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Deandre Liggins, NBA veteran and star guard for the London Lions gives his top tips for kickstarting your fitness regime as lockdown eases and Bits return to working out.

Most of us have neglected our fitness over the past year – in one way or another. And we can be forgiven for that. This year has been tougher than most of us could have imagined – in ways we never thought it would. But we are coming out of it now. And it’s time for some self-love and self-improvement. That especially the case when it comes to building up our strong and healthy bodies again.

But making new habits is always difficult. And you’ve always got to take things slow when starting a new fitness regimen. You don’t want to injure yourself and make it so hard that you don’t keep it up. It’s about sustainability. Long term change doesn’t need to be so drastic.

But now with outdoor sports and group exercises allowed to continue across Britain, people might find it hard to find the motivation to get out and exercise again, so NBA veteran and BBL star, DeAndre Liggins shares his top tips to getting back to fitness. Here is what he has to say.

Make a plan

Getting back to your fitness regime and training again after three months off can be tough and it can be hard to remain focused and motivated. Making a consistent fitness routine will help you to keep on top of your regime and a lot easier to stick to it. A lot of people start the new year on a fitness kick but then fail to keep it up, but if you make a plan and a strict routine, then you will find it easier to maintain. Sticking to your fitness regime is the hardest part, so finding one that keeps you focused and motivated is important.

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DeAndre Liggins himself. Photos by Carol J Moir.

Set realistic goals

Getting back into fitness can be hard, so setting realistic goals is key. Split your fitness journey into six-week blocks and set a goal each time. It might be about running further, increasing the number of press-ups or sit ups you can do or just feeling better about yourself. Having realistic goals will spur you on to the next level and will also keep you motivated as you progress.

Tailor your regime to you

It is vital for anyone who exercises or keeps fit to choose activities and workouts that are relevant and suitable to your lifestyle. Choose an activity you enjoy and have fun doing, this way you are more likely to actually keep it up. If you like running or going outside, then do so. I really enjoy going out for a run as much as I can and because endurance is a bit part of my game on the court, cardio works well for me. And most of all, I enjoy it! This is so important as it’s so easy during lockdown to give up, but if you find something you enjoy and something that works for you, you will be more likely to stick to it.

Track your progress

Keep track of your successes – hitting those targets is what keeps us motivated. Whether it’s losing inches or smashing your personal best, choose what drives you the most and go for it. Keeping track and making note of your workouts or exercises through a journal is one of the simplest and most effective ways to track your progress when working out and training, as it allows you to clearly understand where you are at and where you are aiming to get to.

Allow time for rest and recovery 

Recovery is one of the most important aspects of any fitness regime and not allowing yourself adequate recovery time can lead to decreased performance, exhaustion and cause chronic joint and muscle pain. Rest and recovery are important for your body to repair and re-energise, especially if you have had time away from exercising over the past few months. Listening to your body will help prevent you from burning out and risking injury. Adequate rest and recovery are just as important to progress as the workouts are themselves. Remember, the best results come from consistency, and the better you recover from your sessions, the more consistent you’ll be.

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Join some outdoor workout classes like 1Rebel’s

Maintain a balanced diet

\Working out is one thing, but you will only see real results if you also work on your diet. A balanced diet will guarantee you get the most gains from your workouts and will also have you feeling better inside and out. Eating a healthy balanced diet accompanied by regular exercise is essential in maintaining physical and mental health and wellbeing, and right now this is more important than ever. Not only will this be effective in maintaining weight or preventing excess gain but will also aid with your overall sleep and mood which is essential.

Stay hydrated  

Staying hydrated is key when working out or exercising. Being even mildly dehydrated can have effects on your energy and ability to perform. Staying hydrated also improves your blood flow and circulation which is key in the delivery of oxygen to the muscles you are working out. Fatigue can be caused by the lack of hydration in your cells; in order to optimise the production of energy from food, it is essential you drink enough water and avoid being dehydrated when keeping fit.

Don’t make excuses

Nothing comes easy, so don’t make excuses. If you find it hard to motivate yourself, then try working out early in the morning. Start your day off right with productivity and this will help set the tone for the rest of the day. Keeping active has never been more important, but at the same time has never been harder. Many of us are suffering from a lack of motivation and it only takes one look out the window to put us off. Right now, we all need to stop making those excuses and just get out and do. And trust me, you’ll feel a lot better for it.

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