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How to be effective:

“Successful in producing the desired or intended result”

When I was a tutor with YMCA, one of the key elements for passing your NVQ Fitness Course was to be “safe and effective” – safe, obviously as you are teaching others, but not so safe that it is not effective.

Being effective means wasting as little time as possible - this is very appealing, because let’s face facts, time is a precious commodity, and we need to use it wisely! “Time” is the most common reason I hear for not going to exercise - and I hear you! There are many things that I want to fit into my life, and I know how frustrating that can be at times – so finding, and understanding the best way to do what you want or need to do, in the quickest time possible sound good to me.

Here are my “how to be effective” tips:

1. Each muscle is laid out in a specific pattern, and in order to work it effectively, you need to make sure that you are lining it up correctly. That means taking a moment to correct posture before executing the movement. By doing this you will be working the muscle efficiently – let me give you an example: - Sit ups:- great exercise for many reasons, but the muscle you want to work is attached to your rib cage and pelvis – therefore you need to move in a linear direction from the ribs to the hips. Pulling on your neck does not help – the muscle is not connected there – and whilst it might make performing a “sit-up” a bit easier, it does not train the muscle effectively. Aim to make smaller range of movement, but more specific to the area.

2. The brain and the body work together – try to find your focus so that you can concentrate on the task at hand. Take a deep breath, give yourself a positive pep-talk, and then perform the exercise – and be more efficient to do this when correcting posture. The ability to focus means that there is no time wasted in getting started, and when you do exercise, every single movement counts. Try it – time actually goes more quickly, and the task will feel easier.

3. You are what you train – if you want to get faster, then you need to exercise in a more rapid manner, if you want to get strong, then you need the effort in the determination to overcome lifting heavy. If you want to be flexible, then stretch – all straightforward, but if you want to be “fitter” – then be more effective by finding out what is your least fit area and start with that – that way your body will become more efficient. Sometimes we need to improve transportation of oxygen around the body to the muscles before anything else – moving regularly is a super easy way of ensuring that your body works effectively when you then go to your training session.

4. Your brain plays a huge part in being effective and efficient – it governs your mood, motivation, rest etc – so look after it. Think about how stress can affect you, think about ways to reduce stress through relaxation, walks outside, eating well and talking with friends. Clear your head to clear the way to effectiveness. When we are bothered by work/life stress our body understands that the brain needs to come first and sort things out, so working on reducing the stress can lead to better improvements in fitness, better rest, and recovery, less prone to accidents or injury, better immune system – it is key to being effective x

5. Repetition – all things become easier when we have a pattern to work with. Don’t quit on number 12 or 15 reps – you have to finish. Shout at yourself to do it (and try to remember the “safe” bit too) . Unless you are training for strength with heavy weights, 15 is a good number to start with, or keep in your head – e.g., 15 squats, 15 sit-ups, 15 lunges, 15 seconds plank, 15 seconds hold in the stretch. Yes, you need to work more for bigger muscles – so maybe add in sets, so 5 x 15 reps for the squats etc. In the long run, you will save time by doing an effective number of reps for your exercise that optimise fitness.

At the end of the day, fitness can be considered an art and a science – so enjoy being creative, but also precise x

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