Your goal may be weight loss, muscle gain, sports performance, corrective exercise or any other fitness goal. No matter what your fitness goal is, you must have the knowledge to attain results.
Nutrition is the place to start with all fitness goals. If you are trying to lose weight but are eating too much or even eating too little, your actions will be counterproductive. If your trying to gain muscle mass and strength and you think protein is the king of making you massive, then you will be disappointed. You need the correct knowledge to fuel your body the right way to achieve the results that you desire. You need to read about nutrition, from real experts, that are in relation to your goal. Don't get caught up in reading and believing in trend diets or reading celebrities' books (unless they are something like a celebrity trainer with real knowledge), the celebrities are trained by professionals and given guided routines, a lot of times their books will leave out the details of what really works. Search on the internet, read good books and talk to certified experts to learn what you need. Note; Supplements are considered part of nutrition, so learn about them as well.
The body is complex and if you do not have a good understanding of the mechanics, it can set you back. An example, if you overtrain a muscle (training too long or too often), you could cause injury and you will not get the result that you want. And if you do not train a muscle enough, you will not make forward progress. You need to understand how and why the body moves the way it does and the correlation with one body part to the other. You should read and memorize a basic anatomy chart (you do not need to be a master in it like a nurse or doctor), the basics on how the body moves and what is the right amount of rest times for muscle groups under certain types of physical stress.
You need to have a clear understanding of weight or resistance training. It is not a great idea to follow a friend who also doesn't have any formal education or knowledge in fitness, you need to really learn. If you do not understand proper technique, how to change the exercises or correctly understand what and how an exercise is targeting a muscle group, then you will see little to no progress with all of your effort. You can read up on exercises to get the knowledge of what they work, but you should also consider hiring an experienced training, for at least a few sessions, to guide you and correct your form.
It doesn't matter if you are trying to lose fat or gain muscular weight, you need a strong cardiovascular system. You need to understand your heart rate in conjunction with the cardio exercise you are performing and where your target hear rate for the fat burning zone is. If your goal is fat loss and you don't understand cardio, you may burn off muscle instead. If your goal is muscle gain and you don't understand cardio, you may gain many pounds of unhealthy fat. You need to research to specifically what your needs are to achieve your goals.
After having the knowledge on everything you need to accomplish your goal, you need to plan it out. Without a plan you will get off track every time you set out on a fitness goal. You need to understand how to plan. There needs to be a beginning with achievable goals to reach within a reasonable time. There needs to be set times and dates to check your progress throughout, before the deadline. You should invest in a journal or tracker designed for fitness goals or hire someone to personalize a plan for you.
To learn everything on this list you must read books that are intelligently written by true experts in the field. It is also a good idea to hire an experienced (certified) trainer for at least a few sessions. In my experience, a lot of males (especially the young ones) will refuse guidance from a trainer, and they usually end up with pretty bad injuries. So for the guys, swallow your pride, get some help and achieve your goals. And my experience with the females who do not want trainers, they (no matter what the age) say they will try it out on their own for a few months and that if they don't see results, will seek advice. What usually happens is if they don't see results they quit in a few months. So for the ladies, don't be embarrassed of your bodies, people are available to help you without judging you.
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