Essential personal training tips to keep up your fitness routine long after lockdown
For many people, lockdown created an opportunity to rediscover a love for exercising in the great outdoors. With the gyms closed from March and the early restrictions enabling outdoor exercise only, many of us hopped back on our bikes, threw on our running trainers and activewear and took to the streets and countryside around us.
But with the gradual easing and the changes promised on 4th July meaning a lot of people are back to work and with less time on their hands, can we stick to our newly found exercise regimes post-lockdown? Many people returning to work will be conscious of making sure they fit their shirts and work clothes as well as they did before lockdown.
To help keep you on track, we caught up with Lauren Goggs, a personal trainer, working in West London, under the business name Quit The Comfort Zone.
Over to you Lauren.
Forming a fitness habit and keeping up your exercise routine
If you have established your ideal exercise routine in lockdown but are thinking it might go out the window when you return to work, don’t worry, you are not alone.
It takes just over a month to form a habit, so if going back to work is upon you, then start to create the perfect habits to help you achieve your fitness goals that fit in around your new regime.
Here are a few tips to help you:
Schedule exercise in!
Schedule your daily exercise and make a point of writing it in your calendar. If you don’t, you will say to yourself “I’ll exercise when I get round to it” and you are much less likely to actually fit it in.
If you’ve been exercising at lunch and that is an unlikely scenario when you start back at work, then change your daily schedule to something that will work around your commute and work commitments. Set your alarm 20-30 minutes earlier in order get up and get that exercise in before you leave the house. If mornings are already too early, then take that 20-30 minutes when you arrive home, prior to your evening meal.
Have a plan
Seasoned athletes always have a plan and a strict training schedule. Although you’re not trying to be the next Jessica Ennis-Hill, that doesn’t mean you are any less worthy of a plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated; you can simply write four exercises you want to get done on a post-it note and complete 3-4 sets at a time you have scheduled.
Include mobility warm-ups, and core work on as many of these days as you can.
- Monday: Legs
- Wednesday: Back and arms
- Friday: All over body
Save the weekends or evenings for longer cardio sessions like running, cycling or hiking.
There are so many exercises you can do, but if you’re struggling, stick to some variations of crunches, sit-ups, planks and back extensions. Superman is a great example for a well-rounded beginner programme.
Don’t over commit yourself
The most common barrier to any physical exercise is scheduling an hours’ workout and cramming the exercises into less than that. Give yourself an achievable goal and time to complete the workout otherwise you’ll feel rushed, under-prepared and you will feel your exercise is inadequate.
Depending on your own personal goals, you can usually see great results in less than 30 minutes per day. Overcommitting is also extremely mentally exhausting. By all means schedule an hour, but whatever time you have scheduled, be kind to your mind as well as your body and don’t over commit. Getting something done should be more rewarding than the stress of fitting it in around a busy schedule.
I have also been working on small incremental changes people can fit into their ‘normal’ working day.
Commuting by train?
Add in some subtle calf raises or stand part of the journey on one leg. These exercises are especially great if you’re a runner. The momentum of the train will make it a bit harder, and you have to work a little harder to keep your balance.
Sitting as a desk?
The mini band is the perfect addition to any jacket pocket or handbag. Just a few exercises with the band around your knees whilst sat at your desk will recruit your glute muscles. This means when you stand up and go to make a coffee or head to the printer you will automatically be working harder overall.
In the Office?
When I used to work in an office, conversations with my colleagues sometimes revolved around the quirky ways I used to add fitness into my day. Print room press-ups were an office favourite. If I was printing 24 pages, I would do 24 press-ups (usually raised on the counter surface) and race the printer to see who finished first.
Ok, it’s not going to get you that summer holiday body in an instant. But incorporating small things like this into the working day means you have already completed 5-10 minutes of exercise without thinking about it, and, without changing your daily routine. Those few minutes during your working day can be a great addition to your scheduled weekly workout and it’s an extra 50 minutes a week! Also, if for some reason you miss your scheduled workout or if you simply can’t fit anything else in, you don’t feel guilty.
Remove the guilt factor, don’t be hard on yourself and small incremental changes will help exercise become a habit not a chore!
The best outdoors activities for specific fitness goals.
As a general rule, the best activity or exercise to help reach your goal is always going to be the one you enjoy doing! If you enjoy it, the more likely you are to do it, and this consistency is what gets you the best results.
The most common goals I see are around aesthetics. People want to lose weight, gain abs or shape up in certain areas. If this sounds like you then here are a few top tips to help you get there:
“I want to lose weight”
I’d recommend a mixture of cardio and strength training, ideally fit two of each session in your week.
There is no easy option or short cut to lose weight. The main reason people don’t lose weight is because they get disheartened and they don’t lose the weight fast enough. Think about how long it took to gain those pounds? You’re not going to be able to shift them safely and effectively overnight, so set yourself realistic goals and timescales in order to achieve your target weight.
“I want Abs”
I’d recommend doing anything you can on one leg, or with one arm.
When you challenge your body and shift the centre of gravity by adding weight to one side, your core (which includes your abs) has to work harder to keep you balanced.
Try a one leg deadlift, walking with an upright kettle bell in one hand, or birddogs if you just want to play with your own bodyweight. This is where you are on an all fours, stretch one hand (left) out in front of you whilst stretching the opposite leg (right) out behind you, then switch every 3/5 seconds.
Taking you from four points of contact with the floor to two activates your core and makes it work hard, helping to stabilise your body.
“I want to feel fitter and be able to run further”
I’d recommend running, light leg strength exercises and breaking down your goals into bitesize chunks.
Currently, how far can you run in a day? Next week aim to add 1km to that distance and then maybe another 1km two weeks later. Note down your time or invest in a fitness tracker to help you keep a record of your time and distance.
Tracking progress is a great way to stay motivated as it gives you the ability to visually see when you are hitting your goals and constantly re-assess them. If you want to be able to run, you also need a strong foundation to help you stay injury free. Lunges and calf raises are crucial exercises in order for you to go further as running on its own can only get you so far.
‘I really don’t feel like exercising today’
I’d recommend just getting outside and putting on your exercise gear. Just by putting on your shorts or leggings you will feel more motivated to get moving. Even if you plan to go out for a walk, it might make you feel better and that walk might manifest into a longer walk, a light jog or even a few body weight squats and lunges as you stop by the park.
Lauren is usually found outside doing something active: hiking, snowboarding, or signing herself up to challenges like ultra-marathons but believes it doesn’t take hours in the gym to benefit from physically and aesthetically being active. You can exercise anytime, anywhere and still get the results you want.
Lauren is a passionate trainer who believes exercise can help you lead a longer, happier and healthier lifestyle.
Prior to Personal Training, Lauren spent 12 years working for global sponsorship and marketing campaigns, until it took its toll on her own health and well-being and she burnt herself out. That was a turning point in her life, and she decided to turn her passion for exercise into a career.