It can be hard to maintain your motivation during winter (frosty mornings, cloudy days and rainy drizzles aren’t exactly the most inspiring conditions) but sticking with exercise can make all the difference to your mood and your health.
Studies show that regular exercise can help keep your immune system ticking along (which may mean fewer bouts of winter sniffles), and it can also elevate your mood and decrease feelings of anxiety and depression.
Not exactly feeling your current workout routine? Spice up your fitness with these simple – but effective – hacks.
- Try something new
Whether you’re a weights room devotee or a sucker for 10k runs, it’s time to switch up your routine. Barre and Pilates classes are a great addition to any workout schedule as they target muscles that are usually neglected. The routines also vary week-to-week to always keep your body guessing and avoid a plateau.
- Add some extra resistance
If you haven’t been seeing results from your workouts, you may need to up the resistance. While cardio is important, strength training is key to building lean muscle mass (which is what gets your body torching calories) and keeping your joints and muscles strong and agile. You don’t need to go too heavy, either – it can be as simple as adding a resistance loop, like the Medifit Active Loop, around your ankles or legs while performing squats and bridges.
- Add pulses to your reps
Want to really feel the burn? Add in some pulses to your squats, lunges, and push-ups. Once you’ve performed your required reps, lower into the position and pulse (aka, repeat very small, rapid movements within the exercise) for at least 20 seconds. Not only will it increase your muscle endurance, it will also help you activate weaker muscles and promote growth.
- Add stretching and mobility work
If you haven’t been stretching adequately, it’s no wonder you may not be enjoying your workouts. Not only can tight, stiff muscles and joints restrict your range of movement, making it more difficult to perform certain movements, it can also lead to aches and pains.
Pushing yourself in the gym without giving yourself the chance to recover means you’re more likely to experience an injury, so be sure to prioritise stretching and mobility work at least 2-3 times a week. Something as simple as using a foam roller can help work out any aches and provide great myofascial release, and is also a great way to offset the effects of sitting while at work or commuting.
- Set new goals
Goal setting is incredibly important when it comes to maintaining your motivation. However, if a particular goal has been out of reach for a while, its allure can begin to wane. If you have set yourself a lofty goal (e.g., shaving 30 minutes off your half-marathon time or dropping 30kg), pair it back a little and make it more achievable. For example, maybe your new winter goal is to drop 5kg and keep it off, or to get better at sprints. Once you’ve ticked off your new goal, set another more manageable and measurable one. This way you’ll be inspired by your progress.
- Try an outdoor challenge
Changing your environment can be a great way to spice up your boring old routine, so sign up for a fun run, run club or swim club. Not only will you benefit from the support and accountability provided by a fitness community, you’ll also have a specific goal to train for, which can help keep your eyes on the prize.
About Ben Lucas
Ben is the owner and co-founder of Flow Athletic, an incredibly successful yoga and fitness studio based in Paddington, Sydney. He is an experienced personal trainer and former professional rugby league player for the Cronulla Sharks. In the space of five years, he ran 35 marathons and five ultra-marathons and continues to train runners for their future events.