Designing the ultimate individual training plan that you will love and never quit

Simon Long

Simon Long

Simon is a highly experienced personal trainer and behavioural psychology expert
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I wanted to write an article that expands on a talk that I am giving today. The talk is called My Journey From Obesity: What We Can All Learn. It outlines how I created the Body Development Centre ethos and used it to reduce my body fat percentage from 36 to 6.5 in 9 months.


The ethos is thus:


‘Complete individuality and high variability within proven goal achieving guidelines to prevent boredom, increase enjoyment and adherence and allow rapid realisation and long term maintenance of weight loss goals.’


Two of the key variables of this new approach to weight loss, that allowed my dramatic transformation, are individuality and variety. To apply this to yourself requires one of those rare moments in a weight loss plan where you need to sit back and do nothing but think. This personal reflection wants to begin with one question:


“What exercise and physical activity do I enjoy?”


An important thing to understand is don’t limit yourself in terms of what exercise is. It could well be traditional things such as weight lifting or jogging. However if these don’t get you excited then think outside of the box. Think laterally. Exercise is defined as “Activity that requires a physical effort”. Doesn’t seem very limiting does it?


So you can incorporate anything you like. What sports did you enjoy when you were younger? If you enjoy the outside then hiking and cycling are good options. Maybe you enjoy dancing. If so join a dance class or close your curtains and dance around your living room. Got kids? Playing with kids is physical activity. Did you have a trampoline as a child that you would bounce on all day? Buy yourself a new trampoline. Maybe you like rivers and lakes? So consider canoeing and kayaking. It could even be more mundane activities like carrying shopping. This is a weird activity that for some reason I enjoy doing. So I load up shopping bags and walk around my garden. Raking the lawn with a vigorous effort is another strange enjoyment of mine.


Be as specific as possible. For instance, instead of saying “weight lifting” state specific types of weight lifting that you would enjoy. These could be anything from compound power lifts to bodyweight training. I would strongly advise that part of these brainstorming sessions (Yes. Sessions. I would take a few hours over a week and do this properly) involves you looking online and researching different options.


If you really can’t think of anything that you would enjoy then consider what you might enjoy. What physically active people have you always admired? What sports have you always enjoyed watching? Do you like watching extreme sports? Consider skating, or skate boarding, or bmxing. What physical activities were you been involved in as a child that you enjoyed? Throwing a Frisbee?  Horse riding?  How about playground games? Tig? Hopscotch? Dodgeball? Playing on the Nintendo Wii? Playing under the bed sheets? (Hey it all gets your heart rate up).


The only rule to this brainstorm is that it has to be activities that you would, or could, enjoy. That you would get excited about. That you would love.


Take your time creating your list. You want it to be as varied as possible, as variation is a key component of my new age weight loss ethos. It is used to avoid boredom and to keep you excited about your plan. This keeps your adherence and progress high.


I find that creating a visual brainstorm, or mind map, is the most effective way to allow your thoughts to wander. This will open up your mind to the vast array of options. Below is a picture of the mind map I created when I was considering what activities I could get excited about doing. (Sorry the images are blurry. You can see them clearly on my Facebook page in the photo album Training Plan Mind Map here)


2016-09-21 08.20.22


The next step is to think of any activates that relate to the first list. Here we will apply an exercise psychological model called self-efficacy theory. I wont go into too much detail here, but you should watch the latest vlog on my Youtube channel where I speak about it in more detail. In brief self-efficacy can also be very efficiently to transfer your enjoyment of one activity to other related activities.


For instance, during my weight loss journey I got into body weight training in a big way. The reason I got into this was because I enjoyed gymnastics and martial arts when I was growing up. These activities require you to be in control of your body. Because I had enjoyed martial arts when I was growing up I had done more of it, and so I had a strong belief that I was good at it. My competence in it was high. As the requirements of the activity are closely related to bodyweight training I decided to see if my feeling of self-efficacy were transferable between the two. It turned out that it was. My ability to do martial arts efficiently allowed me to be fairly proficient at bodyweight training too. My self-efficacy wasn’t completely there at the beginning. But the activity did have relatedness to another activity that I enjoyed, fueling my interest in it. This eventually lead to competence. This transference of self efficacy then moved to weighted training, and from there to heavy power lifting. I know have a love for all four types of exercise.


As you can see from this example, the self belief in your ability to do the new activity may not be present at the beginning. But by building the 3 pillars of self efficacy your self belief will develop. You can then transfer this to related activities. This transference will cause a “lost in translation” (aka Chinese whispers, but I don’t like that name for the game) effect, where the activity you have at the end is nothing like the one you started with.


The second tier of my mind map can be seen in the picture below.


2016-09-21 08.35.18


The third tier of the brainstorm is not essential, but is advised. It involves you coming up with as many ways as possible to apply interval training to all of your chosen activities. The reason it is not essential is because you may decide that interval training is not for you. It does have multiple benefits for weight loss. But you may enjoy longer workouts of medium intensity more. The first key point of the ethos is individuality. So choose a method of exercise that you would enjoy. Even better apply the 2nd principle, variety, and mix it up.


How intervals can be applied to different activities and sports are numerous. Decided you like hiking? Walk up a steep slope or carry a heavy rock. Want to play with the kids on the park? Piggy back them from one side to the other. Swimming’s your idea of fun? Do a length or 2 as quickly as possible. Always fancied gymnastics? Do as many forward rolls as you can in 1 minute. Basketball is your thing? Do an interval of slam dunk attempts.


There are also multiple ways intervals can be applied within an activity. For instance if you have chosen to kick a ball around on the park with your training partner then during one workout you could do fast dribbling followed by a shot. The next time you could take it in turns in goal and try to stop 90 seconds worth of shots. The third workout could involve playing keep ball for 2 minutes at a time, trying to hold the ball from your partner. And so on. Again I suggest thinking laterally, searching online and doing research to expand on your own ideas.


My expanded brainstorm, incorporating interval ideas that I had, can be seen in the next picture.


2016-09-21 09.1111


The final part of brainstorming session is interval set up. Intervals have 3 variables that constiture their deisgn. Interval length, rest length and number of intervals. These can be set up however you want. They should tie into your current ability. To easy and you wont get the metabolic effect required for weight loss. Too hard and you wont be able to do it, killing your self-efficacy and motivation.


Some examples of possible options are:


Short intervals, long rests, lots of intervals, e.g. 15 second interval with 45 seconds rest 30 times.

Short intervals, short rests, a few intervals, e.g. 30 second interval with 30 seconds rest 20 times.

Medium intervals, half length rests, a few intervals, e.g. 50 second interval with 25 seconds rest 16 times.

Long intervals, long rests, a  few intervals, e.g. 2 minute interval with 2 minute rests 10 times.

Long intervals, short rests, a couple of intervals, e.g. 3 minute intervals with 30 seconds rest 3 times.


In tmy last picture you can see that I have created a table to the side of my brainstorm that contains the different interval set ups I will use.


2016-09-21 09.12.02


So there we have it. I have a huge list of activities I do, or I will learn to, love. I have a detailed description of how I can apply interval training to these activities. And finally I have a long list of different interval set ups that I can use. Once you have your own list you can begin. Aim for 120 to 180 minutes of activity per week. Make sure you cycle around the activities, interval types and interval set ups often to avoid getting bored. This will in turn keep your enjoyment and adherence high, allowing you to reach your goals quickly and permanently.


Make sure you send me pictures of your mind mapped brainstorms. I’d love to see them!

I will be uploading regular articles and videos around applying my ethos, as well as weight loss in general. So make sure you follow me on Facebook and Youtube.


If you think this article has been helpful then why not share it on Facebook or send it to your friends. By spreading the idea of this new approach we can change multiple peoples lives.


I hope this has been useful. Have a wonderful day. And good luck!




About me


Hey. I’m Simon. A Leicester and Leicestershire based exercise scientist, personal fitness trainer, nutritionist, sports therapist, sports and deep tissue masseuse. My core beliefs are scientifically backed principles and providing clients with quick results.

I have been providing personal fitness training, nutrition, sport therapy and sports and deep tissue massage to the residents of Leicester and Leicestershire since 2005.

You can find out more about me and my story on my about me. To read my latest diary entries and articles visit my Blog. To see what BDC is up to follow us onTwitter, Facebook, Google+, Youtube, Instagram and Pintrest. To see what I personally am up to you can add my personal Facebook page. Best wishes. Si.