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1. Start your morning with meditation.
Surprise: Bass’s number-one workout tip is to sit still. He notes that a few minutes of meditation each morning can help set the tone for the day so you approach everything, including your workout, more mindfully. “I’ve been doing this for 24 years and it’s the one thing I see that truly does make a difference,” Bass says.
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2. Step away from social media.
It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game, especially if you follow a bunch of “fitspo” accounts. And when you're checking your own healthy progress against, say, a competitive bodybuilder, it’s easy to feel discouraged. “We have so much social media sabotage going on,” Bass says. “Take a break so you can be clear that you're focusing on your goal and not somebody else’s.” Bonus: When you’re not distracted by Facebook you might suddenly find that extra 45 minutes to work out today.
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3. Dig deeper for lasting motivation.
If carving out an hour of “me time” each day feels selfish, try reframing your motivation for working out. For example, instead of aiming for a certain dress size, set a goal to run up the stairs at the local museum without getting winded. “It’s so easy to put ourselves second,” Bass says. “We have to prioritise and see what’s important.” And yep, your health is pretty important—so put your workouts on the calendar and treat them like any other commitment.
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4. Don’t wing it.
If you go to the gym without a specific idea of what you plan to accomplish, you may end up socialising or wandering around aimlessly. Your workout plan doesn’t have to be fancy, but you do have to have one. Just pick a handful of exercises and do a few sets of each. “If you make a plan—‘today I’m going to do squats, lunges, chest press and biceps’—boom, there are your exercises,” Bass says.
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5. If you only do one thing, do burpees.
They’re probably not your favourite thing in the world, but they work. “Three sets of 10 burpees will get your heart rate up and work almost every muscle in your body,” Bass says. If you haven’t quite mastered burpees yet, Bass recommends a modified version: Just squat, step back into a plank, do a push-up and stand. Do as many reps as you can manage, and work your way up as you get stronger.
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6. Do whatever cardio you want.
Yes, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be super-effective at torching kilojoules, but if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t stick with it. So if you’d rather zone out on the treadmill for a few slow-and-steady miles, do that instead. Or take a Spin class, go for a walk, or follow an exercise video on YouTube. “Adapt your workout so it works for you,” Bass says. Assuming you’re not training for the Olympics, you don’t have to optimise every minute of every workout. Just find something you like doing, and keep doing it.
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7. Don’t skip strength training.
"You’re not going to get huge; you’re going to develop toned muscles, increase your metabolism, and burn kilojoules,” Bass says. If you don’t want to lift heavy weights, you can do bodyweight exercises (like push-ups, squats and lunges) and reap similar benefits. Talk to a personal trainer—most gyms will offer you a free session when you join—or try a circuit class for inspiration.
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8. Log your progress.
If you’re starting a new workout routine, journaling can help you track your progress and tune in to what’s working and what’s not. Have you gone weeks without seeing any improvement? You may not be working up to your potential. Are you skipping workouts often because you’re way too sore? You might be overdoing it. Journaling can help you spot those issues before they become hard-to-break habits. “It comes back to mindfulness,” Bass says. “When you journal, you get a little check-in every day. You’re self-accountable.”