Updated: Oct 7, 2018
NEW YEAR, NEW ME. So often said, so rarely achieved. If you’re someone who’s looking to really get 2018 off to a flyer then there are plenty of ways to go about it. You may be looking to shed pounds, gain strength or get fitter, so whatever your goal, here’s a few little tips to help get you there.
In my last blog I spoke about remaining consistent in the duration and frequency of our weekly exercise, for any goal. Manageable bouts of time spent exercising should always be the primary focus, not random and sporadic sessions. But along with consistency, the TYPE of exercise we do dictates how likely we are to achieving our ambitions.
The human body is remarkable and capable of many things. Something its particularly good at is adapting to change. If you’re a regular gym goer, runner, or sportsperson then hopefully you can remember when you first started doing it, and how you saw change pretty instantaneously. However, after time passed, those levels of improvement reduced. This is known as the Theory of Diminishing Returns. The more we do something over time, the smaller the gains. Our bodies adapt to new stimuli until it becomes the norm. And so, if you’ve been doing the same gym routine, or the same 30-minute run for as long as you can remember, chances are you won’t have seen much progress recently. Best thing you can do? GO OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE. Incorporating new exercises, new routines, new running routes, whatever, will force your body to adapt to the new stimulus and you’ll see the benefits. HOWEVER, remember that consistency. Be careful not to change too much too quickly, sudden increases in volume, weight, duration etc. will put the body under new stresses and may lead to injury, so phase in the change gradually.
Try swapping Barbells for Dumbbells, the reduced level of stability from separate Dumbbells is a great stimulus for the body to adapt to. This change works for loads of exercises too; bench press, overhead presses, rows, squats etc..
Try going from bi-lateral (2-feet next to each other) to uni-lateral (1-foot in front of the other) stances.
Especially good for sports people. Most sporting actions are carried out with one foot in-front of the other (running, kicking, jumping, throwing), and so by training for such movements we can improve their effectiveness. My personal favourite is a split squat, often using dumbbells, or if you’re a novice to the movement walking lunges are a great pre-cursor exercise. Both are great for producing force from a relatively unstable position in comparison to your standard squats, but you’ll find it brings great benefits. Split-squats and lunges also have the added benefit of doing wonders for those bum muscles, so if that’s your thing, give them a go.
Bring in the HIIT. Hight Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become very popular of late, mainly through social media, and when done properly it can have great benefits. If you’re someone who’s time is precious, the daunting 30-minute treadmill run can be cut down to a 6-10 minute HIIT run instead. BEAR IN MIND that enduring cardio and high intensity exercises utilise different energy systems though, so without getting too technical; if you’re training for a marathon, then the chances are HIIT won’t go shaving minutes off your time, but if you’re looking to shed some pounds and looking to do it quickly HIIT is a great way to do so. HIIT requires you to work at a high intensity (hence the name) for multiple short bouts, followed by a rest each time. REMEMBER that the rest is important, without it you’ll find that you drop off significantly in the later bouts and won’t be able to give them your all. REMEMBER CONSISTENCY IS KEY.
So, if you’re looking to shed off the Christmas turkey, lift more weight, or just continue to improve your overall health then sometimes a little change works wonders. Find a workload that works for you and introduce new things. STEP OUTSIDE THE COMFORT ZONE.