So you may know the basics (especially if you’ve read any of my other articles) ie cardio 3 to 5 x per week, weights 3 to 5 x per week, eat 5 to 6 smallish meals per day… But this time of year it can be tricky to keep anything like this in position, so what do you do?
Take a good look at your day and work out where you can fit in your exercise. If you can’t find a big enough gap to fit a solid haul of cardio in then split it into 2 or 3 bursts per day, for instance a 15 minute walk or run first thing when you get up and then another 15 mins walk or jog at lunch time will cover it. Do this 3 x or more per week and you’re doin’ good. Also get on your feet and get moving at ANY opportunity, use the stairs, walk, run, or ride a bike to and from work, get busy.
Haven’t got time to get into the gym to do your weights? How about a circuit of body weight exercises at home (whenever you can fit it in) ie 4 sets of push ups, 4 sets of triceps dips between 2 chairs, 4 sets of squats (hands on hips), 4 sets of lunges, 4 sets of abdominal crunches… Covered! If you can dig up some Dumbbells and a Swiss Ball from somewhere then you can really get creative with your home training.
If you can manage to get into the gym but you’ve only got 20 to 30 minutes then shave the rest periods between sets and exercises and speed up the tempo of your reps. This ‘accelerated training rate’ will work your muscles in a different way to the usual training and can be a great way to up the intensity and really fire up some calorie burning. Make it intense and feel the burn!
Maintaining 5 to 6 clean meals, and timed correctly is where it can all fall apart big time. This does take some ‘mental’ preparation – but you will feel and look better for it so find a few minutes, think through a plan, then stick to these regular meals. What works for you? If it’s got to be the odd ‘commercial’ bite on the run and there’s just no alternative then how about a low carb wrap from Subway, or wrap from Nando’s? Just watch the dressings and these can be ok options. Say no to protein bars and ‘ready to drink’ protein drinks if you can, in most cases these really are nasty and can actually set your progress back – unfortunate, as the theory’s good – but they just don’t stack up. One fast and clean solution is before you head out for the day throw a couple of scoops of dry protein powder into a drink bottle (or even better prepare 2 or 3 bottles), carry in your bag, then when you need a quick meal add some water from a ‘Pump’ bottle or tap, shake it up, sorted. If you need some quick carbs to go with it an apple can do the trick, a couple of Ryvita crackers, or 1 or 2 slices of Vogel’s bread.
Remember when putting meals together keep them low in saturated fat, always have a decent protein portion, and recognise that most people eat far too many carbohydrates – if you can cut carbs back you will generally make much faster ‘fat burning’ progress. When you do eat carbs make sure they are ‘Low GI’ natural sources. Set a curfew, no carbs from 4pm until breakfast and you will have an effective technique in place to reduce body fat.
The key to a better body is consistency, so even though it may get difficult to fit everything in and your program may end up less than perfect as long as you can squeeze in some physical activity every second day or so – along with some quality, clean meals most of the time you will get closer to your goals. Stay focused on what you want to achieve and make it happen!