You know the drill, a new year starts, resolutions are passed and then broken shortly after. Unfortunately the traditional time to start improving your fitness falls at the start of the year; when it is usually colder and you feel less motivated to do anything! However, this is actually the best time of year to commit and drive yourself forward! If you can build a routine at the worst time of year it will be easier to maintain it during the warmer months and you will have a body worth showing off!
Why get Fit?
Improving your fitness level is important to your health. People who exercise regularly generally live longer and healthier lives. As little as thirty minutes of exercise, three times a week can be enough to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and several other serious health conditions.
As your fitness increases you will also notice you have more energy and that you enjoy exercising more. This will lead to a better quality of life as you will be able and willing to undertake a variety of new challenges.
The right Exercise
The first decision you will need to make is which exercise is right for you. The first thing many people do is sign up to a gym and rush to start using the machines. Unfortuantely, without a proper plan this may have a limited effect and you are likely to gradually stop going.
Instead, you need to consider which activities you enjoy. If you like running, walking or cycling then these can be excellent ways to improve your fitness; swimming, tennis or any other kind of sport will all have the desired effect. Picking an activity you already like will mean you are more likely to stick to it. It is important to remember, particularly at the start that any activity above your normal will be beneficial to your health and fitness levels.
Choosing the gym can be a daunting experience and not conducive to sticking to your new exercise program. Although it is often the first choice, you should think carefully about what exercise you are most likely to stick at and whether your long term goal is improved fitness or body building.
Eating healthily is as important as exercise. It is very common for people to reward themselves after a good workout by eating an energy bar, or some other type of treat. However, this will actually cancel out some, or all of the exercise you have just completed. Exercise increases your metabolic rate as your muscles must work harder and they need the appropriate nutrients supplied to them quicker. Muscles burn glucose and when the body runs out of this it will convert fat, stored in your cells, to glucose to power your muscles. This is when you lose the fat stored on your body and your image and fitness improve.
To ensure this process works at its optimum for your aims; whether muscle building, improved fitness or simply weight loss, you must pay attention to the food you consume.
Protein is essential to build and repair muscles, whilst carbohydrates are essentialm for the long term release of energy. Sugar will provide an instant burst of energy but you are likely to feel drained as its effects wear off. Balancing your carbohydrate and protein intake with all the required vitamins and minerals will ensure you reach your intended goal.
All training should begin with a gentle warm up, this will ensure your muscle and tendons are ready to be stretched and used whilst reducing the risk of damage. There are a variety of methods of warming up and the best one for you will depend upon the activity you intend to undertake. Leg stretches, particularly the hamstrings are usually essential regardless of what exercise you intend to perform. Equally, it can be important to stretch your shoulders and back if you are intending to undertaking extensive weight lifting.
No matter which type of activity you intend to start, the following exercises will be beneficial for your core muscles and general body strength:
This simple exercise will strengthen your entire body, particularly your abs. It involves resting on the floor in the classic push-up position. Instead of your hands being on the floor you need to rest your weight on your forearms. Make sure your elbows are directly beneath your shoulders. Then simply hold this position for as long as possible; ideally for two minutes.
You can repeat this exercise several times during the day and even make it more difficult by attempting it with one leg in the air.
This simple exercise will strengthen your abs and your legs. Lie flat on your back on the floor and then slowly lift your legs into a vertical position. Keep your shoulders, back and bottom on the floor. You should count to ten as you move your legs then hold the position for thirty seconds before lowering back down to another count of ten.
Ideally you should repeat this exercise ten times; you can even attempt it one leg at a time.
This exercise will strengthen all the muscles in your body although it will be particularly effective on your hips, thighs and your buttocks. To perform this move stand with your legs shoulder width apart and put your arms out straight in front of you. Then slowly lower your body down, your feet shoud not move and you should only bend at your hips and knees. Go as low as you can and hold the position for ten seconds. Ideally you should repeat this move ten times.
The classic push up is one of the oldest exercise but remains a good one for developing both upper body strength and for working your abs and core muscles.
You will need to be face down on the floor. Lift yourself onto your toes and place the palms of your hands flat on the floor to each side of your shoulders. Then slowly straighten your arms, lifting your body away from the floor; your toes should remain in position and your body must remain straight. Count to five as you go up, hold for five and then count five back down. Ideally you should be looking to do at least ten of these.
This move also targets the hips, buttocks and your core muscles. To perform it you will need to be stood up straight with your hands on your hips. Then, move your right leg back and then your left leg forward, they should be at an equal distance from your body. In the same fluid movement you shoud lower your buttocks towards the floor. Both knees will bend while your back remains straight. The right knee will go downwards until it nearly touches the floor while the left knee will go to a ninety degree angle, in line with your hips. Hold this position for a count of between five and ten seconds before repeating up to ten times. You can then switch legs and repeat the entire process.