As many of you may know, one of my passions in life is fitness, nutrition, and working towards improving my overall health. Due to the fact that I have an upcoming trip to the beach, I have been spending even more hours in the gym. Also, with a new crowd of New Years Resolutioners in the gym, I was thinking about when I first started working out and some common mistakes I also made and a couple of helpful tips I have learned.
I first started my fitness journey because I had just recently quit competitive cheerleading, and as I stopped training, I could see my body becoming weaker and I wanted to get back on track. I began researching all types of workout classes, and styles. I didn’t know if I should do only cardio or weight training? There are so many paths to take when it comes to fitness and it all just seemed so overwhelming to me.
Eventually, I just got a gym membership and initially started by doing the same form of cardio every day, and using basically the same 10 machines in a rotation. Although I did see some improvement at first, my results quickly plateaued and this sparked me to do some more research.
This process of exploring new ways to improve my body and target more specific key areas has been more difficult than I would have originally thought. And now, a few years later, I am by no means an expert, but this constant need to keep pushing my boundaries in my workout routine to achieve better results, has also taught me some key points that I feel many people fail to say, that can really make an impact on your results, and also some other helpful tips and tricks that may make your workout easier to get through and will help keep your routine fresh.
- Do not go too hard on your body right away: Many people when they first get inspired to start working out, they want to give it their all and go full force. Although this is a great attitude to have when you first begin, it is not necessarily the best strategy for your body and your overall health. By going every day, exhausting your muscles, and depleting your energy you are much less likely to be consistent, remember consistency is what gives you great results.
- Cardio in Intervals: Studies show that 15 minutes of high-intensity interval training burns more calories than jogging on a treadmill for an hour. Effective energy use – HIIT uses a system of work-hard-then-recovery intervals, alternating between high-intensity workouts with short resting periods. This style of workout can be done in many different ways I would recommend starting at a 2:1 interval ratio (walk 2 minutes, run 1) and then slowly work your way to a 1:1 ratio, then 1:2 and so on.
- Listen to music: This may seem like an obvious or slightly strange tip when it comes to working out, however, listening to music can help improve your workouts greatly. Music helps your brain to ignore your bodily awareness (pain) while you are exercising, it also helps to maintain a steady heart rate, and releases more endorphins into your system. Music with a rhythmic beat (music that makes you want to dance) is the best kind to listen to while working out because it also makes your brain send signals to your muscles to move, which you can then channel this energy into your workout.
- Make it a routine: I think the number one thing that I hear from anyone who has tried to start going to the gym and then stops is “I don’t have time.” I personally think that this problem can be solved very easily by simply making your fitness a priority and adding it to your routine. What I mean by this is, pick a time of day or week that you know you are available to go to the gym and stick to that. For me personally, I go to the gym every day immediately after work. It has now become such a routine for me that I don’t even think twice about it, and therefore I hardly skip days (besides rest days). If you truly want to improve your health and fitness, you must MAKE the time for it, and there are many ways to make it work. You don’t have to workout for two hours every day, even just a quick 20-minute youtube video workout in the comfort of your home done every day will give you results, and anything is better than nothing at all.
- Breath through your nose (especially during cardio): I know this may seem like a very bizarre workout tip, but learning this technique truly helped me do more intense cardio for longer periods of time. When we start to burn calories and our body temperature rises, it is a natural instinct to start breathing through your mouth. However, when you do this, signals are sent to your brain that your body is becoming exhausted and therefore your heart rate increases to try and maintain your energy level, you begin to breathe even harder, and the cycle continues until you are completely exhausted. When you breathe through your nose, however, your heart rate remains more stable and it much easier to get through an intense cardio session.
- Switch it up: As I mentioned before, when I first started working out, I did not understand the importance of variety in my routine. I would go on the elliptical for about 45 minutes every day and then do the same machines, working the same areas of the body every day. Now, as I have learned a lot more about my body and my specific fitness needs, I have diversified my workout greatly. I tend to focus on two major parts a day (Ex: Legs and abs or abs and arms) However, I try not repeat the use of the same machine or exercise more than 3 days apart, meaning that although I am still working the same body part (ex: legs) I am also targeting different areas of that larger area.
Overall, your fitness journey is completely specific to you. It is great to get inspiration from fitness bloggers or on Instagram, but everybody is different, everyone has different needs, and everyone will see differing results. The most important part of fitness is consistency, do not become frustrated if you do not see results right away, and if your results are coming to a standstill it may be time to take a look at your diet and other factors that can play major roles in the quality of your results. Fitness should be fun and make you feel better about yourself, inside and out.
Good luck to any of you who may be starting your fitness journey and kudos to any of you who are already working hard to achieve your goals! thank you for reading.