So you’re in a good groove with your workouts. But now summer’s arrived – and festivals, BBQs and seaside jaunts are filling up your diary.
Worried it’s going to derail everything? Fear not: you really don’t have to choose between enjoying summer and staying committed to your fitness goals.
It's all about balance
If fitness is how you take care of your mental and physical health, it’s understandable to want to keep a routine. But easing up a bit so you can enjoy the weather and socialising is absolutely allowed.
"You have to live your life," agrees personal trainer Tunde. "As long as you stay consistent, you’ll be good."
Think about summer in terms of "maintaining whatever goal you’re looking to achieve", he suggests, rather than thinking you must always be seeing progress. "And ignore the scales," he adds. "Focus on what you are doing instead."
With a bit of prep, you won’t need to worry when a colleague suggests after-work drinks or friends organise all-day picnics.
"Spend 10 minutes on Sunday evening planning your workouts into your diary," suggests George Goldsmith-Cottrell (they/them), a personal trainer and online fitness coach.
"Think carefully and realistically about where you might need to schedule rest. Are you really going to get up to do a 6am spin class the morning after your best friend’s birthday BBQ?
"Studies suggest you are more likely to achieve your goals by writing them down. So, make weekly workout scheduling a goal. This will give you a nice dopamine hit when you’ve completed your workout and you can tick it off your to-do list."
Tunde says morning workouts are a good bet – that way you’ll be beating the heat and freeing up evenings.
The really good news? Doing less workouts – and training for shorter bursts – doesn’t mean you’re falling short.
"You do not have to be in the gym for an hour every night to get an effective workout: 30 minutes or even 15 is still plenty of time to release some feel-good hormones, break a sweat and get those muscles engaged," says Goldsmith-Cottrell. "An easy way to do this is to take your existing exercises and condense them into a circuit format. Perform all the exercises back-to-back and rest at the end."
Tunde agrees it’s about training smart. "If someone’s cutting down to two times a week – which is completely fine, people shouldn’t feel bad about that – think about sticking to compound exercises," he suggests. "These are exercises that require more than one or two muscle groups to work at the same time. So stuff like squats with the bar or dumbbells, deadlifts."
This is about squeezing more out of your time and means you can get more of a full-body workout from each session. And from a PT’s perspective, Tunde says it makes more sense to think about strength training "rather than jogging for hours. A lot of people tend to start jogging for hours to maintain over summer."
Try some sprint sessions
Tunde’s top tip for cardio and getting that pulse rate up? Sprint intervals – a great high-intensity option that’ll boost your stamina and metabolic rate (plus you’ll feel pretty awesome after). "So, 20 minutes of weights and compound exercises incorporating the whole body, and then about 15 minutes of sprints, that will be more than fine over summer," says Tunde.
You can do these on the treadmill or outdoors in a local park. How far you run and the speed will depend on your individual fitness, but Tunde suggests aiming to sprint for about 15-20 seconds with a 45-second rest between intervals.
It’s so easy to get dehydrated over summer. As Goldsmith-Cottrell points out, this can zap our energy for workouts.
"Say you went for drinks after work. You wake up the next day not feeling too hungover [and] plan to hit the gym that evening. Come midday, you realise you haven’t drunk water. You have a glass or two to make up for it, [but] come 3pm, you are feeling worse for wear. Last night’s drinks and today’s lack of hydration’s catching up with you," they say – explaining how dehydration can have knock-on effects. "It gets to 5pm and you skip the gym because you’re too exhausted."
Although skipping workouts is fine, Goldsmith-Cottrell adds, it’s about being aware of the role hydration can play: "Had you consumed a healthy dose of H2O and provided your body with the energy to do its basic functions, the outcome for the day could have been very different."
Exercise with other people
"Make exercise a sociable event," suggests Goldsmith-Cottrell. "Try something new and fun with your friends. It could be aerial yoga, climbing, dancing or karate. You never know, you might uncover a secret hidden talent and find something you want to continue for life!"
Look at local classes and PT sessions too – there might even be summer deals. Tunde says working out with like-minded people can be a real boost, and if you are unsure how to build a workout routine, a few sessions with a PT could work wonders.