7 Steps to Get That Lean, Athletic Body You’ve Always Wanted

It’s the middle of February, and January’s spike in #NewYearNewMe motivation to exercise/diet is probably wearing thin. But if you want 2018 to be the year you get that #fitspo physique that’s all the rave these days, now’s not the time to be giving up.

Here are 7 practical tips that will help you shed that excess fat, tone your muscles, and prove that New Year’s Resolutions are not always doomed to failure.

#1. Write specific, intermittent goals down on your planner


The keyword here is ‘specific’. The more specific and quantifiable your goals, the harder it’ll be to cheat your way out. “Squat 70kg by June” or “Reduce body fat to 20% before December”, for instance, serve as objective targets to work towards. Vague and highly subjective goals like “Get stronger” or “Lose weight”, on the other hand, give leeway for copping out. Setting intermittent goals and tracking your progress on a monthly basis will also motivate you to press on each time you realise you’re a step closer to your year-end goal.

As a general rule of thumb, men aged 20 to 39 typically need to have a body fat percentage between 6-15% for obvious muscle definition, while women in the same age range usually work towards a body fat percentage between 19-24% for a lean physique. The ‘healthy’ range for body fat percentage, however, varies according to several genetic, medical and lifestyle factors. Please consult your family physician if unsure.

#2. Formulate an exercise plan to achieve these goals

Gym at ESPA
Gym at ESPA

Having a goal is one thing; knowing how to get there is another. Formulate a plan by first asking broad questions, streamlining them, then answering them: how do you plan to lose excess fat while building muscle? What forms of cardio and strength conditioning are you looking at? How frequently will you hit the gym? How long will each session last?

If you require guidance in coming up a specific fitness plan, our team of highly skilled professionals at ESPA are trained to help you do so. Should you have any pre-existing medical conditions, please seek medical advice before anything else.

#3. Adjust the ratio of your carbohydrate, protein and fat intake

Gently Cooked Egg, Textures of Daikon at Tangerine

Carbohydrates should form 40-60% of our daily caloric intake. If your priority is to lose excess body fat, switch from refined complex carbohydrates like white rice to unrefined complex carbohydrates like whole-grain breads or pastas while adjusting your carbohydrate intake ratio slightly. This will satiate your stomach for longer periods of time whilst giving you the energy you need to work out.

Protein should form 10-30% of our daily caloric intake. If you’re happy with your body fat percentage but are looking to build and tone your muscles, increase this ratio of protein intake from lean meats, nuts, seeds and beans.

Fat isn’t always bad. In fact, it is recommended that fat forms 20-30% of our daily caloric intake for the healthy functioning of our organs. This, however, should comprise healthy unsaturated fat from the likes of nuts and seeds, avocados and fish rich in Omega-3. Avoid trans- and saturated fat as found in fatty meats, pastries and deep fried foods.

#4. Have a cheat day once a week

Rainbow cake at Sessions

Eat clean to stay fit, eat a burger to stay sane.

But that isn’t just Supermodel Gigi Hadid’s opinion. Psychologists say that because we each have a limited amount of discipline, exercising self-control in one area (say, eating clean) for prolonged periods will either lead to lapses in another (say, religiously going to the gym thrice a week), or cause us to eventually let ourselves go.

Many athletes and celebrities have thus turned to the concept of a ‘cheat day’ – a set day/meal in a week where they indulge in (but not binge on) their favourite, decadent foods that they’d normally avoid. Like any other reward, a cheat day triggers the brain’s dopamine circuitry, resulting in renewed motivation to endure a disciplined regime.

Placebo or not, the cheat day is a tried and tested method that many swear by.

#5. Try a different workout every few months


On top of keeping things fresh, diversifying your workouts helps in targeting different aspects of conditioning your body, from fat burning to mass gaining, toning to flexibility, allowing you to achieve all-rounded fitness.

Because people are more cognizant of the importance of fitness than ever before, there now exists an abundance of fitness classes, from High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to yoga, for you to choose from.

If you’re not sure where to begin, click here for a list of Wellness Group Classes available at ESPA.

#6. Have a workout buddy


Whether it’s to chat so you can take your mind off the pain (pain is weakness leaving the body!) or to have someone motivate you when you’re on the verge of giving up in the middle of a set, having a buddy definitely makes working out much more enjoyable.

Having a workout buddy also complements #5, because his/her company will give you added incentive to try out different workouts that he/she is interested in.

#7. Include rest days in your weekly plan

Adventure Cove Waterpark

Even professional athletes need rest days – how much more do the rest of us? Physiotherapists often recommend that people who engage in high impact sports, such as running, go for a leisurely swim at least once a week to allow their muscles and joints to rest, in turn preventing overcompensation injuries. Doing something you enjoy on your rest day will also allow your mind to decompress, recalibrate and recharge (mental ‘fitness’ is important too!).

Looking for something that will promote physical recovery while letting your hair down? We suggest heading over to Adventure Cove Waterpark with your buddies for a splashing good time!

Any other fitness tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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