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How to Pick Your Perfect Workout Split

“I just want to know the ‘best’ workout split”

When I first started working out I was enamored with how many different ways people could split up their training. Countless hours were spent researching all the different variations and why they were the “best.”

If you’re new to working out then chances are you’ve wondered which workout split is the “best.” And if you’ve spent any time researching your options you’ve heard people swear that the split they use is the optimal workout routine for EVERYONE. These people can be so emphatic about their chosen method that they can be quite convincing.

I’m here to say something that’s quite unpopular in fitness forums and groups – There is no absolute best training split – there is only what is best for the individual. In this article I’m going to breakdown the 3 factors you need to consider when picking a split, go over 3 of the most common gym goals and which splits work best with them, and list out the 4 most common resistance training splits.

“How do I Pick A workout Split?”

When deciding on a workout split there are a lot of things to consider such as your level of experience, genetic capabilities, age, sex, sleep habits, and a lot more. For the sake of this article I’ve simplified all of these considerations into three primary factors:

  1. How many times training sessions can you do per week?
  2. What is your current level of experience?
  3. What is your primary goal?

How many training sessions per week?

This is the biggest factor that’s going to influence what split you go with. Sure, it should be one of the other two but that’s simply not the kind of world most of us live in. Most of us have to be brutally honest with ourselves when it comes to how many days we can realistically train. If we’re not, we’re more likely to be setting up for failure.

Consider someone that currently does not work out regularly but is suddenly inspired and super motivated to get into the best shape of their life. They go online, find an Instagram model with abs that is selling their “Secret workout program to a better body,” buy the program, and they start working out 6x a week.

Here’s a week by week breakdown of how this usually goes:

  • Week 1: “Hit all 6 workouts feeling good”
  • Week 2: “Had to miss 2 workouts for work/social events.”
  • Week 3: “Felt like I fell behind last week, going to start over next week”
  • Week 4: “I’m just too busy to workout.”

This is a very common pattern for people to fall into when they first start working out. In fact, some companies actually target these types of people because they’re over eager, willing to spend A LOT of money up front, and almost always quit by week 4. The issue is simply the fitness version of ”having eyes bigger than your stomach.”

Acknowledging the time constraints of your everyday life and deciding how to make time for your training is the most important factor when deciding what kind of training split is best for your. Most newcomers to the world of fitness find good results when starting with 2-3 training sessions per week. This is because such a minimal time investment is easy to meet and therefore succeed with. Early success is critical when trying to start exercising regularly, making the criteria for success as simple as possible is one of the ways we can ensure formation of the exercise habit.

Acknowledging the time constraints of your everyday life and deciding how to make time for your training is the most important factor when deciding what kind of training split is best for your.

When you have the training habit well established and have a solid understanding of how your life schedule can integrate your training sessions you can start to explore training splits that require 3+ days per week. At this point the main limiting factor to how many days you can train is your ability to recover from each of those training sessions.

What is Your Current Level of Training?

This is another one of those areas where you have to be brutally honest with yourself. When it comes to resistance training people are usually categorized as beginner, intermediate, or advanced. It’s simple but it’s also not very clear. Most people start to consider themselves intermediate once they’ve been working out for longer than one month. To make it even more confusing everyone has different “qualifiers” when defining people.

  • Powerlifters may consider anyone a beginner until they can deadlift 2x bodyweight.
  • Bodybuilders may consider anyone with between 1 year and 10 years of training experience as intermediate.

For the purposes of this article we are going to use the time-scale method stating that anyone with less than a year of training experience is a beginner, 1 – 7 years is intermediate, and 8+ years is advanced. Here’s how your current level of training affects your choice of training split:

  • Beginners (Less than 1 Year of Training) – Don’t need a lot of stimulus to get results. Can experience significant muscle growth and fat loss while training 2-3 times per week.
  • Intermediates (1-7 years of Training) – No longer experiencing “newbie gains.” Need more frequent intense stimulus, 4-6 sessions per week, to further muscle development and fat loss.
  • Advanced (8+ years of Training) – Use very focused and precise training splits that are beyond the scope of this article.

What is your goal?

Lastly, you need to consider your goals to determine what kind of training you should be doing. For instance, an amateur powerlifter doesn’t need to be doing a body part split, and an aspiring gymnast doesn’t need to be doing a heavy whole body routine.

For many people it’s natural to start hunting for the best workout split before we’ve really thought about our goals. We tend to think “I just want to be in better shape! Isn’t that enough?” and it’s not enough. We have to be specific in defining our goals. Determine your goal and write it down! This will solidify in your mind what it is you are working towards. Here is a short list of some of the most common goals people have when they’ve taken the time to get specific.

  1. Lost ‘x’ pounds of fat
  2. Gain ‘y’ pounds of muscle
  3. Be able to do ‘z’ number of pull ups
  4. Compete in an amateur powerlifting competition
  5. Be able to run a 5k

Sometimes we have more than one of these goals simultaneously. We might want to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously (aka bodybuilding), or we might want to build muscle and gain as much strength as possible. It’s okay to have more than one goal but try to determine which one means more to you right now. It’s okay, and it’s expected, if you change your mind later.

Fat Loss Goal

When your goal is fat loss you should try to keep your training volume as high as possible while still allowing for sufficient recovery, aka max recoverable volume (MRV). The trick is to determine what your MRV is.

As a general trend, your MRV will increase with your training experience. So if you are a newbie you may only be able to perform any given workout 1-3x per week. If that’s the case you’d want to pick a split that aligns with that scheduling.

In general, when fat loss is the goal we want to keep training consistent while being in a caloric deficit. So pick a split that you know you can maintain for a while and implement a calorie restriction to start losing fat.

Muscle Gain Goal

The primary driver of muscle growth from within the weight room is volume. So when it comes to picking a split we want to maximize the volume per body part we can fit within our MRV.

Splits that work well for this are the Body Part Split or the advanced versions of the Push-Pull-Legs (PPL) split. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, and you may have to experiment with each to figure out what works best for you.

The body part split emphasizes a single muscle group each day so we can maximally work that muscle group. However, we have to wait an entire week before we train it again when it may be fully recovered after only 3 or 4 days.

The advanced variations of the PPL split allow for more frequent stimulation of muscle growth every 3 to 4 days. However, since these sessions focus on larger collections of muscle groups we may not be working them to their full capacity.

Cultivate Strength Goal

Building strength and building muscle mass are not the same goals. Yes, a larger muscle has a greater area of contractile fibers and can produce a larger force, but when it comes to developing strength as a focus there needs to be just as much emphasis on developing neural drive as there is on stimulating muscular growth.

A lot of people see the word “neural” and think this is going to involve really complex training but it’s actually really simple. To develop neural drive we need to practice lifting heavy often but not to failure.

Upper/Lower and PPL splits work really well for developing strength, especially with the primary powerlifting lifts (Bench, Deadlift, Squat, and sometimes Overhead Press), because it’s easy to repeat workouts within a given week.

For instance, let’s say I want to use a Upper/Lower split to increase my big lifts. I can do 3 sets of Bench and/or Overhead press on the upper body day and 3 sets of Squats and/or Deadlifts on the lower body day. I can then hit each lift 1-3 times per week. That increased frequency, paired with the intensity of lifting heavy, drives synaptic plasticity that will directly result in increased strength.

Popular Splits

So now that we’ve gone over the considerations necessary to determine which workout split is best for you we can go over the most popular splits. We’re going to go over workout splits intended mainly for resistance training. If your goals involve weightlifting, bodybuilding, body transformation, or strength building then you’ll find that these splits can directly apply to you.

Whole Body Workouts

Days Per Week: 1+

Level of Training: Beginner-Advanced

Primary Compatible Goals: Conditioning, Strength Training

Whole body workouts for beginners are great when you’re first getting used to being in the gym. You can simply walk around trying every machine and exercise you see other people doing. This is actually a really good way to get familiar with all the different equipment around the gym as long as you keep the weight low.

It requires a minimum of one workout per week which is great for making success an easy accomplishment. However, you don’t have to stop at one day per week. It’s possible to do whole body workouts a lot more over the course of the week. The only downside to frequent whole body workouts is recovery: when you are frequently working all of your muscles to exhaustion it’s less likely you will be fully recovered in a single day.

Intermediate people can also experience a lot of benefits from whole body workouts. They are particularly nice for people that have unpredictable schedules – they can easily hit every body part when they get a chance. When it comes to advanced people there are a lot of internet comments stating that it’s hard to make gains at that level with whole body workouts. However, Bret Contreras (aka ‘The Glute Guy’) regularly posts his whole body workouts on Instagram and that guy is making gains on gains, so don’t be afraid to try it if you’re advanced.

In general, whole body training is going to have a big impact on your strength and conditioning. Newbies will probably experience a significant amount of fat loss and muscle gain with whole body workouts, however this will probably slow down as their experience increases.

Example of a Whole Body Workout

  • Squats (3-6 sets)
  • Bent Over Rows (2-3 Sets)
  • Bench Press (2-3 Sets)
  • Pull Ups or Lat Pull Downs (1-2 Sets)
  • Overhead Press (1-2 Sets)

Upper/Lower Split

Days Per Week: 2+

Level of Training: Beginner-Advanced

Primary Compatible Goals: Conditioning, Strength Training

When I first started training this was the split I used because it simply made the most sense – “Today I will work everything below my waist, tomorrow I will work everything above the waist.” It actually worked quite well for about 6 months for developing strength, building some muscle, and losing a bit of my fluff.

Similar to full body workouts, you are not limited to only performing these workouts 2x per week. However, you are limited by your ability to recover but since you are alternating working different halves of your body it’s more likely your legs have recovered by the time you train them again, even if you train 3 days in a row.

This is the most common split I will have new clients start out using because it is easy to follow and yields very good results for anyone at the beginner level. Additionally, it does have the benefit of defining success as “two workouts per week.” When that is all a client has to put in to succeed at their week in training they are more likely to continue their training for a very long time.

Example of Upper/Lower Split Workouts

 

Upper Body Day

  • Bench Press (3-4 Sets)
  • Bent Over Row (3-4 Sets)
  • Overhead Press (2-3 Sets)
  • Lat Pulldown (2-3 Sets)
  • Lateral Shoulder Raises (1-2 Sets)
  • Hanging Leg Raises (2-3 Sets)

 

Lower Body Day

  • Squat (3-4 Sets)
  • Split Squat or 1-Legged Leg Press (3-4 Sets)
  • Hip Thrusters (2-3 Sets)
  • Leg Extensions (1-2 Sets)
  • Leg Curls (1-2 Sets)
  • Calf Raises (2-3 Sets)

Push Pull Legs

Days Per Week: 3+

Level of Training: Beginner-Advanced

Primary Compatible Goals: Fat Loss, Building Muscle, Strength Training

The “Push, Pull, Legs” split is by far the most popular split I ever see mentioned. In fact, the majority of programs I see people use are based on this general template. This is because this is a really good template to build your workout program on.

With this split you divide upper body movements into either ‘push’ or ‘pull, categories and do any lower body exercises on ‘leg’ day. Spreading these days out across your week is usually based on your experience level.

Beginners will usually spread 3 days of training over the week, such as:

  • Sunday: Rest
  • Monday: Push
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Pull
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Legs
  • Saturday: Rest

This layout is really common and allows for sufficient recovery in most people. However, many people change which days they work out on to better fit their schedules. As long as you hit all three days in a week it works!

Intermediates and advanced trainees also benefit from this type of split, however they usually distribute to differently. The two main ways Intermediates/Advanced people distribute their training sessions are by doubling their sessions in a week or by using a ‘rolling’ schedule.

Double Schedule

  • Sunday: Rest
  • Monday: Push
  • Tuesday: Pull
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Thursday: Push
  • Friday: Pull
  • Saturday: Legs

Rolling Schedule

This one actually doesn’t fit into normal week by week schedule. It’s essentially performing your sessions in the order of push, pull, then legs but taking every 3rd day off. This type of schedule is great for people that want to maximize recovery and have very open schedules across the week – like students. However, working professionals don’t typically have the availability necessary for a schedule like this.

  • Sunday: Rest
  • Monday: Push
  • Tuesday: Pull
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Legs
  • Friday: Push
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Pull
  • Monday: Legs
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Push
  • Thursday: Pull
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Legs
  • Etc…

In general, the Push, Pull, Legs training split is very malleable based on your availability. It simply needs a minimum of three days per week. However, if you have more days for training you can bring up any lagging body parts by adding in a second day such as:

  • Push, Pull, Legs, Push
  • Legs, Push, Pull, Legs
  • Push, Pull, Legs, Push, Legs

Examples of Push, Pull, Legs Workouts

Push Day

  • Bench Press (3-5 Sets)
  • Military Press (3-4 Sets)
  • Close Grip Bench Press (2-3 Sets)
  • Tricep Dips (2-3 Sets)
  • Tricep Pushdowns (1-2 Sets)

Pull Day

  • Deadlift (3-5 Sets)
  • Bent Over Row (3-4 Sets)
  • Pull Ups or Lat Pulldown (2-3 Sets)
  • Seated Row (2-3 Sets)
  • Bicep Curls (2-5 Sets)

Leg Day

  • Squats (3-5 Sets)
  • Split Squats or Leg Press (3-4 Sets)
  • Hip Thrusters (2-3 Sets)
  • Leg Curls (2-3 Sets)
  • Leg Extensions (1-2 Sets)
  • Calf Raises (2-5 Sets)

Body Part Split (Aka “the Bro Split”)

Days Per Week: 4-5

Level of Training: Intermediate-Advanced

Primary Compatible Goals: Fat Loss, Building Muscle, Strength Training

The Body Part Split, also known as the “Bro Split”, is commonly used with bodybuilding. The focus of each day is on one particular body part and the goal is to work that body part to exhaustion. Typically, anywhere between 12 and 24 working sets are completed, depending on recovery capabilities and experience. This split is useful when your goals are aligned with bodybuilding, as it allows for maximizing volume and training to failure of a single muscle group per day.

The prototypical body part split is:

  • Sunday: Rest
  • Monday: Chest
  • Tuesday: Legs
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Back
  • Friday: Shoulders
  • Saturday: Arms

Another popular version of the body part split is the four days per week variation. In this version the arms day is removed and split among other training sessions. Such as:

  • Sunday: Rest
  • Monday: Chest & Triceps
  • Tuesday: Legs
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Back & Biceps
  • Friday: Shoulders
  • Saturday: Rest

The placement of rest days and order of training sessions is completely up to the individual. Although it is wise to avoid training nearby groups back-to-back. For instance, chest then shoulders is a bad idea, but chest then legs or back is fine.

Example of Body Part Split Workouts

Chest Day

  • Bench Press (4-6 Sets)
  • Incline Bench Press (3-4 Sets)
  • Dumbbell Pec Flyes (3-4 Sets)
  • Dips (3-4 Sets)
  • Cable Crossovers (3-5 Sets)

Back Day

  • Barbell Deadlifts (4-6 Sets)
  • Bent Over Rows (3-4 Sets)
  • Pull Ups or Lat Pulldowns (3-4 Sets)
  • Seated Rows (2-3 Sets)
  • Shrugs (2-3 Sets)

Shoulder Day

  • Barbell Military Press (4-6 Sets)
  • Wall Assisted Handstand Holds (3-4 Sets)
  • Lateral Shoulder Raises (3-4 Sets)
  • Arnold or Cuban Press (2-3 Sets)
  • Battle Ropes (2-3 Sets)

Leg Day

  • Barbell Squat (4-6 Sets)
  • Split Squat or Leg Press (3-4 Sets)
  • Leg Curls (3-4 Sets)
  • Leg Extensions (2-3 Sets)
  • Calf Raises (3-5 Sets)

Arm Day

  • Close Grip Bench Press (4-6 Sets)
  • Preacher Curls (4-6 Sets)
  • Tricep Pushdowns (3-4 Sets)
  • Concentration Curls (3-4 Sets)
  • Forearm Curls (2-3 Sets)

Conclusion

When picking your perfect workout split there are three main factors to consider: Training experience, Availability, and Goals. There are an infinite number of ways you can split up your training but the most popular are the Whole Body, Upper/Lower, Push-Pull-Legs, and Body Part Split. When deciding which split will work best for you you first need to consider your level of experience, followed by your availability, and lastly, your goals.

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Netflix or Gym: Why some habits are easier to form than others

This article was originally published on Oct 15, 2015 and was updated on July 12, 2017.

Forming positive habits, like eating healthy or exercising regularly, is probably the most repeated new years resolution.  Many try and many fail.  Trying, and failing, to get started with exercise is particularly common and for some there is a constant cycle of working out and relapsing back into inactivity.  The reason for many of these failings is that there is no system to creating new habits.  People are literally running around without any idea of what they’re doing hoping that their will power alone will work until the behavior sticks.  Unfortunately relying on sheer will power alone will inevitably lead to burn out.  There needs to be some sort of guided approach, a system tending towards the 4 or 5 most important actionable items that will greatly increase the chance of success.

Research indicates that there are four key factors that are conducive to forming new habits: reward, consistency, environmental cues and low behavioral complexity (Lally & Gardner, 2013).  Put simply: to increase the likelihood of introducing a new habit successfully it must offer some reward, be repeated regularly, have outside cues and, perhaps most importantly, it must be simple. In this article we will look into each of these four factors, analyze them and synthesize the means to applying them towards our goals.  The goal we will focus on specifically is to exercise regularly (at least 180 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise) but the principles we explore in this article may be applied towards any number of new habits we wish to form.

 

Reward and why are drug habits so easy to form?

Let’s take a moment to analyze what are socially accepted to be the worst habits: illicit drug use, alcoholism, smoking, j-walking, and ditching school/church/work.  Why are these habits  all such slippery slopes?

It is easy to respond to the drug-specific aspect of this question: addictive chemicals. However with most drugs the addictive properties aren’t potent enough to work from a small number of exposures and there is the case of marijuana which is supposedly not physically addictive, just habit forming.  So what is it if not addictive chemicals? The common thread underlying the habit formation of all these actions is their reward. The rewards of each of these actions is immediately gratifying and are without unneeded complexity: drugs get you high, j-walking gets you across the street faster and ditching your responsibilities escapes boredom, 3rd graders can (and some do) understand the allure of each of these concepts.

This creates sometching of a dilemma: good habits are usually associated with delayed gratification and they’re usually somewhat complex rewards. Exercising and eating right is great to for feeling healthy but that takes a while and it’s a more complicated concept to interpret “feeling healthy” as a reward than that sugary fat-laden taste-gasm experienced with each bite of a maple covered donut. So if your reward for exercising and eating right every day is that you’ll look and feel much healthier.  STOP. You’ve likely already failed.

I’m not saying it’s hopeless, far from it, but I am saying that we need to give diet and exercise a reward system similar to the rewards of recreational drug use and other bad behaviors; we need incentives that are immediate, simple and consistent.

My own experience with rewarding my exercise behavior came in the form of food.  When I was a new gym-goer I did not always want to go to the gym and after a while I found it somewhat difficult to get myself to go.  After a particularly grueling workout I stopped at the deli next to the gym afterwards and indulged in a club sandwich with some chips.  This become something of a regular routine. I didn’t always do it but let’s just say they knew me by name before long.  This became an incentive to go to the gym; I knew that if I went to the gym I could then go across the parking lot and get a sandwich afterwards.  Even though the sandwich was not the healthiest treat it worked to get me to the gym regularly and after a while I no longer relied on it as an incentive.  Once I hit that point I was able to focus on cleaning up my eating to go along with my newly formed gym-habit. It was much more important early on to establish a consistent gym routine.

To emphasize the importance of consistency: In their study Naïveté, Projection bias and Habit Formation in gym attendance researchers Dan Acland and Matthew R. Levy offered new gym-goers $100 if they managed to go to the gym 8 times in the next month.  As you would expect there was a lot of attendance that month.  In the time following the incentivized month gym attendance was higher among the experimental group than the control group but not by much (approximately 1/5 more sessions at the gym per week).  Furthermore, after enough time had passed the attendance patterns of the two groups were nearly indistinguishable!  It’s not surprising that this did not work long-term, the incentive merely lasted one month and the average time needed to successfully establish a new habit averages 66 days (Lally et. Al, 2009).

Consistency and why it doesn’t matter that the tortoise was slow

We’ve all heard the story about the tortoise and the hare with the classic moral of “Slow and Steady wins the race.”  In this story the hare is much faster than the tortoise and soon becomes bored with the race and gets caught up doing other things.  Meanwhile the tortoise continues on and eventually wins the race because his opponent was distracted.  The one thing that always bothered me about this moral is that going “slow” didn’t help the tortoise win, being “steady” did.  So let’s revise the moral to be “Steady wins the race.”

Research shows that the more a specific behavior is repeated the more likely that behavior will form into an automatic habit (Judah, Gardner & Aunger, 2012) and this is certainly true with exercise.  A study following new gym-goers found that individuals with a high frequency of attendance (4 or more sessions per week) maintained their gym attendance while those with a low frequency of attendance (less than 4 sessions per week) had attendance rates plummet after 6 weeks (Kaushal & Rhodes, 2015).

It is certainly worth mentioning that consistency works both ways, consistent lack of exercising or active exercise avoidance can also be habit forming.  Actions beget themselves and once you begin to find excuses to skip out on exercising it becomes easier to continue to skip until all efforts to initiate the new behavior are forgotten.  For the consistency aspect of initiating a new behavior to work it must first be unfaltering.  Think of it this way: for every day you consistently reinforcement the new behavior you gain 1 point, for each day you do not reinforce that behavior you lose 3 points.  As you can see it is much easier to lose all those points than it is to build them up.

Behavioral cues and keeping fresh socks in your car

When trying to get people to start flossing researchers found that if people added them to the end of an already established brushing routine they were more successful than trying to lead with flossing (Judah, Gardner & Aunger, 2012).  Nesting new behaviors into established routines provides a solid framework for the when and where a new routine should take place.  Effectively placing new behaviors in relation to established ones can be tricky, after all it’s easy to go through an established routine on auto-pilot, what’s needed to open up a space for new habits are behavioral cues. Behavioral cues are the conscious or subconscious triggers (usually visual) that remind us to engage in our desired behavior.

For instance if you wanted to get into the habit of reading regularly before bed you would place your book on your nightstand.  In fact this is what I’ve done for a while, I always have a book on my nightstand to remind me to read before bed; I see it and I instantly grab my kindle and read a book.  The trigger itself does not have to be involved in the new behavior but it must be a solid behavioral cue.

How this relates to exercise is easy: many people put a gym bag in their car to remind them to go to the gym after work (always change the socks before you do this!) or keep a pre-workout supplement in their lunch box to take before leaving work.  When someone sees these items and is reminded to go to the gym after work they are effectively attaching their new desired behavior to an established routine, in this case: leaving work.

Behavioral cues are subject to the same caveat as consistency (refer to the points system described in the previous section).  If a cue is put into place and promptly ignored it quickly loses potency, however if a cue is followed repeatedly it will become more and more powerful over time and less susceptible to missed days down the line.

Simplicity and why you’re failing before you start

Let’s look at the most common pitfall of all.  We all know someone that has said this (usually after a few drinks):

… and on Monday I’m going to start eating healthy and going to the gym everyday and drink less and quit smoking…

And by Wednesday they’re using their gym card as a beer coaster and ordering pizza.  They didn’t fail because they’re destined to be unhealthy, they simply tried to change too much at once.  Why does this usually result in failure? Well if we examine the quote above we see 4 difficult goals all brought under one umbrella. 4 goals disguised as one where failing one sub-goal means failure of all four… Suddenly failure seems like a certainty.

We need to make each goal distinct, breaking that up into even smaller goals and then focusing on one at a time.

Let’s look at eating healthy.  It’s a knee jerk reaction to think “Eat less junk food, eat less in general” when you think of eating healthy but I want you to ignore that.  What usually makes a diet unhealthy is there isn’t enough good stuff and there’s too much bad stuff (speaking strictly scientifically of course).  If you start with eliminating junk food then you of course have to increase the amount of good food you eat to balance it out.  This is clearly two goals and to be effective we must only focus on one at a time.

Make your first step in eating healthy adding something to your regular diet that’s healthy.  For instance try and eat 20 – 40 grams of protein within an hour of waking up.  That’s it.  Don’t change any thing else just add one healthy intake.  Make this a new habit every morning and before long the effect can snowball to snacking less during the day or making healthier options at lunch.  As you include new healthy habits you can start to keep a look out for opportunities to improve.  I’m only going to give you a way to make the first step with starting to eat healthy, the rest will come organically as long as you continue to make one change at a time.

Initiating behavior change is difficult when the attempt is aggressive and blunt. Will power and resolve quickly fade and old behaviors remain.  Successful initiation starts gradually, I go over my own real life experience with beginning to run regularly here. Building momentum here is key.  These small wins are imperative to creating lasting change in our behavior. As time progresses these changes will snowball into better habits.

Conclusion

There are four key pillars conducive to forming new behaviors/habits: rewards, consistency, behavioral cues and simplicity.  Rewards and behavioral cues are particularly important on to create consistent behavior.  Simplicity is the most important of all four pillars.  Each of the other pillars should adhere to this advice: rewards should be simple and immediate, consistency should be simply judged (did you exercise yes/no?) and behavioral cues should be simple reminders to engage in the desired behavior.