In keeping with our current theme of exercise and increasing fitness as part of the Shaping up for summer – the Healthy way series, we’re having a chat with Krista Stryker who runs the incredibly successful and inspiring blog 12 Minute Athlete. Krista is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to exercise and fitness, and her blog features an abundance of exercise routines, videos and tips for the beginner to the novice. I signed up for Krista’s newsletters a few years back and more than a few times her emails have arrived at just the right time for me, giving me the extra motivation I needed to get myself to the gym when I’d already resigned myself to going straight home from work as I “didn’t really feel like exercising”. Asides from her uncanny knack of perfectly timing her newsletters, she’s also got some great knowledge and advice on the best ways to get the most out of your workouts. So without further ado, lets say hi to Krista!
Starting a new workout habit can be very intimidating for people—but you have to realize that starting is the hardest part (it gets better from there, really!). If you haven’t exercised vigorously for a while, don’t try to do too much at first. You can start out by just adding more activity to your life—go on an easy bike ride, take a long walk with your dog, go for a hike on the weekend. Then, when you’re feeling up to it, try doing a HIIT workout two to three times a week to begin with. This is plenty for beginners, and much more than that will leave you feeling burnt out and too sore to accomplish much else.
Also, you should be aware that it these style of workouts will be hard at first, and may even feel close to impossible. That’s completely normal. Simply work as hard as you can, be consistent, and you will start to improve before you know it.
Ideally, how much should we be exercising per week to build up fitness, and then to sustain it?
This is a bit of a tough question, because it will be different for everybody and your own individual goals. For people looking to get in fairly good shape, gain strength, and lose some weight or extra body fat, anywhere from three to four times a week is probably ideal. Two is minimum, and one is not enough to help your body make changes. For those people looking to train for a sport or get in shape even faster, five or six days a week of HIIT training is a good amount of days to aim for. Always remember to take at least one day off a week of intense training to give your body time to rest and recover.If you’re simply looking to maintain your current level of fitness and aren’t really concerned about gaining new skills, two to three days is plenty as long as you keep your nutrition in check. However, once you start to make exercise a part of your lifestyle, you’ll probably actually want to work out more often because of how it makes you feel.
Do you have any tips on how to stay motivated and stick to an exercise regime?
The biggest piece of advice I give to my readers and clients to help them stay motivated (especially when they’re first starting out) is to simply commit to working out consistently for 30 days to start. The reason for that is that 30 days is enough time to create a new habit, and any less will just leave you feeling discouraged and like you’re not making any progress.Plus, after a month of consistent workouts, not only will you definitely feel the difference (more energy, stronger, less fatigue, etc.), you’ll probably start to see the difference in your body as well—and that is usually enough of a motivator for people to help them stick with it even longer (and hopefully create a lifelong habit of it).
Another thing I highly recommend to people trying to establish a new fitness habit is to keep track of your progress in either some sort of written journal or online workout log. At a minimum, you should keep track of how often you worked out, progress made in your workouts and any measurements you care about uch as your weight, body fat percentage, and your waist size. Then, when you need a little boost of motivation, all you have to do is go back and look through your old workouts to know that all your hard work is paying off.
Lastly, could you share with us your favorite workout that can be done in a short amount of time with little or no equipment?
I have lots of favorites, but here’s one that you can do with no equipment at all that will get your heart pumping, sweat pouring and muscles burning in just 12 minutes. You’ll need an interval timer to do it, then you’ll set your timer to 18 rounds of 10 second and 30 second intervals. You’ll be resting on the 10 second intervals, then working as hard as you possibly can on the 30 second ones. Don’t hold back! Intensity is key with HIIT workouts. You’ll end up going through the following circuit three times:
2. Air squats
3. High knees
4. Reptile push ups
5. Jump lunges
6. Pike plank jumps