For many of us, we join the gym in pursuit of our fittest, leanest selves. And of course, at the beginning we have adrenaline to catapult us into a flurry of exercise… but what do we do once we’ve been going to the gym for a while and the spark of it all has worn off?
I know when I go to the gym, I sometimes find myself slipping into habits of using the same equipment and sticking to similar workouts that are within my comfort zone. (I’m low-key intimidated by the muscley men who use the big and confusing machines that I definitely do not know the names of). The worst part is I feel like this routine de-energises me when it comes to motivating myself to go to the gym. Doing the same thing every time gets boring fast. Sometimes the workouts are too easy, too predictable and therefore also, ineffectual because I’m working the same muscle groups and my body reaches a plateau.
That and also because I have recently rekindled my love for Japanese Mochi and may have been eating more of that than I usually would…
So… in realising this, I’ve made it my mission to shake up my routine a bit to avoid this plateau and help motivate (and increase) my trips to the gym! I spoke to BlueFit’s National Fitness Manager, the incredible Chris Pearce, to help me spruce up my current routine.
We sat down and chatted about a workout I can use as a tool to not only improve my fitness and my running abilities but also to tone up.
Chris introduced me to something called RPE; the rate of your perceived exertion. He recommends rating it from 1-10. 1 is the level of effort required when standing still and 10 is the energy you exert when sprinting, what Chris termed “full gas.” I found this fascinating since everyone has different abilities and different fitness levels however we can mostly have a gauge on how we feel during a workout.
Stretch anything that needs stretching, shake your body if you need, and move anything that requires a bit more attention. Then Chris recommends starting with a 5 min treadmill walk to get your muscles ready for what’s to come.
Depending on how you feel after your warm-up, you might want to skip this one, however, depending on your goals and fitness ability, you might want to use this as a cool-down period if you’re doing more than one set. The first set is a 500m walk which Chris recommends pitching your RPE at about 3/10.
Now we’re going to pick up the pace a bit to a light jog for 1km. (Chris recommends aiming for a 7.5-10km/h pace). This set you should aim for an RPE of about 5/10. The aim of this run is to increase your heart rate and body temperature which will get your blood pumping! (If you’ve never run 1km before, this is a great opportunity to set a benchmark for yourself so that you can measure your improvements each workout!)
After the 1km has ticked over, it’s time to speed it up for 500 metres, aiming fora pace of around your 70%-80% exertion mark (or a hard effort of 8/10). 500m is longer than we all probably realise, so you’ll want to set a pace that will enable you to maintain the speed across the distance. (Listen to your body for this one!)
After doing this once, you’ll know if you’re able to repeat this or if you want to leave it there and end with a 5-minute walk to cool down. For advanced runners, Chris suggests that you could repeat this workout as much as 4 times to really push yourself. Depending on your fitness ability, you could even skip the walks entirely and just alternate between the light jog and the hard sprint. He also mentions that you can change the distance between each set, or even switch up the treadmill with a rower and use the same format!
The best part about this workout is that it can be very versatile. I gave it a shot and repeated it three times, and that was a lot for me! I ended up running about 4.5km. I run once, sometimes twice a week and have been doing so for the past five years and so I feel challenged repeating the workout three times. I’m sure for beginner runners, once is enough to feel the burn and to pump up the oxygen in your blood.
This is a challenging workout for sure but it’s a good one; you leave feeling like you’ve done something productive and you’ll finish with a rush of endorphins.
Just showing up to the gym is a win in itself, so some days you’ll feel capable of doing this workout, and on other days, maybe all you can muster is a 10-minute treadmill workout, and that is totally fine. Getting to the gym at all is a success! So well done for showing up 🙂
Thank you so much to Chris for sharing his knowledge and expertise with me. I hope everyone who reads this gets as much excitement to try a new workout as I did!