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Unlock Your 2024 Fitness Goals: A Personal Trainer’s Insight on Working Smarter, Not Harder

Charli Jaffrey (AKA CoachedByCharli), a level 3 personal trainer, reveals that the key to achieving your fitness goals is to train smarter, not harder and dispels some common myths associated with exercise, eating and weight loss. 

If you want to get in better shape, lose weight or simply feel healthier then Charli’s five tips below will help you to make the most of your training time and keep motivated.

Workouts don’t have to be intense to be effective

“Some people believe breaking a serious sweat is the only way to get fit and lose weight,” says Charli, “But simply upping your movement minutes helps and walking is one of the easiest ways to increase them.

Get yourself a fitness tracker to monitor your activity and heart rate and look at how to increase existing habits. It could be as simple as upping your step count by adding 15 minutes extra to a walk or even taking a second ten-minute walk in the afternoon.

The key to exercise habits is that they have to be sustainable.”

Prioritise quality over quantity

“You don’t have to work out every day, allowing your muscles and body time to recover between workouts is essential,” says Charli, “if you’re new to exercise or haven’t worked out in a while (two weeks or more) then setting a daily step goal and doing three 30 minute workouts per week, like resistance training or circuits classes, with rest days in between is a good place to start.

“For those who already regularly exercise, look at new ways you can challenge your body, particularly if you’ve hit a plateau.

This could be by adding or increasing weights to your existing favourite workouts or, even better, trying new activities to activate different muscle groups.

It could be as simple as trying a new machine in the gym or an entirely new class/sport.”

Form is everything

“A lot of the faster-paced HIIT workouts emphasise fast movements to burn those calories, but if you’re not doing the move correctly, you could be doing more harm than good,” warns Charli, “not only are you putting yourself at risk of injury but you’re also missing the intended benefit of the movement which means you’re less likely to see the desired results. 

“Squats are a good example of this, a rounded back, knees knocking in and lack of depth are common errors that can cause other problems or activate the wrong muscle groups for an ineffective result.

I recommend using the Pivo Pod — a smartphone mount that allows you to record your workouts while always keeping you in-shot without having to ask someone to record you — then watch it back and look at your form on different exercises.

You can even share it with a personal trainer who can advise on how to improve technique.”

It’s not all about restrictive eating habits

“So many people start the year with determination to eat (their definition of) ‘clean’. After an indulgent festive period, it’s easy to see why, but as time progresses keeping up strict habits is very difficult and means you’re more likely to fail overall,” says Charli. 

“Whenever I start with a new client we work out calorie goals and nutrition plans that work for their lives.

Not everyone has hours to spend in the kitchen each day prepping meals from scratch. As long as you’re in a calorie deficit (i.e. burning more calories than you’re taking in), that’s when you will lose weight.

I recommend tracking calories in your food by using an app like MyFitnessPal. Some foods contain ‘sneaky calories’; they are laden with calories but don’t fill you up for long or have little nutritional benefit (think tortilla chips).

They’re the foods to substitute for a healthier, more substantial alternative, like nuts.”   

Buddy up

“Surrounding yourself with people working towards similar goals will help keep you motivated and disciplined” says Charli.

Find a friend to go to the gym with, do joint PT sessions or simply go for a walk. Having a workout buddy creates a sense of accountability and also encourages consistency.

Often you’ll also find you work harder due to a little friendly competition and that extra bit of encouragement.

If you don’t have someone to buddy up with consider joining a local fitness class or club, there’s plenty to choose from.

Working out doesn’t have to be a chore, it can also be lots of fun. Give it time and you’ll start to look forward to the sessions and develop a positive attitude towards exercise.”