It’s the 15th day of 2021 and many of you are still committed to your New Year’s fitness resolutions, so bravo! Here are some surefire tips to make sure you’re not in the 80% of people who won’t stick with them in February.
1) Set challenging but attainable goals
We know you’re excited, but coming out the gate too hot only leads to burnout. You want to push yourself but not so much that you begin to resent your program.
Like weight lifting? For each exercise, pick a weight that you can perform three, 10 rep sets of without losing form. This should not feel easy, but you should not be in shambles at the end. After a few weeks, your 10 rep sets will grow to 12 and three sets will become four. After that time, consider a 5lb to 10lb increase and start at 10 reps again. The key is not rep count as much as it is achieving 40 to 45 seconds of time under tension (TUT) without sacrificing proper technique.
Is cardio more your thing? Begin with three sessions per week of 20 to 30 minutes and then work up from there. For more challenging exercises like running and swimming, you may only be able to start with 20 minutes, but for less challenging, non-impact movements like biking or walking, you should aim to do at least 30 minutes and then gradually work up to 45 minutes per session. Runners: be careful not to add more than one mile or so in volume per week to avoid overuse injuries.
2) Track your nutrition
You’ve probably heard the old adage “you can’t outwork a bad diet,” and though there is some truth to that statement, ideally you should rethink the use of the word “diet.” A diet conjures up thoughts of crash meal plans, unrealistic restrictions, tasteless food substitutes and a suggestion that it is meant to be temporary.
“Nutrition” on the other hand is meant to withstand the test of time and be achievable day in and out. Now you don’t have to become a journaling maniac breaking down every macronutrient you ingest, but you should keep it to three simple steps that you can accomplish each day. For example, maintain a caloric deficit, consume .5 to .7 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day, and consume products without sugar added.
Lastly, drink plenty of water! It cannot be stated enough the importance of proper hydration for your fitness goals. According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine men should aim for consuming 3.7 liters of fluids per day with women aiming for 2.7 liters.
3) Consistency is key
Working out just one or two days per week won’t cut it here. You don’t have to necessarily train for an Olympiad, but you want to make sure you are consistent in your movements for at least three times per week over the course of six to eight weeks before changing it up. For overall wellness, consider three days of cardio per week alternating with three days of resistance training. Enjoy one day of rest or active recovery (walking, kayaking, etc.).
An example workout plan may be:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday – Weightlifting
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday – Running
Sunday – Recovery
4) Keep an active network
In just about every geographic location you can find like-minded individuals with fitness interests similar to yours by simply perusing social media. Though Covid-19 is restricting in-person gatherings, Facetime, group Zoom workouts or Google hangouts have taken off this past year. There is strong evidence supporting the theory that having a friend to work out with will increase motivation for individuals who have yet to make their fitness routine a true habit.
5) Make it fun!
Not one for slugging around a track? Are laps in a pool too monotonous? Hit a trail for running, get to the ocean for some open water adventures (if your current climate allows for it), or find a park to gallivant around—the options are endless. There are excellent resources out there like the app AllTrails where local users map outdoor opportunities in your backyard. The point is to get outside and play! Your health will reap the benefits.