Top 30 Battle Rope Exercises For Power, Strength & Endurance
Battle Ropes: MORE Than Just A Brutal Conditioning Tool Most people and coaches think, “It is just a battle rope. All you do is use it for upper body cardio finishers. Alternating waves until you’re dead, and that is that!” While it is true that you can use it for upper body cardio finishers, there are […]

Battle Ropes: MORE Than Just A Brutal Conditioning Tool

Most people and coaches think, “It is just a battle rope. All you do is use it for upper body cardio finishers. Alternating waves until you’re dead, and that is that!” While it is true that you can use it for upper body cardio finishers, there are so many other applications, it will make your head spin.

I remember only using it as an upper body cardio finisher when I first started using this incredibly versatile tool. I would do a few sets of alternating waves to help increase my aerobic capacity and lactic threshold, and then hang em’ up until next time.

But that was before I discovered the wave physics involved, almost mirrored the mechanical physics we all use and love with barbells, dumbbells, body weight, and kettlebell exercises. And next thing you know, I’ve dedicated my career to exploring the infinite possibilities and applications to training with battle ropes for power, strength, endurance and beyond.

But before we get started, there are certain misconceptions and mistakes that are often made in regards to training with battle ropes. By now, I’ve heard it all. Lets set the record straight with the 3 most common mistakes made with battle ropes, then blow your mind (along with your physical capacities) up with the top 30 variations.

The 3 Most Common Mistakes with Battle Ropes

Like ANY training tool, getting the most out of battle ropes is about pristine execution and mindful programming. But these 3 mistakes need to be addressed before you make them to set you up for some instant success with ropes.

  1. We create too much tension between the mover and the anchor, eliminating the ability to produce increasing amounts of output and the ability to move through our full range of motion. Take a step or two towards the anchor, and free yourself to move (as well as add a bit more power output to your movements).
  2. We are forced to grip too tight (because of the above mistake, or because we are so strong). Think about the ropes like your favorite hamster. Don’t kill the hamster, but don’t let the hamster escape.
  3. We bend over like Instagram is going to automatically improve our likes and follows. Don’t go to the position of fear and death (bent-over and curled up). Establish a strong, tall, wide position of power, and feel your abs get just as much of a workout as your shoulders, arms, and grip.

If this is you. That’s okay. It was me too. Until I realized how much this hurt the performance of my body, and the ability of the ropes to evoke more power output and proper movement mechanics. You are now informed, and can begin a new life journey with the battle ropes.

Top 30 Battle Rope Exercises

Now that we’ve set a foundation of what NOT to do with battle ropes, lets get into what exercises to do to get started with this unconventional tool. Plus, how to execute every exercise to perfection with video tutorials and coaching notes. Lets go.

#1 Alternating Waves in Every Position But The One You See Everywhere

Just like there is more than one way to swing a kettlebell, there is more than one way to battle ropes. Take the alternating wave, a great exercise to work on contralateral (cross) patterning, a movement pattern we do in all forms of locomotion like walking, running, sprinting, crawling, swimming, etc. We can perform the alternating waves in new and engaging positions that can entertain, and work on specific kinetic chains. Grease the contralateral groove in a kneeling position, and engage more upper body musculature into the movement, or have your athlete shuffle laterally, to work on separating upper body from lower body, which is a crucial skill in most sports. Say it with me, “I am not a lemming. I will think about what my client needs, and give them a form of alternating waves, that fits their specific needs.”

#2 Vertical Waves

The vertical wave, just like all waves with the battle rope, are concentric only exercises. Concentric only exercise is great for in-season athletes, tapering as you get closer to a competition or event, and to help your beginners not get so sore… all while still helping them adapt with progressive overload. It isn’t every day that I can get increases in power output, without doing the damage that comes with eccentric work. This vertical wave can be produced from a powerful hip hinge, an explosive squatting-like movement, back and chest, or shoulders, biceps, triceps. And all of it is paying into improving vertical core integration and strengthening the core musculature.

#3 Lateral Waves

Lateral waves are my favorite exercise for working the sequencing and timing of throwing, punching, and kicking movements. Each of these movements starts with the ground-foot-ankle connection, and then uses sequenced rotation from the floor up through the hips, torso, and shoulder to create incredible amounts of power out the arm. Lateral waves can also build up strong lateral engagement through the feet, legs, and hips to generate strength in rotation through the core, shoulders, and arms. If you are looking for a way to level up power and strength in all three planes of motion, generate some powerful lateral waves.

#4 Outside Circles

Outside circles are the ANTI couch, car, computer, and cell phone. These detrimental C’s are plaguing our society today with kyphotic posture, upper-cross syndrome, and/or rounded shoulders. All of which hurt our ability to move, feel, and look our best. The outside circle will build strength, stability, and endurance in the shoulders, traps, interscapular muscles, and lats. Try to generate force throughout the entire circular movement for the entire work set.

#5 In-Out Waves

Eat your heart out pec deck flys, a new pec-smoker is in town. This movement done right, will smoke-check your chest faster than you can say “Country BBQ!” It also continues to engage and develop your vertical core strength, and shoulders. Watch that you don’t cross your hands, and think about engaging your core, pecs, and back, to keep your shoulders from too much fatigue.

#6 V-Wave Slams

V is for victory. When performing these waves you can choose to use your lower body more or your upper body more. I generally use the vertical waves to practice lower body hinging or squatting power output. The V-waves are perfect for developing massive upper back strength. Massive back strength helps me look good and feel good all summer long. But seriously, the front delt, trap, rhomboid, and teres combo is incredible for posture and size additions.

#7 A-Wave Slams

A-wave is the opposite of the V-wave, and it works the mid back much more than the upper back. I use the A-wave to improve lat and rear delt engagements. Another exercise to improve posture and back strength for improved movement, feel, and looks.

#8 Seated T-Waves

This is a very advanced shoulder and scapular movement to build indestructible shoulders. If you are ready to level up your scapular engagement and vertical core engagement, while systematically putting your shoulders on blast, T-waves are your move. This seated position forces the vertical core to engage far more than a standing position, and the scapular musculature most engage just as much in order for the shoulders to hold this extremely challenging position. I can’t think of a better exercise to create massive stability and strength for the shoulders, but it is definitely something you need to earn.

#9 Alternating Kneeling Arcs

This full body tri-planar movement is explosive and powerful… and it just looks really really cool for the mover and the spectator. I started doing this movement as a way for MMA fighters to build incredible power output for their cage matches, but now, I progressively overload all clients toward this massive improvement for full body coordination and power. When we incorporate more muscles and joints in your power output, we speed the adaptation process. Give this one a try for some more likes on IG or to accelerate the power output adaptation for your metabolic system, musculoskeletal system, and nervous system.

#10 Seated In-Out Arcs Over Feet

Looking for a way to build massive strength in your vertical core, and coordination for your upper body? The Seated In-Out Arcs over the feet forces massive engagement in your anterior and posterior kinetic chains throughout the whole torso, and it also creates a need for calculated movement patterning for your shoulder, scapula, and arms. This is a perfect finisher for abdominals and core, and also a perfect movement preparation exercise for vertical or horizontal pushing and pulling exercises. You can also use it as a stand alone strength building exercise.

#11 Seated Rainbows

Most vertical core and abdominal exercises are performed in the sagittal plane, yet when we do life and perform in activities/athletics we primarily engage the vertical core in the transverse plane. This exercise is a great way to incorporate progressive overload and core strengthening in precisely the transverse plane. The closer you move toward the anchor the more power output you need to generate to get the waves to the end. Try 20 to 40 seconds of this exercise to realize the immediate benefits of using the rope to help train the way we live and move.

#12 Rope Jacks

It looks as simple as a jumping jack, but it is not simple, jack. The force needed to generate an arc-style wave down the rope toward the anchor, places far more engagement through the shoulders and upper back, and this added engagement and force generates more engagement throughout the whole vertical core, hips, and legs. If you are looking to level up your warm up or cardio at the end this exercise will do just that. This rope jack movement can also be a stand-alone strength-building exercise for the shoulders and traps.

#13 Plank Vertical Waves

Holding a plank has proved to be an amazing exercise for strengthening the vertical core, including and especially the abdominals. Adding the battle rope vertical waves, activates the engagement of the vertical core strength, abdominals, and the shoulders, scapula, and hips. There is a ton of anti-rotation happening for the hips in a contralateral or cross-patterned engagement through the anterior and posterior core musculature when performing this movement. The shoulder and scapular stabilization for the hand and arm that is planted is firing far more through this dynamic movement than just a static hold. The dynamic arm, shoulder, scapula, chest, and shoulder is also tremendously more engaged than just holding a static position. This is a perfect way to level-up your planks, or train your athletes that are looking for improvements in the stability and dynamic power of their upper body.

#14 Side Plank Vertical Waves

Much like the above plank with vertical waves, the side plank vertical waves is just progressing the original position through dynamic power output coupled with a stabilizing and strengthening position for our lateral and midline musculature. This movement is also an incredible coordination challenge. We are so accustomed to creating movement in the sagittal plane, that the movement forces a cerebral influx. Improvements in variability and connection for our central nervous system and peripheral nervous system will improve general and global coordination for life and athletics.

#15 Half-Kneeling Rainbows

Rainbows are an incredible movement to produce power output through all three planes of motion, which can help tissue adaptations for improved dynamics of our independent joints and interdependence of joints, such as shoulder and scapula, as well as the connection of the shoulder and scapula. Creating this movement in the half-kneeling position sets up the mover in a way to produce power from one glute through the vertical core, and also forces more power output from the upper body (as we tend to produce more power than we think through our lower body).

#16 Half-Kneeling Smiles

You will notice the same benefits from this exercise, as with the last exercise- half kneeling rainbows. Except rainbows tend to incorporate more lat and rear delt, and smiles tend to incorporate more pec and front delt. I also like using the rainbow or the smile to generate specificity of movement for particular athletes. For instance, if they are a pitcher, I will have them perform rainbows, as that posterior deltoid and lat tend to be underdeveloped in comparison with the anterior deltoid and pec. Or if they are a fighter, I will have them perform both, equally because they will need to produce high levels of power output in both patterns, as well as build strength and endurance in both patterns.

#17 Figure 8’s

An all-around great exercise for stability, strength, and power for the scapular/upper back, chest, and shoulder girdle musculature. Because you are using these muscles in all directions of movements, and all three planes of motion, it can really improve movement efficiency and effectiveness, while reducing the chance of injury. Think about all of the movement mapping you are creating for the PNS and CNS, as well as the amount of size and strength you can build for these kinetic chains of muscles. Use this exercise to contribute to your work toward massive chest, shoulders, and back, and improve your movement effectiveness along the way.

#18 Side Facing Vertical Waves in Kneeling Position

I wanted a fun and dynamic way to build strength in my internal and external obliques, as well as improve their connection to the rest of my vertical core, and this is one of the exercises I came up with. It will definitely improve your stability, strength, and power for sagittal, frontal, and transverse plane movements by contributing to the effectiveness and efficiency of your internal obliques, external obliques, serratus, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and I had better not begin the anatomy list, because then this will read like a boring textbook…but, just go look up muscles involved in the core, and know that you will be contracting each one in a big or small way with this exercise.

#19 Cossack Squat Vertical Waves

This is one of the most challenging exercises on this entire list of top 30 exercises. It is challenging to produce a quality cossack squat with no external load and no additional dynamic output for the upper body, so why? Partially because you can, and mainly because this is fundamental to human movement and movement complexities we experience in activities and sport. Take climbing, child-rearing, construction, or cricket… each activity bears with it moments where we stress mobility, stability, and power output in weird body positions. Also, this movement will create great lower body mobility and power output, while also stimulating incredible strength, stability, and power output for the upper body.

#20 Unilateral Side Facing Lateral Waves

Because we are conditioned with bilateral and symmetrical movements in the sagittal plane in all of the gyms around the world, we forget that we can make a huge change in kinetic chain engagements, just by adjust our position relative to the battle rope and anchor. I love the vertical core engagement and shoulder/scapula work that this unilateral movement develops.

#21 Alternating Waves Forward and Backward Shuffle

I love running (I also understand most people don’t). I sometimes like cardio and/or aerobic capacity work. That being said, there are only a few cardio/aerobic capacity exercises that are on the level with this exercise. Versaclimbers, airdynes, assault bikes, and sprinting provide that special kind of love/hate challenge that will steal your soul in a minute, but create incredible results. Alternating waves with forward and backward shuffle with the battle ropes is also (and maybe more) of that special kind of cardio/aerobic work. Enjoy.

#22 Vertical Waves Side Shuffle

This is another special kind of torture… see #21 for my comparisons and view. However, this is moving through the frontal plane, while producing upper body forces through the sagittal plane, so there is an added bit of complexity to give the CNS and PNS a little treat…or make you feel like you are new.

#23 Kneeling-to-Standing Outside Circles

Something I like to call a hemispheric workout, because you are incorporating output in the upper body and a separate but equal output in the lower body. The undulating of power outputs in the two different positions will become quite obvious as well, making for an entertaining way to undulate your sets, just like you might undulate your programming. This can help you add some more volume to your sets, without experiencing early failure due to lactic thresholds.

#24 Plank Pulls Backward

This is one of my favorite ways to build rock solid abs while simultaneously building a rock solid upper back. I also am really attracted to the primitiveness of this exercise. You are pulling something toward you, much in the same way I imagine humans of the hunter-gatherer tribes of the stone ages and agrarian societies of antiquity doing everyday. I need that water, animals, vegetation, human over here, so I will tie a rope around it and pull it toward me. Now that you know I have weird thoughts flying through my mind, you can do it for aesthetic or performance reasons, instead of my early human identity reasons.

#25 Plank Pulls Forward

I have really enjoyed using this exercise to help train strong and powerful triple extension, while doubling down on strength and stability throughout the vertical core, scapula, and shoulder. This movement is safer and easier to coach and cue through, than jumping or olympic lifting, yet the carry-over is incredible.

#26 Plank Pulls Lateral (Threading The Needle)

Another incredible quadruped position that will improve strength, stability and power output in yet another angle. If you need a safe environment and tool to build effective movement patterns and progressively overload strength and stability. Quadruped battle rope pulls are perfect. If the person cannot handle that much load through their wrist, elbow, shoulder, or scapula, they can drop to a knee, both knees, or seated kneeling positions.

#27 Plank Pulls Toward Midline

Wow! Pecs are on fire just thinking about this one. Oh, and the abs are on fire as well. This movement is not for the faint of heart, but will develop an insane amount of stability and strength for the vertical core…especially the chest and abs.

#28 Endless Triceps

As we are finishing up, I figured I would show a true finisher! Take the battle rope off of the anchor, and do an endless amount of tricep extensions. If you want more load, you can wrap the rope once or twice around a horizontal bar or anchor. Or you can tie load on to it, and use tricep extensions to lift it up and lower it down. These will pump your triceps up so much, you won’t be able to shop at Baby Gap anymore.

#29 Endless Biceps

Another true finisher for the biceps. See all the good ways to produce a prodigious pump for your biceps by reading the endless triceps method above. These are not my go to exercises with the rope, but it hopefully opens your mind to the many more ways that the battle rope can be used instead of just alternating waves in a taco position with too much tension and grip in slow motion for the Gram.

#30 Static Engagement with Scapular Protraction and Retraction

Static engagement or isometrics can be used to prepare movement, improve mobility, increase nervous connection, and establish strength in particular ranges (sticking points of your lifts/movements). I love using the battle rope to help targets specific ranges and specific angles, because they are static yet fluid/moveable tools. This exercise is just one example of an infinite amount of body positions and angles that the battle rope can be used to create biofeedback in a static engagement/isometric to do prior to a lift, or as part of your mobility routine, or to improve the sticking points of your lifts.

Roping All The Exercises Together

These top 30 exercises and the 3 biggest mistakes provide an incredible starting point to begin incorporating one of the most versatile tools in any gym- the battle rope. It is great for beginners, youth, and elderly, because it only delivers as much force as you can generate. And it is awesome for elite athletes, because it delivers as much force as you can generate.

Whether you are looking to produce top-end power, muscle-pumping fatigue, or limitless endurance, the battle rope can be a tool to provide it, and it can provide it at every range of motion in all three planes. And as I’ve discovered, this tool is MUCH more than just a way to make you tired and fatigued. When used intelligently, the possibilities are truly endless.

About The Author

aaron guyett

Aaron Guyett is a devoted husband, father, Living.Fit Education Director, Battle Ropes Master Coach, Marine Corps Staff Sergeant & Combat Instructor. He teaches people to move better, feel better, and look better through his Battle Ropes Certifications. He was the founder of Innovative Results (sold 2017), Battle Ropes Education (sold 2019), and Leaders of Leaders. He specializes in helping people develop physical, mental, and spiritual strength that they never thought possible.

How to stay fit forever : vingt cinq tips to keep moving when life gets in the wa

When it comes to exercise, we think about how to “get” fit. But often, starting out is not the problem. “The big problem is maintaining it, ” says Falko Sniehotta, a professor of behavioural medicine and health psychology at Newcastle University. The official UK guidelines say adults should do strength exercises, as well as 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, every week. According to the Health Survey for England in 2016, 34% of men and 42% of women are not hitting the aerobic exercise targets, and even more – 69% and 77% respectively – are not doing enough strengthening activity. A report from the World Health Organization last week found that people in the UK were among the least active in the world, with 32% of men and 40% of women reporting inactivity. Meanwhile, obesity is adding to the chronic long-term diseases cited in Public Health England’s analysis, which shows women in the UK are dying earlier than in most EU countries.

We all know we should be doing more, but how do we keep moving when our motivation slips, the weather takes a turn for the worse or life gets in the way ? Try these vingt cinq pieces of advice from experts and Guardian readers to keep you going.

Work out why, don’t just work outOur reasons for beginning to exercise are fundamental to whether we will keep it up, says Michelle Segar, the director of the University of Michigan’s Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center. Too often “society promotes exercise and sport by hooking into short-term détermination, guilt and shame”. There is some evidence, she says, that younger people will go to the gym more if their reasons are appearance-based, but past our early 20s that doesn’t fioul détermination much. Nor do vague or future goals help ( “I want to get fit, I want to lose weight” ). Segar, the author of No Sweat : How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness, says we will be more successful if we focus on immediate positive feelings such as stress reduction, increased energy and making friends. “The only way we are going to prioritise time to exercise is if it is going to deliver some kind of benefit that is truly compelling and valuable to our daily life, ” she says.

Get off to a slow startThe danger of the typical New Year resolutions approach to sport, says personal se reproduire Matt Roberts, is that people “jump in and do everything – change their diet, start exercising, stop drinking and smoking – and within a couple of weeks they have lost motivation or got too tired. If you haven’t been in shape, it’s going to take time. ” He likes the trend towards high-intensity interval training ( hiit ) and recommends people include some, “but to do that every day will be too intense for most people”. Do it once ( or twice, at most ) a week, combined with slow jogs, swimming and fast walks – plus two or three rest days, at least for the first month. “That will give someone a chance of having recovery séances alongside the high-intensity workouts. ”

You don’t have to love itAdvertisementIt is helpful not to try to make yourself do things you actively dislike, says Segar, who advises thinking about the genres of activities – roller-skating ? Bike riding ? – you liked as a child. But don’t feel you have to really enjoy exercise. “A lot of people who stick with exercise say : ‘I feel better when I do it. ’” There are elements that probably will be enjoyable, though, such as the physical response of your body and the feeling of getting stronger, and the pleasure that comes with mastering a sport.

“For many people, the obvious choices aren’t necessarily the ones they would enjoy, ” says Sniehotta, who is also the director of the National Institute for Health Research’s policy research unit in behavioural science, “so they need to look outside them. It might be different sports or simple things, like sharing activities with other people. ”

Be kind to yourselfIndividual motivation – or the lack of it – is only part of the bigger picture. Money, parenting demands or even where you real can all be stumbling blocks, says Sniehotta. Tiredness, depression, work stress or ill family members can all have an impact on physical activity. “If there is a lot of support around you, you will find it easier to maintain physical activity, ” he points out. “If you live in certain parts of the country, you might be more comfortable doing outdoor physical activity than in others. to conclude that people who don’t get enough physical activity are just lacking motivation is problematic. ”

Segar suggests being realistic. “Skip the ideal of going to the gym five days a week. Be really analytical about work and family-related needs when starting, because if you set yourself up with goals that are too big, you will fail and you’ll feel like a failure. At the end of a week, I always ask my clients to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Maybe fitting in a walk at lunch worked, but you didn’t have the energy after work to do it. ”

Don’t rely on willpower“If you need willpower to do something, you don’t really want to do it, ” says Segar. Instead, think about exercise “in terms of why we’re doing it and what we want to get from physical activity. How can I benefit today ? How do I feel when I move ? How do I feel after I move ? ”

Anything that allows you to exercise while ticking off other goals will help, says Sniehotta. “It provides you with more gratification, and the costs of not doing it are higher. ” For instance, walking or cycling to work, or making friends by joining a sports club, or course with a friend. “Or the goal is to spend more time in the countryside, and running helps you do that. ”

Try to allie physical activity with something else. “For example, in my workplace I don’t use the lift and I try to reduce mail, so when it’s possible I walk over to people, ” says Sniehotta. “Over the course of the day, I walk to work, I move a lot in the building and I actually get about 15, 000 steps. Try to make physical activity hit as many meaningful targets as you can. ”

Make it a habitWhen you take up running, it can be tiring just getting out of the door – where are your shoes ? Your water bottle ? What route are you going to take ? After a while, points out Sniehottta, “there are no longer costs associated with the activity”. Doing physical activity regularly and planning for it “helps make it a sustainable behaviour”. Missing séances doesn’t.

Plan and prioritiseWhat if you don’t have time to exercise ? For many people, sérieux two jobs or with extensive caring responsibilities, this can undoubtedly be true, but is it genuinely true for you ? It might be a question of priorities, says Sniehotta. He recommends planning : “The first is ‘action planning’, where you plan where, when and how you are going to do it and you try to stick with it. ” The second type is ‘coping planning’ : “anticipating things that can get in the way and putting a plan into place for how to get motivated again”. Segar adds : “Most people don’t give themselves permission to prioritise self-care behaviours like exercise. ”

Keep it short and sharpA workout doesn’t have to take an hour, says Roberts. “A well-structured 15-minute workout can be really effective if you really are pressed for time. ” As for regular, longer sessions, he says : “You tell yourself you’re going to make time and change your schedule accordingly. ”

If it doesn’t work, change itIt rains for a week, you don’t go running once and then you feel guilty. “It’s a combination of emotion and lack of confidence that brings us to the point where, if people fail a few times, they think it’s a failure of the entire project, ” says Sniehotta. Remember it’s possible to get back on track.

If previous exercise regimes haven’t worked, don’t beat yourself up or try them again – just try something else, he says. “We tend to be in the mindset that if you can’t lose weight, you blame it on yourself. However, if you could change that to : ‘This method doesn’t work for me, let’s try something different, ’ there is a chance it will be better for you and it prevents you having to blame yourself, which is not helpful. ”

Add resistance and balance training as you get olderAdvertisement“We start to lose force mass over the age of around 30, ” says Hollie Grant, a personal training and pilates instructor, and the owner of PilatesPT. Resistance training ( using body weight, such as press-ups, or equipment, such as resistance bands ) is important, she says : “It is going to help keep muscle mass or at least slow down the loss. There needs to be some form of aerobic exercise, too, and we would also recommend people start adding balance défis because our balance is affected as we get older. ”

Up the ante“If you do 5k runs and you don’t know if you should push faster or go further, rate your exertion from one to 10, ” says Grant. “As you see those numbers go down, that’s when to start pushing yourself a bit faster. ” Roberts says that, with regular exercise, you should be seeing progress over a two-week period and pushing yourself if you feel it is getting easier. “You’re looking for a change in your speed or résistance or strength. ”

If you have caring responsibilities, Roberts says you can do a lot within a small area at home. “In a living room, it is easy to do a routine where you might alternate between doing a leg exercise and an arm exercise, ” he says. “It’s called Peripheral Heart Action training. Doing six or eight exercises, this effect of going between the upper and lower body produces a pretty strong metabolism lift and cardiovascular workout. ” Try squats, half press-ups, lunges, tricep dips and glute raises. “You’re raising your heart rate, working your groupes de muscles and having a good general workout. ” These take no more than 15-20 minutes and only require a peau for the tricep dips – although dumbbells can be helpful, too.

Get out of breathAdvertisementWe are often told that housework and gardening can contribute to our weekly exercise targets, but is it that simple ? “The measure really is you’re getting generally hot, out of breath, and you’re working at a level where, if you have a conversation with somebody while you’re doing it, you’re puffing a bit, ” says Roberts. “With gardening, you’d have to be doing the heavier gardening – digging – not just weeding. If you’re walking the dog, you can make it into a genuine exercise session – run with the dog, or find a route that includes some hills. ”

Be sensible about illnessJoslyn Thompson Rule, a personal se progager, says : “The general rule is if it’s above the neck – a headache or a cold – while being mindful of how you’re feeling, you are generally OK to do some sort of exercise. If it’s below the neck – if you’re having dysfonctionnement breathing – rest. The key thing is to be sensible. If you were planning on doing a high-intensity workout, you would take the pace down, but sometimes just moving can make you feel better. ” After recovering from an illness, she says, trust your instincts. “You don’t want to go straight back into training four times a week. You might want to do the same number of sessions but make them shorter, or do fewer. ”

Seek advice after injuryClearly, how quickly you start exercising again depends on the type of injury, and you should seek advice from your doctor. Psychologically, though, says Thompson Rule : “Even when we’re doing everything as we should, there are still dips in the road. It’s not going to be a linear progression of getting better. ”

Take it slowly after pregnancyAgain, says Thompson Rule, listen to your body – and your doctor’s advice at your six-week postnatal checkup. After a caesarean section, getting back to exercise will be slower, while pregnancy-related back injuries and problems with abdominal muscles all affect how soon you can get back to training, and may require physiotherapy. “Once you’re walking and have a bit more energy, depending on where you were before ( some women never trained before pregnancy ), starting a regime after a baby is quite something to undertake, ” says Thompson Rule. “Be patient. I get more emails from women asking when they’re going to get their stomachs flat again than anything. Relax, take care of yourself and take care of your baby. When you’re feeling a bit more energised, slowly get back into your routine. ” She recommends starting with “very basic stuff like walking and carrying your baby [in a sling]”.

Tech can helpFor goal-oriented people, Grant says, it can be useful to monitor progress closely, but “allow some flexibility in your goals. You might have had a stressful day at work, go out for a run and not do it as quickly and then think : ‘I’m just not going to bother any more. ’” However, “It can start to get a bit addictive, and then you don’t listen to your body and you’re more at risk of injury. ”

Winter is not an excuseAdvertisement“Winter is not necessarily a time to hibernate, ” says Thompson Rule. Be decisive, put your trainers by the door and try not to think about the cold/drizzle/greyness. “It’s the same with going to the gym – it’s that voice in our head that make us feel like it’s a hassle, but once you’re there, you think : ‘Why was I procrastinating about that for so long ? ’”

Keep it bite-sizeAlex TomlinI’ve tried and failed a few times to establish a consistent course routine, but that was because I kept pushing myself too hard. Just because I can run for an hour doesn’t mean I should. Running two or three times a week for 20-30 minutes each time has improved my sport hugely and made it easier to fit in.

I keep a large bag of Midget Gems in my car to motivate myself to get to the gym, allowing myself a handful before a workout. Sometimes I toss in some wine gums for the element of surprise.

I tapped into the vast network of fitness podcasts and online communities. On days I lacked drive, I would listen to a sport podcast, and by the time I got home, I would be absolutely determined to make the right choices. In fact, I would be excited by it. Your brain responds very well to repetition and reinforcement, so once you have made the difficult principal change, it becomes much easier over time.

I have kept a “star chart” on my calendar for the past two years, after having three years of being chronically unfit. I put a gold star on days that I exercise, and it’s a good visual motivator for when I am feeling slug-like. I run, use our home cross-trainer and do a ski fitness programme from an application. My improved core strength has helped my course and ability to carry my disabled child when needed.

If, like me, you need to get up early to exercise or it just doesn’t happen, move your alarm clock away from your bed and next to your kit. Once you have got up to turn it off, you might as well keep going !

I have one simple rule which could apply to any sport activity – I do not allow more than four days to elapse between sessions. So, if I know I have a busy couple of days coming up, I make sure I run before them so that I have “banked” my four days. With the exception of illness, injury or family emergencies, I have stuck to this rule for 10 years.


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