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8 Training Tools I Use and Why I Use Them

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8 Training Tools I Use and Why I Use Them

If your current training and exercise regime is failing to deliver results it might be because it lacks the key components that ensure success.

I’ve found this out the hard way on many occasions over the years. I’d started something, had some vague goals (often too many) and missed the mark on all of them. Not only that I’d either injured myself or burnt out. Thankfully, this now rarely happens as I’m more comfortable with where I am in the journey, I’m more prepared and I now more readily seek external advice to help me see more clearly.

Below, I’ve outlined not only a list of tools / practices but I’ve also looked at them in terms of a hierarchy. Hierarchy, however, suggests that one tool is more important than the other. Instead, I should perhaps reframe it in terms of an ordered checklist. I find that by addressing these key areas you can fashion a program that will deliver a result. Doing them in the following order will ensure that you hit the right touch points at the right time.

#1 Conversation:

Talking with someone is the best tool you have. Here you can drill down into their goals, their motivation, challenges, fears and establish timelines and commitment to reaching that goal. If you’re not working with a Personal Trainer, it’s still an important tool. Reflective thinking is very popular at the moment, I can see why as it’s a powerful method to bring focus to a project / individual. If you are training yourself, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my goal?
  • Why is it important to me?
  • What are my challenges?
  • Is there a timeline?
  • Can my goal be achieved in the time I have?
  • What will my training look like?
  • How do I assess my progress?

There could be many other questions, write down a few that are relevant to you. Once you know where you are going we can then find the best route to get there.

#2 Assessment:

I love assessments because they remove the guesswork and provide a baseline from which we can progress. I insist on regular assessments so I can establish the start point. Here I can work out a client's current strength level, fitness in general, movement patterns, injuries, pain triggers, posture, flexibility, mindset and many other metrics.

Again if you are training yourself do the following: take photos, record your measurements and weight and write down a list of your ailments, pains or take stock of your general wellbeing (such as energy levels and mood).

This information is essential to building an effective program that meets the goals but takes into account the individual and their limitations and strengths.

#3 Movements

Any good programme, in my mind, needs to work on movements and there are fundamental human movement patterns recur across all sports. We want to unlock our potential and obey the rules of nature. The Human movement patterns include the hip hinge, squat, push, pull, carry… plus we should include some work that involves getting up and down off the floor! I’d also argue the inclusion of walking and running as fundamental human movement patterns, both of which can be done badly or with grace.

Most sports will utilise these patterns, any good programme should aim to keep the purity of movements and teach progressively higher levels of grace and complexity (when needed). Each movements expression will be determined by the demands of the sport. If you don’t have one of these in your training plan then you will be in danger of building a body comprised unconnected and disproportionate body parts, not an elegant whole.

#4 A System

A system is not simply having a plan. Yes, that’s part of it of course, so cue dictionary definition cliche:



“a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organised scheme or method.”

Having a system takes the randomness out of the process, it assists with positive habit formation and often a system is tried and tested. If it worked for someone else, it ups the chances it’ll work for you. Some systems are better than others, beware of jumping to every shiny new object you see though. The advantages of a system are based on being able to achieve the desired outcome in a given timeframe. When life gets on top of you having a system will reduce the demands on your free will.

A good example of a system would be the 180 formula by Phil Maffetone. The 180 formula is a form of heart rate training. It has its rules (the aerobic training zone and maximum heart rate) which are essential, it’s based on evidence and clinical success plus many individuals have had high levels of success with it. Nonetheless, it’s also programmable so it can be individualised to the athlete's needs.

Another system could be a gluten free diet or Banting Diet. Weight Watchers is a system and Joe Wicks has success because he has a system. The GB cycling team has multi-layered systems that address peaking, minimising illness, off-season training, psychology, the bike set up etc.

I’d suggest you start simple, though!

#5 Modalities (i.e. Kettlebells, Bodyweight, Barbells)

There are two considerations here:

Use what will help you get to your goals - if your goal is a half marathon, you’d better run.

Use what you enjoy! Unless your goal is very specific like say a double bodyweight deadlift, you’re more likely to stick to something you like doing and many modalities will get you there: If you want to be healthier, stronger, have better body composition and move without pain you can use yoga, kettlebells, dumbbells, calisthenics or TRX, for example.

#6 Body Maintenance

Training can take its toll and so can everyday life. It’s important to make sure you spend some time on making sure your body is working properly. That means working on flexibility, mobility, tissue quality and joint health. Again you can use a variety of methods to achieve this such as Foam Rollers to Yoga to Contract-Relax Stretching to Pilates. Warming up and cooling down is often a last minute or typically forgotten tool. For me, it’s essential for an optimal training session.

#7 Tracking Training

I love tracking my training, I’d get lost otherwise, the payoff is two-fold for me. Firstly, I feel satisfied that I’ve turned up and done the session and secondly I can see my progression in front of me. Which is very useful on days where I’ve not had a brilliant session, but I can look back and see how I’ve progressed in general.

So many people fail to track it’s no wonder they never get results, even if they did get results they may not even realise they achieved them. Even little wins are wins!

Tracking can be as simple as writing the exercise down and recording the sets and reps or it could be elegant and include effort, ease of movement and indications of the quality of movement. I use a spreadsheet, some people use their phone or a notepad. it’s up to you.

#8 Commitment / Accountability

No program will work if you don’t show up and clock in with the workouts, even if you get all the other elements perfect. Being consistent is the major predictor of results.

How do you stay committed? Well, it helps if your programme is aligned with your goals, and then if you involve other people such as family and friends or personal trainer who can hold you accountable your success is much less unpredictable.

Most people will overestimate what they can achieve in 3 months and underestimate what can be achieved in 1 year.

If you use these tools in your training then you’ll be ahead of the pack. If you need help with them, either leave a comment below or get in touch we’d love to help!

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