We all know the story. The one about the fitness and exercise journey that could have been. Both the story and the fitness journey start with such promise, then somewhere along the way, enthusiasm turns into duty. Duty then turns into a chore. Suddenly, the hero of the story realizes it has been a couple of weeks since their last workout. They ask themselves where it all went wrong, as they binge-watch some show on Netflix.
Most of us can relate to that scenario. Sticking to a long-term fitness routine can be difficult. A gradual loss of interest is just one of the many pitfalls you might experience on your fitness journey. Circumstances can also throw a wrench in our best-laid plans. Some of us have to deal with hectic or unpredictable schedules. Many more of us have to deal with homework, tantrums or sudden fevers when we get home.
Creating A Fitness Routine You Will Stick To
With the deck seemingly stacked against you, how do you create a fitness routine that lasts? There are a few strategies that can help you life-proof your fitness journey.
1) Do it for the right reasons to do it for the long haul
Make sure you are doing this for you. Do not get into a training routine for a reunion or a wedding. Your training routine should be focused on the long term. This is why you should adopt a strategy that becomes a part of your life. In the end, your training routine should become too unobtrusive to quit.
This means no crash diets or insane gym hours. Instead, you should set achievable short term goals that you can build on. You will be proud of yourself when you achieve these small goals. That boost in your ego will push you to step it up. This is how you will succeed in your fitness journey.
2) Take an honest look at your schedule
Are you that person who hits the snooze button four times every morning? Chances are you are not a morning person. If you need a gallon of coffee to boot your system, then early morning workouts may not be your thing. This is the type of thing you should take into account when crafting a training routine.
As you schedule your workouts, ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I make it to an early morning workout without struggling?
- Can I squeeze in a workout during my lunch break?
- Is my day schedule predictable enough to schedule evening workouts?
- Do I have any large chunks of free time every day or just little slots of time?
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If you are a morning person with a family, you can treat yourself to a workout before the chaos starts. Think of it as ‘you’ time. If you can get away during lunch or at the end of the day, schedule your workouts for those times. If your schedule is erratic, then break up your workout into short sessions of 10 to 15 minutes.
Now pencil in the workouts for specific dates and times. With that done, now research specific exercises.
3) Plan out your actual workout routines
The types of exercises you perform will depend on your ultimate goal. Are you looking to lose weight, run a marathon, sculpt those muscles or do some strength training? Weight loss requires a good amount of cardio and some resistance training. If you want to build endurance for a marathon or mountain climbing, you will need to put more emphasis on strength training.
— Evolve MMA (@EvolveMMA) April 29, 2019
Do some research on exercises that serve your purposes. You can do this online or, better yet, you can get advice from a fitness instructor. With the information you gather, go ahead and plan each individual workout down to the last rep of the last exercise. Remember to change it up. You do not have to go through the same workout routine every single time. Mixing things makes your workouts more enjoyable. It is why martial arts classes and other similar activities are great from fitness since no two classes are ever the same.
4) Turn your workouts into a habit
Good or bad, a habit is hard to shake once it has been formed. Be it smoking, a video game or meditation, we can barely help ourselves. When we interrupt a habit, we feel like something is missing. How great would it be if we felt this way about exercise?
So pick up a new habit. We can hardwire regular exercises into our psyches. Here is how.
A. Start small
Like really small. So small that it is impossible to say no. If you have started a training routine before, you likely began with a lot of enthusiasm. Go in the opposite direction this time around. During the first weeks of your new fitness journey, limit your workouts to a few minutes. Since you will not be making much of a sacrifice, your brain will not flag your workouts as ‘difficult.’ The very act of starting your workout will be wired into your subconscious, much like the act of grabbing your car keys.
It takes two months to form a habit, give or take. After a couple of weeks, you can start to increase the intensity and/or duration of your workouts. Very, very gradually. This way, you will not even notice when your workouts become super intense.
B. Connect your workouts to a little ritual
The hardest part of any ‘difficult’ task is getting started. So get started, without fail. Even if you end up skipping the workout. Make sure to wear your workout gear even if you turn right around and take it off. Once you are dressed, you may decide to work out after all.
And because you started small, a workout session will not seem so intimidating once you are all geared up.
You can use any ritual to get yourself going. The ritual could be as simple as drinking a protein shake or going outside for a few minutes.
C. Find some company
Before your exercise habit forms, get someone to keep you company as you work out. This individual will be a source of encouragement and accountability. They will make the workout more enjoyable so that you will not notice time flying by. They will also keep you from skipping planned workouts.
Think of this person as your training wheels. When exercising becomes a habit for you, your training wheels can come off. By then, your body will have developed the ability to hold you accountable.
Start with baby steps, just like how you learned to walk
If you want to keep the results of a training routine, you have to start small and go from there. That is how your training routine will become a lifestyle.
If you’re looking for a fitness and exercise routine that not only will get you into the best shape of your life but also motivate you to make it a part of your lifestyle for the long run, give martial arts a try!
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