By Shelby Stoner, PHASE IV Exercise Physiologist
As each New Year approaches, the inevitable “New Year, New Me” resolutions arise: Lose 10 pounds, run faster, lift heavier, eat less chocolate, the list goes on. Making A resolution is no easy feat, but the real challenge lies within the dedication and perseverance to achieve these resolutions without letting our motivation drop along with the temperature (maybe not so much in LA but you see my point). One of the best ways to stay motivated moving into the New Year is to have concrete, objective goals. Goal-setting is more effective when you choose a resolution with a purpose. Vague goals like “be healthier” or “run more” lead to vague workouts. Having a set goal like running your first 5k, or PR your next marathon will force you to work towards an objective task and give each and every workout a specific purpose.
Check out these tips to help you get started on your health and fitness goals of 2018:
1. Setting events and achievable goals
When setting a goal, make specificity the #1 rule. Having a specific goal in mind can increase your motivation because you know exactly what needs to be done in order to achieve it. If your goal is to start running, how many times per week do you want to run? How far? If you’re a novice runner, pick a local 5K in the near future and create a roadmap on the steps you’re going to take to complete it. Goals should give you a challenge, but also be realistic. Not everyone is going to run a 4-minute mile or qualify for the Ironman World Championship. While it’s good to set hard goals, it’s also crucial to pick goals that you will be able to attain if you are willing to put in the work.
2. Get a coach
Wanting to work out and knowing what to do are two very different things. Getting started may be one of the most difficult steps in the process, and it is essential you get off on the right foot. PHASE IV’s team of Physical Therapists, Exercise Physiologists, Nutritionists, and Exercise Specialists will ensure you are on the right path to achieving and optimizing your goals in 2018. Sign up for a FREE 30 minute health and fitness consultation today at (310) 582-8212!
3. Switch things up
Don’t believe that HIIT is the only way to get fit! One of the biggest fitness trends since Suzanne Somer’s Thighmaster is the inception of High Intensity Interval Training, most times abbreviated as “HIIT” (Think: Crossfit, Spinning, Bootcamps, etc.). Anchored in the theory of HIIT training is the “No Pain, No Gain” mindset leading us to believe that if we don’t leave the gym dripping sweat, we don’t reap any of the benefits. Instead, vary the volume and intensity of your workouts. Every 4-6 weeks, change the nature of your training to manage healthy levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and force further adaptation. Hint: Volume and intensity are inversely related. As intensity increases, make sure your volume decreases.
4. Incorporate stretching into your daily routine
Stretching provides many benefits, including increasing overall flexibility and joint range of motion. In addition, stretching prepares the body for exercise and reduces risk of injury by minimalizing any damage created during workouts. After exercise, stretching and foam rolling help release waste products that build up in the muscle and in turn facilitate recovery. Recommendations for stretching include holding each stretch 10-30 seconds and repeating 2-4 times, aiming to target each major muscle group for 60 seconds total.
5. Build-in rest periods
Monitoring rest is arguably the most important aspect of training and yet it is the most neglected. Exercise is a stress that is placed on the body; it increases our cortisol levels and shifts our metabolism into over-drive. What many people do not realize is that the benefits we are looking for occur AFTER the workout, not during. Proper recovery determines strength gains and weight loss, the physical adaptations we all seek. Not to mention, it prevents burnout and fitness plateaus.
6. Add strength training
It’s not just for building bigger biceps or washboard abs, it’s crucial to improve joint stability and function, increase lean body mass, and enhance our fat burning capabilities. It doesn’t have to be heavy weights either! Strength development comes from tiring out the muscle, not lifting as much as we can. This can be accomplished by utilizing lightweight dumbbells and ankle weights in a simple, yet effective routine that protects your joints against injury and improves energy efficiency (burning fat!).
7. Listen to your heart
Did you know that your heart rate is a measure of exercise intensity? As the intensity of exercise increases, your heart rate increases in order to compensate for the energy and oxygen demands of the active musculature. In addition, our energy metabolism shifts from using fat as fuel to carbohydrates. From both weight loss and performance perspectives, we want to expand our fat-burning abilities to higher intensities and heart rates which leads to less fatigue and greater overall fitness. Here at PHASE IV, we utilize scientific VO2 testing to determine at exactly what heart rates you burn fat and develop personalized programs to help you achieve your goals in a safe and effective manner. Schedule a VO2 test with us to make sure every workout in 2018 is efficient!
8. Get more sleep
All of your hard work towards reaching your goals will be unproductive if you aren’t getting enough sleep. Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night helps control the release of hunger hormones and allows the body to detoxify. This helps curb harmful inflammation in the body that leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and many other health conditions. Make it a habit to get to bed by 10 pm each night, and away from distractions. Replace technology with breathing techniques and other forms of relaxation in order to help reduce stress.
Add variety to your training. Cross-training is a great way to supplement exercise and helps prevent boredom and burnout. Rather than run or bike day in and day out, try and throw in activities like swimming, hiking, or hop on the elliptical for a change. Alternative forms of exercise provide definite benefits: improved fitness, injury prevention, and quicker recovery. Hint: the pool is a runner’s best friend. Pool workouts are a great form of cross training for runners as aqua jogging most closely mimics the running movement while providing valuable improvements in fitness. At PHASE IV’s sister company, Forster Physical Therapy, Water Power Performance is a great way to stay in tip-top shape while protecting joints and injured structures.
10. Stand up
In today’s day and age, up to 80% of Americans sit at a desk 8 hours each day for work. Excessive sitting combined with physical inactivity leads to many metabolic and cardiac conditions such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes and many more. Standing desks are starting to gain popularity in the workplace, as they greatly reduce the onset of these cardiac risk factors. Simply standing more each day helps keep the metabolism active all day long and promotes the activity of fat-burning enzymes that promote weight loss.