The Best Fitness Challenges for 2022
If you’re looking for realistic fitness challenges to kick off the New Year right, we have a different approach than the resolutions you might be used to seeing this time of year.
These challenges won’t be your typical “Do 200 pushups every day for the entire year” variety of New Year’s resolution ideas. Instead, they will be ways to challenge and supplement your current training goals to boost the overall success of your athletic development.
This article covers a few of the most impactful ways you can approach your New Year’s fitness goals to help you maximize your efforts in 2022.
- Starting the New Year Right With New Fitness Goals
- Best Fitness Challenges for 2022
Mobility Athlete is reader-supported. So if you add any fitness tools to your gym bag using of our links, we can receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) It helps us keep the lights on here at the site. Thanks for your support!
Starting the New Year Right With New Fitness Goals
Every year brings with it opportunities to embark on new journeys of self-improvement. New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. Frequently, fitness resolutions that end up with low success rates are due to either unrealistic goals or because the underlying habits and structure weren’t in place to support bringing on new fitness goals as a New Year’s resolution.
Fortunately, if you already have training habits in place, your chances of nailing your fitness resolutions this year have a much better chance of success.
This list of fitness challenges to ring in the new year allow you to supplement your current training and round out your overall athletic development with a few realistic goals to choose from.
Best Fitness Challenges for 2022
This list of challenges and resolutions for 2022 consists of simple yet effective ideas to incorporate into your training. Even for a limited period of time, these practices can help you explore new ways to improve your overall fitness and identify potential weaknesses that may have been holding you back.
By no means do you need to incorporate all of the items on this list (but don’t let that suggestion stop you if you do!) But you can use this list to identify which areas would provide the most benefit to you and serve as a method for crafting the perfect resolutions for the new year.
Start a Self-Myofascial Release Regimen
Self-myofascial release is a simple place to start that still packs in a cascade of benefits for most athletes, regardless of training discipline.
Self-myofascial release ranges from foam rolling to massage guns and rolling sticks and can help you improve mobility, accelerate workout recovery, and improve blood flow and flexibility. Incorporating self-myofascial release into your existing training program will help you improve your sessions when used pre-workout as well as jumpstart the recovery process when used post-workout – enhancing the overall progress achieved from each training session.
To start off with this challenge, first determine which type of self-myofascial release device will benefit you most (or which you would enjoy the most.) This will maximize your chances of sticking with the new practice long enough to facilitate the habit formation process.
Here are a few articles to help you explore what type of myofascial release device is best for you:
Next, examine your current training regimen to identify which muscle groups you need to target with each session. You can start small and dedicate 10-15 minutes of self-myofascial release as a warm-up or cool down of your existing training sessions.
It won’t take long for you to begin to notice the benefits myofascial release can provide. Your body will start to open up and move better, and you’ll feel a boost in your recovery. And perhaps most importantly, you’ll begin to feel more relaxed and loose between sessions.
Improved mobility and range of motion can have massive positive impacts on the quality of your training. Going into the new year with consistency in your self-myofascial release practice is a sure-fire way to set your year up for success in supporting your fitness goals.
Flip Your Training Upside Down
If you’ve been training for years, chances are you’ve dealt with the creation of muscle imbalances throughout different phases of your fitness development.
Most training programs are built to accommodate primary muscle groups first while your body is fresh and then places the secondary and supporting muscles towards the end of the session.
While this form of workout programming makes sense for most of your training design, one small side effect that builds over time is risking supporting muscles becoming underdeveloped compared to the primary muscles – eventually leading to nagging muscle imbalances.
Flipping your training upside down means dedicating a few months to take your current training program and flip it on its head to re-focus on potentially overlooked muscle groups.
For example, if a training session focuses on your lats at the beginning of your workout and your rear delts at the end of your workout – you would flip the order of your workout to hit your rear delts first to maximize the attention they get.
While your main exercises may diminish temporarily, the improved development of the secondary and supporting muscle groups will enhance your overall performance once you flip your training back to normal.
As an alternative for more advanced athletes who carefully craft their workout programs, you can use this as an opportunity to develop a program that examines current imbalances in your muscular physiology (and mobility) to design a short-term program that shifts your focus to address these issues.
Spending a few months at the beginning of the year to fix muscle imbalances will have powerful implications for your training progress throughout the rest of the year. Ultimately helping you reach the rest of your fitness goals more effectively and with a reduced chance of developing injuries due to the underdevelopment of essential muscle groups.
Reclaim Your Hydration Discipline
While hydration is a component that affects nearly every aspect of your athletic performance, most athletes still admit that it’s an area that needs constant work.
Dehydration sneaks up on you. Usually, you don’t notice that you haven’t been drinking enough water until your performance is already being negatively impacted.
Hydration is a discipline, and it requires gradual yet consistent work to create the habits in your day-to-day life that keep your body functioning at peak performance.
Proper hydration leads to improved oxygen and nutrient delivery to your muscles, enhanced energy production, improved body temperature regulation, and even maximizes your cognitive function.
Starting your year off by re-focusing on proper hydration will help you succeed in nearly every fitness goal you set out to accomplish in 2022. Luckily, there are a few hydration tools you can add to your gym bag to help you along the way.
Strength Focus and Cardio Focus Blend
Depending on your sport or training style of choice, it can be easy to slip into focusing solely on developing a single aspect of your overall fitness.
It’s common for weight lifters to view cardio as a waste of time and calories from carefully crafted nutrition programs. And many runners would rather spend their time out on the trail and under blue skies than in a gym and under a barbell.
Interestingly, the opposite is true. Building cardiovascular endurance for weight lifters and improving muscle strength for runners can dramatically improve your overall performance in your training style of choice.
If you fall into one of these categories, spending some time blending your cardiovascular endurance training and strength training will help set you up for more significant progress throughout the rest of your training year.
For runners, resistance training (especially compound lower-body lifts) will help you generate more power, improve stride speed, and maximize your overall running efficiency at higher speeds.
For lifters, improving your cardiovascular health will provide you with an extra gear of endurance to enhance the quality of your resistance training sessions and naturally boost your body’s nutrient delivery, oxygenation, and waste removal.
Starting small and picking exercises you’ll enjoy will improve your chances of successfully keeping up with this New Year’s goal. If you’re a bodybuilder and you hate running, there are plenty of other options from rowing machines to assault bikes that you can use to boost your cardiovascular health. If you’re a runner, start with lower body training that focuses on the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors. It won’t take long to find your motivation to continue when you begin to feel the improvements from your strength training while you’re out on the trail.
Fortify Your Stabilization and Balance Foundation
Nearly every athletic movement spanning from running to jumping to swinging a tennis racket requires immense coordination between your brain and body to produce balance and stability.
Tools like balance boards help you adequately train the visual, vestibular, and somatosensory systems responsible for balancing and orienting your body. While unstable surfaces like foam pads, mobility balls, and vibration plates help you train the precise motor movements of your stabilizers.
Together, balance and stability training amplifies the effectiveness of human motion. Whether you’re an athlete who spends time in the gym to improve your strength and physical health or a competing athlete mastering highly technical movements for your sport of choice – both systems create dramatic improvements for the biomechanics necessary for success.
Spending adequate time developing the systems involved in balance and the supporting muscles required for stability have massive implications for improving all areas of your athleticism, reducing injury through strengthening key muscles like the tibialis, and is well worth the time investment going into the new year.
30-Day Cold Shower Challenge
Cold exposure therapy has a laundry list of physiological benefits for athletes. If you want to dive into those physical benefits, you can check out this article here, but for the purpose of achieving your New Year’s goals, we’re going to focus on the cognitive benefits provided by cold water.
Mental resiliency and discipline are the fundamental components that determine success or failure for any goal you set for yourself in life.
Cold water exposure is a mild physical stressor that allows you to train the parts of your brain responsible for encountering stressful situations properly. The same little voice in your head that tries to convince you to skip your cold shower for the day is the same little voice that pops up when a workout gets hard and you want to drop your intensity or call it quits early. (And the same little voice that causes you to give up on your New Year’s Resolutions.)
A daily cold shower lets you confront that mental state head-on every day to develop the mental skill set that allows you to use your willpower to press through challenging physical situations, both in fitness and life alike.
If you’re new to cold exposure and want to ease into the challenge, you can start with your regular warm shower and then end it by flipping the water to cold for 30 seconds. Then, you can gradually work your way up to exended times and eventually begin your shower by stepping in cold for maximum effect.
Luckily, cold water exposure gets easier over time. The cold-stress stimulus creates Brown Adipose Tissue, which burns hotter and more effectively regulates your core body temperature. As your body becomes cold-adapted, the physiological response becomes less pronounced, making your time under the cold water a much easier experience.
Eventually, you can amplify your cold-water exposure therapy and progress to taking ice baths. Once you reach that stage, take a look at our article on the Ice Barrel and its pronounced benefits of cold water exposure vs. cold showers for athletes. Also if you have access where you live, you could try a few cryotherapy sessions to examine the differences in how it makes you feel.
While it may seem like cold showers are an odd way to maximize your success at keeping to your New Year’s resolutions this year. It is an often overlooked method of challenging one of the most elusive traits to train as an athlete – mental toughness, grit, and resiliency.
Clean Up Your Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is the substructure of both athletic performance and recovery. From hormonal balance to tissue repair to brain health, sleep is the function that lies at the center of it all.
Unfortunately, busy lifestyles have many of us sleep-deprived or continually maintaining erratic sleep schedules. Sleep’s effect on fitness and athletic performance has a broad spectrum of scientific literature around it. And sleep deprivation can have severe implications for your power output, workout recovery, nutrient absorption, and can even put you in a catabolic state that halts your progress towards all of your fitness goals.
Research has shown that athletes need an average of 8.3 hours of sleep to maximize restfulness. And with upwards of 71% of athletes falling short on their sleep goals, taking steps to start off the new year by improving the discipline of your sleep hygiene will have powerful impacts on reaching both your fitness goals as well as every other challenge you set out to face in 2022.