We’re bombarded with easy solutions and quick fixes for all aspects of our lives – and even more so than ever when it comes to fitness. No matter what that Facebook ad says about losing 10 pounds in a week, you can’t get ripped, toned and slim overnight.
That’s not to say that you can’t get killer definition after an intense routine – burpee pull-ups, kettlebell swings and sumo squats will all give you “the pump” straight after your workout. It’s just that short-term results rarely stick. Physical activity is not something to be treated like a crash course – it’s a continual interaction with the environments around us. We’re only as fit as our ability to adapt and respond to the world, so if you want results, it’s crucial that you exercise consistently.
So what principles and habits do you need to adopt to maintain efficient exercise?
The most obvious difference between fast results and long-term fitness is that the latter is more practical. It’s easier to make exercise a part of your lifestyle – rather than spending a week eating 500 calories a day and ditching commitments for daily HIIT classes. Certainly, quick fixes can spur you on to train harder, but you need to stick to it by creating a schedule with measurable, easy-to-reach goals you can track.
It’s not uncommon to hit a plateau in your training routine. You might be swimming every night and seeing no signs of change – so swap swimming for spinning. If your morning run is starting to cause aches in your joints, sign up for a yoga class. Doing the same exercises again and again makes it harder to see results. Your muscles become familiar with the motions, your body uses half the energy to complete once-challenging tasks and your brain gets bored. Mix up your routine with a combination of weights and cardio, classes and gym routines, solo workouts and group classes. Your body (and mind) will thank you for it.
Nothing can describe the feeling of reaching your health and fitness goals. But where do you go from there? Avoid negative habits sliding their way back in and undoing all your hard work by resetting your fitness goals and aiming even higher. Make sure your goal is specific, write down the date you’ll achieve the goal, then develop a thorough plan to achieve it. You’ve done it before and you can do it again.
One of the most common reasons for not exercising is lack of time. But slow and steady doesn’t always win the race, so skip the hour-long circuits at easy-to-moderate intensities and challenge yourself to half an hour of moderate-to-high intensity exercise, going at 100% for the entire routine with 15- to 30-second rest breaks. If you’re really short on time, this 16-minute Tabata should do the trick.