Whether you're already working out consistently, or are ready to get serious and get started with your fitness journey; we've got the top 21 tips to set you up for success with a comprehensive approach to total fitness. You may ask, why these fitness tips in particular? Because they work!

1. Set goals

Setting fitness goals is so important. It gives you the motivation you need to continue and to maybe even get started. Goals allow you to identify what you want to accomplish, plan how you’ll get there, and figure out any barriers you may encounter along the way. Set short-term goals and long-term goals, acknowledging and celebrating every goal that you achieve.

2. Track progress

Tracking your progress will help you to change up your routine accordingly to ensure continued growth and change over time. Use at least one variable to keep track of to gauge your progress. A few variables that can easily be tracked are: body circumference measurements, bodyweight, sets/repetitions/weight used per exercise, and body fat percentage. Measure you’re progress consistently, either weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

3. Meal prep

Flat lay of fresh ingredients with avocado, herbs, jalapeno, and egg

Set yourself up for success by planning and preparing your foods for the week in advance. Meal prepping is cost effective and convenient - once it’s prepared. You are more likely to make better food choices throughout the week and are able to ensure you are ingesting adequate amounts of what you need when carefully preparing your meals.

4. Do yoga

Practice flexibility regularly. Doing yoga consistently aids in flexibility, stress relief,
and provides a more comprehensive connection of the mind, body, and spirit. Find
a class or make time to practice on your own.

5. Work on your mobility

An African American man stretching in the courtyard of a prison

Mobility is your ability to move freely and how easily you can do so. Stretching regularly, doing soft tissue work like foam rolling, and practicing mobility drills are great ways to improve your overall mobility. This is a great option for an active recovery or rest day as it still promotes some type of activity.

6. Make recovery a priority

A dog standing next to a person relaxing in a hammock

If you aren’t getting adequate rest and taking the time or necessary steps for recovery, you will put yourself at risk of burnout and injury. Try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Properly feed and hydrate your body, stretch out, or go get a massage. Ultimately, take care of yourself and listen to your body.

7. Plan rest days

An open calendar with short notes scribbled next to the dates

Planning rest days or active recovery days into your routine is an easy way to stay on track and ensure that you are taking ample time off to recover.

8. Eat what you need and what you want

Double cheeseburger and a side of french fries at a restaurant

Eat for function most of the time and for fun some of the time. More simply put,
indulge in moderation. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein sources
as much as possible, while limiting your intake of empty calories and foods that
are not nutrient-dense. Try not to totally restrict yourself from any foods or food
group, as this makes you more likely to binge, and to be unhappy and often
unhealthy.

9. Meditate

Start your day and/or end your day with meditation. Reduce stress, clear your head, and increase your self-awareness by meditating for at least 10-20 minutes daily.

10. Don’t skip cardio

Many have a love-hate relationship with cardio. While it may seem boring, or like it’s eating up all of your gains – it’s not. Find a modality you enjoy, or can tolerate, and just do it! According to the American Heart Association, we should complete at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular activity each week.

11. Lift often

Resistance training is important, especially as we age. Lifting regularly promotes increased strength, increased metabolism, weight loss/maintenance, bone health, and overall function. For optimal health benefits, aim for at least 2-3 days resistance training sessions per week.

12. Don’t skip leg day

Aim to train each muscle group evenly; while we all have favorites, it’s important to prevent muscle imbalances and overuse or injury. Leg day in particular is often skipped or skimped on. Train your legs. It’ll not only make you mentally stronger and your physique more symmetrical, but it’ll also make your other lifts stronger overall.

13. Stay hydrated

Drink more water. You should be drinking a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. In fact, most people should actually drink more, depending on your gender, age, weight, and level of physical activity.

14. Choose activity

If you have the option of a standing desk, use it. If you have the opportunity to take the stairs versus the elevator, or to walk to a location rather than drive, do it. The small things add up.

15. Supplement your diet

Take your vitamins. Calculate your macronutrient needs and research your daily-recommended intake of other vitamins and minerals. If there are nutrients you lack in your diet, supplementation is an easy way to make up for it to keep your body functioning properly and keep you healthy. Our bodies need certain amounts of vitamins and minerals for a reason; the body is a machine.

16. Focus on your form

Moving a lot of weight doesn’t matter if your form is no good. Focusing on good form will decrease your risk of injury and increase the likelihood of gains. Try to perfect each and every movement; there’s no sense in loading on too much weight before you’re ready for it.

17. Mix up your routine

A muscular man tying his shoe while he kneels on a sidewalk in Seestadt

The body adapts quickly. Try not to get caught up doing the same routine over and over each week, simply because it’s comfortable and you’re used to it. No matter what you’re goal is, it’s important to challenge your body in order for growth and change!

18. Use a variety of equipment

Colorful weights in an empty home gym

Using a variety of equipment is just as important as mixing up your general workout routine. If you love machines, make an effort to incorporate free weights and bands into your regimen. Even if you’re performing the same exercise, it’ll be easier on your joints, more challenging to your muscles, and you’re likely to find a new variation you’ll love.

19. Try fitness classes

There are so many fitness classes to choose from. Often times they are higher energy and more fun than training alone. They’re mindless as someone else is leading or has generated the programming, and they are a great means of accountability to help you stay on track.

20. Know the difference between pain and soreness

Soreness is typically okay, as long as it’s not lasting for weeks, but pain is not. Pain is a signal from the body that something is wrong, or that the amount of stress placed on it is too much. While you shouldn’t push through the pain, there are always ways to work around pain to continue staying active. Don’t be afraid to seek medical attention when you need it.

21. Be kind to yourself.

So you didn’t meet your goal this week? Your bench press numbers went down? Celebrate what you did do - like working out when you didn’t feel like it, or going to a new yoga class. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Do what you can, set a goal for the upcoming week, and get right back to it!

Image credit: Unsplash

MORE STORIES LIKE THIS