It goes without saying that moving your body is beneficial to both your mind and physical health. The problem can be figuring out what works for you and how to keep consistent with it so you reach any goals that you’ve set.
I used to dance 2-5 times a week after school from 5 years old till about 17 years old, so moving my body comes very naturally to me and is something that’s always been an integral part of my life. That said, I’ve definitely used exercise as a form of punishment and have spent many workouts feeling fed up, exhausted and quite frankly a bit lost as to what on earth I’m really doing it all for.
For some people just the thought of exercise is enough to break a sweat. The concept of spending hours each week after work, chugging away on a cross trainer or running outdoors in full view of your local neighbourhood is both frightening and mind numbingly tedious. So where can you find that balance between a training plan that is intuitive and enjoyable, as opposed to punishing and boring?
Here are my 5 tips to create a training plan that keeps you coming back for more.
1. Keep it frequent but flexible
Habits are created with consistency, so if you want to keep active for the long term, it’s important to consider how frequently you want to train and whether or not this is realistic within your lifestyle.
I train 5 days a week (25-45 mins)
4 days in the week
Once on the weekend
On the 2 rest days, I get in around 30 minutes walking – sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less!
Some weeks it looks nothing like this because that is life.
Other times I want to do more because my body is feeling good.
Have a think about when you can fit in some exercise (don’t be afraid to wake up early – I find this is the best time!), write a little schedule down, get your kit organised and go for it! If all goes tits up and you don’t manage it, then don’t be hard on yourself and just tweak your schedule to help yourself next time. Nothing has to be set in stone but once you get some consistency going, it can certainly help!
2. Vary the types of training you do
This is pretty simple. If you slog away on the treadmill at the same pace, day in day out, your body will more than likely stop reacting to it and you’ll reach a plateau. So many people repeat the same types of exercises over and over and unless this is what you actually enjoy (consistency might be your thangg which is totally fine), it’s a good idea to change things up. By varying your workouts you’re more likely to enjoy it and if you do have a particular goal in mind (like building more muscle or losing fat), you’ll shock the body into a reactive state, which will in turn contribute to your progression.
Ways to change up your training could include:
- Trying a new form of cardio or resistance exercise – classes are a great way to experience new forms of training.
- Upping the intensity – increase your speed or resistance
- Creating a more dynamic workout – combine periods of rest with periods of high intensity within the workout
3. Be selective in line with personal enjoyment
Just because your boyfriend is smashing out the weights at the gym and your friend is hooked on the pedals at a hot new spinning studio, it does not mean you have to do either of these things if you don’t enjoy them! There are so many mixed messages out there about what you need to do in order to get a particular type of body but remember, as long as you are challenging yourself and applying the above tip of varying your training you will progress or be able to maintain your current body condition.
Fundamentally, if you don’t actually enjoy the training you have set yourself up to do each week, then there’s a pretty high chance that you won’t stick to it somewhere down the line. Here are some examples of how you could move your body:
Gym classes i.e. Body Pump, Body Combat, Zumba, Aerobics
Remember: ‘Working out’ does NOT relate to activity only done in a gym! You can push, challenge, enjoy yourself and get great results with any of the above!
4. Make it realistic
Wherever your fitness levels are at, it is so important to set yourself realistic goals that you could actually sustain long term. If you are like me and super hard on yourself, make your goals broad and adaptable rather than fixed, as this will help avoid disappointment. I give myself short term mini fitness goals that are flexible and considerate of the fact that there are more important things in my life than working out 😉 :
‘I would like to fit in 5 workouts this week – I know I feel great when I achieve this’
‘I want to feel stronger so I’m going to try and incorporate some resistance work in throughout the week’
‘I want to improve my flexibility so I’m going to do my best to attend 1 yoga class a week’
Short term goals lead to long term success.
5. Be intuitive
No one knows your body better than you do, so if you’ve scheduled in a rest day on Thursday but it’s only Tuesday and you can’t walk or move your arms, slide that rest day forward to Wednesday and give yourself a break. Likewise, if you’ve planned to do a killer HIIT session that evening but really you just want to crawl to your yoga mat and do a gentle vinyasa flow, then listen to your body and allow yourself the permission to do so.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, one thing I’ve gained from taking a more intuitive stance, is that exercise should never be a form of punishment. You are more than just your body, so be intuitive and recognise when you need to extend a bit of kindness.
Each day I’m learning to take a reactive approach to my training and this will help ensure regular exercise is a part of my life, for the rest of my life. Setting myself a frequent but flexible schedule that is adaptable, realistic, enjoyable and packed full of variety is proving the magic combination!