4 Ways To Challenge Yourself In The New Year
The internet is full of articles telling you how to change your life in the new year, from diet fads to the latest ways to workout. And as January comes around, there’s no shortage of people looking for inspiration.
Yes, the new year is a great time to recalibrate and focus on smashing goals, but having unsustainable resolutions to be a “new you” can be a recipe for disappointment.
4 Challenges to try in the New Year
So, I thought I’d do what I do best: give you some sound advice on how to push yourself all year, in the new year — from January right through to December. Let’s make this new year the one where you beat your personal bests, look and feel strong, and gain the confidence to improve at the gym.
Here are four challenges for a new year.
1. Shift your mindset: train don’t exercise
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: heavy lifting is just as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Reframing the way you train can be a powerful way to work towards your goals.
Challenge yourself to train with purpose, not just exercise for the sake of it. There’s a big difference between the two.
Exercise is general physical activity: any form of movement with the intention of getting fit and feeling good. Training, on the other hand, is a specific physical activity. When you’re training, you’re working out with the intention of achieving a set goal.
Now is a great time to establish new goals and work towards them. Once you’ve smashed your goal, set another one. Keep at it. A structured program like BUILD is a great way to progressively train, and build muscle and strength in a sustainable way.
Finished BUILD 2.0? Take what you’ve learned in the program and continue to train, applying progressive overload so you don’t plateau. Your results will become stagnant when your training becomes stagnant.
Do more reps or sets, lift heavier weights, increase the volume by adding more weight or focus even harder on nailing your technique to help you progress to the next level. Whatever you do, make sure it’s structured and you always train with purpose.
The body is capable of amazing things — work hard and you’ll see it grow.
2. Mix it up: try something new
Everyone has favourite exercises and parts of the body they enjoy training. But remember that the body needs constant challenges and progressive overload to avoid plateau and continue to make improvements. You won’t grow without pushing past limitations.
This year, get set to be uncomfortable, and embrace new exercises you are less confident about. Pushing through discomfort (safely, of course!) — both physical and mental — will propel you to reach new milestones and increase your strength.
Perhaps you’ve finished BUILD 2.0? Shake things up and shock your body by performing substitute exercises and alternative movements. The fitter and stronger you get, the harder you’ll need to work.
Take bench press, for example. Swap the regular bench press for a paused bench press, which will increase the time your muscles spend under tension.
There are so many variations of the primary heavy-lifting movements — squats, deadlifts and bench press — that can challenge you. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to work hard.
3. Build healthy habits: focus on routine
There are loads of articles out there about how successful people pack everything into their lives — and there’s no secret formula. But many of them do have one thing in common: routine.
Anyone who’s tried to establish a new routine before will know it’s much easier to break it than make it. But once you’ve nailed one, a routine can change your life.
In the new year, decide to establish a heavy-lifting routine and commit to it with everything you’ve got.
Morning person? Set your alarm for the same time every day. Place your phone away from the bed so you have to get up to switch it off. Don’t hit snooze, but get up right away. Before you’ve had time to think about it, you’ll be up and at the gym. After a couple of weeks, you’ll be right into the swing of things.
Busy with kids? Structure your heavy-lifting routine around your commitments. If you’ve got a spare 30 minutes every day before school pick-up, hit the gym for a quick session. Make sure you aim to fit it in around the same time each day. Consistency is key.
Need help? When it comes to establishing a routine, working out with a structured program like BUILD can really help. You’ll know ahead of time which day you’ll be working on your upper body vs your lower body and which days are reserved for rest.
Whichever way you approach it, challenge yourself to be disciplined with heavy lifting. By establishing a solid routine, you’ll be more likely to stick to your goals and achieve them long term. Plus, you’ll be in a great position come the end of the year thanks to a year of hard work and consistency!
4. Ignore the myths: put fear aside
At the beginning of my fitness journey, I was riddled with fear about heavy lifting. When it comes to women and lifting, there are loads of myths out there and a perception that heavy lifting isn’t feminine.
Make the decision to focus on the facts and be unashamedly confident about what you can achieve. There’s no perfect body for heavy lifting, and you’re capable of being strong.
If you want to gain muscle, you can gain muscle. If you want to maintain your current physique, you can do that too. Ultimately, it’s about educating yourself properly and choosing a program and eating plan that helps you achieve your unique goals.
Challenge yourself to read up on heavy lifting and really understand its impact on your body. Once I started my personal-training course and worked with women, I realised how powerful picking up weights was. I also realised that I should have never engaged with the misinformation.
There’s an amazing community of women around the world doing BUILD to support you on your journey. Some solid research and a strong tribe of women can work volumes in boosting your confidence and enabling you to train without fear of failure.
Make sustainable changes and stick to them!
Move over new year’s resolutions: instead it’s all about structure, focus and dedication. Choose training over exercising, embrace discomfort and try new movements, focus on building and establishing healthy habits, and ignore heavy-lifting myths.
With the right mindset and some seriously hard work, you can achieve anything.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.