In the final part of our programme, mindset coach Anna Geary focuses on the F.I.T.T. principles and how we can incorporate these into our weekly workouts
January is on the way out and you can almost see a stretch in the evenings — slight exaggeration, but clearly I’m ready for spring. In week four of any new fitness (or lifestyle) regime, you may start to encounter some obstacles.
Boredom can set in if your routine is constantly the same, as everything feels repetitive. This can also be a factor in the reduction of your motivation levels.
Changing up your workout is an easy way to avoid the monotony of a programme and to keep things fresh. Your body is a marvellous machine. After a few weeks, it adapts to your workouts so you need to keep challenging it.
You need to regularly load your body in different ways so that it can consistently improve. If weight loss is your goal, regular tweaks are needed to your workouts (approximately every three or four weeks) to keep your body guessing, which helps to avoid plateauing.
Because the more you work out, the easier it is to do the exercises, as your body becomes more efficient and gets used to the movements.
I referred to the F.I.T.T. principles earlier in this series and let’s delve into them this week. F.I.T.T. stands for frequency, intensity, time and type (of exercise). These are the four pillars you need to consider when thinking about your goals and fitness levels.
Every few weeks you may want to manipulate one or more of the F.I.T.T. principles. Some ways to do this are:
▶ Change the frequency by adding another day of walking;
▶ Change the intensity levels by walking faster or maybe add in some jogging intervals (sample session: walk for five minutes, jog for 30-60 seconds, walk from five minutes again and so on, until 30 minutes is up).
▶ Extend the time spent walking;
▶ Alter the type of exercise, by swapping walking for cycling, swimming or running.
Changing one of these pillars regularly can make a significant difference to your workout and in how your body responds. Adjusting the F.I.T.T. principles is key to seeing continuous progress in your strength, endurance and overall fitness.
You can be led by your ambition, but you must be grounded by your reality. By that I mean it’s great to have big fitness goals and aspirations, but they must fit in with your current lifestyle.
Consider the number of times you can exercise per week. You must factor in your current fitness levels, the realistic time you have available, and your commitments, like family responsibilities and work. Also factor in things like the type of workout you are doing and how hard you plan to work.
A rough guide could be two to three non-consecutive days a week for beginners, and no more than four a week for more experienced individuals. Make sure to mix up the muscles groups you train. When it comes to cardio, the guidelines recommend “at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity five days a week, or 150 minutes a week”.
When exercising, it’s important to monitor your intensity to make sure you’re working at a pace that is challenging enough to help you move toward your goals, but not so hard that you compromise exercise technique, or even injure yourself.
If the intensity of your exercises is high, then reduce the time spent training or include extra rest periods. If the intensity is low, the time spent training can be extended, if necessary.
When it comes to cardio-based exercise, notice things like how comfortable you are (can you talk), how hard you are breathing, and even how much you are sweating.
RPE (rate of perceived exertion) is a quick and easy way to gauge your effort. To keep it simple, rate how you feel between one and 10 during exercise. In general, for most workouts, keep it around level five or six. If you’re doing interval training, you want your recovery to be below five and your work periods to around level eight. Working at a level 10 is never recommended.
It’s important to have a combination of low, medium, and high-intensity cardio exercises to stimulate different energy systems and avoid overtraining.
With strength training, there are three predominant ways you can measure intensity:
1) amount of weight lifted;
2) number of sets;
3) number of repetitions completed.
A basic guideline is as follows:
If you are a beginner, looking to build muscular endurance and stability, use a lighter weight and do fewer sets with high repetitions (two to three sets of 12-20 reps).
▶ If your goal is to grow lean muscle, do a higher number of sets with a moderate amount of repetitions (four sets of 8-12 reps).
▶ If you want to build strength, use heavier weights and more sets with fewer reps (five sets of 3-6 reps)
The rule of thumb is the lighter the weight, the more sets and reps you can do. The heavier the weight, do less sets and reps.
The next pillar of your exercise regime is time, so play around with the duration of your exercise. It will typically depend on your fitness level and the type of exercise you are undertaking. Be kind to yourself here. Some days you will have more time than others. And remember. some movement is better than no movement.
If you can only do one round of the “Fit in five minutes” section, well that is better than nothing. However, there are times when you need to question when you hear yourself say, “I don’t have the time to exercise” , or, “I’m too busy to exercise”.
Fact check that statement. Is it true? Next time you catch yourself saying, “I’m too busy to exercise today”, replace those words with, “I am not prioritising my health and wellbeing today”. You may reconsider when you hear those words said out loud.
It’s crucial to mix up the type of workouts you do to keep your mind and body interested. Make sure you are incorporating exercise styles that you enjoy or else you won’t keep it up. Think about your exercise like the clothes in your wardrobe. There are lots of different types in there.
And depending on your mood, energy levels and how much time you have, you select different outfits on different days. Some make you feel better than others, and sometimes it’s about what you need, not always about what you want. Your exercise is the same. Have a mixture of styles available to you.
Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise programme.
Every week we aim to target our upper body, lower body, core (abs) and cardiovascular fitness. If you have dumbbells or a kettlebell you can incorporate them in. Your body is also a weight, so you will still get a challenging workout without equipment. I do recommend investing in dumbbells or a kettlebell. If in doubt, keep the weight light.
Do a warm up to R.A.M.P up your body, to prepare it for some exercise. The reason for a warm up is to Raise your heart rate, Activate the muscles you are going to use, Mobilise your joint and tendons, and mimic some of the movements are about to do (Potentiation) so bear that in mind. I have stretching videos on my Instagram page, @annagcork that will help.
For the workout:
Five minutes, five exercises.
Beginner: 30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest.
Intermediate: 40 seconds work, 20 seconds rest.
Advanced: 50 seconds work, 10 seconds rest per exercise
▶️ Stand with feet shoulder distance apart, with toes pointing forward, holding the weight with both hands.
▶️ Tall posture, shoulder back and down. Engage your core. Neutral spine.
▶️ It’s a hip hinge movement (driven by the hips) so while your knees are soft throughout, you are not bending them like in a squat.
▶️ Pull the weight back between your legs to create momentum.
▶️Drive your hips forward in an explosive manner and straighten your back to send the kettlebell up to shoulder height.
▶️ Let the bell return back between your legs and repeat the move.
▶️ Keep your entire foot in contact with the ground at all times.
▶️ Tip: Keep your shoulders relaxed to avoid jerking the bell.
These are a progression from our lunges last week. These are a great exercise for your lower body (and knee stability and core). You can do this exercise with or without weights.
▶️ Stand 2 to 3 feet in front of a knee-high platform, like a chair, but make sure it’s secure.
▶️ Keeping your torso upright, slowly lower your right knee toward the floor.
▶️ Tip: Maintain evenly distributed weight in your entire foot.
▶️ Drive back up in a slow and controlled motion —paying attention to knee stability — and then return to the starting position.
▶️ Then swap legs after a few reps or halfway through your preferred working time.
▶️ This movement works the muscles in your upper back. Select a weight that is challenging but can be lifted without sacrificing your technique.
▶️ Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
▶️ Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing each other.
▶️ Bend over at a 45-degree angle (no lower). Neutral spine.
▶️ Pull the dumbbells straight up, toward the sides of your chest. Keep you elbows close to the body as you pull up and exhale..
▶️ Hold for 2-3 seconds, squeezing your shoulder blades (like you are trapping something between them).
▶️ Slowly release the weights in a controlled way, back down to the start position. Inhale as you lower the weights down.
In the past few weeks we have worked different sections of our core. This core exercise is brilliant for strengthening the oblique abdominal muscles, which don’t get worked as much during abs exercises like crunches.
▶️ Lie on your right side, legs extended and feet stacked on top of each other. The elbow of your right arm is directly under your shoulder. Ensure your head is directly in line with your spine.
▶️ Tip: Your shoulder, hip, knee & ankle should all in a straight line.
▶️ Engage your abdominal muscles (drawing your belly button toward your spine).
▶️ Lift your hips and knees from the mat while exhaling. Your torso is straight with no dropping of the hips. You want to drive your hips up towards to ceiling and fight against them sagging/dipping once you start to fatigue.
▶️ Hold the position for as long as you can without severe wobbling.
▶️ Keep breathing. Change sides and repeat.
▶️ This is a lower body exercise and a good form of cardio. You can use a sturdy step, box, or bench. Just make sure it’s secure. This exercise combines the action of the lunge with stepping upwards, like climbing stairs.
▶️ Hold a set of dumbbells in your hands if you wish (can use your bodyweight too).
▶️ To start, engage your core for balance, then place your entire right foot onto the step. Press through your right heel as you step onto the bench.
▶️ Bring the left foot to meet your right foot on top of the step.
▶️ Return to the starting position by stepping down with the right foot, then the left so both feet are on the floor.
▶️ Repeat at pace, alternating the lead leg.