By Anna Reich / The Guardian
Whether you’re stuck at home or on the road, work out well wherever you are with these top fitness tips from personal trainer.
1. Little and often
For basic health, the NHS recommends “at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week”, but it can be hard to achieve this if you’re short on time, space, or the motivation to exercise.
It might seem difficult to fit in exercise while you’re on the move or short on space or time, but personal trainer Anna Reich says the emphasis here should be on “vigorous”.
“That’s 20 minutes, four times a week.” She says. “Don’t fixate on blanket recommendations. Do what you can, but do it vigorously.
“Some studies suggest that three- to five-minute vigorous workouts can yield real physical improvements, so if this is all the time you have available, do it. It’s a start – a building block.”
2 Companionship is key
Another good way to motivate yourself is by roping in a friend, says Reich. Accountability is key and where you might find it easy to let yourself off the hook, you may be less inclined to let a friend or colleague down if you’ve organised an early morning run, for example. A bit of lighthearted competition can help keep things spicy, she says, as well as inspire creative new ways to work out.
3. Map your progress
It can be challenging to stay motivated when you’re starting out on a fitness journey, or even for a seasoned pro when they’re away from their usual fitness facilities. For Reich, it’s about the action rather than the outcome in order to build a sustainable, long-term relationship with fitness.
“Make a note of where you are today, strength and mood wise,” she says. “List the things you can’t do as a result of your current level of health and strength, or take some before and after pictures to track your progress.”
4. Patience is a virtue
But don’t expect results too soon – this can be a common deterrent for people who have started a new fitness regime. “Give it a good go for two to three months, then review your progress,” Reich says.
5. Give yourself strength
The best bang for your buck, in Reich’s opinion, is strength work. “I will always recommend lifting heavy and focusing on the compound moves, because these exercises work multiple joints and muscle groups. Additionally, heavy weight training is very aerobic too. Weight training is also less stressful on the joints as you get older. In fact, it positively improves bone strength.”
6. Merge sport with sightseeing
There are plenty of ways to work out away from the gym, with a bit of creativity. “When I’m away from home, and the hotel I’m staying at doesn’t have a gym, I run on sand,” Reich says. “It’s horrible, because of the extra resistance, but an amazing workout.”
And of course one of the best ways to see a new city is on foot – or by bicycle if you are looking for a lower impact way to exercise. There are many apps available for mapping runs and bike rides, but Strava is one of the best, giving you access to local routes all over the world – and the opportunity to compete with others using them.
7. Any home or hotel room can become a gym
Other things you can try are bodyweight exercises focusing on the biggest muscles and areas of the body, such as squats, lunges, and push-ups. Working on these muscles will yield the greatest returns.
These kinds of exercises are also great for people with limited space, and have the additional benefit that you can take your “kit” with you anywhere. “I’m a big fan of the compound exercises that work a lot of your biggest muscles: squats and lunges, and then the push-up is a feat of strength that engages your whole body. Make it your mission to become Bruce Lee-level of amazing at these!
“To keep it simple and straightforward, I would pick an arm exercise, a leg exercise, an aerobic exercise and an abs move and do three to five sets of eight to 10 reps. Then, pick another four exercises and do the same. Two circuits at the least.”
8. The kit you need
If you’re away from a gym, Reich recommends kettlebells as a relatively inexpensive and useful kit. “I am forever recommending kettlebells as my clients’ chosen piece of home kit. You can work out all the big muscle groups with weighted squats, lunges, bent-over rows, as well as target the smaller muscles like biceps, triceps, calves and shoulders, and then add some serious aerobic exercises through a variety of swings. The body and its movements are interrelated, so movement of one part of your body will have an effect on the other parts.”
However, if you wanted a piece of kit to use in a small space, or take with you on your travels, Reich recommends the TRX, referring to the popular suspension training apparatus, which was invented by Navy Seal Randy Hetrick when he accidentally packed his jiu-jitsu belt for a deployment. The kit that was spawned from this unorthodox training method is a bit more advanced now, but the principle that it can be hung from, and used on pretty much any sturdy and secure frame, remains the same.
“You can do every kind of exercise with a TRX – aerobics, strength training, abs, range of motion and flexibility,” Reich says.
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