How to hit your fitness goals

19 Dec 2022 12:24PM by Tom McClelland - Head of Athletic Training


You’ve got all the right intentions: your Virgin Active membership is in your hand, you’ve washed your gym kit and you know what you want to achieve. But, you’re finding it hard to reach your goals. 

Whether your aim is to get stronger, fitter, lose a little weight or put some more on, your goals aren’t just affected by what you do in club but also by what you do when you’re not at the gym. If you don’t feel like you’re achieving what you want to, we get it! We spoke to our Strength and Conditioning Activist Tom to demystify some common goal-blockers. 

Make your favourite workouts more challenging

We want to start by clarifying that there is nothing wrong with doing workouts you love again and again. (In fact, we encourage it!) But, if you want to achieve a specific goal or make progress in your fitness, then it’s important that you challenge your body. You want to have a go at lifting more weight, doing more sets, swimming faster laps or turning the tension dial on your bike to get your body working harder. 

Tom says: 
“Increasing weights or rep ranges to make the same exercises more challenging as you get stronger is known as ‘progressive overload’. If I do 20 x bodyweight squats for 3 sets, 3 days a week, it will just get easier for me to do squats to that same rep and set range.  My body will adapt to that movement and after a period of time it will stop growing any new muscles because it’s capable of doing the movement as it is already. This is known as ‘adaption’.
“To see progress, I need to keep adjusting the reps, sets or weight of that exercise in order to keep challenging my body and muscles. So week 1 + 2 could be 20 reps for 3 sets, week 3 + 4 could be 25 reps for 3 sets, week 5 + 6 could be 30 reps for 3 sets, or even 25 reps for 4 sets. You could then look to add weight. 
“In short, the problem is not repetition of workouts; it’s the repetition of the same reps, sets or weights in a workout.”

Match your food with your fitness routine

Everyone knows how important good nutrition is for your training but when you get down to it, working out how to properly fuel your workouts can seem a little overwhelming. If you feel that way, you’re not alone. 

The good news is that there are some simple tips that can keep you on the right track. 

For starters, if you’re increasing the amount that you move every day, you’ll need to eat more calories to keep your body satiated. Listen to your natural hunger cues and don’t be afraid of carbs – they’re a key energy source that will ensure you’re prepared for your workouts.

“Everyone has a base level of calories needed for your body to function while resting. This is called your ‘Basal Metabolic Rate’. When you add any movement to that, you need to add more calories. If you move a lot but don’t eat enough calories, you won’t have enough energy to power the rest of your body. As a result, your other systems, including your immune system and muscular system will suffer. If you ever wonder why you’re feeling lethargic and lack energy for training sessions, this is usually the reason.”

Tom suggests: 
“Understanding your total daily energy expenditure and eating a well-rounded diet of protein, carbs and fats to fuel the activity you are doing will make your workouts much more fun! There are a number of online BMR calculators which will give you a good figure to work from. Just remember that as you lose weight, gain weight and change your activity levels, this figure will keep changing.”

Mix up your training

Having a balanced training plan will give you more effective workouts. You will be able to challenge your body more which will help take you closer to your goals. 

What this means is that you don’t solely train in the same way every day. Although you might enjoy running, your body will thank you for adding in resistance or weight training to balance it out. 

Tom says:
“Runners need weight training (or some form of resistance training) to ensure that their body can manage the impact that goes through the body when their feet hit the pavement (or treadmill).”


Building and training different muscles will help to protect your joints and bones. You might even find that you can run faster or for longer once you add strength training into your routine. 


Get enough rest

Sleep is an essential bodily function which comes with a variety of benefits, including: 

  • Reduced stress
  • Better concentration
  • Reduced risk of serious health conditions
  • Improved mental health

But, it’s also crucial for your training. ‘Rest day’ is not just a fitness buzzword, it’s a must. 

What a rest day looks like for you depends on what you like doing. Keeping up with some light activity like walking will promote recovery of your muscles as well as keeping up the mental health benefits of exercise. 

“Rest is hugely important to ensure that your body and brain function efficiently. 7-8 hours a night is the goal. Anything less than this and you risk developing issues with a number of systems, your immune system, your respiratory system, your digestive system and one big one being your endocrine system, which is responsible for hormone production. 
“If you’re training more frequently but sleeping badly, this could be the reason you are sore more, don’t have as much energy and therefore struggling to achieve more through your training.”

Prioritise your workouts

Your body will benefit from regular workouts. It’s just as important for your mental health as it is for your physical health. The more you prioritise regular workouts, the more progress you will see. You’ll be more aware of what your body can achieve and how much further you can push it. 

“Prioritise time for yourself every day to move, especially if you have a job where you spend a lot of time sitting down. This isn’t about having a high intensity workout every day, this is about prioritising movement and making it a habit, for your brain as much as your body.”

So there you have it. Do you think your workouts could benefit from some of these tips? Give them a go and see how your workouts progress. And don’t forget, if you’re still struggling, you can reach out to a member of the team in club or try a free 45 minute session with a Personal Trainer

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