Reach Your 2021 Fitness Goals With These Pro Tips
Your mind wants to hit the trail, treadmill, mat or bike but your body needs a little motivation to get off the couch. We get it. It's cold outside! Whether you want to change up your routine or start one after a long hiatus, these pro tips will help kick start your workout resolutions and set you on the path for reaching your goals this year.
1. Take it slow. If you're just getting back to a workout regimen after a longish break, maybe don't try to start where you left off. "Trying to go all-out your first session back in the gym is a recipe for injury and frustration, so avoid that temptation," advises Greg Pignataro, a personal trainer with Grindset Fitness who specializes in strength and conditioning. "When trying to get back into the swing of things, start at a level that's no more difficult than a four or five out of 10. Starting at this manageable level will help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. Slowly and consistently ramp up the challenge over your next few weeks. Do this, and you'll be back at your old level of performance — or beyond it — before you know it." (from How to Get Back Into Exercising After a Break)
2. Use a foam roll to help prevent injury. Foam rolls can improve your performance, deepen your stretching, increase flexibility, and better your workout results. Using one for a few minutes a few times a week can help prevent injury too. "Personally, I use a foam roller any time I'm doing a cardio workout (such as running or spinning)," says celeb trainer Juliet Kaska. "I try to always foam roll out my legs before these types of workouts, especially my IT band because I'm prone to IT syndrome. Recently, I didn't stick with my usual foam rolling routine before a treadmill boot camp workout class and I ended up injured." Rolling, Kaska explains, specifically helps her clients release tightness and increase range of motion (especially for hip and knee flexion), and it can even reduce inflammation after a hardcore cardio sesh. "Foam rolling is really good for releasing tension by rolling out the knots that accumulate throughout our body from stress, misuse, and physical activity. Plus, it improves circulation, can help reduce [the appearance of] cellulite, and feels so darn good." (from Why Foam Rolling Is What Your Workout Routine Is Missing)
3. Save most of your stretching post-workout. "After your workout is a better time to stretch with more dedication," says Nichole Tipps, lead trainer for V Shred, a virtual fitness training program. "Your muscles are tense, and they are tired and stressed in a good way. So stretching can help relieve that tension and reduce the soreness that results from working a muscle." Before your workout do a light stretch and then allot 10-15 minutes for post-sweat stretches. "Ease your muscles into the idea that you will be challenging them to perform," Tipps instructs. (from This Is the Best Time to Stretch During Your Workout)
4. Shake up your routine. Finding what you love applies to work AND fitness (and pretty much everything else).. Break out of a fitness rut by trying something new – boxing, spinning, yoga – or mixing up your routine each week for a little variety. Here are 7 Tips to Actually Enjoy Exercising, including grabbing a buddy, making a killer playlist and stocking up on new gear to get you motivated. Brit + Co Founder and CEO Brit Morin also tried a new running workout to break out of a running rut and make it way more FUN. Read more ways to shake up your routine.
5. Start with strength, end with cardio. Not sure whether to hit the weights or the treadmill when you make it to the gym? "The biggest scientific benefit to finishing with cardio is an added metabolic burst," explains Bree Branker, FitOn trainer. "This can contribute to faster and greater weight loss." The rush of cardio at the end of your workout can inspire you to come back for more too. "I love to end sessions with cardio to really achieve that high heart rate, sweat-all-over type of accomplishment that screams, 'I did it!'" (from Cardio or Strength? This How You Should Start Your Workout)
6. Train your flexibility. "It's important for adults to be strategic about including flexibility training into their workouts, because maintaining flexibility and physical function as we move into middle and older adulthood is associated with better quality of life and independent living," says Dr. Rachelle Reed, PhD, Director of Fitness Science at Orangetheory Fitness. Dr. Reed explains two main types of flexibility training that you should aim to incorporate into your routine: "Dynamic stretching, where a stretch is performed by moving through a challenging but attainable range of motion several times in a row, and static stretching, where a stretch is held in a challenging but attainable position for a longer period of time (at least 10-30 seconds)." (from Here's Why We Lose Flexibility As We Age — And How to Get It Back)
7. Don't be discouraged if you've been out of the game. It's never too late to start exercising if you want to improve your health found a study published in JAMA Network Open. Dr. Jennifer Haythe, MD, a New York-based cardiologist and co-director of the Women's Center for Cardiovascular Health and Columbia, explains, "The heart is a muscle and can always be trained like any muscle. Picking up exercise at any time has been shown to improve blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, mood, and sleep." Starting at just two hours a week and gradually increasing can be enough to make a difference. Anthony McClain, a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and host of podcast Bout That Time, explains, "Six to eight hours of vigorous activity sounds nice to me, yet studies have shown as little as 30 minutes of moderate/vigorous activity five days a week yields consequential qualitative and quantitative health benefits." (from It's Never Too Late to Start Exercising, According to This Study)
8. If you're a new mom, you got this. Don't believe the postpartum hype about getting back into shape. Leah Keller, founder of Every Mother and creator of the EMbody Program — a prenatal and postnatal fitness system, debunks all the myths in 5 Postpartum Fitness Myths You Probably Fell For. "Your core and your body can be stronger and fitter than ever before," Keller states, "and many women experience a new self-confidence and body love that surpasses anything they knew prior to becoming a mother." We second that! Exercise can help new moms sleep, regulate their mood and energy, and increase productivity too. "You can restore core strength and function in as little as 10 minutes a day, and total body fitness in 10- to 30-minute workouts a few times per week," Keller adds. Just listen to your body and find a workout that works with your schedule, budget and fitness needs.
9. Ease in by starting at home. Jump start your new workout routine at home to build up your confidence and get motivated, especially in the throes of winter. Here are workouts you can do from the comfort of your living room — no fancy workout clothes necessary!
- These 6 Moves Will Strengthen and Tone Your Entire Legs and Butt from Emma Elfving, an instructor at Barry's Bootcamp in San Francisco
- 4 Booty-Sculpting Barre Moves You Can Do at Home from Certified Holistic Health Coach (IIN) and Tone It Up trainer Tori Simeone
- 6 Yoga YouTube Channels to Help Keep You Grounded Anytime and Anywhere from Brit + Co
What are your fitness goals this year? Share with us @BritandCo!
This article has been updated from a previous post.
Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.