It's that time of year again - the days are longer, the snow's melting in the mountains, and we can finally start to switch out our woolly jumpers for lighter spring pieces. Summer will be here before we know it, and I really can't wait for days at the beach & summer adventures especially as this winter feels like it's lasted forever.
However, while this is all very exciting, it's also somewhat daunting especially if you're not really feeling in shape and on top of your fitness game. For many of us (myself included), the desire to workout dips in winter and it's more appealing to Netflix and Chill than it is to get out and brave the gym. But, now that we're in April already, the cold weather is no longer an excuse and now is as good a time as any to properly come out of hibernation and get back into a solid fitness routine.
So, if you're looking for a bit of motivation to help you spring back into fitness, i've teamed up with Nike to bring you my best tips to rekindle your love for working out, revamp your boring gym routine and get back on track to achieving your fitness goals.
Ease back into it
As tempting as it is to dive in head first, you need to ease yourself back into fitness especially if you've had a long break. Go easy during your first couple of sessions as the last thing you want is to completely wear yourself down and not be able to walk for 5 days because you're so sore! Trust me, I've been there! It'll take a few sessions for your muscles to readapt and get used to training again, so gradually increase your weights and intensity. It might feel like you're not going hard enough, but easing into it will mean that you're able to keep up a consistent routine from the beginning and you'll reduce your risk of injury.
Invest in new gear
I don't know about you, but i'm always way more motivated to workout if I look good! Treat yourself to some new activewear to help you feel more positive about exercising and boost your confidence. There is definitely a connection between looking good and performing well, so grabbing yourself a new outfit can work wonders for your motivation levels. Invest in something bright and that fits well, as the better you think you look, the better your workouts will be. Nike has some beautiful activewear in at the moment and i'm obsessed with my new Zonal Strength Running Leggings, which are designed for high-energy workouts such as running and they keep everything compressed (i.e. nothing wobbles!) but are super stretchy and comfortable.
As soon as the days get longer and the weather warms up, the first thing I want to do is start running again. I absolutely love running and for me, it's the best thing I can do to relieve stress and completely shift my mindset if i'm not feeling all that positive. When I run, I feel like I can take on the world which just shows how powerful those endorphins can be! Even if you're not the most confident runner (i'm definitely not), just go at your own pace and set your own rules! Getting out is what counts. Grab yourself a good pair of running shoes like the new Nike LunarEpic Flyknits which are perfect for running and so light and spongy yet offer targeted support for long runs. Set yourself either a time or distance goal and gradually increase it as you get stronger. If you really want to motivate yourself, sign up for a 5km/half-marathon and give yourself a deadline so you have that to keep you going. I usually track my workouts with the Nike Running App, as you can sync it up with Spotify and the playlist will match your running pace which is really cool and helps to keep you going.
Make a workout plan
You'll be amazed at how much having a workout plan impacts your performance and productivity. Before you hit the gym or head for an outdoor workout, make a plan of what areas you want to focus on. Sites like bodybuilding.com are great for exercise ideas and generally just revamping your routine. If you're still struggling for inspiration, there are tons of videos on YouTube and Shaun T's Insanity is a good resource too. Going into your session knowing exactly which areas you're going to work and what exercises you're going to do will bring you much more success and focus. I like to set myself 2-3 circuits to go through, each consisting of 4 different exercises, and doing 30-45 second bursts of each exercise with 15 seconds break in between (and then repeating a few times). I find sticking to a plan like that keeps me much more motivated than if I go into the gym with zero direction.
Goal setting is so important, especially when it comes to fitness. If your goal is to simply "get fit" you'll probably lose steam pretty fast as it's impossible to measure what "fit" actually means. Instead, set yourself targets and a realistic time frame. Perhaps it's that you want to lose a % of body fat, or improve your 5km run time. It might be to do a barre class 3 times a week, or for me, it's to do an Insanity workout twice a week supplemented by gym twice a week. My goal is to not only tone up my wobbly areas but also just to feel more confident. Your goals are totally specific to you but ultimately, they're there to keep you going and help you stay on track. Remember to tweak and revisit your goals as you progress too.
Take your workout outside
One of the best things about warmer weather is that you can take your workouts outside! I love running down to the beach and then doing a few core and arm exercises on the grass, and working out outdoors always gives me such an energy boost. There are plenty of bodyweight exercises that you can do that will engage your core, help you to tone up, and improve your fitness levels, and you don't even need any equipment. Even in spring when it's still a bit rainy and the ground is wet, you can still workout in the open air - just invest in a good training top or waterproof and you'll be good to go. Below you'll find some of my favourite bodyweight moves that you can do outdoors and in the gym.
My Favourite Outdoor Exercises
Spring back into fitness with some of these simple but really effective bodyweight and plyometric exercises that you can do outdoors:
Quick Step Ups
The Step Up is a great move for strengthening your core and glutes, and is really effective for toning your bum. It combines the action of lunging with climbing stairs and you can take it as slow or as fast as you need. You can perform this exercise with a small step, a chair, or a bench. For beginners, start off by stepping up onto the bench one foot at a time, pressing through your heel and activating your glutes, returning to a standing position with both feet on the floor between reps. As you get more confident, speed things up with the toe-tap variation, quickly stepping up and alternating feet (like i'm doing here). To make it more challenging in the gym hold dumbbells at the same time, or try the toe-tap variation wearing ankle weights.
Another great move to target your quadriceps and glutes is Jump Ups. It helps you to build explosive strength and speed in your legs and core. This works well with a small wall, or if you're in the gym a bench or box. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, and using your core to power your body, jump up with both feet onto the box, landing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Jump back down with both feet and return to the starting position, then repeat. Make it harder by finding a higher step or bench to jump up on to.
Strengthen your arms with the classic Tricep Dip. Find yourself a sturdy bench or small wall, and position your arms shoulder-width apart. Extend your legs out in front of you and perform a dip, keeping a little bend in your elbow as you straighten your arms to make sure your triceps are doing all the work. Keep your shoulders down, your core tight, and take it slow. Do as many reps as you can in 45 seconds or do 3 sets of 10 reps. If you can't find a bench or step, you can also do this on the floor.
Dip & Kick
If you want to make it more difficult, bend your knees so that they're at a right angle and introduce a leg kick in between dips. Alternatively, lift one leg so it's parallel off the floor as you dip. To really feel the burn, at the end of each set, hold the last rep and do 8 pulse dips.
The Side Plank is brilliant for strengthening your abs and sculpt your obliques and arms. You can either do the traditional plank with your weight on your hands, or the elbow plank with your weight on your forearms and elbow. The high side plank on your hands is slightly easier than the elbow plank, but it's slightly more comfortable when you're doing it outside on concrete. Start off on your side with your feet together and your hand or elbow directly under your shoulder, then engage your core and lift your hips until your body is straight. Hold this position for 45 seconds, without allowing your hips to drop, then repeat on the other side. To make it harder, extend and hold up your upper leg as you plank.
Push-Up to Side Plank
A great variation of the traditional Side Plank is to introduce a push-up. Begin in a traditional push-up position with your arms extended beneath you shoulder-width apart. Lower into a push-up, then as you bring your arms back up into plank position slowly lift your right arm up towards the ceiling and rotate into a side plank, forming a T shape with your body. Rotate back down into a plank, then lower into a push-up and repeat. Alternate arms and do 10 reps on each arm, for 2-3 sets.
You don't need heavy weights to perform an effective squat. The Squat Jump is a great plyometric move that engages your core, legs and bum, and can be performed in or out of the gym. Start off with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended by your side or in a right-angle. Lower down into a normal squat position with your core engaged, then jump up in one explosive movement. Land back in a squat position, and repeat. Make sure you land with your feet flat on the ground and maintain good posture. Speed things up as you gain more confidence, and perform for 45 seconds or do 3 sets of 10 reps.
Another great squat variation is the Plié Squat, which originated from the Plié ballet move. This works wonders for toning your calfs, glutes, and inner thighs, and it's fairly low impact so doesn't put too much pressure on the knees. Start with your feet wider than hip-width apart, with your toes turned outwards, with your hands on your hips and your body straight, your shoulders aligned directly over your hips. Sink your hips and bend your knees into a wide-leg squat stance, making sure that your knees don't bend more than 90 degrees. Hold for 3 seconds, then slowly press into your heels and bring your body up to a wide stance standing position. Then repeat for 45 seconds of 3 sets of 10 reps. To make it more difficult and sculpt your calfs, complete this move on the balls of your feet, and add a quick 8-rep pulsation at the end of each set.
SHOP THE OUTFIT
Hopefully, this has given you a little bit of motivation if you're hoping to spring back into fitness thing month. What are your favourite ways to revamp your routine and get back on track? Let me know!