5 Tips to Ensure Rapid and Sustainable Progress

Rudy Mawer
Written By: Rudy Mawer
October 31st, 2017
Updated: June 6th, 2024
Categories: Articles Training
29.5K Reads
5 Tips to Ensure Rapid and Sustainable Progress
You want results and you want them fast, right? These 5 tips on achieving rapid and sustainable progress will help you do just that. Check them out!

Although Arnold’s body wasn’t built in a day, I’m going to do my best to get you on track for rapid and sustainable progress with this post.

While you may think the secrets of rapid progress are complex, it’s actually the reverse.

These days, everyone obsesses over the minor details that they are tricked into thinking matter, forgetting the vitally important fundamentals that provide the rapid and sustainable progress you are seeking.

In this article, I’ll discuss 5 of my top tips for rapid progress with both training and nutrition to ensure you reach your optimal physique in the shortest possible time!

1. Have a Clearly Defined Vision

Changing your wourkout routine and nutrition protocol can be a powerful tool for making meaningful and long lasting changes not just to your body but also your health and life in general.

As with any groundbreaking change in life, success when progressing with a training and nutrition program is contingent on having a clearly defined vision of what you want to achieve.

Related: Setting Goals - A Realistic Approach to Consistent Gains

Sitting down and envisioning your goals and setting fourth steps to achieve these goals will ensure that you’re adequately prepared to make meaningful changes while also understanding that some roadblocks which warrant adjustment may occur.

Based on my experience with hundreds of clients, plateaus and how you respond to them are the gatekeeper to success. There really is nothing like an abrupt stalling of progress to really test how badly you want your goal and how well you were prepared to adjust when needed.

By having a clearly defined vision of your ultimate goals, you can begin to create small checkpoints of progress to ensure that you’re taking the appropriate steps to accomplish them.

I suggest first determining your ultimate goal, as this will shape almost everything you do. From here, determine a smaller subset of goals, which are attainable over the short term, such as a few weeks or a month, but still push you towards that ultimate goal.

Write these down, review them every day and even print them off on paper to stick around the house. Constant reminders are needed for when you lack motivation, want to skip a workout, or reach for the ice cream!

2. Get Specific with Your Training

We all know that one of the most powerful tools for changing your body composition and performance is the actual workouts.

The problem is that many people simply exercise haphazardly, with little purpose just hoping for the change they desire. If you’re serious and want rapid progress, it’s time to start training specifically for your goals.

For example, if your primary goal is to lose body fat, it’s probably not advantageous for you to train super heavy with very low rep ranges and 3 minute rest periods. Of course improving strength is beneficial, but overall for fat loss, your training should be more metabolic, high intensity and focused on maximal calorie burn.

Plenty of research indicates that the way you train will have a significant impact on the primary outcome. When you think of it, this becomes quite obvious. It makes sense that to improve strength or lose body fat, you’ll need to train in ways that will bring about that result1,2.

That’s not to say that varying your training style isn’t beneficial. It simply means that the more specific your training is, the more likely you’ll rapidly progress towards your end goal.

Here’s an overview of the way you should train, based on your goal:

  • General Fitness: A mixture of regular cardio, HIIT and weight training/circuits.
  • Strength: Lower reps, high weight around 80-90% 1 Rep Max (1RM), longer rest, compound lifts.
  • Muscle Growth: A mix of rep schemes, primarily focused on 5-15 rep ranges taken to failure, with slightly shorter rest periods, high volume and moderate to high frequency.
  • Fat Loss: Similar to muscle growth, but more circuit-based work, supersets, less rest and more HIIT/Cardio as well.

In my experience with clients, maintaining greater consistency is key for rapid progress, with a big focus on your main outcome or goal when training. Create a plan specific to your goal then execute with intensity and consistency.

3. Stay Consistent

You’ve heard it already from myself and likely one hundred times before but that’s only because consistency really is the number one factor in rapid progress.

It’s not sexy, I know, but it’s a fact that you won’t get fast results unless you are consistent every day, no matter how many supplements you take, no matter how hard you train or how advanced your plan is.

Think of all the fitness celebrities and athletes you follow. Apart from often being the top of their genetic pool, these individuals have remained consistent with both training and nutrition for years to reach their level of conditioning and performance.

Using training as an example, if you’re interested in improving strength or muscle, doing so requires progressively overloading your muscle and nervous system to drive continued adaptations3.

If you are consistently providing your body with a stimulus to grow, chances are, if other aspects in your life are in line, you’ll likely get stronger and bigger as a result.  The same goes for your diet, we all know the results of the yo-yo dieting structure or the crazy cheat weekends.

Quite simply, if you want rapid progress you must develop a plan and mindset that enables you to stay consistent for the long term.

4. Keep a Training Journal

Keeping a training journal is the easiest way to ensure constant and rapid progress in terms of performance and most likely body composition as well.

A key pillar of progress when exercising is practicing progressive overload, as briefly mentioned earlier. This means that to continue growing, you’ll need to consistently place your body under new and increased stress to continually drive adaptations.

In essence, over time you’ll need to increase the weight you’re using, the reps you’re completing sets for, the number of sets you’re completing each set or a combination of all three.

Additionally, you’ll need to find ways to vary your exercises in ways that will improve performance, yet continually stimulate progress4.

To accomplish all of these aspects of growth, keeping a training journal is the easiest and most effective way.

Consider for a moment, your training as a whole. When it comes to your 1 rep max for bench or deadlift, it’s quite likely you already know those numbers. But let’s consider exercises you treat as accessories for those movements.

Do you remember what weight you used a month ago for 4 sets of 8 reps on incline bench press? How about the weight and rep scheme you used for good mornings last week?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you could potentially be reducing the effectiveness of your workouts.

If the last time you did incline dumbbell press, you used 80 lbs. for 8 reps but this time you felt like 70 lbs. was appropriate, you could literally be diminishing performance, rather than enhancing it.

By having a training journal, you can view previous progress and positively adjust your current and future performance to ensure that you’re actually practicing progressive overload and not wasting your time.

Keeping a training journal is essential for rapid progress by providing metrics for improvement during current and future training sessions.

5. Pay Attention to Your Progress

Consistent and rapid progress demands that you observe your progress and adjust when needed. Unfortunately, since many people are just exercising with no real purpose in mind, many people don’t pay attention to their progress or lack thereof.

Real, rapid progress can certainly come with consistency, but ensuring that adjustments are made in a timely manner can be the difference between seeing progress in a reasonable amount of time and not seeing much progress at all.

Many times, people get caught up in their training and nutrition and forget to observe whether or not they are actually making meaningful progress.

Take the barbell squat as an example. If you’re using similar weight, stance and rep ranges and never actually improving, it’s likely you’re wasting a lot of your time. In this case, you may need to change your squat style, update your accessory exercises (such as lunges, leg extensions, etc.), change the rep scheme, amounts of sets or volume or use advanced training variables.

Paying attention to your progress and understanding when adjustments are required is essential for rapid progress. Ideally, you should be monitoring your physique every 2 weeks with photos and measurements. For your lifts, I suggest updating your regimen and the weights you lift every 4-6 weeks!

Specific Recommendations for Rapid Fat Loss

Now I’ve discussed the key fundamental principles, I will dive into specifics for your main goal.

If rapid fat loss is your goal, here is a brief list of the essentials for continued and rapid progress.

1. Ensure You’re in a Negative Energy Balance.

Making sure that you’re actually expending more calories than you consume is essential for rapid fat loss5.

2. Stick with Lean Protein and Fibrous Vegetables.

Sticking with low calorie dense foods that help to reduce appetite will be the key for rapid and sustainable fat loss6,7.

3. Keep Intensity High when Training.

Use exercise to your advantage by keeping intensity and calorie expenditure high. Doing so will encourage rapid fat loss.

4. Use Periodic Re-Feeds.

Using periodic programmed increases in calories may prevent your metabolism from adapting, thus allowing fat loss to continue.

Specific Recommendations for Rapid Muscle Growth

If rapid muscle growth is your goal, here is a brief list of essentials for continued and rapid progress.

1. Practice Progressive Overload.

Ensuring that you’re consistently increasing the stress you put on your body through training is the key to continuous, rapid muscle growth3.

2. Keep a Training Journal.

Keeping a training journal will ensure that you’re actually progressing in the gym by viewing previous performance.

3. Train with Different Rep Ranges and Weight.

Training volume is a major determinant of muscle growth. Using varying weight and rep ranges can allow for constant improvements of training volume2,4.

4. Use Exercise Variation.

Since the body can adapt to stimulus, such as the exercises you use, periodically vary your exercises to continually stimulate muscle growth.

Related: 6 Workout & Nutrition Tips for Optimizing Lean Muscle Growth

How to Maximize Progress

As you can see, the key pillars of rapid and sustainable progress aren’t the latest ‘unique’ workout someone tries to sell you; instead, we all know deep down that it’s the fundamentals we should make matter to us, but few of us do.

A good example of this is bodybuilding - all famous bodybuilders have very unique ways of training, some the total opposite of each other. But, what’s the only thing that’s the same between them all? It’s consistency, mindset, goal setting and focus.

If you get these fundamentals right, you can tackle any fitness goal you set and most likely, pretty much any other goal in your life, from personal, to professional or financial!

Take a step back, focus on these and see how your physique and possibly your life will start to change!

  1. Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Vigotsky, A. D., & Peterson, M. (2016). Differential Effects of Heavy Versus Moderate Loads on Measures of Strength and Hypertrophy in Resistance-Trained Men. Journal of sports science & medicine, 15(4), 715.
  2. Schoenfeld, B. J., Wilson, J. M., Lowery, R. P., & Krieger, J. W. (2016). Muscular adaptations in low-versus high-load resistance training: A meta-analysis. European journal of sport science, 16(1), 1-10.
  3. Hass, C. J., Feigenbaum, M. S., & Franklin, B. A. (2001). Prescription of resistance training for healthy populations. Sports medicine, 31(14), 953-964.
  4. Fonseca, R. M., Roschel, H., Tricoli, V., de Souza, E. O., Wilson, J. M., Laurentino, G. C., ... & Ugrinowitsch, C. (2014). Changes in exercises are more effective than in loading schemes to improve muscle strength. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 28(11), 3085-3092.
  5. Fonseca, R. M., Roschel, H., Tricoli, V., de Souza, E. O., Wilson, J. M., Laurentino, G. C., ... & Ugrinowitsch, C. (2014). Changes in exercises are more effective than in loading schemes to improve muscle strength. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 28(11), 3085-3092.
  6. MacKenzie-Shalders, K. L., Byrne, N. M., Slater, G. J., & King, N. A. (2015). The effect of a whey protein supplement dose on satiety and food intake in resistance training athletes. Appetite, 92, 178-184.
  7. Lefranc-Millot, C., Macioce, V., Guérin-Deremaux, L., Lee, A. W., & Cho, S. S. (2012). Fiber and Satiety. Dietary Fiber and Health, 83.