It’s about that time of year again, folks. New Year’s Resolutions with the best of intentions are about to be in full swing.
On top of most people’s lists is to join a gym and get in shape. Especially now when you consider how cheap some of the chain gyms are, and also how the likes of Flyefit stay open for 24 hours a day. There are zero excuses if you want to get ripped, jacked, shredded or any other intimidating adjective.
You can talk to a dozen personal trainers who will tell you variations of the same thing, and that can be confusing. Research for yourself and think – realistically – about what you want to look like in 12 weeks, or whatever timeframe you have in mind. First, educate yourself and then commit to it. Like achieving most things in life, consistency is key.
Below are some tips I’ve learned from years of being chubby, then running ultramarathons and triathlons, and ultimately training heavily and competing in Mixed Martial Arts
A friend who ran a gym said she could tell I had been out of shape years ago simply by how I trained. Basically, I avoided the weights section and spent over an hour on the treadmill sometimes. Granted, that type of grind resulted in a 3:13 marathon and years in endurance sport, but if I’m being honest I was really unhappy with how I looked then. Skinny upper half, chunky lower half and an unrelenting fear that I would get chubby again without even realising.
My tooth is not just sweet, it welcomes all food groups and is frugal enough to consume in bulk. Truth be told, short, high-intensity bursts will do far more for you in a fraction of the time. If you have bad knees, use the cross-trainer, if not then interval sprints on the treadmill for 10 or 15 minutes will get you sweating. Better yet, get a backpack and run to the gym – cardio done!
This is really where consistency comes into it; you’ll sign up for a year and go every day for a couple of weeks. Then life will get in the way and training won’t be a priority anymore. Off the bat, be realistic and begin as you mean to go on.
Maybe you can definitely get to the gym 3 times a week. Commit to that. But what is going to get you on the road to the shape of your life is the fear driving your work ethic. This could be anything from signing up for a race or charity swim, to posting a before picture on your social media and then another one in a realistic amount of time. It’s terrifying and even embarrassing, but it will 100% drive you to train harder and not miss those sessions.
You’ll get to know your body intrinsically while it changes and that in turn gives you control over how it looks. Also, think of how good it would feel to inspire the people around you when you’re done.
Last session with Mar in the ISI today and worked arms. 5 sets, 6 seconds down, 6 reps. Then 12 reps. Same with dips. Ive been writing about the training on @fourthwallie but all of the exercises designed by Stephen will be in Tatler Man this month. I've enjoyed this a lot, but looking forward to getting back to SBG Charlestown for a knock. . . . #sbg #sbgcharlestown #mma #fit #fitness #fitfam #health #wellness #nutrition #shredded #SustainablyShredded #arms #muscle
This craze is really easy to shit on because there are a few people who abuse it for attention. Also, as a nation, we don’t like when people seem too sure of themselves. That said there are multiple genuine everyday athletes on social media who are there to inspire and educate – you following them becomes their reason to train harder.
Don’t get bitter, get inspired. Ask questions, interact and show the humility to engage. You’ll be surprised at how delighted they are that they’ve become a motivation to you. Be proud of the difference in your body you’ve worked hard for – take those god damn selfies. But be aware whatever you put out there will not always be received positively. Social media is packed to the brim with keyboard personal trainers.
Eat Less Crap
This is huge for everyone. Literally everyone. You’re probably walking around post-Christmas feeling like you’re about to give birth to a weird Turkey/Selection Box hybrid. Don’t worry, we all are.
When people decide they want to lose a few pounds or whatever, food is the first thing to go. That’s insane. Enjoy your food*, just be aware of what you’re putting into your body. For me, years ago, it was full-fat Coke. I drank litres of it and, invariably, looked like a right sloppy fuck as my teens ended. I switched to a sugar-free version, cut down the amount and now I aim to drink about 3 litres of water a day. Granted, I piss like a race horse, but going completely cold turkey would just have resulted in a relapse of sorts.
Make slight changes and monitor everything on an app like My Fitness Pal. You can scan everything you eat and get a macro breakdown. Replace some chocolate with protein bars and make sure you’re well fueled for your training. If you eat takeout, pick the healthiest thing – replace the chips with brown rice, for example. You do not need to obsess. You do not need to do paleo or fucking gecko. They work beautifully for some people, but if you’re starting, slight differences in your choices will make more of a difference over time.
*I may or may not be eating a Terry’s Chocolate Orange while typing this
Every nutritionist will tell you to get all of the goodness you need from non-processed, fresh food. That is 100% right, but not always possible. God gave us caffeine for a reason people – to use it to lift heavy shit repeatedly until you start to resemble Ryan Reynolds in Blade Trinity. Seriously, pre-workouts are incredible and we’ll fight anyone who tells us otherwise.
The key is to train as hard as you can in whatever window your choice of pre-workout gives you. Sit around sipping it for too long, and you’ll miss that burst where you feel like you can take on the world. Always counter it with lots of water to avoid being dehydrated, and a protein heavy meal or shake after will help muscle growth.
Experiment with brands as some are disgusting, and listen to your body. Too much caffeine is zero craic and you’ll crash horribly after. But it will help; I typically take about 20 minutes sipping one while working on a gym playlist – you’ll be raring to go when your gear is on and Kenny Loggins is belting out Danger Zone. What, just me?
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Look, as I already stated, I am not a personal trainer. Genetics play a huge role in how you’ll look, ultimately. But if pure aesthetics is the key, you can absolutely get to that place where your clothes just look better on you. For me, early on it was a goal as stupid as looking decent in a t-shirt, so I worked arms and shoulders a lot. I didn’t lose weight – I actually put a little on – but I didn’t have to go out and buy a new wardrobe; the clothes I already owned looked better on me. That should be your goal.