If you’re putting in work three times a week but still not seeing results, it’s easy to throw in the towel. After all, it’s practically Christmas – who’s going to see it? But beware: the inability to shift a stubborn spare tyre over winter comes with the admittance of defeat during the holidays.
There’s no need to throw in the towel just yet; there’s a few more rounds to go, and now – with our guide to the things your routine might be missing – you’ve got the latest health science in your corner. If you’re bulking up or slimming down, these are the fitness tips you need. Time to go to work.
Whether you’re on sporadic runs twice a week or you’re mainlining protein without an action plan, it’s all for naught unless you’re setting attainable, week-by-week goals. Whether that’s one more rep next week or half a kilo lighter in two, constant monitoring of your progress is what gets results.
A study from The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found men who weigh themselves daily lost around 9.2kg over 6 months, compared to 3.1kg for men with a more casual approach to their cutting down.
Get comfy with your scales, because you’ll be spending a lot of time together if you want to hit those targets.
Fuel To The Fire
Carbs before exercise, protein after. Think you’ve cracked the basics? Not necessarily.
‘White carbs’ – aka refined, starchy carbohydrates found in pizza, white bread and plain rice – are unable to be processed efficiently, and thus a greater proportion is likely to get stored as fat instead of used as fuel.
Whole grains (found in porridge oats, brown pasta) and other unrefined carbohydrates, on the other hand, release their energy slowly, drip-feeding it so the body can process the carbs properly.
Bottom line? Ditch the processed stuff and snack on whole grains to fuel your workout, not your waistline.
Iron Out Your Diet
Unfortunately, the dietary tips don’t end there. If you’ve got your carb intake down pat but still find yourself struggling to hit the gym each morning, consider the rest of your diet.
A study from the journal Quality of Life Research found ‘constant tiredness’ increased and general wellbeing decreased in participants with an iron deficiency. The reason salads are so ingrained into our image of healthy go-getters? Spinach, kale and rocket are packed with iron, as are red meats like steak. So stock up on leafy greens and lean meats.
Form Over Function
Flailing up the hill at the end of a 10k? About to put your back out at the apex of a deadlift? Sometimes your body is its own worst enemy. Learning correct form for exercises allows you to lift heavier, run farther and prevents injury, which could keep you out of the gym for weeks.
In the gym, consider a PT – even a single session of coaching will guide you towards proper form. Or, if you’re aiming to graduate to half-marathon runs, have a trainer take a look at your stride and book a gait analysis at a specialist store like Asics. A little expert opinion now could keep you leaner for life.
Rough night? Less than seven hours’ sleep is going to impact your performance.
Research published in Sports Medicine found that lack of sleep doesn’t actually affect cardiovascular ability or strength output, meaning you can run fast or lift heavy even after a long night. However, it’s your time to exhaustion that suffers – if you can’t last in the gym or on the road, you’re unlikely to get enough exercise to have any effect.
Bench, flyes, pull-downs, treadmill. Sound familiar?
Your routine is holding you back, as recent research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found study participants that switched up their exercise programme showed greater muscle gains over eight weeks than the ones who stuck with a formula.
If your chest day is getting stale, try supersetting dumbbell presses with a set of 10 press-ups to reap the rewards. Join a class, swap your schedule around – as well as keeping you fit, switch-ups like these stop your workouts from becoming willpower-killingly dull.