Getting yourself in shape is not done overnight. It takes perseverance, dedication and time – just how much time depends on you and your habits. You might be aiming to improve your physical shape a little faster than normal if you have an event coming up or you can feel the summer just around the corner. Like with almost everything in life, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. No half measures, no short cuts, no extreme fad diets and no four-hour gym sessions. If you want to get in shape fast and stay fit over the long-term, it’s worth forming the correct habits now, so you can take a new recipe for fitness forward with you. Below are seven powerful habits to help you achieve your fitness goals – as a bonus, you might start to see positive change in other areas of your life too.
1. Win the morning and don’t snooze
If you want to get in shape fast, get yourself moving in the morning. Yes, getting up earlier is tough at the beginning, but once you form this habit, the extra time in the morning can be a real secret ally for getting in shape. Think: short-term pain for long-term gain. The morning is a protected, you-only time before you get bogged down in other activities and distractions. Key to this is not snoozing. Again, this is difficult at first, but an extra 10 minutes of low-quality sleep isn’t beneficial to you and may even make you more tired.
2. Write down your fitness goal
Setting yourself a fitness goal to work towards is the first step to getting in shape. You’re likely to already have an idea in your head, but writing your specific goal down on paper brings it into reality – studies have shown that people who write their goals down are more likely to achieve them. They act as a reminder, provide an extra stimulus and help to track your way to getting in shape. Whether it’s to lose 5kg, pack on 2kg of muscle or deadlift 100kg, write it down.
3. Focus on full body movements and high intensity
Full body exercises such as squats, floor-to-press, jumping lunges, burpees, push ups and kettlebell swings, will give you the best return on your time investment. These exercises involve moving the biggest muscles in your body – legs, back, chest and bum – which help you burn the most calories. Intensity is also crucial. Limiting rest breaks and keeping your heart rate up will get the sweat dripping, helping you to lose weight and improve your conditioning. If you’re planning to do some cardio, swap your 20-minute jog for 20 minutes of interval training or even 8 minutes of Tabata (20 secs on/10 secs off). This can be in the street, on the treadmill, stationary bike, rower or the ski erg if you really want to get a sweat on.
4. Push yourself during a workout
Pushing yourself means getting the absolute most from your workout – it’s being on the edge of the what you think you can do and what you think you can’t. By squeezing out an extra rep or set, or just adding a few more kilos onto the bar, you’ll be getting the maximum from your body – and it’s here where most progress will be made. Work hard and you’ll start to notice positive differences at a quicker rate. Remember, pushing yourself further is almost always a question of mentality – choose the right mindset and tell yourself you can do it!
5. Get yourself a good workout pal for added motivation
Working out on your own can sometimes be a chore, even for the fittest, most motivated people. One way to enhance motivation, stick to your plan and make sure your pushing yourself during your sessions is by training with a pal. They don’t have to say or do too much but being there to help you get an extra couple of reps out safely or with a nicely timed “come on!” can really make a big difference to your workout. This goes both ways too as you’ll be encouraging them, creating a positive feedback loop to help improve your shape.
6. Equip yourself with nutrition knowledge
Getting in shape quickly is all about careful nutrition planning over a period of time, forget about extreme, unsustainable diets. Fully understanding how nutrition, weight gain and weight loss works will help you create healthy, manageable habits to keep throughout your life. It’s simply a matter of science – burn more calories than you take on and you’ll lose weight, consume more calories than you burn and you’ll gain weight. Let’s say you need to eat 2,000 calories a day to maintain your current weight (your basal metabolic rate). If you drop this to 1,500 daily calories, you’ll lose around 0.5-1kg a week, depending on how many extra calories you burn. Once you have this information, work out when you want to get in shape by and adjust the formula to meet your goals.
7. Get organised the night before
If you want fast results, you need to increase your efficiency. One of the simplest tips you can put into action is get organised. If you’re leaving the house early, make sure your meals and snacks are ready to go, including your post-workout shake.
Fumbling around first thing in the morning for your kit is an almost guaranteed way to forget something! Get your gym bag ready the night before, including all the clothes you’re going to wear that day.
One thing that a lot of people don’t do is plan their workouts before they get to the gym. Not only does this stop you from wandering around the gym floor thinking ‘what should I do?’ before reverting back to a comfortable workout you do every time, it helps to increase motivation when you wake up first thing raring to attack your workout.
Follow these seven powerful tips and form the right positive habits now and you’ll be well on your way to getting in the best shape of your life in no time.