The holidays are right around the corner and everyone is making their lists and checking them twice. Sometimes there is that person that doesn’t fit into the typical present category. (Since you are reading this, that person is probably also you.) Your friends and relatives may not know what to get you. They know you won’t be happy with a box of chocolate covered cookies and you probably have enough sweat wicking clothes hanging in your closet to allow you to train every day for weeks without having to do a laundry cycle.
Here are some ideas to have a Merry Fitness and move closer to your goals.
Gift Idea #1: New Training Program
If you want to get fired up and motivated about your training for the start of 2015, a complete workout plan is the best way to start. When was the last time you had a true plan for your workouts? I’m talking about a plan that encompasses several months of training thought out in advance. If you are new to fitness, or a veteran, having someone else write you training is the fast way to get better results. It may surprise you to learn that most fitness professionals (me included) don’t write our own personal programs. That may sound ridiculous but it’s actually really smart. When you write your own programs you typically use your favorite exercises, rep ranges you feel comfortable with, and much as you may try all your workouts end up being pretty much the same. Having someone else write your program prevents that from happening and moves you out of your comfort zone. When you are out of your comfort zone you are challenged and that is when the magic happens.
If you are a female looking to completely change the way you look Drop Two Sizes by Rachel Cosgrove is the go-to book. Not only are the workouts set up for you, but there is a lot of mindset and daily habits included. Over the course of 12 weeks the goal is to fit into jeans that are two sizes smaller than you currently wear. How about that for a New Years Resolution? Go into the closet, find the jeans that have the layer of dust on them and fit back into them in 12 weeks.
A good option for both males and females is the New Rules of Lifting Series. The original is still a solid book, but fitness has evolved a lot since its writing. Start with New Rules of Lifting for Abs, New Rules of Lifting for Life (for the middle aged lifter) or New Rules of Lifting Supercharged. Both have multiple phase training programs included. If you got all three books you would still be working through them before the year is over.
Lift Weights Faster by Jen Sinkler. When time is short and you need effective workouts Jen has you covered. She has included 130 workouts, broken down by time available (range from 10-30 minutes) and equipment available (body weight, minimal equipment, kettlebells, dumbells, barbells or full gym. There are three guides including the workouts, exercise descriptions and a training manual. This is an e-book form that can be sent anywhere. Lots of variety and lots of challenge.
For inspiration and motivation you can’t out-energy Martin Rooney. He has a great book of Rooney’s Rules, that will help keep you focused motivated and fired up.
Gift Idea #2: Equipment
One of the most versatile pieces of equipment over the past few years is the Valslide. Want more training options? Challenge your core? Add another element to your upper and lower body training. Valslide does all those things. The variety is endless as is the challenge. Good at planks? Try the bodysaw. Want to add an additional element to lunges— try the backward lunge while holding a kettlebell in one hand.
Gift Idea #3: Soft Tissue Work
Most of fitness revolves around the exercises, how much to lift, and how hard the workout is. As you get older you eventually realize you haven’t given flexibility, mobility and tissue quality the priority they deserve.
The simplest place to start is with a foam roller.
My favorite roller comes from Perform Better. Its a solid all around roller— with dense foam that won’t look like a horse that’s been ridden too long after you spend enough time on it.
If you have been rolling for a while check out the Rumble Roller. It has raised bumps which add some extra pressure into the muscles. In most cases the original resistance is enough to do the job: you may think you need the extra firm, but you don’t.
For getting into smaller spots I like the Beastie. The regular will be enough pressure again.
I also like the TP Massage Ball.
Gift Idea #4: Cookbooks
We all could use help in making better food choices. If you are tired of eating steamed chicken and broccoli at every meal then it’s time to make some new meals. Whichever “diet” you currently subscribe to, there are many options to choose from. For the most part if you are reading this you probably are part of the limiting processed foods and starch crowd.
Check out Well Fed and Well Fed Two. I don’t claim to be Paleo but there are some good recipes in here that make good food. The old school Italian Meat Sauce is outstanding. Pair it with spaghetti squash and you’ve got a great combo.
Gift Idea #5: Hire A Coach
A coach is someone who helps you to get better. A coach fast-tracks your results by tapping into their knowledge and expertise which allows you to avoid the typical mistakes and forks in the road that slow down progress. For someone who is either frustrated with their current level of progress, or who is just starting out, get them some guidance. I recommend a Fitness Professional who uses the Functional Movement Screen as part of their assessment. See if the gym has a trial membership and give that as a gift that will start the year off right.
Gift Idea #6: Heart Rate Monitor
I know you are probably thinking HR monitor? That tech isn’t new. You are right, it’s not new but what you can do with the information is new. When you do interval work you pick times, right? 30 seconds on/30s seconds off, 45/60 or some variation. Why do you choose those numbers? At best it a guess right? I’ll do this as hard as I can for 30 seconds then rest. Wasn’t hard enough; raise it to 45 seconds.
What if you worked and rested based on your reaction to the exercise and not some random assigned time? That’s where a heart rate monitor comes in. You can pick the values but my typical range is to perform an exercise till my HR rate gets to 85% of max, then rest until it comes back down to 70%. Then I start again. Based on how fit you are or how recovered you are, the time working varies. As the workout progresses the time per set varies as does the recovery.
Look for something programmable that allows you to enter your range of work and rest. You want it to beep when you hit the end ranges so you don’t have to watch it while in mid-exericse. I use the Polar FT80, you might choose a different model.
Hopefully that gives you some ideas for your fitness friends, but also for you to give to your family.