The beginning of 2021 is the perfect opportunity to start fresh and set new goals. Whether you fell off the wagon over the holidays or you’re hoping to improve your diet and exercise routine for the first time, the beginning of a new year is the perfect time for a brand new start. For many people–new fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike–those “fresh starts” will disappear in a matter of weeks. As many as 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Do you really want to do something different this year to revitalize your fitness strategy and experience increased levels of success? Try some of these tips to crush your training for the New Year.
Set a Goal
Instead of setting a New Year’s resolution, consider setting a goal for the coming year. Resolutions often seem hard. They’re restrictive, and usually involve giving up something you love, whether it’s your favorite unhealthy snacks or your time sitting on the couch, watching your favorite movie. Instead, set a goal that you’re willing to work for! To set a goal that will work for you–and to increase your odds of success–try some of these strategies.
Choose a goal that’s realistic. If you’re just starting a fitness program, you might not want to dive straight into a marathon. Try out some low-impact programs: walking, yoga, or swimming. These programs will help you build strength, flexibility, and endurance before you jump into something bigger. If, on the other hand, you’ve been engaging in basic fitness for a while, consider a 2021 goal that will help you ramp it up! Dive into a new class, whether you’re trying cycling/spinning, bouldering, or CrossFit. There are plenty of incredible options out there–and you can choose any of them to help shape your fitness goals this year.
Choose an exercise program that you’ll enjoy. If you hate every moment you’re running, you’re going to dread lacing up your shoes and getting out there. If you despise the perky voice most instructors use in group workout classes, working out with friends may not be for you. Find a fitness routine that you actually like and when you find a program that you love, you’ll actually look forward to being active, rather than dreading it.
Build in accountability. When you sign up for a class with a friend, you’ll know that someone notices every time you skip class. When you put a race on your schedule, you have to keep running, or the day of the race will be a crazy schedule. Choose a goal that will help keep you accountable so that as the year wears on, you’ll be less likely to fall off the wagon.
Develop a Plan
No matter what your goals might be, create a plan for getting there. Ask yourself some key questions:
What does my activity level need to look like to reach my goal? If you’re hoping to burn some extra calories and take off the holiday weight, for example, you may need to exercise 3-5 times per week and fit an extra walk in every day. In many cases, a brisk walk around the block–even in bad weather!–can significantly boost your ability to burn calories and increase the odds that you’ll meet your fitness goals.
How do these activities fit into my schedule? If you have big fitness goals for 2021, you may need to rearrange your schedule a little bit to accommodate those goals. For example, if you’re training to participate in a future half marathon or triathlon, you may need more hours at the gym or on the trails than you used to! Even for beginning fitness enthusiasts, however, finding the time to exercise can be daunting. Try some of these tricks:
- Add in a workout on your lunch break – Choose a safe gym or fitness center that’s close to your workplace so that you can make it there every day more easily or take a walk or jog around the area.
- Get up a little earlier and fit in a workout before work – You can either work out at home or take a trip to a safe gym. The gym may be less crowded in those early morning hours, especially these days–and so are the trails, if you’re headed out for a run or a bike ride.
- Schedule in a walk with a loved one after dinner – It’s a great way to get in some quality conversation with your spouse or kids, and you’ll quickly find yourself looking forward to this daily time together.
- Take the kids out for a brisk run when they get out of school – This is particularly useful if you have wiggly kids who can’t wait to get moving after a long day of sitting in their desks–and you might just find that a quick run or trip to the playground makes it easier for them to settle down and do their homework.
- Increase your overall activity level throughout the day – Take the long route to the bathroom. Go the long way around when you’re headed to the printer. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. These little changes can make a big difference in your overall activity level and even increase your stamina.
- Fit in a workout video before dinner – You may not want to head to the gym when the crowds are at their peak, but a workout video at home is the perfect way to fit a workout into your day.
- Find workouts that you can do beside your desk – You can fit in a handful of squats at any time of the day–and those little stops add up! Aim to look up from your computer and take a brief walk around the office or fit in a short workout every hour to help reduce burnout and fatigue.
What does my diet need to look like to accommodate my fitness goals? Oh, no–the dreaded “D” word! If you have serious fitness goals for 2021, your diet needs to match them. Your diet doesn’t just have a big impact on your weight. It can also transform your performance and have a major impact on how you feel. Eating the right foods in the morning can even help increase your motivation and make it easier for you to head to the gym. Feel free to browse our other blogs about diet and some tasty recipes.
How do I need to mix it up? You don’t want to over-train in just one area of fitness. Instead, look for ways to mix it up. If you’re a confirmed runner, try a spinning class once in a while. If you love your yoga, try some aqua fitness. When you shake it up, you’ll work out your muscles in different ways and keep moving toward your fitness goals.
Prepare for Setbacks
With any type of athletic activity, especially new activities, there’s a risk of injury. Here’s the good news: an injury doesn’t necessarily have to stop you from being active. Try some of these key strategies to prepare for potential setbacks.
Know how to take care of injuries. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation: the cornerstones of minor injury treatment. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to sit around on your couch because of a minor injury! We have an extensive collection of braces and compression that can help provide support to an injured limb. In many cases, that’s enough to get you moving again!
Look for alternative forms of exercise. If you twist an ankle or a knee, you may not be able to run on it for a few days, but that doesn’t mean you have to skip your workouts entirely! Spinning or using an elliptical can offer lower-impact exercise, while weight lifting can avoid using the lower body entirely.
Use strategies for injury prevention. There’s a reason why professional athletes use mouthguards, pads, and other protective devices. Not only should you use those devices whenever you’re training, you should take other key steps to prevent injury:
- Warm up before diving all the way into your exercise program.
- If you experience pain during your workout, stop.
- Use a spotter if needed when you’re working with weights, especially if you’re trying something new.
- Make sure you’re performing new exercises correctly. If needed, work with a trainer or ask questions until you’re sure that you’re doing it right.
Plan for the possibility of setbacks. Know how you’ll handle it if you are injured and plan out in your mind how you’ll deal with it. Follow your doctor’s recommendations, but stay as active as you can while you’re healing and keep eating healthy. It will pay off in the long run!
Do you have a major fitness goal for 2021? Do you need a little help getting there? We’d love to hear how it’s going. Leave a comment below or hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
*Please consult with a medical professional if you have any medical issues that may be affected by the suggested activities.