Do you remember the first time you decided to get in shape? That first run or first gym session? Chances are you found it difficult. Running a mile or an hour at the gym seems like nothing now, but once upon a time that was enough to get you red faced and sweating.
And that was when your metabolism went through the roof. Because, to start with, you weren’t fit and that single mile or hour burned loads of calories. When your body isn’t used to exercise, it goes into overdrive to push itself through the workout. So, not only is your metabolism raised and burning, it stays that way for a while even when you’re not exercising because you are so out of breath.
Why do you need to change up your fitness regime?
Six to 12 months later, your weight and muscle mass are improved, and your lungs and heart are in better condition, so you’re finding it easier. You’re running more efficiently and doing more at the gym because practise makes perfect. All those hours on the treadmill have encouraged you to streamline your technique, which also makes it easier and more efficient. You also recover much faster.
Which workout do you think burned more calories? Yes, you’ve guessed it – the very first unfit mile you ran. And that’s why if you only ever stick to the same workout for the same length of time, your metabolism will drop and keeping fit will get harder. When your body is at this stage, it has adapted. To keep getting fitter and more in shape you need to ramp up your regime. Here’s how.
Be mentally prepared for the long haul
People who lose weight and get fit long-term have one thing in common: they are mentally prepared. If this is you now, you’ll know that short cuts and get fit quick schemes don’t interest you, because you are ready for the changes you need to make. By changing your mindset and making exercise a central part of your life, it starts to define you and helps you push through barriers.
Changing your mindset and mentality is a process, but for long-term fitness success, you must be prepared to keep going.
Get FITT to get fit
Frequency. Intensity. Time. Type. FITT is the core of long-term fitness.
F – Frequency: when you start exercising you don’t do it every day because your body can’t take it. Each session will make your muscles sore and your body more tired. But as you adapt, you can do it more often. Work up to an average of six days of exercise, twice a day if possible alternating cardio and weights.
I – Intensity: lift heavier weights, complete more reps, have shorter rests between sets, run or cycle faster. Constantly strive to make your lungs and heart work harder. If it’s not difficult, it’s not worth doing.
T – Time: if you started out lifting for 20 minutes every session, work up to 50 in increments. If you started running for 20 minutes, add five until you’re running for an hour. You get the idea.
T – Type: mix it up. If you start the week with cardio, add in resistance. If you’re already well into your lifting regime, step it up. Try power lifting or kettlebells. If you only lift and don’t do cardio, add it in.
Exercise, sleep and eat
Don’t go all out every single session. Your body will need to recover, particularly if you are stepping up your regime. Don’t expect every workout to be the hardest you’ve ever done.
And don’t forget diet. Sustainable fitness and weight loss are about what you do at the gym, but it’s also about what you put in your face. But it’s not juts about staying lean, it’s about getting maximum effect from your workouts. You need the right kind of fuel to power your exercise regime. Think about counting macros if you’re not already, as this can completely change the results of your plan.
Most of all, to get fitter, leaner and stronger you must focus. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s vital to be excited about what you’re doing, how far you’ve come and where you’re going.
About Surya Iacono
Surya Iacono is a fitness and wellness expert and blogger based in London, UK. Surya’s fitness blogs are aimed at keen gym-goers and exercise fans already well into their journey and looking for tips, tricks and ideas to take it to the next level.