Start the New Year right and don’t let a busy gym derail your progress
January is here, and with it the resounding cry of “I’m going to get fit this year!” With New Year resolutions come gyms packed with well intentions and newcomers clambering over every piece of kit available.
Getting a hard workout in is particularly difficult during busy periods. Here are our tips for navigating the next few weeks and keeping your fitness progress going into February and beyond…
Keep it simple
Unless you are lucky enough to have the run of the gym, you are going to need to have a long hard look at your January gym programme (and you should have one!). If you’re intending on doing tri-sets that call for reserving three different bits of equipment spread across the gym, then think again. If you’re planning on farmer’s walks and skipping ropes right down the middle of the free weights area, you need a reality check.
Busy gyms call for smart choices. Can you multitask in the same spot or with the same equipment? If you’re super-setting after a bentover barbell row in the squat rack, could you do close-grip pull-ups or do some barbell curls, rather than try and have ownership on the lat pulldown machine on the other side of the gym?
Get in and get out
January is a natural start date for any programme. What date says new beginnings like January 1st? However, if you have more advanced workouts in mind, it may pay to begin in February with less members to contend with rather than battle over equipment with a complete novice who may take longer to set up and get going?
If you have designs on German Volume Training, for example, you may have to endure a few death stares by the tenth set of squats, if you’re monopolizing the squat rack. Why not enjoy a shorter workout and look at fine-tuning and then enjoy the freedom for longer sets when the crowds disperse?
No-one said you have to workout in the gym. Yes, it’s freezing outside – and yes, you’re still paying for that gym membership – but if it’s really rammed, how about enjoying the great outdoors and the space to flex your muscles?
Do a 5k run through the woods. Set up some bodyweight circuits. Rig up some suspension kit. Drag a kettlebell out into the garden. Enjoy the change of scene.
Take the load off
If you’ve been training hard the last few months, a deload work can have huge benefits, whatever the time of year. A deload week gives your body – the muscles, the nervous systems and your mindset – a chance to recover and prepare for more.
Deloading can mean completely taking a break from the gym. What better way to avoid the hoards than to stay at home in bed? This isn’t slacking off. You’ve earned it and the rest will reap rewards.
If you prefer to stay active, deloading can mean continuing your workout but with lighter weights, or trying a brand new (less challenging) workout and perhaps focusing on isolation exercises or nailing perfect technique on a few key moves.
Peak too soon
If you have always worked out after work, that 6pm gym session may feel tried and tested. But now is an ideal time to take a long hard look at the clock and question your choices. Would you perform better if you got up early and were first through the doors (and getting first choice of the equipment)? Or would there be benefits to being able to get home and have a decent meal before a later workout when the post-work gymgoers are safely on their commute?
There’s no law that states your workouts should fall Monday to Friday, either. Why not rest in the middle of the week and workout at the weekends when you have more time?
Get in the mix
If you can't beat em, join em! Get involved in some group classes, from pump fx to spinning, and get motivated by the people around you. Book ahead to guarantee a slot and enjoy HIIT workouts that push you harder than you would have on your own.
With so many group exercise classes you can enjoy a whole range of approaches to inspire your own individual workouts. Perhaps you find you respond better to something dance-orientated, or maybe you like the challenge of a fight-inspired workout.
What’s more, you get to listen to a great soundtrack rather than the same playlist you’ve had on your iTunes for a while.
So, rather than slog through a crowded gym this month, stand out from the crowd and do a workout that works for you. By the time you regain some floor space you will have learnt some new skills and progressed towards your fitness goals from a new direction.
What better way to start 2017? Happy New Year!