12 Personal Trainer-Approved Exercise Tips and Lessons

We all know how good it feels after we exercise, but it can still be so hard to motivate yourself, particularly when you’re tired or busy with work and home responsibilities. Even when you get an exercise routine going, it doesn’t take much for it to all come apart and feel impossible to start up again – it’s all a bit of a rollercoaster.

The benefits of regular exercise for our physical and mental health are undeniable, especially when we’re spending so much more time indoors. As part of our #TBYY campaign, we spoke to a certified personal trainer, Leah Jewell, to learn more about how we can improve our attitude to exercise and treat our bodies better.

1. What are some tips for keeping motivated and making exercise part of your routine?

Motivation will only get you so far. You need to know WHY you’re doing it, and to do it at a time of day when you know you’ll have the most energy and can actually fit it in. Even if you’re not a morning person, I always suggest working out first thing so you can get it done and not have to think about it later in the day. Make it doable, don’t set astronomical goals for yourself. Work out 2 times per week, and once you get that down, you can slowly increase it.

2. We always hear about 10,000 steps a day being the ideal. Is there really a magic number of steps we should be taking each day?

This is a generalised number. It is not ESSENTIAL, but it is a great goal to give people. Previous to me providing this goal to my clients, they would on average do anything from 2,000 to 4,000 steps a day while working from home or at their office job. Once I gave them this goal, they at least hit 6,000 or more each day, which is still more than they were achieving before. 

3. For many of us who are now working from home, regular movement and exercise have dramatically reduced. How much exercise should we be aiming to get in each day? 

Exercise should be classified as a timeframe – it depends on the effort you are putting in and what type of exercise you are doing. I’d rather break it down into movement. So, you’d want to be getting at least 10,000 steps per day. When you’re working from home you’re more likely to have lower back pain from sitting all day. So, you would want to focus on resistance-based workouts that work on your core, back and glutes. I’d prescribe starting with 4 exercises, with 4 sets and 15 reps for each exercise.

4. What are some creative ways we can increase our day-to-day movement when we’re working from home?

If you are working from home, try and work at a standing desk. For daily tasks that you would usually complete via driving, try to walk instead. Move from different locations within your home so you’re not stationary and in one position all day. Try and do work whilst on a treadmill or cross trainer, or if you have the time, do short stints without work as a break.

5. What are the benefits of cardio?

Cardio is good for your cardiovascular health – shocking I know! It’s great to have a well-rounded approach to fitness, so JUST doing cardio or JUST doing weights isn’t the best idea. A little bit of both and you’ll see results when coupling it with your nutrition.

Strength-building exercises

6. Why are strength-building exercises important for your health?

Strength training is extremely important because it is going to help you build muscle, maintain muscle, and improve your bone density, which is very important for longevity. We need to be strong in our legs, core, back, upper body to complete daily tasks and to make these tasks easier as we age. Another benefit to strength building is muscle growth and its impact on your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories your body burns in a resting state. Therefore, this is increasing the amount of food you can eat before ‘gaining’ fat (not weight, because muscle does weigh something!)

7. What exercises do you recommend doing at home to engage the whole body?

If you really want to target the whole body, then you’ll need to have an exercise for each part. The legs, back, core and anterior (front of body) can easily be hit in 4 exercises. Having a plan is key in order to create consistency and progress and to ensure you are hitting everything you intend to.

 8. If you only have 15 minutes to exercise in a day, how should you use that time?

Have a plan. Time your rest. Put in maximum effort and focus on the movement. If you’re wanting to hit every body part, do 4 exercises: one for legs, back, core, and anterior (front of body – chest or shoulders). If you have 15 minutes each day, then break it up into body parts, and have upper and lower days.

9. What are your favourite exercises?

Deadlifts, hip thrusts, pull-ups, and lunges. These require you to engage your core, expend a lot of energy and strengthen parts of your body that will be affected if you’re sitting all day.

10. Do you have any recommended exercises for people with limited mobility?

You can regress any exercise and tailor it to any level of mobility. Whether it be lowering weight, decreasing the range of motion or moving to unilateral movements, and working up from there.

Stretching exercises

11. How important is stretching?

Stretching is important but it is the RIGHT type of stretching that is actually important. Many people get confused about stretching and think it will magically solve their aches and pains from working at a desk all day. In reality, these aches and pains are caused by your muscles ceasing from under use. Before a workout, you want to be doing dynamic stretching (moving stretches), so you’re actually getting your body ready for movement. Then, post-workout, you can do static stretches. However, there have been studies that show the limits that stretching provides to the improvement of your body’s movement. They say static stretches are more about teaching your body new limits to withstand, rather than ‘stretching out’ a sore muscle.

12. Any final tips or tricks for keeping active at home?

Don’t overthink it. Have a plan that you can follow and that WORKS for you and YOUR routine. Do a little bit each day and you’ll form better habits. 

Keep your exercise routine inspire by filling your news feed with insightful and motivating content from Soheefit, Becchambers, Bretcontreras1 and of course, theitrainer. Follow Celebrate Health Facebook and Instagram throughout November to learn more ways to improve your general health and start to Take Back Your Year #TBYY.