The Guidance Council

We asked four top fitness coaches for their tape-it-to-the-fridge-door advice. Here's what they told us.

Expert Advice

The Guidance Council: Steve Ilg, Jenn Varno, Eric Harr and Chuck Wolf     Photo: Illustrations by Jonathan Carlson

"Everyone mentions the importance of getting a training partner, but what that leaves out is the importance of choosing the right kind of people. You need to train with people who want you to do your best and are really vocal about it. The guys I work out with are funny, make me laugh, and constantly confirm my performance. I love it when they encourage me, saying things like 'Man, you are cycling out of your head.' If your goal is to get stronger, train with someone who is a little better than you are."—Eric Harr, professional triathlete, author of The Portable Personal Trainer

"You need to have a plan that will change phases to emphasize the three different energy systems of the body along the way—the anaerobic system, the aerobic system, and the phosphagen system (in other words, power). If you just go out and train, say, slow-and-steady aerobically, week after week, when you come to the final kick at the end of a race or event, you won't have experience making best use of your fuel source to sustain the push. You can't ignore parts of your training."—Chuck Wolf, manager of Sports Science and Human Performance at the USA Triathlon National Training Center

"The best piece of equipment any athlete can have is awareness—and you can't just drop it into your workout. Your workout is everywhere. How you sit in the office, you stand, you eat, you talk—it will all affect how you work out. Ask yourself: How is your breathing right now? How is your posture right now? This is how you build awareness. Anytime the mind starts chattering away in daily life, that's the same mind that's going to start chattering away when you need it during a workout or on the ice-climbing route or during an attack on a bicycle."—Steve Ilg, personal trainer, author of The Outdoor Athlete

"A lot of people want to know how far, how long, how many. They want to know exactly what's right; they want to measure it. But what's right can be a lot of things. People get stifled by thinking they have to do the same thing three times a week. Try not to make workouts too technical. You'll feel more empowered when you can come up with the details yourself."—Jenn Varno, California-based trainer, founder of Go Wild! Fitness

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