If you’re exercising hard you need fuel for your workout but as many of you are hoping to lose weight and burn fat as a result of all your hard work, what do you do then? It’s no good working out at the gym and then rewarding yourself with a double cheeseburger but don’t go to the other extreme either.
You see, to burn fat you do have to have a calorie deficit – you need to use more calories than you eat.
But the important thing is not to overdo it.
If you eat too few calories your body will go into starvation mode
- your metabolism will slow down
- you will lose muscle
- you will not have the energy to exercise effectively
- you will burn fat slower
You think you are doing the right thing by eating less than you need but you are just making things harder for yourself for no reason.
The best strategy is to eat a little less and exercise a little more if you want to burn fat.
And, if you’re counting calories, never have a deficit of more than 500 calories a day if you want to keep your metabolism buzzing.
Result : A steady fat loss of 1lb a week AND a fitter, leaner, slimmer, toned healthy body without starving yourself!
Has your workout become just a tad boring? Are you finding your 20 minute daily run easier than you used to?
Surely that’s a good thing?
Well, actually, it isn’t.
The thing is, to improve any aspect of your fitness you need to exercise consistently and regularly on an ongoing basis – that means you need to show up regularly (3 or more times a week) and do the work.
But it’s not enough to carry out the same old routine day after day or week after week because you will not get any fitter (or stronger) from that.
Bodies need to be challenged to make any kind of improvement – a workout which you do repeatedly will get easier over time but your body won’t bother to take you to the next level because it knows it can cope with the work it is having to do just as it is.
So when a workout gets too familiar then you don’t get the full benefit from the time you spend exercising.
Stamina and strength increase when you make new demands on your body – your body is designed to respond so that it can handle the new level of work you are asking of it.
Best results are obtained not by switching exercises excessively but by doing the same types of exercise for a period of time while constantly increasing the effort required.
Not in a big way, you understand, but in tiny increments. This means things like running a little faster, adding a minute on the treadmill or a steeper incline, adding one more rep, a little more weight and so on.
This is called progressive overload and it will bring continuous improvement in its wake rather than the stagnation you can expect if you just do the same old, same old routine.
So don’t let yourself get bored. Make sure you challenge your body every workout, every day, every week for maximum benefit in minimum time.
If you’d love to get fit but don’t have any funds just now to join a gym or buy the latest fitness equipment, don’t despair – you can get fit without spending money at all.
(For those with a little cash to splash out on a few bits and pieces take a look at our $100 home gym project page where we review some of the best equipment for getting in shape that you can get for very little indeed. )
Actually save money by walking everywhere within a reasonable distance. You save wear and tear on your car. And you’ll save gas costs and parking charges and/or cab, bus or subway fares. All you need are comfortable shoes (take your dressier shoes with you if necessary) and walk, walk, walk.
Pick up the pace as you get fitter to make those short journeys even quicker and smile at all the traffic travelling bumper to bumper in the rush hour. If there’s nowhere suitable to walk in your area try mall walking (but don’t get tempted to buy stuff!)
If you have a little further to go and access to a bike, try cycling – it’s a great way to get about – just make sure you have all the safety gear you need and take care on the road.
Of course, if you have to buy a bike and safety gear this one isn’t free for you but how many of us have these things at home and rarely use them?
If you use a bike instead of forking out for transport costs then you might find this way of getting fit actually works out as better than free – it will save you money. (Might even be worth buying a reasonably priced or used bike for those savings)
If you already have good running shoes you can start a running program – you’ll find a great free program to take you right from beginner level over at Cool Running. I used this one to train for a 5K race from a standing start this year. If you don’t have (or can’t afford) good shoes, give this one a miss as you’ll damage your joints running without them.
Take the kids to run around in the park (or a game of football or baseball) and JOIN IN instead of watching them. If you don’t have any kids then you probably know a parent or two who would welcome a break while you take their kids to run off steam. Flying a kite is great fun too and good exercise especially if you climb a hill to reach the best spot.
You’ll find more active play ideas over at this site such as Obstacle courses, Den building, Apple bobbing, Leap frog, Puddle jumping, treasure hunts and welly wanging.
Of course if you are lucky enough to have snow in winter the possibilities for play are endless.
5. Man’s (and Woman’s) Best Friend
Take the dog out for exercise twice a day and run about too instead of just throwing a ball to fetch. If you don’t have a dog offer to walk your neighbor’s dog for free. For more great activities you can enjoy with your dog, take a look at this Dog Play website. Who knew Fido could offer all these opportunities for exercise?
6. Step it Up
Use the bottom stair of a flight of stairs in your house as a step and step up and down to music. Or run up and down the whole flight. You can try this in an appartment or office building too (as long as your neighbors/coworkers don’t mind). For more about using stairs for free exercise take a look at this article on Fit Sugar.
7. Fitness DVD
Borrow a selection of fitness DVDs from you local library or a friend and follow them at home (or get out those you have lurking in the closet, basement or garage from the days when leg warmers were in fashion the first time). If you’re already a member of one of those DVD clubs you can always choose a fitness DVD as one of your selections and change it each month when you get bored with it.
Jump rope in your lounge or back yard using an old piece of rope or clothesline. For inspiration take a look at this rope jumping video on You Tube by a Ford Fitness model
You can also get a free rope jumping workout at ivillage.
Play music and dance the night (or day) away – around your bedroom – you can try out your best moves with nobody watching and pretend you’re Madonna.
10. Clean Up
Clean your place from top to bottom once a week for a vigorous workout. In fact you can burn 50,000 calories a year (that’s 14lbs of fat) just from cleaning up according to this article
11. Dig for Victory
If you have a yard get your garden in shape while you get in shape yourself. Here is a whole free plan for using your garden to get fit at Gardenfitness.com
Get fit while making a contribution – you’ll feel great in more ways than one. Join a conservation project where there are usually plenty of activities to get involved in such as cleaning beaches, clearing overgrown beauty spots, planting trees, building walls etc Or join a volunteer project for a disadvantaged group where there’s always something to be done. A great way of making friends too. Do a search on Google for volunteering in your local area.
13. Isometric Exercises
You can tone up and build strength without any equipment at all – just using the weight of your body. Here is a whole series of exercises you can print for free (select those which don’t require any equipment)
And here is a complete 15 minute multi-sequence routine you can print out and use anywhere without equipment
Callanetics has been around a long time though it is not that well known but I know it works! It tones up your muscles at a very deep level using tiny ultra-slow motion pulsing movements without using equipment (other than a chair or makeshift barre). See if you can borrow one of these Callanetics books or DVDs from your local library. Once you learn the routines you’ll find that you no longer need the guide. When funds are bigger you can also take a Callanetics class if there is one near you.
Pilates is another great exercise system which you can do without equipment to tone and strengthen your muscles and which is highly respected. You might have more luck with getting your hands on information about this because it is a bit better known and there are free sources of information about this on the web.
And here is a series of free beginners pilates videos
16. From the Kitchen
Use the equipment you already have at home as small hand-weights. You can use soup cans (still with contents intact!) or water bottles (filled with water or sand). You can use these for any exercises where you would usually use small hand weights.
If you use water bottles start with water and then as you get stronger you can progress to sand and then maybe to small pebbles or coins. Another alternative for kitchen hand-weights are those plastic milk or orange juice jugs filled with water. They are great because they have a handle to hold.
17. Improve your Grip
Don’t buy an expensive hand grip trainer – squeeze a rubber ball or tennis ball as hard as you can instead.
Borrow a yoga DVD from your library or use information available for free online and practice the movements every day. You’ll build strength along with getting more flexible. Download a free 73 minute yoga DVD from yoga.org.nz to get started.
19. Simple Stretching
If you prefer classic stretching exercises, you’ll find a selection of simple stretching exercises (along with some to build strength) in this illustrated stretching guide.
20. Make Exercise Your Entertainment
Although not exactly free it’s often cheaper (and therefore free in a way) than meeting a friend for a coffee or a meal. Why not meet up and go swimming or ice skating instead? Or take a class together such as belly dancing or tai-chi?
21. Use Local Facilities
Make use of what you can find locally and save travel costs too. You can walk in local beauty spots such as hills and beaches – you’ll often find nature trails already marked out for you. And some local authorities offer free classes and program to help promote health in the local community.
22. Free Gym
Take advantage of open days at local gyms – as long as you’re strong willed enough (or poor enough) to avoid signing up for membership.
You will often get a free selection of exercises of every type at membership sites which provide online fitness guidance. For example, the Workout Pass site which offers specific training suited for every kind of sport and situation imaginable offers a sample of 15 exercises you can download without joining the site including the best 4 exercises for a rock-solid abs, a fat-blasting workout and a 15 minute workout you can do anywhere.
You could build up a whole routine with a little searching.
Also check out government advice on the websites such as http://healthfinder.gov. Though the information is generally targeted at beginners you might find a suitable routine.
You’ll find many exercise programs on TV these days – find a few that suit your schedule in the listings – or record for later use.
Charities often use fun activities (and sometimes really tough ones) as fund-raisers. Although it normally costs money to join you may be able persuade a whole lot of people to sponsor you and cover your entry fee for a good cause.
If you ask or keep an eye out you may find exercise equipment or a set of weights that someone is glad to get rid of on Freecycle.org – they are the kind of things which people buy with high hopes and then the the equipment lies around gathering dust ready for you to happily take it off their hands.
27. Become an Opportunist
Find opportunities for exercise throughout your day. Use the stairs instead of the elevator (“That old chestnut”, you say, but do you do it?). Park a little further away than you normally would. Stretch at your desk. Hold your tummy in when waiting in line. It all counts. Do whatever you can to be more active wherever you are. It costs nothing.
28. Flat Abs fast – 5 Easy Ways to a Washboard Stomach
Bonus No 28 just added – my easy abs exercises course – no crunches required. Pick up Flat Abs Fast for free.
If you can think of more ways then please share here in the comments. Thanks
Fitness equipment can run to thousands of dollars. And for some kinds of equipment, it’s true, the more you spend the better experience you have with it – and therefore the more likely you are to use it.
But what if you don’t have thousands of dollars (or even hundreds) to spend on home gym equipment? What if funds are too tight to afford a quality treadmill or elliptical trainer or even to join a gym? What can you do then?
The $100 Home Gym Project is for you – because you CAN get all the equipment you need to shape up and gain stamina and strength at home without shelling out a fortune. And the beauty of this equipment is that it
- takes up less space – a shelf in the closet may be enough to hold your home gym
- is often portable enough to slip into your suitcase and take with you wherever you go
If money is a bit tight at this time of year but you want to get in shape, think about taking a budget of just $100 and investing it in a small kit for yourself that you will use over and over again.
See the $100 Home Gym Project page for more details about putting together your ideal $100 home gym kit.
A lot of people turn up at the gym regularly and just do whatever they feel like that day. One day they’ll work on their arms and “have a go” on the elliptical. Another they’ll “do a bit of leg work” and see if the treadmill is free. Others go for a run when the weather’s fine but “can’t be bothered” when rain sets in. Then there are the weekend exercisers who are just never going to get anywhere fast.
I have to say that some action is better than none but if you are winging it like this you could be doing so much better for yourself and making a good deal more of the precious time you spend exercising.
Besides, without a plan you stand to get demotivated fast because you are unlikely to see the kind of results you might be hoping for even after a considerable time.
So follow a chosen fitness and/or strength program consistently
Or create a program for yourself taking into account
- Where you are now on your fitness path – you may want to get a fitness assessment with a personal trainer or gym to get a true picture of your current fitness levels
- What you really want to achieve – Are you going for stamina, strength, weight-loss, flexibility or a balance of different forms of fitness? Are you training for a particular sport or event? What do you need for that? What level of fitness or strength training are you going for – competition level or a general improvement to improve your everyday quality of life?
- What will best fit into your lifestyle – What can you commit to on a consistent basis? What facilities and equipment do you have access to? (Don’t discount buying equipment if it makes life easier – a treadmill at home may be cheaper than a gym membership never used).
Once you have your program, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS log your sessions and measure results so that you can see progress along the way This is a huge motivation factor in any successful exercise program.
So Fitness Tip 1 in a nutshell : Failing to plan, is planning to fail as they say so make sure you have a water-tight plan for your fitness goals and follow that plan!
It’s too easy to give up a new exercise program when you don’t seem to be getting results but please don’t let unrealistic expectations about changing your shape and fitness level within a few days get the better of you.
Results CAN be truly remarkable within a few weeks – but you have to be a little patient with yourself if you are trying to reach that next level in your fitness goals or even to go from a complete standing start to super lean and fit.
A shiny new exercise program or workout routine IS often the best way to jump start your achievement. You just have to give it time to work its magic.
I have seen people have results within a week and I have seen others have a wait a month for similar results. Some of that has to do with the effort put into a fitness program or with the choice of program but in some cases it’s just that our bodies are all different and so is their response to any particular exercise regime.
The guy lifting mega weights at the gym is not you. And you probably haven’t been into a dozen sports since the age of 6 like the girl at the pool. You have your own body, preferences and capabilities so work with them and avoid comparing notes with anyone else.
The important thing is to get to your individual point of no return – the point where you start to see your hard work IS worth it and you decide that you want your new level of fitness to become part of your life. You need to reach that place well before the point where you decide to jack it all in and give up on your new program.
To increase your chance of success give yourself time…
- Have no expectations for 1 to 2 months – just decide to do the program no matter what and then review it
- Have an open mind – just see the program as a 30-day or 60 day experiment in looking and feeling good. Be curious about the results
- Schedule your sessions so they fit into your day – if possible complete them first thing in the morning before your life has a chance to get in the way
- Don’t be resentful about the time and effort – look at your fitness sessions as giving your body a treat and spending time focusing on you
- Choose an exercise program that fits into your lifestyle rather than one which you will continually struggle with. If it helps join a health club or gym near your office or home – whichever will be most convenient or work out at home if that suits you better
- if you doubt your ability to stick with the program get a personal trainer or partner to keep you accountable
Those who have reached the other side of this “motivation divide” and know how it feels and could tell you that the effort is SO worth it. In fact, you have probably heard quite a lot from them already. The problem is you don’t really “get it” until you experience it for yourself. So make sure you give yourself enough of a chance to find out how good being fit and getting in shape feels.
Hi and welcome!
As the name of this blog implies, it’s simply about getting fit and also about getting fit in simple ways.
While the main site at SimplyFitnessGear.com provides independent detailed reviews and information about fitness equipment, the blog is for everything to do with Fitness and is designed to inspire you to get that on top of the world feeling which only comes when you are at your peak.
The focus is not on any one type of fitness but on every aspect that leads to total well-being : Cardio, Strength Building, Toning and Firming, Flexibility and more.
You won’t find too much information on muscle building for the sake of competition or on achieving Olympic records – there are plenty of other sites for that – instead, you’ll find lots of info to help you feel and look better through taking good care of yourself – achievable by everyone no matter where you are beginning and how busy you are.
As I’m a health and fitness coach, you’ll find lots of tips designed to keep you on track and motivated to achieve your fitness goals. And as many of my clients start out on the fitness path because they want to lose weight, you’ll find plenty of tips on that too.
I hope you enjoy the blog and if you like what you see why not get regular updates by subscribing to our RSS feed or to our Simply Fitness newsletter (you’ll also receive an ebook of 101 great tips when you get your free newsletter subscription).
Have fun getting fitter than ever