Let’s face it; the last few months have been pretty turbulent for most of us. We’ve been in and out of lockdown, many have faced unemployment, and your day to day life might have changed beyond all recognition because of the new coronavirus. It’s been tough.
We’ve all found different ways to cope. Many people have spent more time sitting on the sofa, drinking wine and eating cake, which is fine. The gyms have been closed, keeping fit has become harder than ever, and we all need a little comfort sometimes.
But, many people have also gone the other way. Sure, you might have reached for the chocolate box more often than usual. But, you may have also seen the extra time at home as a chance to improve your fitness levels. If you’ve spent the last few months embracing home workouts and pushing your body in new ways, you might be ready to take things to the next level, now that more opportunities to workout are becoming available.
Pushing your fitness levels to new levels, however, is often harder than we might think. Our bodies get used to things, we plateau, and it can be hard to take the next step. Below is a look at some of the ways to take your fitness to the next level, whether you have always tried to keep fit and healthy, or working out is still fairly new to you.
Set Yourself Some Goals
One of the best ways to push yourself, in any walk of life, is setting goals. When it comes to pushing your fitness levels, both big and small goals can be effective. You might want to be fit enough to become a personal trainer, or you could enter a race, or another event in a few months, so that you have got something to work towards.
Then, break it down. Give yourself smaller, weekly targets. These could be as simple as working out three times a week or increasing your distances or weights by 10% each week.
Get Into a Routine
When it comes to exercise, routines are so helpful. Without them, it’s so easy to put things off or make excuses. But, for your routine to be helpful, it needs to work for you, and as your lifestyle changes (which, at the moment, it is bound to) you may need to make adjustments.
Be realistic with your time and your expectations. Don’t try to force yourself to do two hours in the gym before work if you know that it’s just not possible.
Create Healthy Habits
Healthy habits work with your routine to help you to achieve long term health and fitness. Simple habits, like drinking more water, walking to work, taking a walk after dinner, going to bed earlier and stretching when you first wake up, can make more of a difference than you might imagine.
Try to get into healthier eating habits too, but avoid big changes and diets. Focus on sustainable changes, such as a healthy breakfast, extra helpings of fruit and veg, and stopping when you are full.
Find New Motivation
A key ingredient when it comes to hitting fitness goals and pushing yourself to the next level is motivation, but, unfortunately it’s also the thing that derails us, and makes things difficult. Most of us lose motivation long before we lose fitness.
If you’ve hit a slump, find new motivation. Yes, big goals and targets are great. But, often it’s the smaller, far more shallow motivators that get us to the gym. Promise yourself a treat if you hit a goal, or workout five days a week.
Figure Out How to Get Past That Wall
When it comes to workouts themselves, it’s typically our minds that give up first and not our bodies. We hit what runners have long known as the wall—that point where we know that we can’t possibly go on. But, most people find if they can just carry on for a few minutes once they hit the wall, their workouts get easier, and become more effective. So, let’s take a look at some tips to help you keep going when you’ve hit the wall.
Listen to Upbeat Music
Fast-paced music can help you to get into a rhythm. When you hit the wall, focusing on this rhythm, instead of the pain, can help you to get through.
Take it Step at a Time
When you get to the point where you want to stop, stop looking at the big picture. Forget your target or the finish line and focus on smaller targets: one more minute, ten more steps, one more rep.
Sipping water helps you to stay hydrated, but it also helps distract you and gives you a powerful motivator. One more minute and you can take a drink. Run to the next corner, and you can sip your water. Again, small steps.
You can do it. Think positive thoughts, remind yourself of how far you have come and how fantastic you will feel if you just go a little bit further.
Find a Workout Buddy
Working out with a friend or trainer can motivate you and push you forward. If you are struggling, ask a friend to exercise with you, and find new ways to push each other.
One of the best ways to get fitter is to change things up. If you love to run, great, run as often as you can. But, if you want to become a better runner, you should focus on improving your overall fitness. Spend time cross-training with weights, yoga, swimming and other exercises to build muscle and stamina.
Focus on Strength and Stretching
So many people underestimate the importance of strength training. They focus on cardio for fitness and weight loss and avoid weight training. Adding strength training, however, will improve your cardio performance and overall health and fitness. Stretching can also be helpful, and daily yoga has many benefits.
Make the Most of Rest Days
Rest days are important, but even when you are aching, you shouldn’t do nothing. Practice yoga, or take a gentle work for faster recovery and enhanced fitness.