I am slowly getting back in to going to the gym. Last Summer, around August, I was going four times a week. I was doing lots of cardio, getting to grips with the different weights and machines and I had just started a new job. I think it was the idea of a new beginning that really motivated me to go. I really wanted my new life if you will, to be about working hard, staying healthy and being able to enjoy myself a little bit more.
You know that sluggish feeling you get when you’re constantly eating and doing no exercise? I used to get that all the time. Since getting a gym membership and having that option to go and bang out a strong workout at the gym I’ve been feeling so much better about the way I treat my body. Even if I’m not going as much as I used to, I still go at least once a week and that is always better than not going at all.
Scheduling in some exercise into your weekly routine is an absolute must. There are lots of days when I’m far too tired to make it to the gym. Work and just general exhaustion from life sometimes make me feel like I can’t do much of anything if I’m honest. But I will still do a workout at home on my bedroom floor even if I haven’t made it to the gym that day. I feel like once you start exercising, you can really feel the difference when you don’t exercise. I definitely start to panic a little bit if I haven’t done a leg or ab workout in a few days. Maybe that sounds compulsive to some people but it’s really just about consistency and I’m very much aware of how often I work out and how long my breaks between workout days are. So even if I don’t do it at the gym, I make sure to do it. The weeks you’ll hear me complaining that I haven’t been to the gym doesn’t mean that I haven’t done any exercise at all. It just means that I haven’t done it at the gym, you feel?
With all of this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to update you on the sort of exercises I’ve been doing. My gym posts always go down really well and I have tried a few new things recently that I’d like to share.
I always walk to the gym to give my legs a bit of a warm up. My gym is about a 10 minute power walk from home so not too far at all. Once I get there, I work out in a cardio – floor exercise – weights – cool down structure. I’ve realised that doing lots of cardio doesn’t make me see the results I want. It’s the strength training that does. So I’ve recently cut down on my cardio training.
I used to do 25 to 30 minutes of cardio on the cross trainer. Now, I do 10 to 15 minutes of cardio instead and I’ve started using… the treadmill! When people join the gym, the first thing they usually do is go straight on the treadmill. But for years the treadmill has been such a daunting machine for me to use. I had this fear of falling over which would be so embarrassing.
Not only that, but you know when you’re going for a run in public and there’s a queue of traffic piling up beside you? So you keep running and slowly your speed increases because you’re conscious of all the drivers watching you and catching up to you? And then you realise you’re actually running so fast that you’re going to burn all your energy? And then you have to stop and start walking? Well yeah, that’s what I thought would happen on the treadmill. Only the people who would see me burn out would be right next to me and I probably only would have been running for like 30 seconds anyway! In case you don’t know, I am the worst runner. I can sprint, no problem. But running any kind of considerable distance has always been a problem for me because I get tired very quickly and have low endurance levels. But I pleasantly surprised myself on the treadmill! I use an incline of 2.5 and I power walk and then jog, using my songs as markers for my interval training. So I’ll walk for one song, jog for the next. Once the time is up, I use the cool down mode as I’m usually dripping with sweat and then I move on to the mats.
Exercising on the mats is the main reason I go to the gym. There aren’t many machines I actually use. I go there mainly for the weights and the mats. When I’m working out on the mats I can really feel the burn, which is the ultimate goal for every gym visit really. I try to keep my exercises here as varied as possible, as I’m sure you can imagine how easy it is to get bored with doing the same things over and over again. But I also like to do the exercises that I know I see results with. In my last gym post, which I’ll link here
, I mentioned that I was using an app called the 30 Day Fitness Challenge that a friend recommended to me. I really liked the app but I actually haven’t used it in weeks now.
Instead, I’ve started choosing my own exercises and putting my own mini workouts together. The main thing I’ve realised works best for me and the main reason why I can always feel the burn now, is because I’ve started working out in sets. With the 30 Day Fitness Challenge app, you don’t work out in sets. You do each exercise once, sometimes way too many times and then once you’ve gone through all the exercises, that’s it. E.g 35 squats, 40 lunges, 20 hip thrusts and you’re done. That doesn’t work as well for me as choosing the exercises I know I see results with and repeating them for 3 sets. Repetition with breaks in between is key for me.
I have all of my mini workouts saved on the notepad on my phone. So I just pick one, do it and then I do a cool down or finisher if you will. This is something else I’ve added on that really works well for me. I’ll either do this before or after my workout because it makes sure that my muscles get the maximum out of the exercises I’ve been doing or am going to do. I’ll tailor them to the body part I’m working on obviously because I need to prep those specific muscles. My finisher will include something like the following:
10 x crab steps
10 x in and out jump squats
10 x lunges right
10 x lunges left
Trust me, try doing something like this before or after your workout and it is an absolute game changer. You will definitely feel the way your muscles respond!
Home workouts/mat exercises:
So when I haven’t gone to the gym, these are two of the workouts I love doing. If I do them at the gym, I’ll add weights to some of the exercises to give them an extra kick.
Ab Workout 1
Scissor kicks x 20
Criss cross toe touches x 15
Russian twists x 35
Sit ups x 15
Repeat the set 3 times
Ab Workout 2
Russian twists x 15 (add a weighted ball or an 8kg dumbbell if at the gym)
Toe touch crunches x 15 (add a weighted ball or an 8kg dumbbell if at the gym)
Plank shoulder taps x 15
Twisting plank x 10
Repeat the set 3 times
Leg Workout 1
Fire hydrants right x 20
Lunges x 30 (add two 8kg dumbbells if at the gym)
Double dip squat x 20 (add a 7kg medicine ball if at the gym)
Fire hydrants left x 20
Repeat the set 3 times
Leg Workout 2
Lunge pulses x 20 (10 each side, with an 8kg dumbbell if at the gym)
Squats x 15 (add a 20kg barbell if at the gym or a 7kg medicine ball)
Fire hydrants left x 10
Fire hydrants right x 10
Repeat the set 3 times
In case you’re wondering why my weights are so different from a dumbbell to a barbell, it’s literally just because of the way you use them. You put a barbell on your shoulders so it’s a lot easier to lift heavier. Dumbbells and balls are held in your hands and my arms are the weakest part of my body so I use a lower weight. You will still see results either way.
Finally, I’ve put in some of the songs I’ve added to my gym playlist to really help me finish those minutes of running on the treadmill. I can’t work out without music, are you the same?
Piece of me – MK
One kiss – Dua Lipa
Last all night (Koala) – Oliver Heldens
Breathe – Jax Jones
Solo – Clean Bandit feat. Demi Lovato
As always, thank you so much for reading and I hopefully won’t take too long to post again!