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Raise your hand if your workouts and nutrition were all over the place this summer? Don’t worry, there’s no judgement here. With COVID-19 throwing a wrench in the whole gym thing and record-high temperatures making outdoor workouts impossible, it’s safe to say we’re all in the same boat.

But now that the days are cooling off and gyms are finding ways to accommodate members amidst the pandemic, we can finally start making our fitness a priority again. Follow these pointers for honing both your focus and physique, and get back to crushing some fall fitness goals.             

1. Completely, and we mean completely, overhaul your routine. 

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Whatever you’ve been doing the last few months workout-wise, shelve it. This is the time to find new ways to challenge yourself and keep your muscles guessing. “In order to increase muscle growth, strength, and performance, the body must be made to adapt to new forms of tension, resistance, and stress,” says Gina Cellucci, CPT and healthy eating and weight loss specialist.

If your summertime focus was high reps and more at-home friendly bodyweight movements, change to a heavier, strength-building program. If you’ve been training evenings and weekends, you might benefit from switching it up and sweating in the mornings.

2. Pay for pain.

One of the best ways to give your gains a much-needed kick-start is to hire a fitness professional to crank up the intensity of your workouts and get you training harder than you’ve been accustomed to. “Sometimes there’s nothing like a good butt-whooping,” says Cellucci. “Even we trainers hire coaches when we have a specific goal or physique we would like to achieve.”

One of the biggest advantages to hiring a trainer or coach is that along with putting you through your paces, they’ll be able to objectively critique your form and methods and help you correct any faults or imbalances. A good trainer or coach can also tailor-make a long-term training program that perfectly suits your abilities and lifestyle.

3. Start treating your body like a celebrity.

Celebrities love to boast about how hard they trained to get in shape for a role. What they never mention is the huge staff of health and fitness professionals that tended and guided them through the process.

Start giving your body a little taste of the celebrity treatment by making a point of getting a chiropractic adjustment, a deep tissue massage, and perhaps even a cupping or acupuncture session at least once a month. These therapies are crucial to working out kinks, preventing injury, and keeping your body operating at peak performance, says Cellucci. “A foam roller can only do so much. Sometimes the body needs some hands-on relief.”

5. Two words: Meal. Prep.

Between summer’s picnics and cookouts, the extra mimosas at brunch, and the inconsistent training schedule, it’s no wonder your motivation has faded faster than your tan. This may sound like tough love, but it’s time to ditch the carefree attitude and instead, focus on what will help you succeed in hitting your goals.

One of the surest ways of steering your eating habits back on track is by getting into the routine of prepping your meals for the week. “Meal prep is a proven way to keep from eating crap and consuming unneeded calories,” stresses Cellucci. “You save money, eliminate stress, and stay in control of your diet.” If possible, consult with a dietitian or nutritionist beforehand to ensure your food choices are meeting your needs.     

5. Have a plan and stick to it.

Whatever you do, don’t proceed without a plan. Meticulously schedule your workouts and decide on weekly meals in a day planner—then live and die by it. When starting a new program, it’s important to not only predetermine the exercises, but the sets, reps, and rest periods for each as well. Then you can record your lifts (and failures) and measure your progress, which is crucial for both achieving your goals and keeping your motivation high.

Once you’ve created a program and meal plan, now get into the nitty gritty: What are you going to eat before tomorrow’s workout? What are you going to wear? What music will you be listening to? These things may sound trivial, but they’re essential to conditioning your mind to stay focused and visualize your goals, stresses Cellucci. “Nail down a plan, spend time working on it, and review it every day,” she says. “Take some time to stand in front of a mirror and recite your goals. I can assure you, you’ll get results.” 

Alex Zakrzewski
Alex is a Toronto-based freelance writer and fitness enthusiast.