You know the one I'm talking about. Every year, during the first week of January, gyms are so packed that you can barely get a spot on a treadmill (let alone a shower once your workout is over). Everyone is motivated by the idea of starting things off on the right foot, and committed to their resolutions of getting up at 6 a.m. every day and hitting the gym. Slowly but surely, though, more and more people opt to stay in bed instead of trekking to their local weight room, and by January 15, things are back to their normal volume. Last year, I personally gave up on my marathon training by January 4, and spent the rest of 2018 wishing I'd stuck with it.
Well, this is the year that all changes. Thanks to the guidance of Jillian Michaels, creator of the MyFitness App, author of the brand-new book The 6 Keys, and leader of our ReNew Year fitness challenge, we're going to be staying in the gym long past the second week of January. She's already mapped out an easy-to-follow 4-week plan to help us stick to our goals, and now she's sharing her top tips for making every workout effective, efficient, and so enjoyable that you'll actually stick with it all year long.
Read on for Jillian Michaels' 20 tips for how to tackle your fitness goals into the new year and beyond.
1. Make sure you have the proper gear: Whether you're running a 5K or biking 15 miles, the proper clothing, shoes, and equipment can not only improve your performance and accelerate results, but also greatly help you reduce any chance of injury.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Dehydration when training makes you weak, tired, and inefficient. Plus, it can also cause muscle cramps.
3. Add some supplements: Consider proper supplementation from organic whole food products like Alaya Naturals. The brand's organic grass-fed whey with chain aminos or multi collagen with Msm Glucosamine Chondroiton enhances your results and aids your body's post-workout healing.
4. Mix things up: No matter what your fitness goal, it’s important to train with variety in order to avoid injury. Exercise is stress, and when you do the same type of workout repetitively, it can lead to injury—hence the term “repetitive stress.” For example, if you're working on running a 5K, you should still lift and stretch as well. That’s why I built resistance training into my running programs on the My Fitness app.
5. Prioritize your workout recovery: Make sure to take an absolute minimum of 1 training day off per week (ideally 2 days, but no more than 3 days). This allows your body the time it needs to "heal" from the workouts and grow stronger and more fit.
6. Don't overdo it: Another way to optimize your workouts is not to overdo them. Regardless of the goal, you should train no more than 6 hours a week and do no less than 4, 20-minute workouts. If the workouts are more intense, the timeframe should be shorter, and if the workouts are less intense the timeframe can be longer.
7. Warm it up: Make sure to do a 5-minute cardio warmup before exercise of any kind—cliché, I know, but legit advice. Warming up the body helps to focus your mind, oxygenate the blood, and prepare the muscles, joints, and tendons for exercise, all of which helps to prevent injury.
8. Don't static stretch before you exercise: Static stretching should be done post workout, when you are cooling down. Studies show that stretching when the body is not warmed up can cause injury and decrease muscle strength during your actual workout.
9. Always pay attention to your heart rate: Never go over your max, and shoot to optimize your workouts (no matter what they are) by training at roughly 80 to 85 percent of that max number. To find your max, simply subtract your age from 220, and then multiply that number by .85. For example, if you are 35, it would be 220-35=185 beats per minute for your max heart rate, and 185 x .85 = 157 beats per minute for your ideal heart rate.
10. Pump some iron: Regardless of your specific fitness goal, even if it’s endurance training-based like a sprint triathlon, be sure to lift weights. So many women shy away from this, but as I mentioned in my book, The 6 Keys, resistance training and lifting weights is one of the most effective techniques to burn fat and keep you young.
11. Find activities you love and do more of them: If you hate things like weightlifting and HIIT training, you ultimately won’t do them consistently. So whether it's barre, yoga, Pilates, hiking, biking, or something else, do what you love to get your weekly activity goals met, regardless of whether or not they are the “ideal.”
12. Be consistent: No goal can be reached, no matter how smartly you take action or how intensely you go at it, unless you do it consistently. So even if your workouts aren’t "perfect," it doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent.
13. Foam roll: Foam rolling is a form of myofascial release (basically like a deep tissue massage), and doing it post workout is ideal as your cool down. But even if it's not immediately after your sweat sesh, whenever you can do it, just do it. Foam rolling improves joint range of motion, and speeds muscle recovery without compromising strength the way static stretching can. So, whether it's post workout or 10 minutes before bed as part of your nightly routine, get rolling.
14. Work smarter, not harder: More is not more. The key is not to do more reps or lift more weight. The way to get results is good form. Period. It is far better to lift less or do less with a full range of motion and proper body alignment than to speed through things with sloppy reps and movements.
15. Sleep: It’s not a part of your workout per se, but it is one of the best ways to maintain lean muscle and burn fat. Plus, workouts stress the body and sleep is the ideal time for your body to focus on rebuilding and repairing. So get a minimum of 7 hours and a maximum of 9 for optimal results.
16. Reps and weights have an inverse relationship: There is no right or wrong answer in regards to "light weight, high reps" versus "heavy weight, low reps." In truth, the key is to mix it up with both so the variety of your regimen keeps forcing your body to adapt and progress. The two things to be mindful of are: 1) never lift so heavy you can’t maintain good form for the entire set, and 2) when the reps go up the weight goes down and when the weight goes up the reps go down.
17. Make sure to continue progressing: Every goal needs built-in benchmarks to progress. If the program you're following doesn’t inherently instruct you on how to progress, like the "Couch to 5K" program in my app, be sure to increase your intensity by roughly 10 percent every two weeks.
18. Keep it simple and never underestimate the basics: When we overcomplicate things we get overwhelmed and quit. So don’t think your workouts need to be fancy to be effective—lunges, squats, and pushups always get it done.
19. Don't underestimate the importance of following a proper nutrition plan: Ultimately, food can—and should—compliment your fitness goals. Appreciating the inherent synergy of all issues wellness will accelerate your results in a big way.
20. Track your progress: Often times you don’t see our progress on a daily basis, but if you look back to where you were when you started the results are usually pretty significant. Results help keep us motivated, so keep track! Whether it’s a selfie before and after, a chart of how many pushups you could do on day 1 versus day 15, or something else, find a way to measure the progress from start to finish.
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