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!
Staying fit and active in winter takes a lot of motivation and it can be easy to succumb to hibernation mode and comfort food. Try this heart-pumping winter metcon workout to keep your fitness up this festive period.
Related: What Is A Metcon Workout?
Winter Metcon Workout
EMOM: Every Minute On the Minute | 10 minutes total |
- 5 burpees
- 15 kettlebell swings (men use 16kg, women use 10kg)
- 5 inch worms
- 10 press ups
- 10 jumping squats
- 20 mountain climbers
- 10 push press (men use 10kg medicine ball, women use 5kg)
- 20 stiff legged deadlifts (men use 12kg dumbbells, women use 8kg)
- 10 jumping lunges
- 10 star jumps
Rest for 5 minutes
AMRAP: As Many Reps As Possible | 5 minutes total |
- Jumping lunges – 60 seconds
- Clean and press – 90 seconds – 50% of your 1RM
- Deadlifts – 90 seconds – 70% of your 1RM
- Overhead press – 60 seconds –50% of your 1RM
If you're on a roll with your training or on a plan for a specific event, sometimes it's tempting to train even when your muscles are sore and achy. We look at whether it's a good idea to still train when you are sore.
Are sore muscles a good sign?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, is common among those who exercise regularly and is nothing to shy away from. Especially if you have recently increased your training intensity/frequency or you are a complete beginner to exercise, you can expect DOMS to last up to 72 hours after your workout.
Our muscles feel sore after a workout because when we train, we develop tiny 'satellite' tears in the muscles. Your muscles get stronger not when you exercise but afterwards, when you are eating and sleeping. This is why consuming enough protein and getting good quality sleep are both key to recovery and improving performance.
Sore muscles are a sign that you have worked hard and that your muscles are on their way to becoming stronger and more efficient. If your DOMS lasts over 72 hours, however, it's time to look at what you might be doing wrong. Perhaps you're not resting enough or not eating enough/the right nutrients. Once your body gets used to a certain training regime, you will find you don't get DOMS as often, if at all, which can be a signal it's time to crank up the intensity or change up your routine.
Read more: Are You Overtraining?
Read more: How Often Should I Take A Complete Rest Day?
Is it OK to work out if your muscles are sore?
In general, it is a bad idea to workout if your muscles are sore. Your muscles need time to repair and grow and it is only while you are resting that this can happen. However, this is not to say you cannot train at all.
If you train certain body parts at a time, you can easily train a different part of your body that is not aching that day. For example, if your chest and triceps are aching, you could still do a leg workout.
If you practise a sport that focuses mostly on one muscle group such as running or cycling, there are still ways to get around skipping workouts. You could do your speed session on a Monday, followed by a hill session on a Tuesday and then rest on Wednesday. Then, you could do another speed session Thursday, a gym workout Friday, and your long run on Saturday with another rest day on Sunday. This sort of plan allows your legs to rest after the toughest sessions when they are most likely to ache.
In another sense, sometimes it's actually a good idea to train when your muscles are sore. Many runners will do a 'recovery run' the day after a particularly tough training session, which means doing a short and easy run to shake out any lactic acid still sitting in the legs and keeping active to stop your legs getting too stiff.
In summary, it's only bad to do an intense or tough workout when your muscles are sore. It can actually be beneficial to do a light workout to ease achy muscles.
Read more: DOMS Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Read more: How To Reduce DOMS In The Legs
Strength and Conditioning Coach Jamie Lloyd suggests that in order to stay on top of your game and build strength, mobility, flexibility, stability and power, there are specific exercises that will allow you to hone your skills as a regular gym goer. Animal Flow exercises will not only challenge you but add variety and fun and a new dimension to your workouts.
So What Is Animal Flow?
Animal-based movements have been used for decades to help athleticism. I have certainly been using them for years in my own training and with clients, but Animal Flow is a dynamic movement system that has been developed by founder Mike Fitch to help you blend these fun moves into your training sessions.
Animal Flow is a combination of break-dancing, balancing, Parkour and callisthenics in one. But warning: it does get your blood pumping and gets you into a sweat! These moves can be used as stand-alone exercises or used to flow together which give you a phenomenal workout.
In order to improve, you have to practise and you’ll get a great buzz and an endless flow of energy afterwards. Animal Flow is suited to both beginners and advanced athletes alike.
How do you do Animal Flow Training?
Just follow your ABC! Try these 3 basic foundation moves.
Ape: king of the jungle!
Get down on all fours and move contra-laterally. The opposite side of the body moves across the body.
Bear Crawl: the signature move
Get into all fours in a box position, hover your knees one inch off the floor and bring your right knee to right elbow. Sit back into child's pose but keep your knees off the floor then bring your left knee to left elbow. Keep moving from one side to the next.
Crab Grab: a great back strengthener and hip opener
Sit down on the floor with your hands turned away behind you. Lift your whole body off the floor, then drive the hips up and with one arm overhead try to touch the floor behind you. Repeat on the other side, keep your backside off the floor. Aim to do 4-5 reps each side.
Animal Flow Workout
Do all of these moves back-to-back with no rest in between.
- Apes x 10 with reverse bear crawl
- Bear Crawl forwards with reverse bear crawl
- Crab Grab x 4-5 reps each side
Try doing 4-5 rounds!
About the author: Jamie Lloyd is an award-winning fitness professional, pain relief expert and performance coach based in SW London.
Getting fit doesn't have to cost the earth and not being able to afford a gym membership shouldn't be an excuse for inactivity. We give our top tips for getting fit for free.
Join a local running club
Some running clubs have a joining fee and annual dues, however you may well find that there are running clubs in your local area that are completely free of charge. These will be more casual and relaxed groups, however this is ideal if you are starting exercising as a complete beginner or do not want to feel intimidated by serious, competitive runners.
There are a lot of benefits of joining a running club such as increased motivation, discovering new routes, and companionship. Running is something that anyone can do for free and you may well make some new friends and find a new passion.
Make use of outdoor space
Anyone can train outdoors for free and there are lots of benefits of outdoor training such as burning more calories than inside and reaping the benefits of breathing in fresh air rather than the conditioned air of a gym.
If you are unsure about training outdoors during winter, simply make sure you are dressed appropriately and you will find that winter training becomes much more bearable. Layer up in running leggings to protect your legs and wrap up in a sport hoodie or waterproof jacket to keep you dry in changeable weather.
Ditch the car
An easy way to add exercise into your daily routine is to ditch the car and travel under your own steam. This could be in the form of walking/cycling to work or the local shops. Not only is this free, it will even help you to save money on fuel costs.
This is a great way to get more active without having to make too much of an effort and once it is a part of your daily routine, you'll notice how much fitter you're getting without even trying.
Parkrun is one of the most popular free sporting events in the country and for good reason. It's a way to practise racing for free and in a relaxed and friendly environment. Some councils tried to start charging for Parkrun but were quickly shot down as it is such a great way to get people into fitness and helps them meet new friends in their local area.
Parkrun is a weekly 5k race done in local parks all across the country on a Saturday morning and is free for anyone to sign up. You receive a personal barcode that times your run when scanned at the finish and you can see how you rank up against the other people in your town.