How to get fit in 2022? It’s easy: all you have to do is eat well, exercise a lot and look after yourself in general… We’re sure everyone knows this by now. Yet, how many people do you know who actually lost weight or built an admirable physique last year?
Fear not as it’s not impossible to get in shape for 2022. But instead of going cold turkey and starting to exercise and diet like there is no tomorrow, we recommend following a more sensible approach, one that takes into account that significant lifestyle changes take time to implement.
As cheesy as it sounds, a 1,000-mile journey starts with a single step and the same applies to getting fit, too. You can’t drop 50 pounds in a day, now can you build a body like Henry Cavill or Chris Hemsworth overnight.
Probably the most important thing to remember is that fitness is not a goal, it’s a lifestyle choice. Sure, people can lose weight and build muscle in 12 weeks, but if diet and exercise fall off a cliff after they reached their goal, the changes won’t be permanent. Do your future self a favour and stick to your new, healthier lifestyle in 2022.
It’s also worth remembering that being healthy doesn’t mean a body fat percentage below 10%, visible abs, toned arms and so on. Healthy bodies come in many shapes and sizes; they are resilient, strong and don’t restrict you from doing the things you want to do.
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.
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 knee surgery, for example, then 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.
Get fit for 2022: T3’s best fitness and motivation tips
“I’m going to exercise more” is probably the most common new year’s resolution. As people finish their month of overindulging, the pressure to do something about the ever-increasing waistline is mounting.
The good news is, there is a lot you can do to combat weight gain. Exercise is a good place to start, but instead of forcing yourself to do 10,000 kettlebell swings challenge or 100 pull-ups a day for a week, you should try something a bit more achievable, like moving around more or trying hybrid workouts.
Below are T3’s finest workout and motivation tips to get you started!
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 lots of weight and keep it off in a short period of 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 to dangerous calorie-restricted diets that hurt your metabolism and make you weaker.
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.
Modern life makes us sedentary. 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.
You can tackle this issue by being more NEAT. NEAT is short for ‘Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis‘ and although this sounds like a very complex something, it really isn’t. NEAT is your body exercising when you aren’t actually exercising. NEAT is using a 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 using 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.
Find out even more about being NEAT here: How to get fit when you’re lazy.
Want to lose weight? Forget cardio
Running is the easiest sport to get into: all you have to do is put on your running shoes and go. And until recently, cardio exercises such as running or cycling have been touted as the best way to lose belly fat.
However, without resistance training, long term weight loss is not possible. Intense cardio training, coupled with a healthy diet, will help you lose weight but as soon as you start running/cycling, the weight will go back up.
By building muscle, you will increase the resting metabolic rate or basal metabolic rate (BMR) of your body, meaning you will burn more calories in the resting state. This is because muscles require more energy for maintenance.
If anything, cardio will make you lose muscle mass by lowering your BMR which can have a detrimental effect on your long term weight loss goals.
That said, cardio has its place and as the name suggests, some cardio is great for heart health and circulation. It can also help kick start metabolism.
A survey, conducted by RunRepeat and published in October 2021, says that “fitness trends underwent a seismic shift away from gyms and towards outdoors, home fitness, and digital options”, signalling the change in behaviour towards home workouts in general.
Whereas before the pandemic people looked at home exercising as a distant second option when all the nearby gyms were closed, thanks to the expansion of digital platforms such as Apple Fitness+ and Peloton, home workouts look more appealing than ever before.
Gyms still have their place in the wider fitness ecosystem as even the best iFit classes won’t recreate the sensation of physically working out around like-minded people. Not to mention, using the correct technique is paramount when building muscle so periodically checking in with your PT who can evaluate your progress is still a good idea.
We recommend finding your own space and time for home 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 get in the right mindset.
Temptation bundling sounds obvious once you think about it but scientists only recently conducted research on it and found it extremely useful to boost workout motivation.
The concept is simple: you need to pair an activity you like (such as listening to audiobooks) with something you really can’t stand (e.g. exercising). By only allowing yourself to enjoy a pleasurable activity when you’re working out, your brain will attach positive associations with both, essentially tricking yourself into liking exercise.
The research showed that “giving participants audiobooks and encouraging temptation bundling boosted their likelihood of a weekly workout by 10–14% and average weekly workouts by 10–12% during and up to seventeen weeks post-intervention.”
It’s worth a try!
Get fit for 2022: T3’s best diet tips
Many people want to lose belly fat or lose weight in general for the new year. And just like with exercise, most people will go completely OTT and replace their deep-fried potato-based diet with one that consists only of water and lettuce from one day to another.
We recommend applying small changes first and scaling up the efforts gradually to ensure the lifestyle shift won’t come as shock to your body. We all react to certain diets differently so paying attention to our bodies is paramount if we seek long term results.
Instead, try the below diet tips and see the result manifest as the weeks go by.
In-depth: What are macronutrients?
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 macronutrients of which there are three: carbohydrates, protein and fat.
Tracking macro intake is better for long term weight loss and monitoring them is not as difficult as it might sound. There is a myriad of free apps that can read barcodes of products and do the adding up for you. There are also devices, such as Lumen, that tracks metabolism and recommend a diet based on what macronutrient your body is using the most (carbs or fat).
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.
Drink less alcohol
If you want to lose weight – or at least not put on too much extra weight – there is one thing you can do that is almost certain to help. That’s right: cutting alcohol for weight loss is inevitable. It is self-evident when you think about it, and arguably not that easy, but it will give positive results, and perhaps it might not have occurred to you before.
Alcholol is calorific, bad for your metabolism and heart health and just generally not necessary. Cut back on booze and feel better instantly.
Be mindful of snacking
Where most diet plans fail is snacking. People don’t like planning their snacks which often result in hunger pangs in all the wrong moments. The results? Bad snacks are added to the otherwise ‘clean’ diet. Therefore, having some food on you that’s healthy and not too calorific is a great idea.
Another terrible idea is to start cooking when you’re hungry. Most often, you will start snacking during cooking which again will result in you sneaking 100-200 calories into your diet (per meal) on top of the actual meal you’re about to cook. After all, it’s not like you can have the family have dinner without you?
For example, if you usually have food around 1 pm, you should start cooking midday at the latest. That way you can avoid feeling hungry and snacking.
This leads nicely to our next topic: meal prep. Bodybuilders might be the most famous for carrying food around in small containers but if you’re on the diet, you should consider doing the same.
Prepping your meal in advance not only saves you money but it can also ensure that there is good, healthy food around when you’re hungry. Most offices have kitchen areas and microwaves if you prefer not to eat at your desk or you can just do what I do and have it cold at your desk.
What are hidden calories? Calories people don’t often take into account such as drinks, oils and the likes. Lattes and other flavored hot drinks tend to contain a small meal’s worth calories and these seldom get accounted for.
Another culprit is oils you use for cooking. Oils and fats in general are super energy dense food (one gram of dietary fat contains nice calories whereas one gram of protein or carbohydrate is just four calories) and it gets soaked up in the food you cook.
Be mindful of every calorie you eat to avoid not seeing weight loss results.
Decision fatigue is a real thing. At least it feels real when you try not to think about that box of Jaffa cakes that’s sitting at the back of cupboard, calling you. By the end of the day, you’ll feel exhausted, having resisted eating the damn thing. What happens next? You’ll eat the whole box.
The best way not to get tempted is to remove temptation from around you. Don’t fill the cupboards with snacks. Don’t stock up on alcohol. Don’t buy three packs of biscuits because they are three-for-two. You’re not saving money. You’re giving in.
It’s also beneficial to only eat when you eat. No phones, now podcast, just the food and you. By being conscious about what you eat, you’ll feel less hungry by the time you finish the meal.
Best exercises for beginners
Muscles worked: pecs (chest muscles), arms (mainly triceps), delts (primarily 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 more potent), you can gradually take on a more horizontal position and eventually do full-fledged push-ups.
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 thing to be mindful of 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 great because they work the whole entirety of the 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. Be careful, though, by keeping your back straight through the movement. 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 extend 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 backwards nevertheless, but try to keep the rocking motion to the minimum to avoid lower back pain.
The next step is to get a WaterRower!
Walking is one of the best ways to introduce exercise in your life. Walking at a brisk pace – not strolling but not power walking either – can bring your heart rate up and 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 gear in particular either. Wins all around.
Of course, you can get a nice pair of walking shoes if you want to treat yourself, but it’s not essential.