So it's dark when you wake up and then again at 4pm in the afternoon. How do we keep motivated to exercise and keep those fitness levels up? Here are the top tips that I share with my clients on a regular basis together with a simple workout which you can do at home to keep energy levels high:
Caroline's Top Tips
Have your kit ready the night before - if it's laid out and waiting you are more likely to spring into action. Download a playlist of your favourite music and if you are doing a prerecorded workout online have it ready to go.
If you are a morning person, set that alarm and get straight up - the more you think about it the more you will procrastinate! Plus if you exercise first thing in the day you can get it done before the other jobs you have planned take over.
Arrange to meet a friend for a run, or for a coffee after a class or book onto a live class. If you have a plan in place and you are accountable you are more likely to stick to it.
Keep a schedule of your workouts - there is nothing more satisfying than to look back and see how far you've come and how consistent you've been.
Take this half an hour of exercise as time for you - it's a great stress reliever, mood booster and will actually leave you energised!
Set yourself a goal or a challenge - if you have a target to go towards then it's a great mental objective. Don't set unrealistic goals as they may be hard to fulfil when you are time poor but train for an event, start 'couch to 5k', try a new class at the gym/online and it's all so motivating.
If you can't fit in a workout just try to get outside for a walk at least once a day - great to be in nature, Vitamin D, time out from your computer.
Finally remember how great you are going to feel afterwards! Even just 30 minutes will leave you feeling both mentally and physically more motivated and ready to take on the day. Plus you are also boosting your immunity in the colder months and likely to sleep better too!
Here is a quick workout to do at home to get you started. This is the perfect mix of strength and cardio if you are short of time but need an energy boost. Remember you can do the exercises with just bodyweight if you don't have dumbbells plus you can always take the low impact alternatives in the cardio exercises.
- Sumo Squats
- Push Ups
- Bicep Curls
- Reverse Lunges with knee drive
- Mountain Climbers
- Tricep Extensions
- Jump Squats
- Shoulder Press
- Plank Hold
Beginner - 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest.
Intermediate - 40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest.
Advanced - 50 seconds on, 10 seconds rest.
Perform 2 or 3 sets, warm up and cool down.
1. Sumo Squat
Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart holding the weights in front of your chest together. Slowly sit back as if into a chair, keeping knees tracking over the toes and back straight, chest lifted. When you are at 90 degrees with the floor slowly drive backup squeezing your glutes as you do so. Build up gradually, you do not have to go too low to start with. The key is to keep the knees out and do not round your shoulders or arch your back.
The skater is a lateral jump where you power the body from one side to the other landing in a squat position (single leg squat) as you perform the skating motion. Arms alternate as you explode off of one foot and switch sides - if you wish to do a less impact movement you can step from side to side instead of jumping.
3. Push Ups
You can start a press up on your knees or on your toes (or against a wall too). Take your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart on your mat. Slowly bring your chest towards the floor ensuring your elbows are about a 45 degree angle to your body and your back is completely straight with your head in line with your spine. Come forward over your hands and when your chest comes to the point you are comfortable then push back upwards, keeping your core engaged and all in one fluid movement. Build up gradually. If you are doing a full press up start in a high plank position and again lower yourself slowly to the floor.
4. Bicep Curls
Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging by your sides. Ensure your elbows are close to the side of your body with your palms facing forward. Keeping your upper body stationary exhale as you curl the weights up to shoulder level while contracting your biceps, taking care not to lean back or swing your arms. Keep your core engaged throughout. Once you reach the top slowly lower the arms for the second rep.
5. Reverse Lunges
Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart, shoulders back and chest lifted. Slowly take a big stride backwards bending the back knee to 90 degrees to the floor and keeping the front knee strong without caving in as you do so. Power yourself back to standing and swap legs. If you want an extra challenge bring the back knee into a forward crunch as you bring the leg back to standing to engage the core. Make sure you keep upright throughout and if you wish for extra resistance you could hold weights too.
6. Mountain Climbers
Begin in a plank position, shoulders over wrists, core engaged and with a straight back. Bring one knee then the other towards your chest alternately and keep switching legs, picking up the pace if you feel able and keeping the hips down.
7. Tricep Extensions
Stand in a semi lunge position with one knee forward and bent, hinging at the hip and with a dumbbell in one hand. Tuck your upper arm close to your torso and slowly extend that arm fully backwards to lift the weight up. As you do so you contract the tricep at the top, pause then return to the start. Take care not to swing the arm and keep the back straight throughout. Once you have completed all the reps on this side, swap sides.
8. Jump Squats
Standing with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, send the hips back as you squat, tapping the floor in the middle with your hands and then explosively jump back, landing with soft knees. If you would rather not jump, keep to static squats. Ensure you keep looking forwards and your back straight throughout.
9. Shoulder Press
Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, hold both dumbbells at a 90 degree angle at shoulder height. As you exhale, press the weights above your head without touching them at the top. Keep looking forward. Return to the start position slowly and keep the elbows still at shoulder height before you repeat the exercise. Try not to lean back, tuck the bottom under and engage your abs. You can also do this seated or kneeling.
10. Plank Hold
Begin in the full plank position shoulders over wrists and keeping your back straight and your body in a straight line from your ears to your toes. Hold this position without raising your hips and engaging your abdominals. Build up slowly!
I run weekly 30 minute strength training workouts online on my fitness platform www.carolinescircuits.com and everyone has a free trial class. Follow me @carolinescircuits or head to the website to find out more.