Month after month you swipe the gym card, change clothes, hit the cardio machine, throw a few weights around without breaking a sweat, then smash out the lazy man's triathlon (steam-shower-shave) before heading home to Netflix it.
Gets boring, doesn't it?
It's boring for your body too, and it's probably why your muscles and waistline aren't changing for the good. Since "nothing changes, if nothing changes" - here are nine ways to really see some change in your fitness by the end of winter.
1. Introduce HIIT into your cardio
The lazy jog, long ride on the bike, cruisy session on the cross trainer… are all dinosaur methods in keeping healthy and fit. High Intensity Interval Training is where gains lie. Hit the rower with 30 seconds of 100 per cent effort, 30 seconds of 20 per cent effort – for a 10 minute clip. Do the same on the treadmill, or amp up a bike session with a Spin class – you'll see fitness increase while weight heads the other way.
2. Train your posterior side
Mirrors are tricking us as we constantly see 2D images of ourselves, so we often only train chest, abs, shoulders, biceps. Yet a symmetrical body is a healthier, better looking body. Deadlifts, dumbbell rows, pull-ups, kettlebell swings, squats, and cleans are just a few of the superior movements to build a better back side.
3. Perform isometric holds
During movement, muscles expand and contract. Yet an isometric hold is great for muscle building and strength because it requires maximum contraction. For your core, perform planks and side planks. For shoulders, back, forearms, and biceps try dead hang and bent elbows hang on a pull up bar. During your bicep curls' final repetition, execute a max hold at mid-range until failure.
4. Perform plyometric movements
If you want to get seriously lean and burn fat, start performing plyometric moves. Where isometric is about "the hold", plyometric is about "the jump". Squat jumps, plyometric lunges, and box jumps will bring your legs and bum to a whole new level. Burpees, burpees with a tuck jump, and alternating plyo push-ups with a medicine ball promote a lean, strong chest and torso.
5. Incorporate TTUT to build muscles
Bulking Up? Break the three sets of 10 norm at a one second eccentric : one second concentric by learning about TTUT (Total Time Under Tension). The method was popularised in the '90's by famed Charles Poliquin, but some bodybuilders have moved on from its 5:1:5 approach as variables like number of sets and volume are examined. Diving into TTUT and hypertrophy is too deep a science for today's column, but if you want to build, you should do your homework on load, repetitions, and tempo.
6. Get outdoors in the winter
It's a great time to get outdoors when temperatures drop because the body burns more calories in its attempt to stay warm. From hiking to trail running, bodyweight sessions at the park to back garden circuits at home – enjoy a bit of fresh, chilled air with a view by getting out of the gym.
7. Work out less
Go into the gym with a plan – and carry it out with intensity. Stop perving. Stop looking at yourself in the mirror. Stop with the gossip, and stop watching so much TV. Turn the music up, and move your body while sweating and swearing. Intensity breeds efficiency which breeds a healthier you.
8. Perform a bodyweight session
We use phones and computers all day, then exercise while connected to more… machines. Turn them all off and perform a bodyweight circuit like: 100 skipping ropes, 15 push ups, 15 bodyweight squats, 15 sit ups, 20 plyo lunges (10 each side), 5 burpees – 1 minute rest between five rounds. You'll see that whether you're in the gym, living room, or a business hotel there's a place for a gym session.
9. Get more sleep
Sleep is when the body's growth hormone (for muscle growth and repair) is at its highest concentration. Neglect sleep? And you're neglecting your fitness. And if you're trying to lose weight, sleep is a necessity. My alma mater, University of Chicago coined the phrase "metabolic grogginess". With just four consecutive nights of poor sleep, fat cells change and fat storage begins. Damn good sleep is just as important as exercise.
Sydney University estimates Australia's cost of inactivity on the economy at over $800 million. That figure comes from 70 per cent of Australian adults who do little to no exercise. That figure will grow, as less than one in five children get an hour of physical activity per day.
If that's you, reading this with an alcoholic beverage in one hand, with a takeaway burger soon to be grasped by the other:
Get off your butt, and get moving.
Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his "Cut The BS" diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.