, my business name has “Fitness Results” in it, so there’s always an expectation that we will achieve them or we will have to change the name. So how do we get “results” and why do I find this such an interesting topic?

As much as I have learned through education, trial and error, and evidence based practice I have to admit that I was just recently challenged to think differently about planning to achieve fitness training results. This change has prompted me to think about how I could apply this to pretty much everything to achieve improved results.

The Power of Habit

Often what you do is because of habit. For example, you always do something a certain way or you eat the wrong things when you are emotionally stressed. If you haven’t thought about the power of habit before I encourage you to examine yours as a way to change and improve your health and well-being.

Whether you are planning a gym training program, your nutrition, or want to improve your mental game let’s explore your plan (and habits) and consider some new options.

First I ask, “Is what you’re currently doing working for you?”

Having a plan that is working is a great thing! There are so many “motivational” quotes about planning that I’ve heard or read.  These will only work for you if you like being reminded that you don’t have a plan. Possibly a good place to start.

I found on the web: (-1)

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States

“A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” ― Confucius, Chinese philosopher

Backing it up a little here I’ll say it’s easy to have a plan for a specific goal if you take the time to make them. In my experience many people set themselves up for failure by making their goals unrealistic or unachievable right from the start. This is where traditional goal planning can be problematic if the goals are outcome based and not behaviour or habit based. Ex. I want to lose 35 pounds by September is an outcome based goal. ….Drinking less liquid calories and going for a walk 5 x week are behaviour and habit based goals.

Gym Training Plans

Traditionally, exercise science has supported a linear and/or undulating progression of growth: start slow and build to strength in your training plan. This science has typically coupled volume and intensity in an inverse relationship, progressing in a fashion where as volume increases, load decreases; or as load increases, volume decreases.

A few weeks ago I attended a Strongfirst PlanStrong™ course, and all this science was turned upside down. The system is for building muscle (hypertrophy) strength, was adapted from the Soviet weightlifting methodology and produced records that still stand. Strength can be achieved without gaining mass which is important for some athletes, as in biking and martial arts. The research supports variety. Our muscles and tissues respond well to changing stimuli, but they like random variety at a fluctuation rate of 20%. Volume and load have been uncoupled. As a strength coach, this blew my mind!

Big Takeaway:

“In Science and Engineering the solution that meets all the set requirements at a minimal “cost” is optimal.” (Vorobyev, 1981) (- 1) So this is often a lot less than you might be currently doing. Any injuries from training? Do you lose proper form, posture, and breath mechanics while training?

Taking the time to apply PlanStrong ™ has been a challenge for me. The details to which each exercise is planned can be incredibly time consuming for the trainer. As a general guideline we can look at the major lifts like squats, deadlifts, presses, and pulls to ensure that we can program with confidence in the sweet spot of the right dosage, applied at the right time.

I learned the importance of tracking the tonnage and number of lifts (NL) per month and admit that even with logging my training for years I had not paid so much attention to the weekly and monthly volume.

Note to self: Start tracking training volume immediately!

The monthly volumes are distributed by choosing a variant from a table of 16 combinations. The mathematical side of this is quite complex and time consuming compared to what we are used to when programming. The variants are also used to program intensity. More math to do when calculating out one ARI, or Average Relative Intensity. The ARI must also fall within percentages to ensure safety and get results. Thank goodness for calculators.

@itstimecoach_andrea  : Check her lift out on Instagram

I recently had my first success coaching the PlanStrong ™ system with one of the it’s time! Fitness Results coaches Andrea Brennan. She achieved personal records in 3 events at the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge last weekend in Seattle. Her results surpassed our goals with a deadlift of 125 Kg, 120 16 Kg snatches in 5 minutes, and 3 strict pull-ups. All completed with excellent form and with no injuries.

Even when we think our training and conditions appear optimal we can’t guarantee results. There are many factors in play within our system. Our hormones, nutrition, recovery, stress, and sleep influence us 24/7. Both Andrea and I are happy that our plan came together. I only told her what to do and she had to do the work. Nevertheless I share in her achievements.

A Plan? – Do you have one or not?

If you don’t have a plan perhaps it’s because you don’t want to stick to it. A little change and variety may be just what you need to make the idea of change a little more appealing. Is there a way to apply some of the principles of variation to your plan to shake it up and achieve the results you are looking for?

If you have a plan then again perhaps changing it up a little will stimulate some change and results in a positive response.

If you have been doing the same thing at the gym..

It’s time to shake up the regular gym routine you’ve been following for 10 years. Stagnant training creates plateaus. We need fluctuating stimuli in our muscles and tissues to spark adaptation in motor control, strength and mobility.

Think variety for the session, week, month, and year! Get creative!

With or without a Plan: Apply Some Variation – In training and in your daily life

Are you one of those people that fall into the “habits” way of living? Has your body grown used to how you move, feed, and mentally nourish it? If the patterns and habits are well established and we agree some change is desired…Then how can we vary things for you?

Let’s predict some change will spark vivacity, improve health, energy, sleep, and improve productivity!

Examples: Do you always eat the same thing and at the same time?

Too much or too little quantity?

Do you always move the same?

Has your posture improved?

Are you dealing with the same issues that you have been for years?

How many Squats and Hip Hinges did you do last month?

Do you always forward lunge? Do you ever reverse lunge?

Do you think the same? Our thoughts tend to be repetitive.

Can you flip the situation? Make the glass half full for a change?

Ever catch yourself judging others? Is this necessary? Can you work to find a more accepting thought when the judgement machine strikes?

Do you always eat when you are tired or upset?

Take a look at the Emotions and Responses Cheat Sheet developed and shared with permission from Georgie Fear. Make a change to your emotional eating by changing up your response with some help from the guide. At the very least you have a new strategy to apply to some of your not so good eating habits.


So if you have a plan great – change it up

If you don’t have a plan don’t feel bad about it

Make a Strong Plan For Yourself

Start small and appreciate the value of a slow build

Everything that makes you a better version of yourself is worthy of your time and effort.

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” ― Henry David Thoreau, essayist and poet.

Inform, Instruct, Inspire @ it’s time! Fitness Results


Written by: Sheila Hamilton and Briana Kelly

Copyright May 2019


Georgie Fear : Graphic used with permission 45 Powerful Planning Quotes (-1)

Sheila’s Personal Notes and manual from Planstrong ™ : Attended in San Diego March 2019

Life Cycle – Track your Time App

The Wellness Garage Weekly Newsletter – Dr. Brendan Byrne


Photo: Copyright: <a href=””>artursz / 123RF Stock Photo</a>