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6 Tips How To Stay Motivated When Training Alone

6 Tips How To Stay Motivated When Training Alone

The hum and buzz of last month’s powerlifting meet have worn off and you’re in a slump. Used to training by a strict schedule and alongside a teammate, the quiet filling the space between your bicep curls and weighted squats is deafening and disheartening.

Sure it’s nice sometimes to be able to focus on the workout at hand without listening to the grunts and woes of your workout partner’s latest life drama, but truth be told, having someone around to spot you on a chest and help you grit through the heavy weight can be a huge motivator.

Now that you’re training alone, it’s time to hone in on your body and goals without getting sidetracked. When you find yourself wavering back and forth from wanting to kick ass and bolting out of the gym early for Mexican and a margarita, just remember that you are your biggest competitor. When you feel your motivation begin to wane, embrace some of the tips below to help you refuel your drive.

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1. Make a Plan and Stick to it

When it comes to lifting, if you’re flying by the seat of your pants, you aren’t going to get very far. Every muscle of the body works in unison with another and so should your workouts. Sit down with your calendar and hash out a schedule and workout plan that works for your lifestyle and make sure it’s something you can get excited about.

If you aren’t eager to see what’s next up on your calendar, chances are you aren’t going to hit the weights with much motivation. Read through some of your favourite fitness magazines and draw up a workout plan that keeps things challenging and interesting. By keeping things fresh you’ll be a lot less likely to burn out.

2. Remember Nutrition is Key

Muscles aren’t built in the gym. Yes, you read that right. When you lift, you are literally tearing your muscle fibres and it isn’t until after your gym session that they begin rebuilding themselves. Even more important than adding an extra ten-pound plate to each end of your bench press is your diet. When fueling your body you want to make sure you are putting in good, quality ingredients that will leave your body energised and refreshed, not dragging.

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As tempting as it may be to reach for the Krispy Kreme donuts your coworker brought in this morning, remember that what you put into your body now will either negatively or positively affect your workout this afternoon. Eat a high protein diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean meats and leave the refined sugary carbs sitting in the box where they belong.

3. Get a Coach

Nothing says “I’m in this to win this” like hiring your own personal coach. Whether it be a cheering squad in the weight room or a detailed workout and diet plan you’re looking for, a trainer can hold you accountable and get you where you need to be. Find someone who is strong and knowledgeable in exercise science and talk to them about your short and long term goals.

A coach will not only encourage you through your workouts but will look for your weak spots and design workout sessions aimed at strengthening them. A personal trainer will help you stay focused on your goals and keep you motivated to stick to your routine. It’s a lot harder to blow off a workout session when you know there is going to be someone there waiting for you to show up.

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4. Write It Down

Journaling isn’t just for angsty teenagers and wanna be writers. Keeping track of your day to day and week to week progress can offer a huge amount of motivation. Tracking your progress and setbacks can help you hone in on the exact areas you are excelling and keep you focused on your current goals. Be specific when setting yoar goals, write for example: ‘I want to get a six pack‘ or ‘lose X pounds by the end of the winter’.

Feeling unmotivated about this week’s workouts? Take a look at last Friday’s PR and you’ll feel a rush of pride and accomplishment that will push you through even the most monotonous workout. Look at ways you can tweak last week’s workouts to give you an extra boost of performance this week.

5. Join an Online Community

The inside of the local gym isn’t the only place you’ll find die-hard fitness addicts hanging out these days. Hop on to a fitness or body building forum online and you will see a whole world of people eagerly sharing their goals and accomplishments with like minded people.

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Whether looking for tips and advice on workout form or a place where you can share your accomplishments with cyber gym buddies who can cheer you on with a virtual “thumbs up”, you’re sure to find a community of people as enthusiastic about lifting as you are. Psychologists have studied the effects of tracking workouts and sharing such achievements online and found that it boosts motivation double fold!

Find a site with fitness enthusiasts you feel comfortable sharing with and get ready to cheer and be cheered on from the safe, un-sweaty distance of your computer screen.

6. Reward Yourself

Regardless of what activity humans are doing, there is no doubt that they are going to try to do it better when there is a reward involved. Don’t let working out become a monotonous daily drudgery with no end in sight. Stay focused on the bigger picture of a healthy stronger you and make sure you reward yourself for the effort that you are putting in.

Whether it be indulging in a decadent drink at the end of a good month or a pair of tickets to a favourite concert after a PR is met, keep the incentives flowing and you’re sure to stay motivated in the gym.

We all go through ups and downs in our fitness journeys, but don’t let the fact that you’re working out alone dissuade you from putting in your very best. You have worked hard to get to the point where you are today. Look in the mirror and remind yourself of the journey you’ve taken to get here and get excited about what the future holds. Embrace fitness in every aspect of your life and you’ll be sure to succeed.

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Published on July 18, 2019

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, chances are you wouldn’t mind a little more definition in your midsection.

Whether you have a six pack or a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little bit sharper. Not to mention developing better core strength is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall strength and athleticism, as well as protecting you from injuries.[1]

The good news? Your abs and core muscles can handle a lot of training.

While most of your muscle groups do best with just two training sessions per week,[2] you can hit your abs every other day to great effect. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Here’s my guide to the 11 best core strengthening exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

1. Planks

Let’s start with the mother of all core-strengtheners, the plank.

Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.

Get down into pushup position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lock out your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles, and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.

For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders.

2. Side Planks

To hit your obliques even harder, try this challenging variation: the side plank.

From plank position, rotate onto one side. Prop yourself up on your elbow and one foot with your body straight and stiff.

Don’t forget to squeeze your core as you hold this position for as long as you can.

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Switch sides and repeat to avoid creating muscle imbalances.

3. Reverse Crunches

The regular stomach crunch is a fine exercise, but when it comes to abs and core strength, you’ll want to opt for moves that are a lot more challenging.

When you can crank out 50 crunches without a problem, it’s probably time for something new.

The reverse crunch packs a wallop for your lower abs and can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the standard crunch.

Lay on your back with knees bent in crunch position. Place your hands flat on the ground by your side and lift your pelvis, bringing your knees up toward your face, then back down again.

Engage your lower ab muscles to do the work, not your back. Repeat for a few sets of 12-20 reps.

4. Flutter Kicks

The lower abs are a problem area for a lot of people, so we’ll want to work them hard.

If that sounds like you, flutter kicks are just what the doctor ordered.

Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.

It should look like you’re kicking the air, and it should give you quite a burn in your abdominal area.

5. Arms High Sit-Ups

Imagine a crunch, but way harder!

Lay down on the ground in sit-up position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of you.

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Raise your arms up to the sky and keep them elevated as you perform a few sets of sit-ups.

Engaging your arms in this way makes the move extraordinarily difficult and taxing. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of this move versus traditional crunches.

6. L-Sits

The L-Sit is outrageously difficult to perform well, but if you can build your strength here, the benefits are phenomenal.

To perform an L-Sit, you’ll need a stable surface to press off of. You can do them on the floor, but it’s a little easier if you can elevate yourself on a pair of dumbbells, two sturdy chairs, or a similar apparatus.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lock your arms in place at your sides, palms on the ground or surface, and press. Bring your legs into the air, perpendicular to your upper body, using the tension from your locked arms.

Hold this position as long as possible for an intense strength building workout.

7. Stomach Vacuums

And now for something different!

It’s easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.

This muscle isn’t visible through your skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your belly in tight to your spine.

To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.[3]

Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine.

You’ll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest and then repeat.

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8. Star Planks

Planks are too effective to not utilize multiple variations of them in your routine.

The star plank engaged similar muscles to the traditional plank, but is a lot harder to hold for time.

From the push-up or standard plank position, walk your feet out wide and your hands, as well.

Your body should form an X position. Elevate your core off the ground, squeeze tight, and hold for as long as possible.

9. Boat Pose

Yogis know all about core strength, so if you want a tighter tummy, you should take a page out of their playbook.

Boat pose is an extremely difficult isometric hold that builds exceptional balance and core power.

Star in sit-up position. Crunch yourself up toward your knees, then lift your feet off the floor until they’re about level with your face. Balance on your butt, squeeze your core, and hold this position as long as you can.

Your body should form a V with the only point of contact being your butt on the ground. Holding boat pose should be extraordinarily challenging!

10. Mountain Climbers

Ab work alone won’t shred stomach fat. But when you combine abs and cardio, that’s when you’re onto something magical.

Mountain climbers fit the bill if you’re looking to blast your core and also work up a good sweat.

Get down into plank position. With your arms locked and your body tight, drive one knee at a time off the floor, up toward your chest, and then back to its original position. Repeat in quick succession.

It should look like you’re climbing a hill, and it should exhaust you in a matter of seconds!

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11. Russian Twists

Finally, let’s give the obliques a little more love.

Get down into sit-up position and perform a crunch toward your knees. From here, lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, clasp your hands in front of you, and twist side to side in rapid succession.

You’ll feel your obliques engage after just a few reps.

For a more difficult variation, lift your feet off the floor similar to boat pose while perform the move, or perform the twist using a heavy medicine ball for added resistance.

The Bottom Line

The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to six-pack abs is a low body fat percentage. That’s best accomplished by sticking to a smart diet and building your fully body strength.

However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently — 3-4 times per week is perfect.

If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well!

Cranking out endless crunches is one way to go about core training, but there are so many better and more challenging moves you can try without ever having to leave your living room.

Give them a shot!

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

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