7 Ways To Spring Forward Into a Fitness Routine

Photo by Lucas van Oort on Unsplash

Spring is here! With the longer days, there is light at the end of the tunnel. You’re outside more, and feeling a willingness to get more fit, to be stronger, find more energy, drop a few of those extra pounds that being cooped up has helped put on, and to feel better.  You want to kick start a training regimen to get into shape, but where and how should you start?  Here are seven practical tips to help get you going:

  1. Set Realistic Goals Regardless of what you were doing before you hit the pause button, or were stifled by the lockdown, you need to be realistic about the results you’ll expect to see. Set one or two specific, attainable goals, and start with a schedule that has you working out two or three times a week, and build from there. A fitness professional can work with you on properly setting this up.
  2. Find A Workout Buddy Full disclosure: If I didn’t have a running partner that I was committed to meeting at 6am over the last thirty years I would have never made it to the start of all those road races, let alone the finish. You can come up with a thousand reasons not to train, but having a workout buddy changes that. Working out with a friend not only adds the level of accountability, it can also break down the barrier of wanting to try new exercises or routines. You can motivate one another, and of course there’s that reward of a protein shake or cappuccino together at the end of a workout.
  3. Choose a Workout You’ll Enjoy Doing Put a star beside this one! It’s a lot easier to convince yourself to go and work out if you look forward to it.
  4. Get Outside Take advantage of improving weather – walking, running, hiking, biking. As the days warm up you can even bring a mat on to the deck, lawn, or pick a spot in a local park and do some body weight strength training or workout with a set of dumbbells.
  5. Walk Before You Run I say this literally and metaphorically. Before you start any workout a proper warmup is essential to its outcome. A warm-up prepares your body for the exercises you’re about to do, loosens up your muscles and joints so you don’t pull or sprain something, and gets your heart rate going. This means that by the time you actually get to your workout, you’re already burning calories and stoking your metabolism. Literally though, when starting out, and feeling like running a 5K is climbing Mt. Everest, don’t despair.  Break it off into small pieces. Start off by jogging one block and then walking a block, then slowly increase the run:walk ratio as your comfort and fitness level increases.  You’ll get there.
  6. Working Out Is a Total Body Experience Think of your body as a group moving systems that all need to be addressed in sync. When you’re just getting back to a training routine, should you do full-body workouts or focus on one muscle group at a time to space things out? A lot depends on your individual goals and abilities. A personal trainer can guide you through this, but you should always think in terms of how all the muscle groups work together for the common good. For example, a strong core can prevent you from having low back pain.
  7. Don’t Forget To Stretch – Just as important as the warm-up is the cooldown and stretching portion of your workout routine. Like the temptation to skip the warm-up and get straight into your workout, many people finish their workout and call it a day without even considering that they should stretch or otherwise cool down. A good cooldown routine will help decrease soreness after a workout, which can be essential to helping you stick to your workouts. After all, who wants to start a workout when you’re still sore from the last one? The cooldown period is important for increasing circulation and bringing your heart rate down slowly. Walking at the end of a run, or pedalling on lower gear and slowing down are two examples. This is also the time to do static stretching (the kinds of stretches you hold for at least 10 seconds). Focus on muscles that are particularly tight or that you utilized during your workout. Some great standbys are the standing quad stretch, figure four stretch, half-kneeling hip flexor stretch, and chest stretch using a wall or door frame.

 

These tips should help kick start your spring training.  Try to stay focused on reaching your goals. There may be some days that it just doesn’t click, or you feel like you just don’t have it.  That’s okay.  I’ve had my share of them. Cut yourself some slack, regroup and get ready for the next day. 

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