Fitness and Performance
How to start and stick to your 2022 fitness plan
You ate and drank your way through Christmas with a few token workouts in between. But now you’re on it. Mission 2022 is officially underway! You’re not alone. It’s the busiest time of year for new gym memberships, fitness class sign-ups and online workouts as the nation strives to make a fresh start. But activity always tails off towards the end of January. Why? Too often, injury or a lack of motivation are to blame.
Getting started again is tough but sticking to a fitness plan is even harder. Bodyset physiotherapist, Ludovica Pasquinucci shares her top tips on how to get back to training and how to stick to it for lasting results!
Choose an activity that you genuinely have an interest in
If you hate the gym but feel that you should go regardless, it will be difficult to keep up. Choose something that you enjoy like running, cycling, climbing or swimming. If you enjoy it, you’re much more likely to keep going back to it!
Choose somewhere close by
While the new gym or class across town might look great, it will be a lot easier to stick to a place that you can pop out to at lunchtime, or weave into your daily commute.
Check in on your body
If you’re setting some 2022 goals, then make time to check in on your body first. Every body is different and understanding how your body functions can provide invaluable and life-enhancing information. That’s why our expert physiotherapists offer BodyCheck. A bespoke assessment designed to identify your individual strengths and weaknesses, catch underlying problems early, and create a personalised lifestyle and performance programme to keep your body working at its very best. “Identifying and making just a small structural change can take your performance to another level entirely” says Ludovica.
Set a measurable goal
Make it specific, measurable and time bound. Having a measurable goal allows you to track your progress, and the more specific your goal, the clearer the path to achieving it becomes. Plus, come springtime the weather improves, team sports kick off and outdoor sports events start up again. Why not set a goal for an event in April? Whether it’s Tough Mudder with your work team, your first 10k Park Run or a long-distance bike race – spring is far away enough to make progress, and close enough to not lose focus!
Make warming up part of your workout routine
A warm up should focus on mobility and activation of key the muscle groups you intend to use during your workout. This allows you to exercise through a fuller range of motion with a more efficient motor pattern. Try to include 5 – 10 minutes of light cardio like light jogging, fast walking and cycling before your workout. This will slowly increase blood flow to your muscles, delivering much needed oxygen and other nutrients. Increasing your body temperature in this way helps your muscles contract more forcefully, relax quickly and enhance muscle elasticity. A thorough warm up prepares your muscles for stretching and reduce the risk of injury. Dynamic stretches (active movements of muscle that bring on a stretch but are not held in the end position) are also best performed before your workout to reduce your risk of injury.
Give your body time to recover
Don’t just jump straight back in where you left off. That’s a recipe for injury! A gentle start is important if it’s been a while since you’ve done much exercise. It can take at least a day or even 2 to 3 days to feel how an exercise session has fully affected your body. Aim to start with 2 to 3 light sessions a week, leaving 48 hours in between each workout for the first two weeks, and increase from there. This will give all your tissues time to adapt to the higher load you are placing on them.
“We often see a rise in injuries at the beginning of each year as many people demand a sudden increase in frequency and intensity on their bodies, often without giving their muscles time to recover. When we’re so focused on our fitness goals it’s easy to forget that rest is essential for muscle growth. Intense exercise creates microscopic tears in your muscles and only during rest can cells called fibroblasts facilitate the repair in the tissue. This process helps the tissue heal and grow, resulting in stronger muscles and better performance.” Says Ludovica.
Drop your weights to 50% of what you were doing pre-Christmas
If weights were part of your fitness plan, then your focus should be on form to start with. Increase the number of repetitions before increasing the weight and don’t increase them both at the same time. If you’re keen to increase weight straight away, then try to do by 15% each week. You’ll be back your full weights within the month.
Sleep and eat well
Sleep is regarded as one of the most important factors when it comes to physical recovery, especially if you are exercising. It is during this time when 95% of growth hormones (a key building block in muscle recovery) are released, allowing you to ease those aches and pains and continue through the training. Sleep is not only essential for recovery, but it can also even prevent you from getting injured in the first place! Studies have shown that you are 2.5x more likely to sustain a workplace injury if you get less than 5 hours sleep per night, and 1.4x more likely if you are getting between 6-7 hours sleep. If you haven’t already read ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker, it’s an insightful read that delves further on the benefits of sleep.
Staying hydrated and making sure you’re consuming a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, Antioxidants & omega-3 fats, plays an important part in muscle recovery for injury prevention and increased performance. If you keep your body fuelled and energised, you’re more likely to stick to your fitness plan!
Listen to your body
Don’t let a niggling pain or injury stop you from smashing your 2022 goals! Get in touch for physiotherapy and we’ll nip it in the bud, so you can get straight back to your fitness plan.
The more you look after your body, the better your fitness results. And the better your fitness results, the more likely you’ll be to stick to your fitness plan and smash your 2022 goals!