Can you believe this year is over already?! This had to be the LONGEST yet shortest year ever! It felt like all the ups and downs that I fought through were just compiled into one big, super long day. And here we are, already a month away from 2020!
And with that, I know a lot of you are ready to start planning your New Year’s fitness resolutions, and I’m so excited for you! Now is the perfect time to think about all the goals you’re going to reach in 2020.
I want to share some of the things that I’ve learned this year that have changed the way I train for the better.
Listen to your body
These last two months, I’ve struggled with tendonitis in my ankle. This also came at a time where I was running myself ragged at work, and pushing my legs to the limit in the gym. I felt it coming on, too.. Every step agitated my foot just a little bit more, but I would pop a few Ibuprofen and continue on through it.
What did I stupidly do?
I kept training. And now look at this fancy boot I’ve been wearing because I’ve pushed too much! I’ve had to miss a lot of workouts since.
The worst part is knowing that if I had just slowed down, I wouldn’t have landed myself in this uncomfortable, painful situation.
Your body is trying to talk to you! Listen to what it has to say or it’ll stop right in its tracks and you won’t be able to get to where you want to go. When you’re training, especially when you’re learning a new exercise, take it slow and light. Feel the movements. Are there any minor aches or pains? If the answer is yes, your body is trying to warn you that something is not moving right! Watch yourself in the mirrors. Are you performing the exercise correctly? Are you using too much weight?
Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help! In most public gyms there are many trainers and employees that would be more than happy to help you!
If the pain is still persistent, stop! Stop right now! No, not after your next set.. Now! Don’t land yourself in a boot and halt your training for months like I did. It’s not worth that extra rep. Trust me.
Foam rolling equals happy muscles!
I’ve become this foam roller junkie. In fact, I dedicate 15-20 minutes of my gym time to foam rolling and light stretching.
Though foam rolling is still a fairly new practice, many studies say that it may help temporarily increase your ROM (Range of motion) and decrease your DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Simply put, you may be able to go just a little deeper in your squats (safely, and with a smaller chance of injury) and your recovery time from the soreness will be lessened. That also means you’ll be able to bounce back from that workout sooner and get back to the gym for another great sesh.
There aren’t any negative effects that come from foam rolling, so you have nothing to lose and amazing workouts to gain!
Rest days are crucial
Life has been pretty hectic this year. Like, more so than usual. I’ve had to take quite a few forced days off from the gym. I was NOT happy about it. In fact I’d say that I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with training, and HATE my rest days. I know, I know… I’m not going to lose my gains from one missed session.
It’s actually the opposite. And through these forced days off, I finally understand that. Took my stubborn butt long enough!
You see, all the muscle building actually happens when your body is resting. When you’re in the gym, you’re creating small tears in your muscles and breaking down your body tissue. If you continue to work out on these already torn muscles and tissue, they’ll never have time to rebuild, thus leading to injuries and exhaustion. Plus, if you’re overtraining, you’re probably too sore to put in another quality workout. Burnt-out workouts are the worst.
I’ve noticed that both the quality of my workouts and my strength has increased a considerable amount just by adding in an extra day of rest every week. And since that realization, I’ve stuck to my new added-rest-day routine. Every now and then I’ll turn off the alarm and snooze away in my cozy warm bed instead of dragging my over-worked body to the weights.
Give your body a day or two to recover. You’ll come back to your weights stronger than ever.
“You can’t out-train a bad diet”
It’s true. I’ve tried. Treats are great in moderation, and I’m not saying you are to forbid all the foods until the end of time, but I am saying that you can’t just eat a huge unhealthy meal and tell yourself “I’ll burn it all off in the morning, it’ll be fine.”
I still sometimes lie to myself and say that it’ll just burn off, and that I have nothing to worry about. I’m a waitress after all, all I do is run around all day!
The belly that I look down at after those debates with myself say otherwise hahaha!
One study done on overweight women ages 50-79 showed that though exercise aids in weight loss, diet alone affects weight loss the most. There were three groups- one group focused on diet alone, the second group exercised with no change in diet, and the last group both exercised and dieted. The group with the most weight loss was the group focused on diet with an 8.5% weight loss. The exercise group sat at a measly 2.4%. The combined exercise and diet group made for a 10.8% weightloss.
Diet. Is. Everything.
In the end, you’re also making the job harder on yourself. If you’re eating foods that contain little to no vitamins, minerals and necessary amino acids, you’re setting your body up for failure. Your diet will bog you down and leave you feeling tired and groggy and grumpy. You cannot perform at your best if you’re feeding your body the worst, and therefore your workout will suffer. This also means that you’re burning even less calories.
Eat your occasional sweets, but make sure you get the good green stuff in too.
Quality over quantity
I have had to seriously put my ego aside all year for this one. But it’s okay, because the benefits have been worth it!
I started over this year. I went back to light weights, slowed down my movements and focused on everything I was feeling, making that mind muscle connection. I’ve finally traded in racking on as much weight as I possibly can on the bar for a few half-arsed reps, for a lighter weight with more controlled movement.
Since then it’s been easier for me to go up in weight with most of my exercises and I’ve managed to avoid most injuries caused by improper form.
Trying to throw the most weight you can up in the air will do more harm than good. You put your entire body at risk to injury, and all the momentum you’re using to throw that weight up takes away from training the muscle you’re trying to target.
This goes hand-in-hand with listening to your body. Slow down your movements. Feel the muscle you’re trying to target. Are other muscles in your body working to compensate for trying to lift too much weight? Do you feel strain in your neck or your lower back for example? Lower the weight and focus on your form.
You will not get anywhere unless your pushing out quality reps!
What are your fitness goals for 2020? Post a comment below!