The energy and excitement of making new year's resolutions and getting fit is well and truly burnt out and the gym is starting to empty out again. How can you stay motivated when all you want to do is melt into the sofa and eat? We're here to help. Follow these tips to boost your motivation when it feels like there's no hope.
1. Partner up
If you have someone to let down, you'll be less likely to flake. Having accountability means you have more of a reason to get to the gym and it will be more hassle to have to text your friend or personal trainer to say you're not going and then get an earful from then than to just go. Plus, you'll know that once you're there you'll have a great time because training with a buddy makes training more bearable.
2. Get changed
How many times have you been sat on the sofa watching TV after work telling yourself "I'll go in a minute" or "I'll go when this show is finished" and then it never happens? By getting changed into your activewear you're getting the ball rolling and getting into the right frame of mind to work out. Once you're changed into your sportswear you're already halfway there and will be much more ready to get out there and go train.
3. Take your gym gear to work
If you go to the gym straight from work, you won't have a chance to talk yourself out of it. If you pair this with point number 1 of partnering up and telling your friend you'll join them at the gym, you'll be well on your way to success. Get changed at work and go straight to the gym instead of going home first. It's much harder to gee yourself back up once you're home from work than if you continue the momentum from your day at the office.
4. Have a workout to look forward to
There's nothing worse than finishing a monotonous day at work and thinking about now having to go and run on a treadmill for half an hour while staring at a wall. By planning out a fun and exciting workout, you'll actually want to go to the gym and do it. Try circuit training or functional training to mix things up and talk to a personal trainer if you'd like to try something new like Olympic weightlifting or CrossFit. If you're dreading the workout, getting motivated can be impossible. Whereas if you're actually looking forward to it, exercising can be a joy instead of a chore. If you enjoy something like Zumba, sign up for a class! Group exercise can be a great way to stay motivated too.
5. Use the 10 second rule
If you find yourself making terrible excuses like "it's raining" or "I'm too tired" then use the 10 second rule. It's very simple: count to 10 and then go anyway! This will eliminate your mind telling you that you can't do it and 9 times out of 10 you'll find that you actually enjoy the workout and will be pleased that you went.
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What is circuit training?
Circuit training was first developed in 1953 by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Anderson at the University of Leeds in 1953. The formula was as follows:
“A circuit consists of 9 to 12 stations, with each station representing one exercise. At each station, an exercise is performed with a specific resistance and for a specific number of reps. Work at each station takes 30-60 seconds, after which the trainee moves directly to the next station on the circuit (with no break) and begins the exercise. An aerobics station requiring 15-180 seconds of work is placed between the main exercise stations.”
Morgan and Anderson developed this form of circuit training in order to enable individuals to work at their own intensity while also training with others. This is why it is a popular training method for army recruits and other team exercise sessions.
During circuit training, the body is forced to work through exercises of varying intensities, resulting in the use of different energy systems all within one session. Training in both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems provides an excellent workout improving overall fitness, speedwork and endurance.
Over the years, trainers have adapted and changed the formula to suit their needs, such as boxing circuits or bodyweight circuits, but the main structure and end result remain the same.
What are the benefits of circuit training?
- Multiple people can train at once and work at their own intensity
- The variety means there’s no room for boredom
- Circuit training boosts cardiovascular fitness
- Circuit training boosts muscular fitness
- It offers a full-body workout in a short space of time
- It's social
- No wasted time as rest periods are minimal
- Significant calorie expenditure
Research Supporting Circuit Training
A study at The University of Alabama found that circuit training can maintain heart rates at near 80% of the max, at this level of intensity aerobic development can occur - this takes place between 78- 85% of the maximum heart rate.
In a study of weight training circuits conducted by The National Athletic Health Institute in the 1970’s participants performed back to back strength exercises with no rest for 10 weeks. The study’s participants gained 3 pounds of muscle and lost 2 pounds of fat. Both men and women achieved reductions in skinfold thickness and increased their overall muscular strength. Despite the lack of any cardio within the circuits, participants saw an improved running time to exhaustion on a treadmill by 5 to 6% and an 11% increase in their VO2 max.
A study for Aging and Disease called “Impact of Resistance Circuit Training on Neuromuscular, Cardiorespiratory and Body Composition Adaptations in the Elderly” found that in order to optimise the body composition, muscle strength gains, and developed cardiovascular function from circuit training, the following protocols need to be maintained:
- 2 circuits should be completed weekly and can be implemented with endurance training.
- Circuit weight training should last 30–50 minutes. The number of sets and the repetitions per exercise is going to depend on the intensity of training.
- The loading intensity to promote hypertrophy (build muscle) should approach 60–85% (more highly trained individuals 85%) of 1RM, although low intensity is also recommended (e.g. 40% of 1RM), high velocity contractions on at least 1 day per week to develop muscle power.
- The work to rest ratio is also a critical factor in the prescribing of circuit training. The work to rest ratio 1:1 (30:30 s) may be an excellent stimulus to promote improvements on aerobic fitness, and modifications on body composition (i.e. decrease body fat).
Circuit Training Workout Routine
5 - 10 minute warm up light run.
Complete 3 rounds of the following exercises, try 45 seconds on with 15 seconds rest (just enough time to switch between exercises)
1.Bench step ups
3. Bench push ups
3. Travelling plank
1.Box jumps onto the bench
2.Bench plank rotations
3.Lateral Step up with abduction
1.Bunny Hops with hands on the bench
2.Mountain Climbers with hands on the bench
3.Feet elevated plank
5 - 10 minutes cool down stretches.
The beauty of circuit training is that a circuit can be set up anytime anywhere, you can change the routine to suit the equipment you’ve got, or use none at all. The main factor is your level of effort, as long as your circuit works you hard, you’ll reap the rewards.
This is your one-stop guide to the infamous Russian kettlebell swing. A fantastic exercise to add to any workout routine, we're here with all the info you need on why you should be doing it, how to do it properly, and top tips for maximising results.
Visit our Kettlebell Training links for progression and other Kettlebell Training exercises
Benefits of the Kettlebell Swing
Kettlebell swings are initiated with a powerful hip thrust using your glutes and hamstring muscles. Each movement is short and powerful and therefore can increase your overall power in performance; great for triathletes and runners.
Strengthen your core without crunches
The abdominal muscles remain engaged throughout this movement to stabilise you, giving them a great workout in a functional way. Crunches are good at strengthening your abs in an isolated way, but kettlebell swings can strength the entire core as part of a full body movement.
Burn a lot of calories
Combining weight training with power training takes your heart rate through the roof and training at this kind of high intensity will have a massive calorie burning effect as well as creating EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption), meaning you continue to burn calories even after the activity has finished.
Develop hip flexibility
Our hips are fragile, so working on movements which develop hip hinge strength can help to prevent injuries and replacements in later life. The kettlebell swing will work your glutes and other muscles surrounding the hips as well as keeping them supple.
Condition your lower back
When performed correctly, the kettlebell swing helps develop strength in the back whilst carrying a load. If the lower back immediately aches when swinging, it’s usually the first signal of poor form, although it could be injury or many other issues. Increasing the strength in your lower back can reduce back ache in everyday life as well as improving your posture, especially if you sit at a desk all day.
Muscle pulls against the bone which not only builds muscle but also strengthens the bone, thereby increasing your bone density which is important for staying healthy as we age. As well as burning more calories than fat, the more muscle you have the better chance you have of having a high metabolism.
Build cardiovascular endurance without a treadmill
The high speed and duration of kettlebell swings elevates your heart rate continuously throughout the exercise like regular cardio, so you can skip the treadmill.
Improve coordination and focus
Swinging a heavy object in front of your face requires considerable coordination and concentration. Working on kettlebell swings will work your mind just as much as your body and will help to develop the areas of the brain that communicate between brain and body.
How to: Russian Kettlebell Swing
For the Russian kettlebell swing, we only swing the bell in line with our shoulders; other variations see the kettlebell swing all the way above the head and this is commonly seen in sports such as CrossFit. When the bell is taken above the head it becomes an American swing.
- Place the kettlebell about 30 cm in front of you on the ground and stand with a wide stance. Feet just outside your shoulders with your knees slightly bent.
- Bend at the hips to reach down for the kettlebell with bot hands, keeping your back straight.
- In one swift movement, lift the kettlebell as you thrust your hips forward, as your hips reach full extension the kettle bell should swing in line with your shoulders.
- As you allow the bell to swing back down return to your start position before firing up for the next swing.
Top Tips For The Kettlebell Swing:
- Keep the motion fluid so you don’t stop between reps.
- Thrust with the hips, do not arch with your back.
- Don’t drag the kettlebell up, it should be the force of your hips causing it to travel, not your arms dragging it upwards.
- Breathe out as you thrust the bell forward.
- Practice makes perfect!
What is the difference between a Russian Kettlebell Swing and an American Kettlebell Swing?
This one is a big debate in the world of Kettlebell training and there are arguments for why either exercise is better.
The Russian swing uses explosive power hinging at the hips to take the bell to shoulder height before swinging back to the start position. The American swing take this one step further, forcing the swing all the way up above your head.
“We don’t do half rep pull-ups, we don’t do half rep squats, and we don’t do half rep push-ups. If there is a natural range of motion to any movement we like to complete it. To do otherwise seems unnatural.” - Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit
They have gone so far as to call the original Russian Swing a “half rep”. This is a difficult argument to make, as taking the bell over the head can lead to arching the back and has the potential to impinge the shoulder joint as there is the potential for flexion beyond the natural range of movement, at the moment when the bell passes the ears you are at most risk as it would be easy for the bell to continue moving passed the desired angle.
Working out with a partner can help to motivate you and getting fit with your other half can also be a great bonding experience. Follow Sundried's workout routine to become the ultimate fitness couple!
You will need:
You’re going to warm up using your resistance bands with four simple exercises. You should spend around 2 minutes on each exercise to ensure you are fully warmed up.
Resistance band chest stretch
Hold the resistant band in front of you with both hands. Start with your hands in front of your shoulders and then pull the band back, opening out your chest and pulling your elbows back, keeping them high. If you can, extend a little past this position to feel the stretch deeper into your chest and then release the resistance. This should be a constant fluid movement resisting and returning the band, rather than a static stretch, so be sure to keep it moving!
Resistance band chest and shoulder opener
Start by holding the resistance band tightly with both hands. Pulling against the band, lift your arms up above your head in a Y position and then as far back towards your bum as your shoulders comfortably allow, return to the start position and repeat in one fluid motion.
Resistance band travelling squats
Tie your resistance band in a loop around the bottom of your thighs, just above the knee. Now squat and step laterally against the resistance, making sure to travel in both directions.
Take it in turns to loop your resistance band around your runner and hold onto the ends like reigns. Now sprint on the spot, running against your resistance partner's resistance. Keep your knees up to further engage the glutes.
We've all seen videos of couples working out together and it looks so fun! Make sure you enjoy yourselves while doing this workout routine and motivate each other to keep going!
Med ball waltz
Stand face to face with your partner with one of you holding a medicine ball to your chest. One partner steps into a forward lunge, the other steps the same leg back into a lunge. As you lunge forwards and backwards, pass the medicine ball between you with each step.
Squat and dip
One partner stands against a wall and sinks into a squat. The other stands in front of them facing away and puts their hands on their knees to do tricep dips. Complete a minute on each move before you swap over.
Plank double jumps
One partner sets up in a regular elbow plank, with elbows under shoulders and spine in neutral alignment. The move from this position is to jump both legs outwards and then inwards to the regular plank position. Your partner stands with one foot either side of your legs and as the planker jumps the legs out, they simultaneously jump their legs in. It should look a little like a human hopscotch. Be sure to concentrate and not land on your partner! 1 minute for each move before swapping over.
Hand-held pistol squats
Face your partner and grab their hands. Stretch one leg out straight, making sure it's the opposite to your partner. Sink down in unison into a pistol squat and then swap to give the other leg a turn.
Push-up high fives
Both assume the push-up position facing one another. Lower yourselves to the ground in sync and as you reach the top of the push-up, high-five each other with opposite hands. Complete as many as you can in one minute, resting or coming down to your knees if you need to.
Russian twist passes
Both of you sit on the ground beside one another, with one of you holding the medicine ball. Each of you is required to lean back, keeping a neutral spine to engage the core, then lift your legs off the ground with a bend at the knees so that the backs of your calves are parallel to the floor. As you twist, pass the ball to each other. Complete for 1 minute.
If you're looking to torch fat, get lean, and increase your strength and power all in one, then this circuit workout is for you. It targets the full body and will have you feeling more athletic in no time.
Full Body Circuit Workout
For this workout you will be completing each exercise for 60 seconds. There are dedicated rest stations incorporated into the workout so try to keep going until you've finished the entire circuit! But of course, if you need to add more rest, listen to your body. The full circuit will last 10 minutes, complete one round as a beginner, or for more advanced exercisers, see how many rounds you can complete!
Always make sure you are in good health before starting a new workout routine and have a water bottle nearby so you can stay hydrated. Let's begin!
Jumping squats are at the base of any good leg workout routine as they increase both strength and power as well as acting as a cardiovascular workout and will get you out of breath and your heart rate up where it should be. Drop into a squat and then spring back up as high as you can. As you land, drop straight back into a squat and repeat.
Read more about how to do the Inch Worm exercise with photo illustrations.
Burpees are widely regarded as one of the toughest but best exercises you can do as they work nearly every muscle in the body and work your cardiovascular fitness as well as increasing functional mobility. To do a full burpee, jump your legs back and catch yourself in a press up position but then continue to drop your chest all the way to the floor. Then push yourself back up, jump your legs in, and jump straight up, clapping your hands above your head. That's one!
Enjoy 60 seconds of rest after 3 tough exercises to get you started. Step from side to side so that your muscles don't cool down too quickly and to keep your heart rate high.
Incorporating kettlebell training into your full body workout routine is great for improving all-round fitness and the kettlebell swing is one of the most popular kettlebell exercises out there. It will work your core and back as well as legs and shoulders so it will torch your muscles all over and burn tons of fat. Click here for a more in-depth explanation of how to do a kettlebell swing.
These are great for activating lazy muscles and forcing your less dominant leg to do all the work instead of relying on the dominant leg to take over. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Step one leg back and drop the knee so that it creates a right angle. Push back up to the original position and then step the other leg back into a lunge. Repeat!
Time to really get that upper body burning! Press ups are an excellent workout for the entire upper body from the chest to the shoulders to the lats. They also work your core and will improve your bench press if you lift regularly.
One more chance to rest before the last few exercises. Make the most of it!
It is hard to hold an isometric move like the plank when you are out of breath and your heart rate is high. Use this as an opportunity to practice controlling your breathing and squeeze your core in tight throughout.
Your final exercise! Click here for more detailed information on how to do tricep dips properly with photo illustrations.