If you want to know how to get fit in 2021 – and fit for 2021, which is hopefully shaping up to be a better year than last year – you have come to the right place. This January, T3 will be sharing ways to get in shape and lose weight. For more advanced practitioners we'll also have tips on how to get in your best ever shape this year.
First of all: congratulations! You decided to get fit in 2021, after not looking after yourself all that much during the first lockdown, then the second lockdown, and then the next lockdown… and so on. We would like to reassure you: getting fit doesn't have to be difficult. Here are the best beginner workouts and top tips to get in shape in 2021.
First of all, we would like to say that being healthy doesn't mean a body fat percentage below 10%. Healthy bodies come in many shapes and sizes and being healthy is a lot different from being just lean. A healthy body is resilient, strong and doesn't restrict you from things you want to do.
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Of course, a lot of people will want to lose belly fat or lose weight in general, and follow the best home workout in order to feel more healthy. That is absolutely fine. Challenging yourself (within reason) is one of the best way get you out of your comfort zone and start living a more active, healthier life.
Apply small changes first and scale up the efforts gradually to ensure the lifestyle shift won't come as shock to your body. We all react to exercise and certain diets differently and paying attention to your body is paramount if you seek long term results.
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Better be safe than sorry
"The key thing to remember when you’re starting out a new fitness regime, is to make changes to your diet that you want to keep for life, not just the short term", recommends Mike Naylor, lead nutritionist for Team GB at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
If you are even slightly concerned about anything related to your new exercise regime, please consult a medical professional – and not an Instagram celebrity – before you begin.
If you have any concerns at all about your overall well-being, please speak to your doctor or a medical professional before you start your new exercise regime.
This is especially true for people who are trying to build up some strength after being ill for elongated periods of time. As much as we tried to collect the best exercises for complete beginners, if you had a knee-surgery, for example, than any exercise putting pressure on your knees is out of the question.
Always be safe and sensible and mindful about your body, before, during and after your workouts, too.
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Get fit for 2021: our best health tips
Here is a collection of tips and 'lifehacks' that can help kickstart a healthier lifestyle. Follow any or all of these could help you bring closer to your health goals in 2021.
Mike Naylor suggests people should ease themselves into their new habits. "Don’t make rapid dramatic changes to your diet. That’s key in maintaining a new fitness regime and developing healthy habits. Don't go taking out food groups completely."
Despite what many actors and fitness influencers on Instagram would like you to believe, changes to your physique and health don't happen overnight. No one can build 10 kilos of lean muscle in three months who never worked out before, nor can you lose all the weight and keep it off in a short period in time.
Being healthy is more important than a before/after post on social media. Gradual changes and sustaining a healthy lifestyle will have long term benefits, as opposed dangerous calorie-restricted diets that hurt your metabolism and make you weaker.
Red Bull January Jump-start Initiative
Why not join the Red Bull January Jump-start challenge on Strava? With sample packs and rewards to earn as you chase down your goals, you can make sure you stay motivated in the most difficult part of the body-transformation journey (at the beginning). Better still, it's all free.View Deal
A good way to kickstart a new, healthier year is by setting up a challenge for yourself. This doesn't have to be anything difficult: you can just pick a fitness wearable from our best fitness tracker or best running watch guide and do a 30-day step challenge. Every day, you must hit 10,000 steps, no matter what.
This is a great way to keep you going, even on those days when you really can't be bothered to do anything. Even if you miss a day, that's fine: do as many days as possible within the month. Every step you take will bring you closer to a healthier you. Not to mention, brisk walking is a great way to boost metabolism.
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We sit too much. And we all know that sitting for too long is not healthy. The issue is not the act of sitting, but the lack of movement. Standing up from time to time is important. Be more NEAT. NEAT is short for 'Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis' and although this sounds a very complex something, it really isn't.
NEAT happens when you aren't stationary. NEAT is your body exercising when you aren't actually exercising. NEAT is using small amount of energy often. How can you include more NEATness in your life? Stand up from your desk and get some water more often. Take the stairs instead of getting the elevator.
Being more NEAT means you burn calories without having to sweat through a HIIT workout. You should do both if you can but including more NEAT in your day can help you in a lot of ways in itself.
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Have you tried suspension training yet? You totally should have, especially in the current conditions, gyms being closed and all. Suspension sets like the portable and lightweight TRX GO can complement your bodyweight training tremendously and work muscles that would be difficult to train without weights, such as the biceps and the upper back. It might cost £100 but it replaces a whole load of weights and takes up a fraction of the space of a full weight rack. View Deal
Workout at home
A survey, conducted by RunRepeat and published in December 2020, asked 1,990 gym members from 120 different countries to see how people will get fit in 2021. As it turned out, only 15% of current gym members thought a gym membership is the best way to achieve their fitness goals in 2021 and nearly three-quarters of gym members said running and other outdoor activities or home fitness options are the best ways to achieve their fitness goals in 2021.
Thanks to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, many of us re-evaluated their fitness efforts and came to the conclusion that you can workout and get fit at home. Home workouts are not without caveats but they are by far the most convenient and cost-effective way to get fit.
We recommend finding your own space and time for the workouts (if you can); you can do yoga while your significant other is watching the telly next to you, but having a dedicated area and time where you can focus on yourself helps getting in the right mindset.
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A calorie is not always a calorie. A calorie from a chocolate bar will fuel you differently than a calorie from brown rice, for example. From a health perspective, it's more beneficial to keep track of macros. 'Macro' is short for macronutrient of which there are three: carbohydrate, protein and fat.
Tracking macro intake is better for long term weight loss and monitoring macro intake is not as difficult as it might sound. There are a myriad of free apps, such as MyFitnessPal, that can read barcodes of products and do the adding up for you. There are also devices, such as Lumen, that tracks metabolism and recommends diet based on what macronutrient your body is using the most (carbs or fat).
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Drink more water
Another obvious thing to do if you want to kickstart your metabolism is to drink plenty of...water. Not fizzy drinks, not coffee/tea, water. Having enough water in your system will help your cells to regenerate quicker, toxins to be emptied out of your system more efficiently, and just in general, for you to be more healthy.
Best exercises for beginners
Drink a big glass of water around half an hour before you exercise and have another one within arm's reach as you exercise. Stretching before and after exercising is also beneficial: a foam roller and/or percussion massage gun can do wonders to sore muscles.
Having some protein after the workout can help you recover faster (and build muscle, of course). Including more protein in your diet can also help you lose weight and make you feel fuller for longer.
Muscles worked: pecs (chest muscles), arms (mainly triceps), delts (mainly the front shoulders)
Wall push-ups are excellent alternatives to regular push-ups and put less stress on your joints and muscles. As you get more comfortable with the exercise (and your muscles get stronger) you can gradually go into more of a horizontal position, as it is pictured above.
To perform a wall push-up, stand completely upright, arm-length distance from the wall, legs shoulder width apart. Place your palms on the wall then slowly bend your elbows so your head gets closer to the wall. Go forward as much as it feels comfortable, then push yourself back to the starting position. Be careful not to lose balance as you extend your arms.
One things to be mindful about as you do wall push-ups is to keep your back straight. Treat wall push-ups like regular push-ups and don't let your hip sag, either forward or backwards.
Muscles worked: glutes (the biggest muscle in your body), quads (thighs), abs/core
Squats are amazing exercises because they work the whole entirety of lower body. And your lower body needs all the love it can get, if for no other reason, because it houses the biggest muscle on your body, the gluteus maximum, the muscles responsible for keeping your body upright as you stand.
To perform a squat is pretty straightforward and we won't go into much detail here. There are a couple of things you need to careful with, though, like keeping your back straight all the way through the movement. In order to be able to do just that, you will need to stick your bum out in the lowermost position, to keep your centre of gravity above your feet, and it can also help if you extended your arms in front of you.
As with side lunges, make sure you don't go too deep with the squat, you don't want to put too much pressure on your knees. For added muscle activation, you can try squat holds, where you stop and hold the halfway point in the squat for a couple of seconds. This will help tremendously, even without any extra weights, to add resistance to your training.
Seated resistance band rows
Muscles worked: lats (large muscles on the side of your back), biceps, forearms
Lay down your yoga mat and sit down on it on the floor. Grab the resistance band and hook it around your feet, then extend your legs in front of you. Be very careful with the resistance band and for the best results, wear a pair of workout shoes for added traction.
Keep your feet vertical so the band won't slide off your feet, hitting you in the face. Pull the band backwards and not upward. As you pull the band, concentrate on your back muscles, as much as you can.
As you let the resistance band go forward, don't let your body lean forward too much. You are trying to work your lats and biceps here, no need to rock back and forth as you row. You will lean slightly forward and backward nevertheless, but try to keep the rocking motion to the minimum, to avoid lower back pain.
Next step is to get a WaterRower, using that will burn every layer of fat off you in no time.
- Best back exercises: the best lats workouts to reduce back pain, gain muscle and get a V shape
- Resistance band exercises for a fast full body workout at home
Walking is one of the best way to introduce exercise in your life. Walking with a brisk pace – not strolling but not power walking either – can bring your heart rate up and therefore burn calories effectively. Let's say you weigh 220 pounds (100 kilos), by walking 5 miles, you can burn more than 600 calories! How great is that?
Even better, you don't even have to go out of your way to start walking, you only need to swap some of your car sessions to walking sessions instead. So, you can walk to the city centre to do a little window shopping and then walk back home, and burn calories. No need for any special gear either. Wins all around.
Of course, you can get a nice pair of walking shoes if you would like to treat yourself, but it's not essential.
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This is part of T3's Fit for 2021 programme, which is running throughout January. We are bringing you tips on diet, lifestyle and exercise that will help you shape up for what is certain to be an interesting year. One thing we can guarantee: 2021 WILL be better than last year. And we'll help you get the most out of it.