“New year, new you” is a concept many people seem to adopt every January, but few actually take the time to make it a bit more specific. In 2020, you can be one of the few, and abandon these bad fitness habits.
Ain’t nobody got time for a lousy warm-up! However, everyone knows by now how important it is to take some time before every activity to warm up properly and prepare your body. It can help you avoid injuries. Warming up also increases blood flow, builds heat, lubricates your joints, loosens up your muscle fibers, and prevents the wrong muscles from overcompensating because you didn’t warm-up the right ones.
Whether you choose to do a short and effective warm-up, or a long and specific one (it depends on the type of workout you’ll be doing afterward), focus on making a mind-to-muscle connection. Use your breath to open up your joints, fire up your muscles, and make the most of the workout that follows.
Also, be sure to warm up your entire body. Whether you’re performing squats, pushing a sled, or doing isolated calf lifts, it’s best to prepare all of your muscle groups. Your body’s muscles and joints all work in unison.
Resistance bands are a great tool to have in your gym bag, especially if you don’t have a lot of time. They make your muscles work harder and warm up faster.
Just as every workout should start with a good warm-up routine, it should end with a good stretching routine. Stretching helps with recovery and maintaining a healthy range of motion and increases flexibility and mobility. It also takes the nutrition absorption of every cell in your body to a whole new level, so all your muscle fibers, joints, ligaments, bones, and tissue will stay healthy and energized.
After a good workout, your body is full of microtears and little inflammatory responses in the form of lactic acid, which stimulates growth, strength, and toning. To make the most of it, you need to “cool it down” and lower the stress response in the most efficient way. That’s where stretching comes in—it’s the perfect recovery tool.
Make it your mission in 2020 to take at least 5 to 10 minutes after your workout to stretch, from your head to your toes. You don’t have to do anything crazy, and there aren’t any stretching “goals” you need to hit. Some days, your body will feel amazing, and others, it will feel stiff and sore. Just pay attention to the signs your body gives you, and be patient and consistent.
A Dirty Yoga Mat
Let’s be honest, 90 percent of the time, you probably just wipe down your mat rather than cleaning it. Who has time for that? Well, it might be your best New Year’s resolution, and the reasons to do it are numerous. There are tons of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes living on your mat, and they can potentially harm your skin, hair, or overall health.
You don’t have to put it in the washing machine after every class, but cleaning your mat often will keep it clean and fresh, and extend its life for years to come.
Never Taking a Rest Day
At the beginning of a new year, everyone’s motivated and hyped to go to the gym and work out. It’s great to get started on your fitness goals as soon as possible, and stay motivated even on the days you just want to stay in bed. However, if you don’t listen to your body and allow it to rest properly when necessary, it will cause more harm than good.
Listening to your body’s cues (which are always present) isn’t easy—especially when you’re often told to “get out of our head and just do it.”
Taking a rest day gives your body a chance to recover and actually reap all the benefits of your hard work at the gym, building strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. If you ever feel incredibly sore and find yourself struggling to perform exercises, don’t force it. Your whole body will hurt throughout the workout. Plus, it will diminish your range of motion, lower your strength, and make every rep of every set lower quality than it could be.
Take a look at your schedule for the week and, if there’s a day or two on which you haven’t penciled in a cycling class, F45 group training, or gym session, write “rest day.” This way, you’ll be able to perform all your other workouts with more power and energy, which will yield better results.
If your schedule is already full, try to transfer a few workouts to the following week. Rest is just as necessary as exercise if you want to stay fit and maintain your health.
For many people, January is a reset month that offers a clean slate. It’s an opportunity to leave bad habits behind and implement new routines that will be better for you.