‘Exercise’ literally just means activity a.k.a MOVEMENT and movement encompasses so many forms.
You don’t have to do weighted reps at the gym or go running if you don’t want to. You could dance, swim, surf, skate, do yoga, play sport with friends, go hiking …the list is endless!
PICK ACTIVITIES THAT YOU LOVE and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have time for a serious sweat. Moving your body in any way has benefits and lifts your mood; walking to school, cycling to work, taking the stairs, taking hourly breaks from your desk to stretch…it all counts!
Whilst daily activities are beneficial, for a strong, lean body and overall wellbeing you need to include:
EXAMPLES: resistance bands, weights, body weight exercises like squats/lunges/push ups/planks, Pilates
BENEFITS: muscle strength and tone, increased bone density, improved stamina, improved posture
PREVENTS: obesity, arthritis, back pain, osteoporosis, injury
EXAMPLES: shoulder circles, pigeon pose, plank walk outs, warrior 2 lunge & twist, lateral lunges, butterfly stretch
BENEFITS: improved range of motion, increased muscle activation,
PREVENTS: back and joint pain, injury
EXAMPLES: stretching, yoga, Pilates
BENEFITS: improved posture, better balance, greater range of movement, decreases physical and mental stress and promotes relaxation
PREVENTS: injury, back and joint pain
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I EXERCISE?
Official guidelines suggest 150 minutes of moderate exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or a combination of both during a week.
However, the frequency, way, and length of time you workout for, is very much determined by your goals, your bodies requirements, and your schedule.
It’s all about DOING WHAT YOU CAN. Aim for 3 – 6 time slots in your week dedicated to working out and literally schedule ‘gym’ time into your diary like you would an appointment. However, don’t worry if life gets in the way because sometimes you’ve got to prioritise family, friends or work.
My ideal week looks a little like this*:
CARDIO → x 2 HIIT sessions
STRENGTH → x 4 body weight, resistant band or weighted circuits
MOBILTY → x 6 dynamic warm ups & x 1 yoga class (sometimes)
FLEXIBILTY → x 7 daily stretching & yoga
*Disclaimer: your workout schedule may look very different and that’s a-okay because every single person is very different. For example: you may be a pro athlete who trains 6 hours a day every day, or you may be a single mum who works 3 jobs and squats whilst picking up your kids toys. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and remember that every movement counts!
HOW LONG DO I NEED TO EXERCISE FOR?
To be honest, there is NO SUCH THING AS AN IDEAL AMOUNT OF TIME to workout for, as there are so many factors to consider:
* your fitness level
* your schedule
* your goals
* the type of workout you’re doing (an upper body workout or a yoga class will take longer than a lower body or full body workout as your body will fatigue quicker)
* your mood (sometimes you just don’t feel ‘in the zone’)
Again, it’s about doing what you can. But BE REALISTIC with what you can do. Don’t schedule in an hour workout everyday if you’re a beginner or you know you have other commitments. 10 minutes is far better than nothing; you’d be surprised how much of a sweat you can get on in a quick 10 minute HIIT session.
Start by training just twice a week, then build to every other day whilst you find your rhythm and and figure out a routine that works for you. The routine will become habit, which will create motivation and give you the consistency to see results and meet your goals.
HIIT 10 – 20 mins max. Any more than this and you won’t able to put in your max effort.
BODY WEIGHT/WEIGHTED CIRCUITS: roughly 20 – 45 minutes (depending on the impact/intensity & including rest time between sets)
YOGA, PILATES & GENTLE EXERCISE: 60 – 90 minutes (the length of typical yoga class or a good walk)
*Listen to your body and figure out what works for you.
My workout sessions generally last between 20 – 60 minutes depending on what I am doing or how much time I have.
If I’m short on time:
* 5 minute warm up
* 15 – 20 minute HIIT
* 5 minute stretch
If I’ve got more time:
* 5 – 10 minutes warming up
* 30 – 45 minute body weight/weighted circuits/LISS cardio
* 10 minutes stretching or doing a little yoga flow
THE IMPORTANCE OF REST
Exercise puts your body in a state of stress, when your body is overloaded with stress it becomes fatigued, weak and prone to injuries like stress fractures, muscle strains and joint inflammation.
Adequate rest allows your body to repair itself, replenish energy stores and strengthen muscles, so you can be a weapon in the gym.
There 2 phases of recovery:
This happens in the hours after you exercise and includes your cool down and post workout meal to refuel and rehydrate your body.
LONG TERM RECOVERY
This is the recovery you schedule into your week/month/year. It may include rest days, rest weeks or changes in the intensity or style of your workouts.
WITHOUT REST YOU WOULD REACH A POINT OF BURN OUT. Your body would soon become exhausted, your muscles may actually be weaker, and your performance, progress, motivation, sleep and mood would suffer.
The number of rest days you require depends on your fitness level and the intensity of your workouts. As a rule of thumb, pay attention to how you feel during and after your workout. If it’s #strugglecity then maybe ease up and schedule some rest days. Or start by alternating between a workout day and a rest day so you are exercising 3 -4 days a week and resting 3- 4 days a week.
‘Rest’ doesn’t have to mean bed bound. I like to have ‘active’ rest days. For me, being inactive all day makes me grumpy and leaves my body struggling to digest my food so even on a rest day I stretch, do some yoga, go for a walk or put on some music and prance around my house. Nothing crazy, just chill movement for my mind, body and soul.
HOW CAN I GET MOTIVATED TO EXERCISE?
People often think that motivation just magically happens; It doesn’t. These are my 6 top tips for creating and sustaining motivation:
HAVE A REASONWHY. It could be aesthetics, a specific goal, mental health, physical health or even because you enjoy it. Keep that reason at the forefront of your mind.
CREATE APLAYLIST. Research has consistently found that listening to music during a workout distracts athletes from ‘bodily awareness’ i.e pains, aches and muscle burn. I like to create playlists that reflect the tempo of the workout e.g electronic/drum & bass/house for an intense workout and relaxing tunes or even the sound of the ocean for yoga.
MIX IT UP. Change up your workouts, your playlist or the location to keep things fresh and interesting. Try something different like a new class or reach out to a potential new training buddy.
FIND SUPPORT. Surround yourself with people who support, encourage and inspire you to achieve your goals.
BE INSPIRED. Surrounding yourself with inspiring influences is a great way to keep you feeling positive and motivated, whilst also keeping your workouts fresh. I find inspiration from: Instagram, YouTube, and classes.
PLAN. PLAN.PLAN. Schedule your workouts in, just like you would a meeting; once it’s in the diary, it’s happening! Motivation comes from habit. No-one wakes up super motivated to exercise and eat healthily out of the blue. They have created a healthy habit by incorporating exercise into their routine. Schedule a workout, a time and a place, this puts your decision making on autopilot giving your new habit a time and a place to thrive.
Have your reason, create a routine, surround yourself with supportive positive influences and you’ll reap the rewards.
★ The fact that you are here, means YOU HAVE ALREADY TAKEN THE FIRST STEP towards a fitter, healthier life!
★ EVERYONE STARTS FROM NOTHING. Those strong guys at the gym, crazy bendy yogis, world class athletes; they all had to start from nothing. They had to work and practice to get to where they are now. No one wakes up strong, flexible or skilled, it takes dedication and the patience to learn and progress.
★ COMPARISON IS TOXIC. Comparing yourself will only demotivate you. It’s a waste of your time. It doesn’t matter if your friend can do 20 burpees straight and you can’t do 1; this is YOUR body and YOUR journey.
★ RESULTS TAKE TIME. It takes time to reduce body fat or build muscle. Be patient and you will be rewarded.
★ MOTIVATION COMES FROM HABIT. Motivation often comes after a new behaviour is started, not before. Create the habit of scheduling time to exercise, through routine and results you’ll find your motivation.
★ It’s true that ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN. 80% of how your body looks and feels is down to nutrition and only 20% down to exercise. However, you need to build both a strong, lean and healthy body and a strong mind.
You do. Fact. In just 10 minutes you can complete a sweaty HIIT session. In the 2 minutes it takes to clean your teeth do a few squats, or bicycle crunch and press up whilst watching your favourite TV programme. All movement counts!
I CAN’T AFFORD A GYM MEMBERSHIP. WHAT CAN I DO?
You can workout anywhere in world! Here are some ideas:
* Body weight circuit in your own home
* YouTube a workout video & follow along, it’s like having your own PT
* Go for a run, it’s free!
* Swim in the ocean or your local pool
* Take a fitness class
* Join a local fitness club
I FIND EXERCISE SO BORING. HOW CAN I ENJOY IT?
* FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE. For some it’s running, for others it’s dance; doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you enjoy it.
* GET YOURSELF A KICKASS PLAYLIST. Something that allows you to block out distractions, get in the zone and feel amazing.
* FIND A WORKOUT BUDDY. Encourage each other and push each other to achieve more.
I WANT TO BE HEALTHIER BUT THOSE AROUND ME DON’T, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
It’s tricky. I am in this position too; I LOVE health and fitness but no-one else in my life does. You just have to be true to yourself, explain to your other half/friends/family that this important to you and that you’re not being ‘picky’ or ‘selfish’ it’s just something that matters to you and makes you happy.
SHOULD I EXERCISE IF I’M ILL?
Listen to your body. If you’re fatigued, in pain, or feel like you need to take a day or two off, then do. But if you’re just can’t be bothered for the 26th day in a row, suck it up buttercup; you know you’ll feel better after.
SHOULD I EXERCISE IF I’M ON MY PERIOD?
If you want to, then hell yes! Exercising actually helps reduce cramping and period pain. If you feel uncomfortable wearing your tight white leggings to the gym, then do a home workout, some yoga or go for a walk.
EXERCISE LINGO FOR BEGINNERS
REP = one complete movement of an exercise e.g 1 squat
SET = repetition of an exercise e.g 3 sets of 20 reps of squats
TUT= Time Under Tension. This is a strength builing technique and refers to how long a muscle is working for. E.g boat hold for 1 min (the time your abdominal muscles are under tension for is 1 minute).
HIIT = High Intensity Interval Training. 100% max effort for short bursts of time with rest in between exercises. E.g 40 secs lunge jumps 20 seconds rest.
LISS = Low Intensity Steady State. Any form of cardio where you maintain the same steady pace for a set amount of time. E.g cycling, rowing, hiking, swimming.
AMRAP = As Many Rounds As Possible. Set a timer and try and get as many rounds of your workout circuit as possible in the allotted time. E.g 20 minutes on the clock → 10 burpees, 15 squats, 30 plank jacks, 10 push ups, 30 bicycles…go!
EMOM = Every Minute On the Minute. Set a timer and every minute complete an exercise, then rest for the remaining minute. E.g 5 minutes on the clock → 15 box jumps every minute on the minute.
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