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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 March 8, 2019

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

Think about your current workouts:

If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

    A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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    Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

    Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

    Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

    Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

    This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

    Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

    Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

    The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

    Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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    Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

    Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

    The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

    The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

    Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

    Meet Strong Stan

    Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

    While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

    While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

    Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

    Meet Flexible Fiona

    Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

    Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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    To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

    Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

    It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

    Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

    Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

    What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

    In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

    In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

    So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

    You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

    If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

    If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

    Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

      Final Thoughts

      If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

      Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

      Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

      With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

      More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

      Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

      Reference

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