Why even pretend otherwise: January fitness is a mix of holiday self-loathing and goals for a fresh start to the new year. That annual tradition of requesting workout gear for Christmas never seems to crack the formula. And trying the same failed workout strategy again this year isn’t persistence, it’s madness. If you didn’t kind of suspect that, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
Don’t worry—this is a shame-free zone. We’re here to help. Follow these 10 fitness hacks and this year, just maybe, you’ll break the rut.
Develop A Routine
A common mistake about returning to exercising is that should include some discomfort. No pain, no game, right? So you lock yourself into the gym for two hours a few times a week, staying until it hurts. Here’s a better approach: Small routine. Just 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity five times a week can do wonders. Don’t kill yourself just to live healthier.
Prepare Your Clothes
Are you the type of person who likes working out first thing in the morning? But then you wake up and you’re cozy in your jammies and maybe just hit snooze once more. One habit of fit people: Sleeping in their workout clothes. This creates an expectation. This is also why you should carry a gym bag around all day if you plan a lunch break run or post-work gym session.
Plan Ahead With Your Jams
A study from Harper’s Fitness concluded that men waste about 21 minutes on non-exercise activities for every hour spent at the gym. Meanwhile, the same survey found that 55 percent of participants wasted time from their workout to pick the perfect song or playlist while working out. Don’t drag out the process. Choose ahead and plan a playlist that lasts exactly as long as you want to work out.
Make Fitness Entertaining
Before I seriously dove in, I considered running a dull, monotonous activity. I’m just jogging with nothing to occupy my brain begging me to quit? Then I discovered podcasts and it unlocked everything. Explore some of your topics of interest or find a great audiobook and promise only to listen while working out.
Gamify Your Workout
It’s pretty easy to poke fun at Fitbits and Apple Watches and every fitness app out there. But tracking your exercise with firm data points allows you to track the progress you’ve made and set up future goals. In short, they work.
Experiment With Ginger
Exercise is a lifestyle. How you prepare and supplement your workout matters almost as much as the workout itself. A study in the Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness shoed that consuming a single teaspoon of ginger daily can help you lose about 4.1kg of body fat, over 10 weeks, if it’s combined with strength training. Remember: ginger is your friend.
Weights First, Cardio Second
Most of us think about hitting the treadmill or bike as a warm-up before working out. But as celebrity trainer Lacey Stone told Daily Burn, “It’s vital that you lift before your cardio workouts, because you will have the most power and the most strength to lift heavier loads, which in turn will make you stronger.” That muscle will help you burn more fat and your cardio afterwards won’t suffer from the weight training.
If your goal is to burn fat, then maintain a higher heart rate is key. As Men’s Fitness writes, “The first method is simply to burn as many calories as possible, in which almost continuous exercise with little to no rest between sets (such as circuit training) is ideal.” The magazine also suggests alternating sets that work different parts of the body.
Set Goals, Then Reward Yourself
As much as we pretend otherwise, working out for health benefits alone isn’t enough to get most of us off the couch. So instead of wasting money on an expensive gym membership, save the money you would’ve spent to buy yourself that will keep you going when you otherwise wouldn’t.
Dance, Dance, Dance
It isn’t just a fun activity to participate in while at the club. “Dancing provides physical, psychological, and social benefits galore,” as Berkeley Wellness concluded. The publication added, “It has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress and boost self-esteem, body image, coping ability, and overall sense of well-being, with the benefits lasting over time.” So if everything else isn’t working, the answer is simple: dance, dance, dance.