Measuring Your Progress
Before you increase the level of difficulty of your program, take the time to measure your progress. Often, it's easy to forget that what you can now do easily, you weren't able to do before. Go back to Chapter 1 and repeat your assessments. This is important for two reasons: first, you can see the improvements that you have made; and second, you can confirm that you're ready to step up your training.
Keeping your program safe and injury-free is the top priority. You want to be able to enjoy every moment of your wedding and honeymoon. One of the most common causes of injury is doing too much exercise too soon. By repeating your assessments and confirming your progress, you're not only motivating yourself to keep going, but you're also ensuring that you're ready to work harder.
Before increasing your training level, it's important to have a conditioning base of at least two to six months. This ensures that your muscles and joints are conditioned and ready for higher levels of stress. Your conditioning base provides enough time for you to perfect your training skills and technique, so that as you do more difficult exercises, you remain injury free.
Checking Your Priorities
After you repeat your assessments, take a moment to consider what your leading priority or your primary training goal is before your wedding date. Your conditioning base provides overall improvement in your aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, core stability, balance, and posture. Now, you need to determine what your main objective is before your wedding date arrives.
Identifying your primary goal is important to focus your training. For example, you may be happy with the improvements that you've achieved, but want to continue to lose more body fat. Alternatively, you may want to focus on more muscular definition. Some women prefer simply to have toned muscles while others prefer to have very defined muscles. Or, depending on your condition before you started training, you may want to continue improving your posture, so that standing tall without a slouch becomes your natural stance at all times.
It's common for people to want to improve both muscular strength and endurance, or, in other words, to improve both muscle size and definition and tone. Most effective training, however, is the result of focusing specifically on one aspect per training quarter. This is known as periodization.
This chapter includes workouts to boost your cardio-training, raise the intensity of your muscle conditioning, further refine your postural training, and deepen your mind-body connection. Depending on what you have decided to focus upon, you may choose to emphasize one aspect of your training and continue with basic conditioning in other areas, or you can add difficulty to all aspects of your training program. It depends on what you want to achieve and how you feel. Whenever you feel that you're doing too much, simply scale back to an EASIER level. Learn to listen to your body and take it one day, and one workout, at a time.
Avoid all or nothing thinking. It's always better to do
Attaining Your Goal Level of Fitness
If weight loss is your primary goal, focus on developing your cardio-fitness and increasing the amount of aerobic exercise that you do each week. If firming up your muscles and seeing more muscle tone is your main objective, focus on improving your muscular endurance. If increasing your muscle size and definition is your primary desire, then focus on upping your muscular strength. If working on posture is the ultimate area that you need to improve, focus on core training, yoga, and Pilates.
When you focus on a particular aspect of fitness, it does not mean that you discontinue training the other components. What it means is that you can increase the level of the work that you do in that one domain. Keep up your fitness gains in the other areas by sticking with the basic conditioning program. Most important, and this cannot be overemphasized, listen to your body.