So you did it! You cracked the holy grail of physical health and have got yourself going with an exercise plan. You no longer need to bribe yourself for basic workouts; you’re used to the rush of endorphins and you always want more. It’s a tricky road to get to that point, but so beneficial for your mind and body when you get there.
Imagine fitness as a literal uphill climb. You start at the bottom, when it feels impossible. Then by the time you get to the summit, everything has flattened off and you can enjoy the view.
Now imagine that, on the horizon, you see another, bigger hill. The summit of the first hill isn’t the end of the story – it’s just the beginning. With a baseline established, it’s time to take the next step.
Step One: Work On All Forms of Fitness
When we try to get in shape, the vast majority of us focus on cardiovascular exercise – so your running, swimming, things in that bracket. While you may now be able to sprint up stairs without a hair or breath out of place, it’s widely agreed there are three forms of fitness.
Cardio fitness: The one you have likely already mastered, where you can work your body for short bursts and feel good for it.
Strength: This is where lifting weights comes in, as well as toning exercises found with disciplines like Pilates.
Endurance: Being able to do both of the above for longer and longer periods of time.
There is also an argument for a fourth form – suppleness.
So when you have mastered one area, turn your attention to the next. This way, not only will you keep yourself from getting bored, but you’ll cover all the basics too.
Step Two: Support Yourself To Do So
When you begin to take on more strenuous forms of exercise, the chances of pulling a muscle become more likely. The last thing you want is to interrupt your good spell by having to rest up an injury.
The type of support you need depends on the exercise. For Pilates and balance work, an ankle compression sleeve can keep you on firm ground. If you’re running, tape the balls of your feet and the back of your hamstrings. Finally, for strength work, a belt not dissimilar to the type weightlifters use is a good option. They might not be the most attractive things in the world, but they’ll keep you on the fitness straight and narrow.
Step Three: Change It Up
So let’s say you come up with a workout plan that involves running, some weights and alternate day pilates. You do the same thing day in day out, and as a result, two things happen.
1) You get bored
2) You’re only working the same areas of your body
Every once in awhile, do something different. Maybe use a trampoline, which is both fun and quite the core workout. Swimming is great if you’re nursing any sore muscles, as it’s low impact. Even dancing like no one is watching in the privacy of your own bedroom can raise your heart rate, and make you (if not the neighbors) smile.
Remember: change your habits, support yourself and look for a holistic way of working your entire body. You’ll soon be on the top of the second summit.