Get Fit Without Throwing a Fit

With summer around the corner, students are beginning to have an increased interest in spending time at the gym wanting to feel confident as they strut their stuff on the beach.

Staying motivated and following an effective workout plan can be a challenge for teens just stepping into the fitness scene and gym veterans alike. By utilizing simple tips and incentives and deciding what’s best for your body, you, too, can start to feel healthier and begin to achieve your “goal” look.

The biggest motivating tool is the right workout playlist. Your phone or iPod should be able to blast (through earbuds, of course) loud, upbeat, and fun tracks that both push you to keep going when your body starts to hurt and take your mind off of the task you have at hand. Music apps like 8tracks, Pandora, and Soundcloud are a great way for smartphone users to find a playlist that works for them without spending any money. The following list is a compilation of the most favorited “fitness” tracks from the music-sharing platforms mentioned above– some of which happen to be on my own personal favorites list.

  1. Smoke Weed Everyday (Rasmus Hedegaard Remix) by Snoop Dogg– This track has a perfect beat to do sit ups, crunches, or other ab and core workouts to.
  2. GDFR by Flo Rida ft. Sage the Gemini– Upbeat, fast-paced, and loud, this track will take your mind off of the pain your legs feel while encouraging them to go faster during a run.
  3. Do My Thang (Bridges Remix) by Miley Cyrus– A fun techno-based song, this one works for multiple different activities.
  4. Pon de Floor by Major Lazer– I love the fast mix of techno and drums to create a unique hip-hop beat in this track, and it helps push me through long uphill bursts on the elliptical.
  5. Lose my Breath by Destiny’s Child– Motivating with a sharp drum beat and asking “can you keep up,” I like to use this track for running or lifting weights.
  6. Birthday Cake vs. Come and Get It by Rihanna and Selena Gomez (Mashup)– Mashups are always interesting to listen to, and the way this one boosts the listener’s confidence and self-image makes it the perfect addition to any fitness playlist.
  7. Flawless (DJ Lil Taj Remix) by Beyonce and Nicki Minaj– Another confidence-booster, this remix of the popular “Flawless” will make you want to work for a healthy body, so you can be proud to have  “woke[n] up like this.”
  8. Partition (Dave Aude Twerk Remix) by Beyonce– This remix is fast, fast, fast; and its quick tempo and entertaining words will hopefully push you to be fast in your workout or run, too.
  9. Mambo by Tropkillaz– When the beat “drops” in this track, you’ll be ready to do sit ups, lift weights, or work with weight machines.
  10. Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars– There’s a reason this catchy tune has stayed at the top of the charts for so long! It’ll take your mind off of anything, and that includes any discomfort from pushing your body to the limit while working out.

Other than the perfect tunes, reward systems, daily “progress” pictures, and workout journals have been proven to be effective motivational tools. Use sips of water as a small reward during a workout– for example, allow yourself a small break and a nice sip after doing a full set of pushups– and a healthy snack or Netflix relaxing treat as a big reward once you complete your workout for the day. Taking daily pictures of a specific area you want to target may seem silly, and no, you won’t see results for the first week or two, but the mental idea of physically changing in a notable way will serve as a reminder to not quit. For those who are very serious about losing weight and have some experience in the gym already, keeping a detailed journal of daily weigh-ins, activities, and calories eaten can serve as a “I have to do better than yesterday” incentive. A journal is also a great way to build self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment as you look back on everything you did to improve your health over the weeks you kept it.

Working out seems daunting at first. Deciding what areas to target, what machines to use, how far to run, and so on can be confusing and challenging to anyone. Just remember that there is no right or wrong way to come up with a workout plan. Everyone is different. With that said, there are some basic fitness tricks and rules that you should consider.

  • Interval training– Personal trainers can’t seem to highlight this tip enough. It’s been proven that interval training, or working out in short bursts of high-intensity activity, is more effective in burning calories than running, lifting, etc. at the same rate for a prolonged period of time. The simplest way to interval train is to apply it to cardio. Walk or jog on the treadmill or elliptical for 2-5 minutes at a time, and then run or sprint for 1-2 minutes. Try to go for as long as you can, but move on to a new activity after 30 minutes (even if you feel like you could go for longer). This method is also great for students with busy schedules– it’s possible to burn a good amount of calories in a short workout session!
  • Workout weight machines or free weights in “sets.” Try doing a comfortable weight for 12 repetitions (reps), increase your weight slightly for 10 reps, and go back to a comfortable weight for 12 more reps. That’s a set. Adjust the number of reps and sets according to your ability and the activity you’re doing. This method assists in getting your body used to working out, while toning and building muscle in an effective combination.
  • Alternate areas of focus, but always include cardio. If you know that your whole body needs to be toned up, start your workout with cardio no matter what. Come up with a system after that– maybe do arms and core one day, legs the next, back to arms and core, then rest. Alternating days of focus allows for more intense training on those areas and gives those muscle groups time to heal before they’re used again.
  • Always remember to take a rest day when needed, stretch, and stay hydrated.

Getting fit doesn’t require the use of a gym membership (although one is definitely a benefit). All you need to begin working on your body is the right mindset and a decent space. If you live in a neighborhood or have a lot of land, try to run loops, going a little farther each time. If your room has some empty floor space, utilize it for simple activities like pushups, sit ups, planks, etc. Websites like Pinterest have thousands of “at home workout plans” that require no equipment and are easy to follow. Find whatever options work for you and stick to them.

Working out does not have to be something for “athletes” or “gym rats.” Even if you’ve always felt unathletic and like the gym just wasn’t the place for you, don’t be afraid to start. Every success story begins somewhere.