There are numerous ways to keep fit, some individuals enjoy the movement within a yoga practice whilst others prefer to run for miles. Not only do you require a plan that is conducive to your goals but it is essential that the regimen is enjoyable and attainable.
Step 1: Identify your goals
Whether you are training for an event or are striving to become more active, it is important to identify ‘why’ you want exercise. Try to focus on one goal at a time and keep it realistic; early success is instrumental to build confidence which can lead to long-term results.
It is important that your goal is measurable, specific, and time bound so that you can keep a track of your progress and have a clear pathway for improvement. Wanting to ‘be stronger’, for example, is a great start but very vague. Wanting to ‘be able to do 50 deadlift repetitions with 50kg in 3 months’ is more specific, has a deadline, and can be measured.
Within your larger goal, schedule in smaller goals that are achievable in a shorter time period. For example, say that you want to run an eight-minute mile. During your training, you should identify a smaller goal, like running half a mile in four minutes. It is all about those small victories which will keep you on track in the long run.
Finally, consider recruiting a support system that will encourage you when an extra boost of motivation is needed.
Step 2: Find an enjoyable workout routine
Movement does not have to be an unpleasant experience; it can actually be great fun.
If you are someone that likes exploring new places, then try walking or cycling. If you enjoy socialising with others, then an exercise class could be the right type of exercise for you. By choosing enjoyable workouts, you will become invested in your fitness journey and appreciate the process.
Step 3: Create a routine
Planning a week of exercise can seem a little daunting but it is actually pretty simple.
Firstly, decide how many days per week you can dedicate to training and which days would be best to take off. For example, if you are usually out on a Saturday night, make Sunday a rest day so that there is no pressure to head to the gym when you are feeling a little delicate.
Ensure that you have regular rest days within your week to facilitate recover and adaptation. It is easy to push through training and negate taking a day off but this will only hinder progress and risk an injury or illness occurring.
Maintain a similar plan each week in order to build a habitual routine. Try to space out the higher intensity/impact workouts throughout the week and ensure that 70% of your training is a lower intensity/impact type of activity.
Training plans needs to progress over time and be completed consistently for results to occur. Keep things realistic but do not be afraid to push yourself when the time is right.
Step 4: Keep track
Tracking your workouts (whether it be with a workout journal, a fitness app, or something else) should accomplish three goals:
It should be quick and easy. Spend the time exercising, not recording it.
It should be useful. Only record the essential information and admit anything that you will not act upon.
It should be versatile. The recording system should be able to adapt to any style of training.
An effective workout tracking system will help keep you accountable, stay motivated, and maintain focus. Get it right and you will reap the rewards of being able to measure progress and plan accordingly.
Step 5: Manage your expectations
It is great to be ambitious and set the bar high with your goals- after all, what doesn’t challenge you, doesn’t change you! However, progression can be slow and it is important to not expect huge changes overnight. This can really hurt your self-esteem and hinder any further advancements.
It is very easy to think that we are not progressing but do not be discouraged. The speed of improvement does not matter, improvement is improvement.
Think of fitness as a lifelong experience, get your routine right and you are halfway to leading an active lifestyle.
About the author: Laura Smith is an elite-level athlete and has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
Summer is well and truly here, which means it’s the perfect time to exercise outdoors! Outdoor workouts are great because you can bathe in the glorious sunshine and reap the extra health benefits of the vitamin D exposure from the rays - just make sure you wear plenty of sun cream!
The Sundried Summer Workout can be done anywhere outdoors and doesn’t require any equipment so you can do it whenever the mood strikes. Maybe in your garden, while the kids play, or maybe in the park in an open space. Always remember to warm up properly before a workout and stay hydrated by always having a water bottle with you.
The first round is a small circuit comprising of 5 exercises. Aim to complete each exercise for 60 seconds with no rest. If you are a beginner or you have an underlying injury, take it at your own pace and rest whenever you need. If you want more information on how to do an exercise, click or tap the name of the exercise.
The second round is based on a Tabata style of HIIT training. HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and is a great way to burn fat and get fit. Tabata consists of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, and you can repeat that as many times as you like with as many different exercises as you like. In this workout, you'll be completing 8 rounds (1 round = 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest) to last 4 minutes with all different exercises. Go straight from one round to the next until you are finished.
Your final round is based more on body-weight strength training. You don't need equipment to have a good workout! Complete 3 sets of 10 reps on each of the following exercises with 30-60 seconds of rest in between each one. This is a full body workout which will target every muscle group. Take the exercises slow and perform each repetition with care, focussing on the muscle under tension.
Well done for completing the Sundried Summer Workout!
On completion of this workout, you should really be feeling the effects. If not, you can either work harder or make the exercises tougher. Remember, exercise is supposed to make you feel good about yourself, and you should fuel your body with nutritious food afterwards. If you find a particular workout boring, don't make yourself suffer by doing it. Find something you love, and you will find that staying fit has never been so easy.
Getting in cold, open water can hold fear or confusion for many athletes, or others just simply don’t enjoy it. Whatever happens, it’s good to be prepared; follow these tips for preparing for the open water.
When you get in open water, take time to familiarise yourself and if you can't get comfortable, at least get acclimatised. The number one issue for panic is people setting off too quickly, either just to get on or to get warm. This spikes your heart rate and your breathing and will likely set off any anxiety that will become more difficult to control. Let your wetsuit float you up in the water and try to relax back so you can float on your back – and then on your front too.
Identify the struggles of swimming in open water
Going off course. Panicking. Swimming into people. Letting your form collapse. Maybe you’re not being used to swimming in a wetsuit. Unforeseen conditions like strong currents and surf/chop.
The number one remedy to the majority if not all of the above is practice, practice, practice.
It's true that it is hard to get a lot of practice in open water because of schedules, weather conditions, and other commitments. So continue to swim your regular sessions every week. But as the race approaches take one or two of those swims into open water, whether it be a lake, estuary, or ocean. Make it as high a priority as possible.
Swimming in the pool is not completely different from swimming in the open water – but it does have its own vagaries. So to get faster at the latter, you need to do it more. And not just on race day.
Use these swims to test your wetsuit, practice sighting, get used to not seeing the bottom, and practice with others. Also, work on longer intervals at race pace. Some people will benefit from maintaining a more constant rhythm – others will need to readjust from having a rest and a push off at the end of every length!
Prepare as much as you can in the pool
Swimming in the pool still has its place. Even though you race in the open water, you should still keep up your regular weekly pool sessions, especially if your form is still weak. Of course, you can work on technique in the lake or sea, but it becomes more challenging. Pool swims are important to develop speed and improve technique without the distractions that open water provides. Use the pool to focus on your form and drill work as well as a few race pace speed sets for time so that you can monitor your splits.
If open water is simply out of the question, simulate the chop, surf, and congestion by trying to swim in a lane with three to four other people at the same time. It is tough but it will mimic that race start well. Also, close your eyes while swimming to mimic losing your ability to guide yourself with the black line (obviously only do this if you have an empty lane!) Turning before the wall is also a great way to simulate the stop-go of open water swimming, and not resting between lengths.
Swimming in open water – at least with a wetsuit – should be quicker than swimming in the pool. So make sure that you are prepared for swimming in open water. Practise putting your wetsuit on so that it fits properly over your shoulders. Get yourself comfortable entering the water so that your heart rate doesn’t take such a shock to the system come race day.
Read more: Tips For Swimming In Open Water
About the author: John Wood is a triathlete, triathlon coach, and Sundried ambassador.
Cycling can get a little scary at times, especially on busy roads or technical race courses. If you find that your training and racing is being hindered by a lack of bike handling skills and nervousness on the roads, we're here to help.
Practice your bike handling skills
This is something that all cyclists should be doing in order to improve their training and racing. If you lack proper bike handling skills, you will find that technical courses are a nightmare and that unforeseen circumstances like bad weather could mean a premature end to your race.
Skills such as riding on loose gravel, on wet roads, down steep descents, and round sharp bends are things that come with practice. Start off slow and somewhere you know well and build yourself up; the more you practice, the more your confidence will grow. Other skills such as single-leg riding can be practised indoor on a Wattbike, turbo trainer, or even just a stationary gym bike.
Ride in a group
They say there's safety in numbers, and this can certainly be true when cycling. When cycling in a fairly large group, you'll find that hazards become less scary as you can watch those up ahead tackle them first and motorists should give you more space.
Of course, that's not to say that cycling in a group is always safer and that you're guaranteed not to have run-ins with cars. However, working together as a team to overcome tough conditions can really help with your confidence.
Other skills to practice when riding in a group include making contact with other cyclists and riding very close to others. Your instinctive reaction when touched by another cyclist will be to look around at the person you've touched, but it's important to stay looking ahead at where you're going. Practice making quick contact with a friend or fellow group rider and then move on to practising keeping your hand on their shoulder as you ride. Skills such as this can improve your confidence in mass start events and will mean you know what to expect.
Get comfortable in the saddle
Receiving a proper bike fit from an accredited bike store can make a huge difference to your cycling, and it doesn't have to be expensive. Unless you're looking to really maximise your power output and aero position for serious racing, a basic bike fit can be inexpensive or even free of charge.
If you're comfortable in the saddle and your position over the handlebars feels good, you will feel much safer on the bike. If you constantly feel like you're over-reaching for the handlebars and brakes or that your legs are overstretched and you can't reach the ground comfortably, you might feel more nervous on your bike. Once you feel secure and like the bike is an extension of yourself, you will be able to handle it much more confidently and co-operate better together. Make sure you're in control of the bike and not the other way round!
Do a sportive
If you're nervous to ride on busy roads or in places you don't know well, it's a good idea to ride an organised race or sportive. These will always be well sign-posted so that you can't go the wrong way and you will be forced to face any challenging conditions that you'd usually avoid on your own.
This will be a great way of getting out of your comfort zone by riding somewhere unknown and having to face challenges head-on.
If you dread your workout, chances are you're not going to do it. Slogging away on a treadmill for hours may be good for your body but it's not great for your mind. We've put together 5 awesome ways to get fit and burn calories without even realising it!
Gardening is a great functional fitness workout as it will have you squatting down, stretching high, lifting your arms, and carrying heavy loads, all of which will challenge every muscle group in your body. A 140lb (10st) woman can expect to burn up to 300 calories from 1 hour of gardening!
This is a great way to keep fit as it is free, you don't have to leave the comfort of your home, and in the summer you will be exposed to revitalising vitamin D from the sunlight. Not only this, it's a great skill to develop and you will have a beautiful garden to show for your efforts!
2. Playing a musical instrument
It may not feel like it, but playing a musical instrument can be a very energetic activity. Especially instruments like the drums where you use your whole body to play, you can expect to burn between 100-300 calories in an hour!
Learning to play an instrument is an excellent skill to develop as it'll focus you mentally and this should help you in day-to-day life. Not only this, it can be very social as you can then join a band or orchestra to share your passion with others.
3. Playing with your children
It can sometimes feel difficult to exercise when you have kids as finding time can be almost impossible. Playing with your children by chasing after them in a park or playing football or another sport with them is an awesome way of getting fit yourself while also allowing your kids to expend all their pent up energy. Forget lifting weights, lifting your kids will give you a great workout without having to hit the gym!
Playing with your children gives you an opportunity to bond and you won't even notice how many calories you're burning. Another benefit is that you'll be helping your kids to get active from a young age which will really help them in the long run.
4. Walking the dog
If you have a furry friend or two, you can expect to burn up to 200 calories an hour by walking them. Depending on how energetic your dog is, you could even go jogging with them to help them exercise better.
By having the company of your dog, you won't feel as self-conscious while out and about and knowing that you have to walk them will be all the motivation you need.
Finally, spending time cleaning your house can be a great way of burning calories, toning up, and you'll have a beautiful sparkly house at the end of it! Just like with gardening, cleaning will act as a full body workout as you'll be squatting down to scrub low surfaces, reaching high, bending and twisting in all directions in order to clean. This will mean that all of your muscles are worked – even ones you may never have worked before!