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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Have you set yourself a New Year's Resolution?
Sundried conducted a survey with a reach of 4,000 people and found that 43% of people expect to give up their goal after just one month.
Research shows that 95% of New Year's Resolutions are fitness related, but after just 3 months, only 10% of people think their resolution will last.
So why do we give up so easily and how can we make sure our goals not only last, but are met?
10 Reasons we give up on our New Year’s Resolutions
1. Going Solo
Many of us set our fitness goals and then try to achieve them alone. We won’t tell anyone what we’re working towards in fear of failure. In fact, we need to think more - strength in numbers, by sharing our goals with others we are more likely to succeed for two reasons.
- You have someone to answer to. Sharing a goal suggests you’re truly serious about wanting to make it happen, as you wouldn’t want to be seen as a failure.
- A problem shared is a problem halved - training with someone towards your goal, be it a friend or a PT adds twice the motivation and can help to ensure you don’t let yourself, or your partner down.
2. Too High Expectations
It’s important to set a New Year's Resolution which is realistic, you can’t be expecting a Christmas miracle to conquer your New Year’s resolution for you. If you want to lose weight, put a number on it that's achievable, rather than leaving it open-ended or expecting the world in just a few months. You can do this by truly analysing your goal, taking a good hard look at yourself and weighing up whether your fitness goal is realistic. It may mean downsizing your goal for now, but keeping it as a goal to work towards in the future, as part of your bigger picture.
3. Giving up too easily
January is a tough old month, it’s cold, it’s dark, everyone’s got hangovers and it's another 11 months before next Christmas, talk about January blues...because of this, it seems to take less of an excuse for us to give up on our goals. We need to hang on in there! Having a plan of how you’re going to achieve your goals once the excitement wears off can help you to stay focused. Once you’ve achieved a fitness goal, you're far more likely to set and achieve another because you know you really can do it, you’ve proved it!
4. Not Enough Time
As with any goal, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to make it work and so for many fitness goals, this can be the reason we fail. Setting slots in advance for exercise or breaking routines into 5-minute goals and targets can help to knock your goal down into more manageable time frames. Fitness doesn’t take hours and hours, it just takes good planning. For example, we created EHOH, every hour on the hour, where we exercise for a few minutes at a time to combat the negative effects of having a sedentary office job. Prioritise your goal as of importance to you and you’re sure to find time to work at it.
5. Not Enough Money
A new goal usually comes at a cost, whether it’s a new gym membership or new kit, money can be a deciding factor in you achieving your goal. Whilst sometimes the initial start up, ie. buying the kit and joining a gym, does cost a lot, you can take advantage of January deals and you have to see it as an investment in yourself. Choose activewear which is designed to last in the long run to save money down the line. Paying for a gym membership to help you achieve your goal can also work as extra motivation to make sure you get there, as nobody likes to waste money!
6. No Plan
A man who fails to prepare, prepares to fail. This is a saying I stand by 100%, if I don’t have prepped meals I’ll snack off plan, or starve and binge, neither are great. If you set off on a journey you’d never been on before without a sat nav, how would you make it without checking the route in advance? Planning and preparation prevents a poor performance. Whilst you can hire a Personal Trainer to work as your ‘sat nav’ guiding you to fitness, or so to speak, you’ll still need to plan when you’re going to train with them. A goal without a plan is just a wish, you need to put your words into actions to achieve your goal.
7. No Motivation
Motivation might be what gets your started, but it fades so you need to use that initial motivation to create habits that will keep your goal continuing to happen, even once the initial buzz is a thing of the past.
8. No Self-Belief
Sometimes we could really do with someone reminding us there is no such thing as ‘I can’t’. This is a big contender when it comes to fitness goals, as you have to believe you can do it to really try. We also don’t compliment ourselves enough for the progress we make along the way even if we haven’t hit our goal, if progress has been made, it should be appreciated and proves that it can be done. Don’t think you can do it? Prove yourself wrong!
9. Social Situations
Ooo go on just one more, and one turned into four. Over Christmas the chances are you’ve had a fair few social situations where you’ve promised yourself you won’t drink, you’ll pick the salad or you’ll call it a night before midnight and then comes 3am and you’re drunk singing with a kebab in your hand. We’ve all been there and in the most part - you can blame your friends. Peer pressure is a huge factor in breaking your resolutions, because nobody wants to feel left out and social situations at this time of year in particular always revolve around drinking and eating far more than we should. Instead of turning into a social recluse, why not manage your social events, pick healthy options and drive - that way you have your excuse for not drinking.
10. You Forget
You made your resolution drunk at 12.01am New Year's day and woke up on January the second completely oblivious. Perhaps a drunken resolution is destined to fail.
“Celebrate being overweight? Have I read that right?”
Yes, indeed you have. It is not every day when you can celebrate being overweight. In fact, you may not think it is ever appropriate. But you would if, like 61.7% of adults in the UK, you started with a BMI classified as obese.
Recruit X was part of that statistic. On November 15th 2015 he had a dangerously high visceral fat level of 14. That level of fat around your organs can cause a multitude of health complications, from diabetes to liver dysfunction. Recruit X also weighed 106.8 kg, classing his BMI as obese.
Recruit X decided it was time to make a change. With the help of Sundried and a dedicated attitude towards his new fitness regime, in just over 4 weeks, we are celebrating. Recruit X moved out of the obese BMI bracket to the overweight bracket.
That’s not to say it was an easy journey. Credit where credit's due, when we started just over 4 weeks ago, Recruit X found it a struggle to run 2km. He suffered from very laboured breathing and had to slow down continuously, but he did not give up. A challenge was set 1 month from starting off the Cliff Lift Steps in Southend. (If you are in Southend the Cliff Lift Steps is a great challenge). 10 Flights until freedom, it’s a tough route to climb; we knew an increase in effort was required. Recruit X gave it all he’d got
So just after 4 weeks, Recruit X had lost 10kg, moved down an entire BMI bracket, knocked his visceral fat from 14 to 11, and started to find his training easier. Everything is looking up (or down depending on how you look at it!).
Unfortunately we have chucked Christmas into the mix and the next run will determine how many steps backwards we are looking at, but we like a challenge!
Try this upper body arm workout for women to blast your arms and get results! Including exercises for biceps, triceps, and shoulders. Perfect for toning and sculpting your arms and bingo wings.
Cable Tricep Pull Downs
This exercise is for isolating the triceps.
How to perform the tricep pull down
Using either a straight bar or rope attachment, attach to a cable machine in the high position. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, pull the bar down and keep your elbows tucked in. Push the bar down, fully extending your arms, then slowly raise the bar up back to the start position. Keep the movement control and feel the burn in the back of your arms!
Key exercise tips:
- Keep the elbows tucked in
- Fully extend the arms
- Exhale as you press down and inhale on the way up
- Too much movement of the arms – taking the elbows away from the body
- Shrugging the shoulders and using the trap muscles
- Going too heavy and using momentum
This is a great cardiovascular exercise that will trim and tone the arms whilst simultaneously working the core and blasting the shoulders.
How to use the battle ropes
Hold the ends of the rope at arm's length in front of your hips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, soften your knees, and begin alternately raising and lowering each arm explosively. Keep alternating arms for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, instead of making waves, start slamming the rope into the ground. Make sure to keep breathing and don't hold your breath!
Key exercise tips:
- Tense your abs tightly during performance
- Concentrate on keeping your speed fast
- Don't hold your breath
- Sacrificing technique with fatigue
- Performing the exercise for too long
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
This is an isolation exercise for the biceps using a pair of dumbbells.
How to perform the dumbbell curl
In a standing position, holding a dumbbell in your hand and keeping your elbow pinned to your waist, curl your arm up to your chest, flexing your elbow then slowly extend it back down again. Repeat on each arm for 10-12 reps.
Key exercise tips:
- Keep your elbow in a fixed position
- Fully extend your arm at the bottom of the movement
- Moving the elbow out of alignment
- Going too heavy and sacrificing technique
- Swinging the body with the movement
Tricep Bench Dips
This is a body weight exercise that you can do virtually anywhere. It’s a compound exercise, which means it will hit all three of your tricep muscles as well as your shoulders and chest muscles.
How to perform the tricep bench dip
Position your hands at shoulder width apart on a bench with your hands facing forward. Extend your legs out, taking your bum off the bench balancing on your hands.
Lower your body down towards the floor taking your arms into a 90 degrees bend. Press your body upwards, extending out your arms back into the start position.
Key exercise tips:
- Keep your core tight to maintain an upright position
- Make sure your elbows track in line with your hand
- Breathe in as you lower and breathe out as you press up
- If you find it difficult to perform the tricep dip with straight legs then bend your knees placing your feet flat on the floor
- Rounding/curving back
- Not going low enough
- Hyperextending the elbows
We are forever being told we need to get fit and the question on everyone's lips is 'how do I get fit?' We look at what it means to get fit and all the ways we can get there. Your go-to guide for all tips to get fit.
What's Covered in this post
- How long until I get fit?
- How long does it take to get unfit?
- Could you be fit and fat?
- What is fit?
- Testing VO2 Max
- Cardio respiratory fitness
- Muscular strength
- Muscular endurance
- Body Composition
How long until I Get Fit?
This question is one that most people will ask at one time or another, especially if they are keen to lose weight, tone up, and are working hard to achieve this. We all want to know when we’re going to see results, but unfortunately there is no clean cut figure which we can place on our fitness. We can, however, predict general patterns, though it is important to consider that everyone’s starting level of fitness differs and therefore so will the duration of time it takes to get fit.
Asking how long it will take to "get fit" is a difficult question to answer as it is not quantitative; there is no template to say what is and isn't 'fit'. Results can be seen as little as a few days, but typically it takes a few weeks for your body to adapt to new stimuli, whether that’s diet, training, or both. This is why if you don’t see results in the first week, you shouldn’t feel disheartened.
Typically, the most measurable results follow after a minimum of 6-8 weeks. There is a common saying that it takes 4 weeks for you to see your body changing, 8 weeks for friends and family, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.
The best way to determine how long it will take you to get fit is by setting fitness goals. You can also undertake fitness testing by doing physical fitness tests like a VO2 max test. There are other ways to test your fitness such as the sit and reach test or Astrand treadmill test.
Testing VO2 Max
Your VO2 max is an indication of how much oxygen your body can uptake during exercise. You can do several gym-based tests to determine your VO2 max. Alternatively, smart watches such as the Garmin Forerunner 235 running watch can calculate your VO2 max based upon your performance whilst wearing the watch. If running is not your thing, the Wattbike also calculates your VO2 max based on your performance during cycling.
Time trial Ideas
Time trial inspired fitness rulers are great for those who lack the technology to test VO2 max, as they are accessible to all. One example could be completing as many reps as possible of an exercise, for example burpees, in 2 minutes, or running a particular distance and measuring the improvement in time. Remember those awful beep tests at school? That’s just another fitness test and let’s face it you probably pushed that bit harder not because your PE teacher was shouting at you, but because there was an opportunity to beat your mates at something.
How long does it take to get unfit?
According to Dr. Edward Coyle, director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Texas, in highly-trained athletes, VO2 max decreases by 7 percent in the 12 to 21 days after stopping training and another 9 percent during days 21 to 84.
So after just 3 weeks of inactivity, your fitness could decrease by up to 20%.
VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is measured in millilitres per kilogramme of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).
Can you be fit and fat?
Being thin on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean you are fit or healthy on the inside. Whilst getting fit should be about maintaining the ideal weight for your height, it’s possible to have a healthy BMI and be unfit. You have to work at your fitness, it really is a 'use it or lose it' scenario.
“Can you be fit and fat?” was a question posed by Professor Steven Blair of the University of South Carolina. For eight years, Blair and his team studied the health of nearly 20,000 men between the ages of 30 and 83. He put them through complete physical assessments including treadmill tests for cardiovascular fitness and body composition assessments. The results concluded that fitness turned out to be a far more reliable predictor of health and longevity than either weight or BMI.
Unfit men with BMIs of less than 27 had a death rate that was 2.8 times greater than men with BMIs of 30 or higher (considered obese) who were moderately fit.
Blair also published a study on the role that fitness vs. fatness, or higher BMI, plays in women’s long-term health. Among 9,925 women who had been patients at the Cooper Clinic at the Cooper Institute, moderately fit women of all weights averaged a 48 percent lower risk of dying prematurely (from all causes) than unfit women. Highly fit women (those who could walk longest on the treadmill) had the lowest risk of premature death of all, nearly 60 percent lower than thin but unfit women.
What is Fit?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, physical fitness is defined as "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity."
There are 5 recognised main components for fitness:
Cardio-respiratory fitness refers to how well our bodies can supply fuel during physical activity via our circulatory and respiratory systems. Any activity which increases your heart rate for an extended duration of time will help to improve your cardio-respiratory fitness. Exercising increases cardio-respiratory endurance in a number of ways: the heart muscle is strengthened so that it is able to pump more blood per heartbeat whilst at the same time additional small arteries are grown within muscle tissue so that blood can be delivered to working muscles more effectively when it’s needed. Cardio-respiratory fitness has been found to help ward off the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke, among other diseases.
The US Department of Health and Human Services defines muscular strength as "the ability of muscle to exert force during an activity."
Generally, muscular strength is measured via comparing a person's ability to lift or push a given weight against the ability of the general population to do the same. If a muscle is worked consistently, it should increase in strength.
Related: How To Get Stronger
Muscular endurance is similar to muscular strength, but requires the ability to repeatedly execute strength. What do we mean by this? Whereas with muscular strength luck or adrenaline may push you through a single lift, here it’s how long you can keep going before your muscle tires.
Muscular strength training induces hypertrophy (muscle building), whereas muscular endurance requires a different energy system, which can last for longer.
Body composition refers to the levels of muscle, bone, water and fat that make up your body. Two individuals who weigh the same could have completely different body compositions, which is why there is so much debate whether BMI is accurate as it only considers weight against height.
People with a high muscle mass will weigh more than those who are the same height with the same waist circumference because muscle weighs more than fat. The most accurate way of measuring body composition is through water submersion, and measuring volume and disposition. This is a long, tedious process and for most of us is inaccessible.
There are some smart scales and body composition monitors available on the general fitness market and whilst the accuracy of scales such as these often comes under scrutiny, it still gives the user a good idea of their body composition.
Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints or the ability of your joints to move freely. It also refers to the mobility of your muscles, which allows for more movement around the joints. Flexibility can be increased by a variety of activities designed to stretch joints, ligaments and tendons such as stretching, foam rolling, and yoga.
There are three types of exercise that are generally utilised to increase flexibility:
- Dynamic stretching: the ability to complete a full range of motion of a particular joint. This type of flexibility is used in standard "warming up" exercises as it helps ready the body for physical activity
- Static-active stretching: holding the body or part of the body in a stretched position and maintaining that position for a period of time. One example of static-active stretching is doing the splits
- Ballistic stretching: only to be used when the body is already warmed up and limber from exercise, it involves stretching in various positions and then bouncing while holding the stretch. Some governing health bodies, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, believe that ballistic stretching can cause injuries.
A combination of these 5 elements will make a good overall level of fitness, although some may excel at some principles and not others. Fitness is largely subjective and it is important to balance good fitness and health.
To “get fit”, focus on any of the areas above which are weaker for you personally and work to improve them while also setting goals so that you know if you are making progress.