Exercise is more important than ever right now. Not only does it boost the immune system, prevent weight gain (hello, Quarantine15) and improve sleep, but it also (and perhaps most importantly) reduces stress and anxiety and supports mental health.
But what if you’re stuck in rut or not feeling particularly motivated at the moment?
First, I don’t blame you. Now is the time to give ourselves grace – not extra pressure. And second, that said, it’s still important to move your body as regularly as possible with the current constraints.
So here’s the plan: Al Painter, 19-year strength training veteran and owner of Integrate Performance Fitness, and I teamed up for six quick tips (three physical & three mental) to help you get back in the game.
Three Ways to Put the ‘Physical’ Back in Fitness (c/o Al):
- Twenty is plenty. Ready for the fitness revelation of the ages? You DON’T need a 60-minute ass-whooping of biblical proportions with each workout. Keep it short and sweet; 20 minutes is more than enough to make a change.
- Use compound movements. Pick 2-3 exercises that will use every muscle in your body – preferably from the push, pull and squat departments. For instance, body-weight squats are a great option because there are so many varieties. You could even go with something as simple as a crawling. Throw in some lunging left and right, and you’ve just put together a full-body workout in a very short amount of time.
- K.I.S.S. The rule of thumb here is that basics work best. Don’t try and to combine your favorite CardiogaPlyolatesKickBoxSculpt-X classes in your workouts. Trying to get better at everything in the same workout leaves you better at nothing over all.
Put it in action:
Here’s how Al describes one of his favorite “Twenty is Plenty” circuits with an exercise band:
- Squatting with an alternate arm pull because this gets my glutes, obliques and every muscle of my pull chain.
- Stepping and pressing with an alternate arm pattern because it looks like running, walking and skipping and lets me hit damn near every muscle in my body at once in an incredibly functional way.
- Anti-Rotation Lunges because this hits all of the muscles that stop rotation that will reduce your chances of having lower back issues. Plus this is a left and right side exercise so you can get an additional bang for your buck with more movement.
- I like to set a clock for :30 of moving and :30 of rest and a total set number of 20. This gives me just under 20:00 (19:33 to be exact if you’re keeping score at home) of movement.
Three Ways to Up Your Mental Game (c/o yours truly):
- Give yourself a goal. Set your sights on something S.M.A.R.T. – that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Once you know where you want to go, it’s easier to make a plan for how to get there. And being able to break that plan into small, incremental steps will help you focus your efforts and stay motivated.
- Try it for 21 days. Whether or not you subscribe to the fact that it takes 21 days to develop a habit (one study says it’s more like 66, on average), three weeks is a great starting point when making a new behavior part of your life.
- Peer pressure FTW! Groups are great for accountability and morale, so find a like-minded community to help you go the distance. If that’s no an option, try recruiting friends and family to help keep you honest; their support – and cheerleading – can go a long way when it comes to achieving your goal.
Put it in action:
Here’s an exercise I like to use when setting up a S.M.A.R.T. goal; just start small and go from there:
- Specific – What do you want to achieve exactly? The more detailed, the better. If you commit to more speedwork in your running, saying “I’m going to join X group on Monday nights for their coached track workouts each week” is much better than “I want to work on my speed.”
- Measurable – Define criteria for measurement (if your goal is weight loss, say a pound per week), which allows you to check your progress regularly and make adjustments as needed. Smaller increments are more manageable, meaning you have a better chance of staying on track.
- Achievable – The best goals stretch you outside of your comfort zone but aren’t so unattainable that they become demoralizing. On the other hand, go too easy, and you may never find out what you’re truly capable of. Find the middle ground, and go for it.
- Relevant – Pick what’s personally meaningful, not necessarily what’s most popular, and you’ll be willing to work towards it. Don’t set your sights on a marathon if you can’t stand running long distances; instead, find something that suits you and your investment will be that much higher.
- Timely – Give yourself a deadline. When your goal is time-bound, you’ll stay motivated, focused and on schedule. Ahead of schedule? Great! Pat yourself on the back, then adjust your goal and keep moving toward that next milestone.
If you’re interested in testing out these tips for yourself, Al and I have a proposal for you: We’re launching a Core Commitment Challenge starting June 15 and would love for you to join us.
It’s 21 days of just 20 minutes of movement per day. Short, sweet, simple. Designed for people who are crunched for time but want to add some movement to their life.
Register here (use code 21DAYS to get the challenge for just $14 if you register by 6/11/20). It’s open to everyone, and we can’t wait to get moving with you!