Did I just see the first Christmas ad on TV? It doesn’t seem like yesterday that I was dusting off the barbeque, drooling over the thought of seasonal strawberries and asparagus, and preparing some killer summer playlists. It can’t be over already, surely?!
Well, although Christmas is still a little way off, the days are certainly getting shorter, colder, and darker. But that doesn’t mean your drive to get fit, lean and strong should suffer: Here is a series of five posts, containing five simple tips to stay motivated throughout the winter months. So instead of starting again from scratch next year, you’ll already be in the best shape of your life, ready for the summer.
Winter Motivation Tip 1: Switch Things Up!
This tip applies for any time of the year, but is especially important during the winter. This is because many of the outdoor activities you may do to keep fit can become more challenging in the bad weather, and a drink at the pub can become a much more enticing evening activity! For some, training in the winter is good fun – you certainly don’t overheat, and the dark / rain / snow can strangely provide a sense of adventure. But if the thought of soggy socks and near-frostbitten fingertips fills you with dread, don’t let this throw you off your fitness regime.
Instead, use this time of year to take up a new sport – squash, indoor swimming, boxing, different exercise classes… the choice of warm indoor activities is endless. And you may find the excitement of a new sport or activity picks you up out of a training rut and reboots your love for exercise. The ultimate goal is keeping the sport / activities you’re doing so fun and engaging that you forget you’re even doing exercise! So, if you normally go running to keep fit, try a high-intensity kickboxing class, or if you usually hit the same fitness class, try swimming, or a new freeweights routine.
For the weightlifters out there, this rule definitely applies to you too, maybe even more so. Sticking to the same routine for a long time can get boring, and your body becomes accustomed to the same kind of exercise, leading to training ‘plateaus’ where you stop seeing progress. Try using bodyweight routines for 4-6 weeks: press-ups, chin-ups, dips, box jumps, burpees, and if possible progress to more advanced movements like pistol squats and handstand presses. You will notice some really fast improvements in the number of reps you can do. If your bodyweight is lighter than the weights you normally lift, don’t fret: because you’ll be using different muscle fibres to the ones you’re used to, and it’s a more cardiovascular workout than usual, when you return to heavier weights you should have the added endurance to push out an extra few reps. Also, most bodyweight exercises massively engage the core, which will also help with all the major weightlifting exercises.
Boredom and reaching plateaus are the two main reasons people lose motivation for exercise... Throw in some bad weather and you can see why it's so easy to fall off the tracks during winter. Switch things up and you'll keep your training fresh, fun, reach new levels of fitness / strength, and all while staying warm and dry!